My name is John Dunphy and I am co-founder of Target Tours, along with my wife Lynn. I grew up the second youngest in a family of 5 boys and one girl. My father was a general contractor/carpenter and I worked with him in the summers beginning at the young age of 8 working 3 days a week, when I wasn’t in school, and earning $1 per hour. At any point in time, there would be 3 to 4 siblings working in the business. We were taught how to work hard at an early age and to appreciate the value of a dollar. I also developed a keen sense of humour growing up. My mother taught us not to take ourselves too seriously and to never feel superior to anyone else. Both mom and dad had a dry wit that they passed along to me. I enjoy making people laugh whether it’s telling a joke or poking fun in a good-natured way.
My 21-year career at The Travel Store taught me so much about business. Gary Rayner, the owner of The Travel Store, was a mentor to me and taught me about the travel industry and high-quality customer service. My position was Operations Manager. I worked with the managers and counselors across the Maritimes to help them in their day to day work. It was a challenging position but was also very rewarding.
As with most positions, there comes a point in time when change is needed. I was starting to feel burnt out and a little lost in my direction. In hindsight, I was outgrowing my position (but I don’t think I knew that yet). During my final few years at The Travel Store, I began developing group tours and leading some of these groups. These trips quickly became the highlight of my job. I loved working directly with the clients and getting out of the office was a welcomed change.
In 2006, while organizing a NASCAR Tour to New Hampshire, I decided to get my license to drive a motorcoach. This move proved prophetic and it was what some people call an “Aha!” moment. As I disembarked the bus after a great day of travelling, I reflected on all the smiling faces of the passengers who had just had a lifelong dream come true, or strangers who were now friends. It felt like a privilege to be part of this experience, let alone have it be my job. It didn’t take long for me to realize that group/bus travel is unlike any other type of travel and I wanted to share this passion with more and more people.
With that experience in mind, the support of my family, and a blind leap of faith, I started the company you see today, Target Tours, in 2009. Looking back on that time, the transition from an office job to starting a company was not always a smooth one. I learned a lot and sometimes the path to success felt more like a roller-coaster than a ladder but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Group travel allows like-minded people to discover a new destination, or a destination in a new way, together in the safety of a group. This enriches their lives and makes the world feel a little smaller. Most importantly, people need to laugh and have fun and group travel ensures both of those things.