Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrick Gunn.
Patrick, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a child of a military family, I moved around the country throughout my childhood. This experience led me to meet people from different backgrounds and experience different cultures at an early age. In college, I did a study abroad program called Semester at Sea that took me and 500 other college students by ship to 10 countries in 100 days as we circumnavigated the globe. Once I felt the freedom of the breeze at sea and experienced the humbling feeling of being under a blanket of stars out in the middle of the ocean at night, I was hooked and knew that I had to work in the cruise industry. After I came out as a gay man and experienced my first all-gay cruise, my ultimate career aspiration was refined yet again. So combine all of those things with my passion and 25-year career building brands for other companies, it was time for me to build a brand from the ground up in my chosen field, LGBT+ Vacations.
Has it been a smooth road?
The development of the VACAYA brand was a lifelong dream but the road to our public launch and eventual vacation booking period has not been easy or without challenge. After living it for two years, I would tell my younger self and any hopeful entrepreneurs to focus on setting and achieving small incremental goals rather than trying to start a business and instantly build your vision of what the company should be in the years to come. Never stop building meaningful relationships with customers and other people in your industry. Choose to view competitors as potential partners and collaborators and find ways to lift your industry and that will have positive impact your business and the world around you in a positive way.
Please tell us about VACAYA.
VACAYA is a fresh new approach to LGBT+ travel, one focused entirely on our LGBT+ travelers and creating memorable bespoke full-ship and full-resort travel experiences built around amazing destinations, stellar entertainment, world-class hospitality, and endless fun! VACAYA charters entire ships and resorts, so LGBT+ travelers have the freedom to express their individuality, make personal connections, celebrate life, rev up, or simply relax… together.
We’re rewriting the playbook. Options for our community have been severely limited. Now, LGBT+ travelers have a new choice. VACAYA is the first US-based large-scale full-ship/resort LGBT+ vacation company exclusively for adults to launch since 1991. Consumers have waited a long time for a guest-focused company like VACAYA to come along, and we can’t wait to share all we have in store!
What sets VACAYA apart also makes me the proudest.
• Welcoming to All: We create a warm environment where ALL who believe love is love are welcome and can leave their cares behind and focus the FUN! We view DIVERSITY as being invited to the dance and INCLUSION as being asked to dance. With VACAYA… EVERYONE dances!
• New Destinations and Experiences: We’re creating memorable travel experiences to new destinations, with customized itineraries that have never been offered before!
• Balance: We love a party and we’ll produce great ones, but VACAYA is about discovering and exploring the destinations visited, celebrating good friends, and making countless new ones.
• We Give Back: With our ReachOUT program, we offer guests an opportunity to give back to the communities visited – either with a bit of sweat equity or financially.
• Travel Savvy Companion: Having traveled to every corner of the globe, The Vacayan’s understand what’s important to the LGBT+ traveler – fun, friends, discovery, adventure, and making meaningful connections.
What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
Luck has absolutely played a part in both my personal and business life. I consider every teacher and mentor I have ever had as a blessing. From my preschool teacher who spotted my love for building things and told my mother to buy me some Lego’s, to my best friend in high school who was the first person to fully accept me and show me the path to coming out, to my eventual husband who encourages me to be the best human I can be and provides me with solace from life’s toucher lessons, to the CEO of VACAYA, Randle Roper, who constantly challenges my view of what is possible in a constructive and compassionate way, each of these experiences has shaped the person I am now. Each and every career opportunity I have been given has led me to the next opportunity and eventually, this opportunity to co-found VACAYA and build the company and brand of my dreams.
- VACAYA PTOWN CRUISE ON CELEBRITY SUMMIT: Sailing August 11-18, 2019 from New York (Port Liberty) on Celebrity Summit, this 7-night cruise will not only make history by being the largest all-LGBT+ cruise to ever sail to Ptown Carnival, but it’s also the largest ship to ever overnight in Provincetown! Fares start at $1197.
- VACAYA MEXICO RESORT: VACAYA reinvents the all-inclusive resort experience with the 5-star UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, offering a level of luxury and inclusions unmatched by other options available to travelers. The entire resort belongs to VACAYA guests over Halloween and Day of the Dead, October 27 – November 2, 2019. All-inclusive rates start at $1397.
- Website: For more information and to book online 24/7, visit https://www.myVACAYA.com
- Email: patrick@myVACAYA.com
Personal profile shot was taken by a professional LA based photographer, Gabriel Goldberg