The art fair, a popular way to see and acquire art: insights from Turon Travel, the designated partner for international art fairs

by leslierankowfinearts

I had a very enjoyable time getting to know Nicholas Christopher, who founded Turon Travel with his wife and sister-in-law in 1979. Not only is Nicholas a seasoned veteran of the travel business but an enthusiastic maven of art and design. His agency, Turon Travel, is the travel service partner for international art fairs and art-related events.

In anticipation of Miami Art  Basel, it is a pleasure to share the experience and knowledge that Nicholas brings to this industry niche.  Fairs have become the most popular way to see and acquire art to emerge in the last decade. Thank you, Nicholas!!

Please let me know if you have any specific questions and inquiries that Turon can answer for you. I know the replies will be comprehensive and expert.

I AM ALWAYS FASCINATED, AS AN ENTREPRENEUR/BUSINESS OWNER, IN HOW OTHERS GOT STARTED. HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN AN ART-RELATED TRAVEL BUSINESS?

In 1979, I had just completed  graduate school pre-med, majoring in psychology, and was trying to figure out what to do. Only two jobs were offered to me, one as a processor in the Bronx, the other changing bedpans. Neither seemed very appealing.

My dad said he would give me some money if I started something practical. I grew up in a household where my dad always traveled, he was the Chief of the Cartography Section for the United Nations. My sister-in-law, now a partner at Turon, was working for a vacation wholesale travel agency at the time and had a few years of experience.

My wife, sister-in-law and I joined together and decided that Soho needed a travel agency.

WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CLIENT?

Turon Travel was a store front location, on ground level, for its first ten years in SoHo. We had walk-in traffic  – the local gallery owners and artists in the area, such as Ian Karp, Louis Meisel, and Paula Cooper.

Our clients have always been artists, designers and gallerists, creative people, and has expanded to include collectors.

YOU ARE THE DESIGNATED TRAVEL AGENCY FOR FAIRS WORLD-WIDE IN THE DESIGN AND ART INDUSTRY, 13 IN EUROPE, 3 IN ASIA and 17 IN THE U.S. WHAT WAS THE VERY FIRST FAIR?

We started sending people to the Basel Art Fair right away. In the Eighties, Chicago was very big and we made an agreement with Midway Airlines for special rates for visitors to the fair.

ON A PRACTICAL LEVEL, HOW DOES YOUR BUSINESS WORK?

We are a travel management company. We secure hotel accommodations at a discounted rate and negotiate with the hotels to provide as many amenities as possible. We select hotels that provide the least punitive cancellation policies and scout out the best local transportation and restaurants. We also get airfare discount contracts from the airlines.

In our next blog, Nicholas will provide the specifics of working with a client base made up of collectors, dealers and creative people. Do let me know if you have any questions!

Many thanks,

Leslie