Who We Are
Travel Services, Inc. is the first DMC to ever operate on the island of Puerto Rico and has been a respected member of the travel community ever since 1955. The firm is the preferred supplier for many stateside incentive travel firms, and has received countless awards for excellence over the years.
The third generation of Fergusons to feel the passion for the hospitality industry, Joanne Ferguson worked part-time through junior high school and high school with Travel Services, Inc., primarily acquiring experience in the Operations, Wholesale and Accounting departments. While in College at Bucknell University her summers were spent working at the firm, learning the Sales and Group Services Department routines from the ground up.
Upon graduation from Bucknell University in 1994, she returned to Travel Services for three years. In 1997, she moved to Boston to work with a major student tour operator in that city. Although starting off in an entry level position, her performance resulted in her being named to the number two position in the firm, as head of Operations.
She rejoined Travel Services, Inc. as Executive Vice President in September of 1999 and her responsibilities now include heading up all operational aspects of the business, as well as much of the day to day administrative obligations, and supplier and client relations.
Joanne is a member of ADME (Association of Destination Management Executives), SITE and MPI, and is on the board of the local MPI chapter. Additionally, Joanne serves on the Board of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association, the Advisory Board of the International School of Tourism and Hotel Management, and she serves on the combined industry Marketing Committee of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association and the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau. She is Past President of the Puerto Rico Skal Club, and she was named Skalleague of the year in 2004. She received both her CMP (Certified Meeting Planner) and her DMCP (Destination Management Certified Professional) certifications in 2002.
Paul Ferguson, Chairman of the Board
Though born in Cleveland, Paul moved to the Caribbean with his family in 1948. He has worked in the industry since his parents first opened Travel Services, Inc. in old San Juan in 1955. Paul worked his way through college at a travel agency in Coral Gables, FL. When graduated from the University of Miami in 1962 he worked briefly as a trip director for E.F. MacDonald Travel Company before returning to the family business in December of that year. In 1965 he commenced a four year stint in the U.S. Navy, then returned to the island and Travel Services and in 1972 he became president when his parents retired. Paul received his DMCP (Destination Management Certified Professional) certification along with his daughter in 2001. In the past he has served on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau as a Governor appointed Director under two Governors for a total of 11 years and as an elected member for over eight additional years. And he currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association as well as being Chairman of its Governance Committee.
Paul takes great pleasure in seeing how the tourism industry has developed and matured over the past 50 years, and takes pride in knowing that the thousands of visitors entrusted to the firm each year all leave the island with a far better understanding of Puerto Rico, its people, its history and its culture than they had upon arrival.
Our Sales team responds as rapidly and thoroughly as possible to all requests for information. The basic philosophy each of us in Sales is to provide the very best possible advice and suggestions to prospective clients, helping the meeting planner put together the most interesting possible program within whatever budgetary guidelines that exist. They participate actively in site inspections and assist in moving the planning process forward as the prime client contact all the way up to about a month before program operation. The team is comprised of:
Alicia Todaro, Senior Sales Manager
Alicia’s family, originally from Cuba, came to the Island in the 1960s. She attended Hollins College in Virginia where she majored in liberal arts. She relocated to the Dominican Republic where she lived for 11 years and returned to Puerto Rico 20 years ago. Her experience working for international firms provided her with expertise in the Caribbean and Central American markets where she traveled to present public and private bids and proposals.
Alicia loves Old San Juan which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1983. She feels that it is one of the best ways to learn about the culture and true character of Puerto Rico and its people. In addition to exploring historical monuments, there are so many fun things to do in San Juan, such as shopping, visiting the art galleries, and exploring the many trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Sacha Delgado, Sales Manager
Sacha was born in the mountain area of Puerto Rico, to date still her favorite part of Puerto Rico. When she was little her family relocated, a lot. “I remember living in about 13 places throughout the US and Europe, the longest periods of time were in Utah and Virginia”. Her family relocated back to Puerto Rico, permanently, when she was about to begin high school. She possesses a BS in Business Administration and is currently working on her MFA in Creative Writing.
Her experience with selling Puerto Rico began in 1993 when she worked for the 2004 Olympic Bidding Committee, “we didn’t win the 2004 Bid but were shortlisted with Athens (who won) & Miami”. Many of the new developments Puerto Rico is currently enjoying, the Coliseum, the Natatorium and the Urban Train were all plans that came up during that process. Sacha benefitted greatly from history, cultural, protocol and sports classes provided as training for that job. She then worked for seven years as the director of a Spanish Immersion program which tailored to corporate clientele. The Immersion program combines airport transfers, lodging options, classes and tours for individuals that want to learn Spanish quickly by immersing themselves in the culture.
When asked to recommend an activity Sacha “hands-down” would send guests to the ATV ride through the foothills of the rainforest. If the guest wants something a bit tamer then she recommends the same experience but on horseback.
Melissa Pueyo, Sales Manager
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Melissa joined Travel Services, Inc. in early 2007. Her initial work interest was heavily inclined towards advertising, especially copywriting. Her first work experience was an internship in the creative department of the multinational advertising agency J. Walter Thompson while she pursued her BA in Business Administration at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. While getting her degree, she also worked with a local production company that produces events for both the central government and governmental agencies.
Before joining TSI, Melissa became a Legal, Medical, Insurance and Financial Certified Interpreter for Language Line, Inc., an over-the-phone interpretation services company based in Monte Rey, California. She truly enjoyed this phase because “I got to help many people break the language barrier and get the help they needed; sometimes in life and death situations.”
Melissa feels enormously proud of Puerto Rico and its offerings and is thrilled about sharing her passion with those visiting the island. She describes her work at TSI as “dynamic and challenging, but extremely rewarding since group participants leave with a good impression of Puerto Rico and wanting to come back.” She is particularly enthusiastic about Puerto Rico’s culinary epicenter “SoFo” in Old San Juan and believes it offers an outstandingly diverse selection of restaurants comparable to those found in the world’s top culinary summits.
Michelle Padilla, Sales Coordinator
Michelle was born in the same Condado area hospital as the Hollywood heartthrob Joaquin Phoenix, although a couple of years apart. At a young age, her family moved to the Western part of the island where they spent most of their free time exploring the caves and secluded beaches in the area. After high school, Michelle returned to the Metropolitan area where she attended Culinary School, specializing in Pastry Arts. Even though she continues to work in the food industry, the traveling and exploring side of her took over and that’s when she came to work at Travel Services, Inc.
She started in Travel Services, Inc. as a dispatcher, later on she moved to the operations department and not long thereafter they abducted her to the Accounting Department. After spending little over a year there she was reassigned again, this time to the Sales Department where she became the Sales Coordinator.
If Michelle had to pick which was her favorite activity of what to do in the island, it would be a tie between the Catamaran day trip and an Old San Juan tour with shopping. On the day trip you get to relax and go snorkeling in the beautiful beaches of Puerto Rico and on the Old San Juan tour you get soaked in the history of the new world while you shop on the amazing boutiques on Cristo Street.
Manager, Wholesale Department
and Field Operations Manager
Hector started with the company in 1987 as a dispatcher while still in college and simultaneously serving with the United States Marines Corps Reserves. He was majoring at the time in accounting at the Inter-American University. Previously he had worked full time as an Accountant with Caribbean Gulf Corporation.
In 1989 he was offered a full time position in Travel Services’ Wholesale Department and two years later he became the Manager of that department. While working full time he continued his studies in the Inter-American University changing his major to Marketing. In 1996 he was offered the additional position of Field Operations manager due to his people managing skills. His duties include managing the Wholesale Department (providing services for FIT’s, Incentive and Leisure groups, hotel contracts, sightseeing, arrival and departure transfers) and Operations Department (hiring and training staff, over all field operations, arrival, departures and tour operations).
Hector enjoys daytime recreational sport activities including basketball, volley ball and field and track with his kids. He likes to visit the interior part of the island and visit its local restaurants.
Wholesale Department Coordinator
Born and Raised in the municipality of Humacao, Puerto Rico; Alissa Rodriguez moved to the metropolitan area in 1993. After graduating from high school, she attended Sacred Heart University and completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a Major in Tourism. During her college years, she began working in the Tourism Industry and has since had the opportunity of acquiring experience in different fields within the Industry like hotels and Wholesale, where she worked in Customer Satisfaction.
In 2004 her family decides to move to Florida, but she opted to stay behind to continue promoting all that Puerto Rico has to offer the world.
Alissa loves to travel around the island. She especially enjoys the natural beauty of the forests, beaches and mountains, splashed with some of the many delicious restaurants found throughout the Island -”If I had to choose one of my favorite places in Puerto Rico, I would have to say the beaches from Rincon; an excellent place to relax and enjoy the sunsets”
Alissa recently joined our Travel Service team with eagerness to share all the knowledge she’s acquired throughout the years and help contribute to the company’s mission of ensuring that all visitors get a positive feeling about our people, culture, attractions and the pleasure of conducting business or vacationing on our island.
John Ross, Operations Manager
John “JR” Ross was born and raised in New York City and moved to the island in 1970. JR attended college at the University of Puerto Rico, majoring in accounting. He worked for several years for Eastern Airlines, then when the airline closed, he came to Travel Services, Inc. starting in 1989 as a ticketing agent, then transferred into the Operations department as a dispatcher. JR is currently the Operations Manager for the firm and his tasks include the daily booking of transportation, the logistical planning of large group movements and the maintenance and control of all company vehicles.
He enjoys all aspects of boating and the sea, also the nightlife of Old San Juan and its many fine restaurants.
Assistant Operations Mgr.
Mickey joined the company in 1997 while still in college. He has a B.S in Business Administration from the University of Puerto Rico. After working part time as a dispatcher, he went on to start a successful distribution company with a focus on fundraising materials for private and public schools in the metro area. He rejoined Travel Services on a full time basis in 2000 and became the “hot seat” coordinator; his duties include overseeing all the changes from the groups coming in and out of the island and making sure the daily operations go smoothly. His experience in different operational aspects of the company gives him the tools to run flawless arrivals, departure and tour operations for our clients.
Mickey enjoys both the daytime activities San Juan has to offer, such as world class scuba diving sites and the nightlife in the Old City’s various award-winning galleries, cafes and restaurants.
Group Service Department
Mayra Lejardi, Group Services Manager
Mayra was born and raised in Puerto Rico although she is of Spanish descent. Due to her heritage she has traveled often to Spain and learned to fusion both cultures completely. Her first experience in the travel and tourism industry was at age 17 when she started working part-time at American Airlines. This led her to study an Associates Degree in Tourism from the University of Sacred Heart. She then went to work at the San Juan Marriott where she was a concierge for four and half years. Later, while she completed a BS in Business Administration with a major in Hotel & Restaurant Administration, she worked as the Assistant Club Manager at the Radisson Ambassador Hotel.
After nearly a decade of combined experience in the hotel industry she decided to jump over to the Conventions area of the tourism industry and began working for the Caribbean Hotel Association as a Senior Registration and Room Reservations Coordinator. This job allowed her to travel through the Caribbean extensively and network with some of the most prominent figures in the Tourism industry. When she joined TSI she did so with two-fold intention, first to experience another facet of this magnificent industry she loves so much, “When you look at my experience you notice that I have ran all the bases, except perhaps F&B although I’ve had training in that area as well, and I feel this is necessary to be proficient at my job”. Secondly she wanted to settle down a bit more and enjoy the home life “with my wonderful son, he is my blessing and deserves my attention and presence”.
When Mayra is asked about her favorite part of the island she points out that the western coast is spectacular “Rincon, Aguadilla, the cascades, the beaches, the light house…I love that region”. She also likes family-oriented activities such as those offered at the “Albergue Olympico” in Salinas where they have five areas that work as a water park, a safe, fun and great activity.
Mona Lisa Torres,
Group Services Manager
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mona Lisa (yes like the painting!) joined Travel Services, Inc. in late 2006. Mona Lisa has been working in the hospitality business for quite some time, starting off with the Wyndham Hotel where she worked in Reservations for 2 years amongst other departments. She did have a small detour and worked as a court reporter for a while but is now safely back in the industry that fits her skills and personality to a tee.
“I love working with people and have to admit that my name is a great conversation starter, after all everybody knows me!” Although we believe her 10 kilowatt smile is much more approachable than the other Mona Lisa’s enigmatic smile.
Mona Lisa studied at the University of Puerto Rico and has a BA in Public Relations & Publicity - great combination since she has to meet and get to know her clients in a short amount of time before the program operates and she is constantly making sure PR has a good image in front of her groups.
When asked about her favorite place in PR she can’t pick a spot but does point out that she loves the diversity of having the green (mountain) and the blue (ocean) meet in such a small place. And she hastens to add “oh and the temperature, I love the temperature here!”
Yvonne Miranda, CPA, Controller
Yvonne started with the Company in 1973 as an Accountant, with intermediate stints at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in Mexico City and Contempo Travel in Orlando. Yvonne holds a Bachelor in Business Administration degree, major in Accounting from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico and is a Certified Public Accountant. At TSI Yvonne heads the Accounting Department and oversees the finances of the company.
Of Puerto Rico’s many offerings, dining out is one of Yvonne’s more enjoyable activities. The islands numerous and varied food establishments, from Spanish tascas to seafood restaurants to typical Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine, guarantee a different and delicious experience everywhere you go.
Gilbert Linares (Tony),
Tony started with the company in 1987 as a Dispatcher, while simultaneously serving in the U.S. Army National Guard, where he retired as an Aviation Officer and Pilot in 2005. As recognized by the Department of Defense Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve Program, Tony always counted with the valuable support of Travel Services, Inc. during multiple absences due to his military obligations. Tony holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, majors in Political Science (cum laude) and Military Science (Distinguished Military Graduate) from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) as well as graduate coursework in Management, Multinational Finance, Human Resources, Marketing and Law from Central Michigan University and the UPR. His military training and education includes Basic and Advance Individual Training, Parachutist (Airborne) Course, Air Assault Course, Rotary Wing Aviator Course, Fixed Wing Aviator Course, Aviation Officer Basic Course, Aviation Warrant Officer Advance Course and multiple aircraft qualification courses. He is a certified Commercial Pilot with Fixed Wing Single and Multi-Engine Land, Rotorcraft-Helicopter and Instrument Ratings. At TSI Tony handles the general management of the business to include human resources, payroll, accounts payables, facilities management, government affairs and charter air transportation.
Tony is a member of the United States Army Retired Reserve, the American Legion, the Army Aviation Association of America and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
For Tony, the island’s greatest resources are its people. Puerto Rico is one of those few places where you can start a warm conversation with total strangers almost anywhere. His favorite playground in Puerto Rico are the waters and cays, islets and islands that form the Passage Islands (commercially known as the Spanish Virgin Islands) just east of the main island, home to some of the world’s best boating, sailing, diving, snorkeling or just plain relaxing.
Gidarty (Gigi) Mendez Aldarondo , Accounting Assistant
Gigi was born and raised in NY of Puerto Rican parents, and moved to Puerto Rico in 1978 after high school to attend the university. She is a graduate of the Inter-American University of PR with a major in Political Science and Public Administration. Gigi has been with Travel Services, Inc. since January 1986. She began working at El San Juan tour desk, and was later on promoted to manager. At one time she managed five tour desks in the metropolitan area. Gigi has extensive experience in the Hospitality field and continues to provide training & support to hospitality desk staff & tour desk staff. Gigi presently works in Accounting as the assistant to the controller in the Accounts Receivable department.
What Gigi enjoys most in regards to Puerto Rico is the wonderful climate, beautiful beaches, its music & culture.
Jelle Eijpe, Tour Desk Manager
Born and raised in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Jay emigrated to the United States and worked in Real Estate management in Michigan as a Assistant Manager and Leasing Director. He then moved to Manhattan where he became an Account Executive for a condo and co-op management firm. Following this he tapped into his more creative side and worked at Saatchi and Saatchi. Day to day management required development of exceptional people skills and since moving to Puerto Rico in 2001 they are put to good use at the Travel Services Tour Desk.
Living in the middle of Old San Juan, Jay enjoys traveling the world with his partner, cultivating orchids, gardening and reading. The closeness of good friends and a loving family and living in an environment rich in art, culture and history make Puerto Rico a fascinating place to call home.