Tommy McMullins said that his travel agency would never have been created if it had not been for a casual compliment following a church trip 20 years ago.
“One of the ladies who had gone on the church trip I organized commented that it was one of the best trips she’d ever had in her life,” said McMullins, a 1964 Fort Valley State University graduate. “She said that we really ought to do that kind of trip again, and her one statement has led me to travel to 84 countries.”
McMullins Travel Consultants, operating as Fantasy Tours in Altadena, California, began as a business offering day trips to nearby places. McMullins, a native of Macon, Georgia, said before long, they took two busses for an overnight trip to visit the Redwood Forest of California. When they began making trips using a different bus company operated by an Asian family, one of the drivers suggested that McMullins consider an overseas group excursion to China.
“We went for seven days, with three meals a day and stayed in nice hotels,” McMullins recalled. “We had 40 people who went on that trip with us and we must have been the first black group to have gone like that because they gave us a police escort through Beijing. Some of the places we traveled through back then were five times worse than the worst ghetto you’ve ever seen in America.”
Following those early trips, Tommy McMullins retired from banking and he and his wife, fellow FVSU alumnus Gwendolyn McMullins, devoted more time to their new business. Now the couple takes about 12 group trips a year, including four international trips, six that are stateside, and others that are local getaways.
The company has sponsored trips to locations ranging from New York, the Grand Canyon, and Mt. Rushmore to Scandinavia, Vietnam, and Dubai. Some of the most noteworthy trips have been regular visits to Thailand, Spain, France, and South America and the company will soon be traveling to South Africa. Although the business has had an online website since last year, McMullins said most of his customers have come from word-of-mouth.
“We’ve been in business for 20 years, and nobody has ever lost a nickel, and we’ve never increased the prices that we’ve given people,” he said.
McMullins said he also believes their company has enjoyed success because they intentionally cater to the traditionally ignored market of African-American travelers who have expendable cash to spend.
“Travel companies typically don’t advertise or market to African Americans, so we try to add things to our trips like visiting museums, because contrary to what many people think, African Americans love history and good food and quality hotels. We don’t care too much for doing stuff like lying around the beach. We stress focal points around history, culture, good food, and meeting people.”
The McMullins have been so successful in their business venture that they regularly share their good fortune with Fort Valley State University. In 2009, the couple donated $15,000 towards the creation of the Globetrotter Award in honor of Dr. Stanley E. Rutland, a former FVSU political science professor. They also give to the scholarship fund and provide travel opportunities for students to travel abroad.
McMullins said his most popular trips lately have been visits to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. which opened in the fall of 2016. The couple sponsored a group of FVSU students on a trip to the museum in 2017.
McMullins said he credits two things with his success—God and Fort Valley State University where “someone is always there for you.”