Fast Facts about Scott Alevy
Scott Alevy is the President and CEO of the Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce in Laguna Niguel, California.
Located in a suburban city in Orange County, California, the Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce has more than 320 members. The chamber’s travel program usually offers four trips a year to its members and the general public.
Born: Long Beach, California
Education: B.A. from the University of Southern California
Employment: Alevy spent 13 years at Pacific Southwest Airlines in the passenger service and public relations departments. He also served in the U.S. Air Force and worked with AT&T. Prior to joining the Laguna Niguel chamber, he served as president and CEO of another chamber in San Diego County.
Family: Alevy and his wife, Joanne, have two children and two grandchildren. The couple also takes care of about two dozen rescued animals at their home.
Hobbies: In his spare time, Alevy golfs and spends time with his family.
Making Use of Travel Insights
After spending 13 years in passenger service and public relations for Pacific Southwest Airlines, Scott Alevy felt like he had seen it all.
“When you’ve been in passenger service, you hear about every passenger problem imaginable,” said Alevy, president and CEO of the Laguna Nigel Chamber of Commerce. “I know how important it is to be able to solve those problems.”
From emergency sickness to lost valuables, Alevy has an encyclopedic knowledge on what could go wrong while traveling. He used his insights to improve and grow the chamber’s travel program.
From an early age, Alevy’s parents taught him to embrace his curiosity about the world. Every time his dad traveled to a work conference, the family would turn the conference into a chance for the family to explore a new area of the country.
“Our family always traveled together,” said Alevy. “Every two years, we would get in the car and drive across the country to wherever the convention was. They would use travel to educate my sister and me about the history of the place we were visiting.”
It was on his first flight across the country in 1957 when he fell in love with flying. His wanderlust grew during his childhood, so he eventually took a job with Pacific Southwest Airlines for a chance to explore the world.
“I traveled a lot,” said Alevy. “I went to Europe several times and all over. I became very comfortable with traveling. It helped me later to ask the right kinds of questions and ask the right demands of our travel companies. I knew what to look for because I had helped people with those problems over the years.”
Building Business Acumen
After serving in the U.S. Air Force and working with a land use and zoning company, Alevy spent 10 years as director of external relations for AT&T. During his time with the phone company, he interacted frequently with the local chambers of commerce.
“That’s when I first learned about chambers,” said Alevy. “I fell in love with them. I spent time on the board of directors of different ones. After that, most of my time exposed to chambers was when I was a city councilman in Southern California. During my time in the council, I was a very business-friendly thinker. I had a lot of interaction with the chambers of commerce.”
When a chamber in San Diego County offered him a job as president and CEO, he felt excited about the challenge. He expanded the chamber’s travel program before transferring to the Laguna Niguel Chamber of Commerce.
When he reviewed Laguna Niguel’s program, he thought it needed revisions. He sent out a request for proposals (RFP) to find a tour operator that would match the level of service he was looking for.
“You have to look carefully at those RFPs because some companies will tell you what they think you want to hear and some will tell you answers to what you were actually asking,” said Alevy. “Different travel companies will do more work for you. That was important to me.”
Alevy looked for companies willing to pick up his travelers in Laguna Nigel and drop them off at the Los Angeles airport.
“There have to be conveniences and advantages that come with group travel,” said Alevy. “If people are just price shopping, they might be able to find a cheaper trip. But if we have a company that will handle extra hassles like pickups and drop-offs, that gives us an edge. We tried to find a company that would take the worry out of travel.”
Since the trips are open for members and the local community, Alevy doesn’t just market to his members; he also markets to a local affluent community of retirees.
“The fastest growing demographic in our city is 65 and older,” said Alevy. “You don’t fight that. You market to them.”
Alevy uses this demographic to craft tours that combine comfort with exciting, bucket-list destinations. The program mostly travels to international destinations, with trips planned for this year to northern Italy, Egypt, Costa Rica and China.
Small Staff, Big Dreams
Because of Alevy’s long list of job demands, he hasn’t yet been able to attend a trip with the chamber’s travel program.
“Chambers of commerce don’t always have a big staff,” said Alevy. “I will generally give my spot on a tour to a member or auction it off as a fundraiser. As much as I would like to, I don’t have the time.”
Alevy is considering hiring a separate person to book the tours, with compensation tied to the number of people who travel with his organization. At Alevy’s previous chamber, this system worked, and the planner was able to attend some of the trips. This provided a liaison person from the chamber to go on the tour.
“Right now, I choose certain tour operators, knowing they have people on hand who can help be that person for us,” said Alevy. “With a small staff, you have to find partnerships to help with the workload.”
Alevy continues to think of ways to expand the travel program despite the challenges of a limited staff because he thinks the payoff is more than worth it.
“The travel program is a great benefit for our members,” said Alevy. “It is also a way for people who aren’t members to learn about the chamber. Most importantly, it becomes a source of income that can help the chamber’s mission.”
• Sometimes you get what you pay for. Find travel partners that can give you peace of mind.
• Ask questions instead of guessing. Decisions based on real experience are always smarter.
• Arrive far earlier than you think you need to be anywhere. It’s far better to arrive at the airport or to a tour ahead of time than to be late and panicked.