Q&A with Monica & Tom Karnes of LaMacchia Travel

Q&A with Monica & Tom Karnes of LaMacchia Travel
LaMacchia Travel is a family owned and operated full-service travel agency located in downtown Kenosha, We sit down and chat it up with owners Monica & Tom Karnes.

Q. Can you give us a brief history of LaMacchia Travel?
A. It began with Eugenio LaMacchia in the late 1800’s, a Kenosha business owner who owned a grocery store which offered steamship travel for immigrants. The LaMacchia Agency was officially started in 1931 by Eugenio’s son Edmund.

Tom started in 1984, it was the perfect high school job, and Monica joined the business in 2009. After high school, Tom worked for The Mark Travel Corporation from 1999 to 2009 and realized that corporate life really was not for him. So, one day he came home and proposed the idea of purchasing the family business to me. This was something that Tom really believed in and had passion for. I had to admit,  the idea of being back in Kenosha full time with a young family and having creative control was very exciting.

The majority of the early LaMacchia Travel business was bringing immigrants to America to find a better life and those that ended up in Kenosha we helped settle them in and then brought the rest of the families over reuniting them. LaMacchia Travel is a big reason there is such a big Italian community in the area. We are extremely proud of the role we played in that.

We are fourth generation in the travel business and two of our daughters are now in the industry (working elsewhere) making them fifth generation, a legacy that goes over 120 years. All based right here in Kenosha.

Photo by Donny Stancato

Q. What do you love about having your business in Downtown Kenosha?
A. So many things! From the festivals, the markets, the beauty of Lake Michigan and of course the other business owners. The local business owners have so much passion for their business and Kenosha.

Q. What will be some of the hot travel spots this fall/winter?
A. It’s not really what are the hot spots are, as much as it is how people are traveling now. In the past, people traveled conveniently and were just visiting destinations, now people are looking to get off the beaten path and spend more time experiencing the destination, culture and people. But when speaking of destinations, Europe is extremely popular, especially Italy, Ireland and Spain. River Cruises are also a very popular vacation choice.

Q. What can people expect when they book with LaMacchia Travel?
A .We do not take your business for granted. We want our clients to know that we truly care about their experience with us (making it the most enjoyable and carefree) and their vacation. We want them to know that we are there for them before, during and after their vacation. Our experienced team of advisors can provide the insight and knowledge to make a good vacation a fantastic vacation. We are accountable to you so if something unfortunately goes wrong with your travels, we are here for you day or night.

Q. Can you tell us about all the great travel packages you offer?
A. We are a one-stop travel agency, meaning we sell the world! Our popular packages include: Sun and Fun, Cruising, Europe, Asia, Hawaii, Destination Weddings, Honeymoons, Multi Destinations, we got it all.

Q. From your point of view what makes LaMacchia Travel stand out from other travel agencies?
A. Our knowledge and service are truly unique. Our team of advisors have collectively traveled to difference corners of the world and are able to give firsthand experiences. The destinations we have not been to we have contact with people who specialize in those areas. We also have a legacy that needs to be kept intact, all of our advisors are vested in the success of your vacation.

Q. Where do you see LaMacchia Travel in five years?
A. We hope to have our new building built and continue to operate from downtown Kenosha. In the past few years, we have launched two new businesses, LovinAway which specializes in Destination Weddings and LaMacchia Jet Stream which is a host travel company. Each of these companies are national and will provide the greatest opportunity for growth while still maintaining a presence in Downtown Kenosha.

Photo by Donny Stancato

Q. You and you husband seem to be the perfect team, what are some of the challenges of working with your significant other?
A. Well, depends on the day. It can be very challenging with each of us having different ideas, but all in all, when things get really tough it is comforting knowing that we have each other to navigate through difficult times. As a collective married team, we are great partners and we approached our business the same way we do our marriage, equal partners.

Q. You seem very busy, when do find time for a personal vacation
A. 98% of our getaways are business related in some capacity. It is very rare that we have a vacation with no responsibilities; but when we do, they are special. They take us back to a time when all that mattered was the two of us and hanging out.

Q. How can people book a trip through LaMacchia Travel?
A. We offer multiple channels to book your vacations, via phone, in person, text or online. Whatever you need we have you covered. Even with the automated channels it is reassuring to know that you can always get in touch of a person if you need to.

Experiencing other destinations and cultures give you a much better understanding of people and tolerance of those that are different from you. Traveling shows you how big the world is that you only occupy a small part of it.

For the very best flights, hotel accommodations, cruise sailings, to even car rentals – leave the travel planning to LaMacchia Travel! 
LaMacchia Travel is located at 618 55th Street
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Q&A and photos by Donny Stancato
Edited by Jason Hedman
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For everything Kenosha see visitkenosha.com

(This article first appeared in the Fall 2022 Downtown Kenosha Magazine)