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Last Update: Tuesday July 27, 2021

Key Idea: Turn Insight Into A Product

Bill Keller says that the insight his customers and employees share contributes to Le Travel Store's unique knowledge base.

Key Question:


Give your customers something that no competitor can give them.  In this case, Bill and Joan have traveled consistently since 1970. Every trip yields information that could not be found in print anywhere.  This means they can not only sell products to customers, but also they can offer insight. This is the unique selling proposition for many small business owners.

Do Bill and Joan have to do this alone at Le Travel?

A:  No. They hire people who have travel experience and who want to travel more. Also, they invite customers to post on an in-store bulletin board any insights gained from trips.

Books, maps, travel sites and even friends can advise you but for most places in the world, Bill and Joan can come up with insights that will make your trip more rewarding. Joan told us her secret to packing light. She said it is shoes as she pointed to the ones she was wearing when we did this taping. She said, "Wear one solid, comfortable walking shoe and don't add any to your suitcase."

Think about it

How could you go about gathering and delivering more insight?

Clip from: Le Travel Store in the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego:  Joan and Bill Keller, founders of Le Travel Store,  have traveled so much,  you ask, "Where haven't you been?"  One answer was "The Antarctica." But, they got close -- Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego - Patagonia down on the tip of Argentina, the most southern city on earth and on a clear day ... of course, Joan and Bill Keller have the Antarctica on their list, but compared to most people, their list is rather short.

Become an independent traveler, but do it with panache. Take some of your customers, your investors, CPA and banker, and of course, your family with you. Source the world. 

Also, this team is well-grounded in their community. They lead the "return to authenticity" movement that champions Main Street. The National Trust for Historic Preservation led us to them and this historic Gaslamp Quarter!

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Le Travel Store (BK)

Bill Keller, Founder

745 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101

Visit our web site:

Office: 6195440005

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1975

Turn Insight Into A Product

HATTIE: So what are some of the questions or problems that people want you to help them solve regarding their travel plans?

ANNETTE: Well, if you've been to a certain country where they've been, they want to know where to go, how to use an ATM machine, and just all the practical information, or hotels. It's just like being a concierge, almost. And when they leave you say, `Send us a postcard.'

HATTIE: Oh! Do you have some postcards?

ANNETTE: And we have travel tips from all over the world.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Rhonda says in Korea that she found there's something there that looks like hamburgers, but don't get tricked into eating it--it's dog.

ANNETTE: And we even had one city in the country where they say, `If you end up here, leave!'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) From Paris, France: `Heaven is where the lovers are French, the cars made in Germany, the food Mexican, the ice cream Italian, the girls from Oaxaca, the weather Californian...'

BILL: From that earliest beginning to today, we identify our key customer, our target customer, as an independent international traveler. And the main thing there really is travel skills. It's being able to communicate, find food, accommodations, you know, not just survive in a country but really thrive in a foreign culture. In fact, this was kind of a funny sequence that we saw.

You know, we started in 1976, and we--our basic customer in Pacific Beach would pull their Volkswagen bug or van up into our parking lot in the back. We'd look out the back window and see them come in. And what we found is, after eight years in that location, that same customer was now pulling up in their Volvo or their BMW.

HATTIE: Hey, prosperity.

BILL: Well, what had happened was that they had gone from being a student to, you know, applying what they had learned in a career, and they had less time and more money. They had--however, many of those customers had begun traveling on the two- or three-month-long trip to Europe on a tight budget, and liked that style of travel.

They were still independent travelers, but they had, you know, again, with less time and more money. They were taking shorter trips and staying in nicer hotels. And so we had to adapt our business to that, and that's when we decided to move from the beach to downtown San Diego, to a very exciting project that was opening up to become the cornerstone of San Diego redevelopment, Horton Plaza, a regional shopping center in the center of town.

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