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Interview: Masking with a Smile While Promoting Travel

Interviewing: Chad Burt, Co-Owner – Cruises & Tours Unlimited /

An Interview By: Joanie Ogg, Co-Founder – Travel Professional NEWS



I had the pleasure of connecting with my long-time friend and colleague Chad Burt, Co-Owner of Cruises & Tours Unlimited and about a fun new endeavor he and his team have taken on. Yes, they are making masks! Super fun and travel-motivating masks for all of us to wear and share to get the travel bug going strong again. Join me as Chad shares more about how this idea came to him and where they are taking it.  


I’m really excited about this.  You had asked me for a pic wearing one of your masks and the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.  I love the vibe.  We need that kind of positivity now like never before.  Where did you get started with this idea? 

Writing entrepreneurship course and COVID hit and stayed.  By the end of May, I was seeing how bummed agents and clients were.  I was sick of the pandering, fear, mask debates, and all the uncertainty.  I was seeing how bummed agents and clients were.  There was so much negativity, especially in our industry, that I was starting to go crazy.  The media was crushing our spirits and it was palpable.  I needed to break the ice…you know, flip the script.  Out of frustration, I made a mask that said, If you can read this, youre standing too close.”  I got a few laughs and had an idea.


Uh oh.  I’ve been working with you for a long time.  I know what happens when you get an idea, especially from making people laugh.  What happened next? 

Well, I was in the middle of writing an Entrepreneurship class for our new Master Business Development course.  Two of my main points involved creating something new from the resources you have and the idea that failure isnt an option, its a requirement.  I realized I could create a new normal by creating the new normal.  In other words, Id change the way people thought and felt by making them laugh at uncomfortable stuff.  At worst, Id prove to my agents that trying something and failing was than doing nothing plus, you learn a lot.


So, you were on a mission.  For those of you that dont know, I first met Chad when he and his cousin Steve were just starting  They were on a mission then, thats for sure.  You guys had around 100 agents or so at the time, right? 

Yeah, our motto was Don’t look at the man behind the green curtain.”  We were in fake it until you make it” mode.  It was the tail end of the Great Recession and we figured Whats the worst that could happen.”  We didnt have much, our parent company was on the ropes, so we threw a hail Mary.  Breaking the mold seems to work out for us.


It sure does.  I think you have around 6000 agents now.  An amazing success story, Chad. Knowing you, I suspect you had a plan behind this new endeavor of bringing some humor and attitude adjustment to help agents feel some joy.  

I wanted people to, like my kids football coach says, embrace the suck.”  I wanted people to change their mind set, their perspective.  I wanted people to connect a smile with the thought of travel.  The vibe had to change and I figured we could do it one smile at a time.  It may sound out there,but Im a big believer in the butterfly effect:  If you can go back in time and some tiny thing you do can change the present dramatically, why cant you make a small change now and change the future?


I love people that are out there.”  I’m a little like that.  Maybe its a California thing.  So, howd you make the leap from If you can read this, youre too close,to where you are now? I have to share that I actually purchased a mask with a photo of my St. Bernard, Cali that said 6 feet back please.  

You mean This is my vacation faceand Have mask, will travel?”  Well, thats where Dave, my CTO.  He’s the guy I rely on to sand my edges creatively and make cool things out of my crazy ideas.  He really stepped up.  He came up with the slogans and art.  I was blown away.  As usual, he took a simple notion and made something really cool out of it.  He had a buddy that did the first batch of masks for us.  Once people saw them, they really took off. People are really feeling the vibe


I love it!  In fact, heres a picture of me wearing one.  I’m definitely onboard.  But, whats in it for you?  What are you getting out of all of this? 

Cash, lots and lots of cash.  I’ve already made $55.04!  The way I figure it, I only need to sell 922,272 masks per month to pay my overhead!  No.  Thats not it.  Actually, getting smiles on peoples faces and spreading some positivity about travel is all Im really after.  Look, social media is great, but nothing replaces the real world.  My hope is that this will spill over into peoples lives in different ways but, ultimately, theyll book travel sooner if they feel better in general.  These masks are one small step.


If I didn’t know you, this might sound a lot like blue sky,  but I know you and I love your spirit, Chad.  I noticed that you havent even mentioned where agents can get your masks, so I will.  Everyone, you need to go to masks4travel.comIf you want to know more, check out  Theres a password.  It’s oastrongThank you so much Chad for sharing this with our readers. Is there anything else youd like to add? 

Yeah.  Joanie, the support weve gotten from everyone – agents, clients, crew, friends, family, and, especially, you has made all of this fun and totally worthwhile.  With this kind of support, well hit our goal of 10000 smiles in the next 30 days or, at least, have a blast trying.