Journeys to Paradise

To Whom It May Concern:

In my former positions as vice president of marketing as well Pacific Northwest regional sales manager for Pleasant Holidays (formerly Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays), I worked extensively with Sparky Taft for many years.

We met when Sparky was with a local Seattle radio station and I was a region sales representative for Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays. Although we were the largest tour operator from the U.S. serving Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest was our first major venture outside of Pleasant’s core California market. My challenge was to grow this market as a precursor to a more aggressive national expansion plan.

At that time, Sparky was just leveraging his extensive radio background by starting his own advertising agency, Dynamic Results. We both had some complimentary skill sets, visions of growth, energy, and the confidence that we could work well together.

With my knowledge of the travel business and my marketing background and Sparky’s marketing and sales experience and creative approach to advertising and promotion, we were very successful. Sparky’s skills went well beyond traditional advertising. His tirelessly looked for opportunities to go beyond traditional forms of advertising. While other advertising agencies pitched me merely to buy my advertising through them, Sparky went several steps further. He created opportunities. He instigated cross-promotional opportunities with various businesses: outdoor and patio accessories retailers, furniture stores, restaurants, casinos, motorhome and boat dealers, and home shows, to name a few.

In addition to advertising and cross-promotions, Sparky was the primary impetus for orchestrating a joint promotion with Portland’s largest radio station, where we sold almost 200 people to the Ritz-Carlton in Maui during one morning on-air broadcast. When we introduced a new charter service with American Trans Air between Seattle and Maui, Sparky arranged a media tour with the president and owner of Pleasant Holidays, where he escorted Ed Hogan to several local radio stations and orchestrated on-air interviews at most.

Of course, the proof of a successful sales and marketing campaign ultimately comes down to its effect on the bottom line. It is not the bells and whistles, but the results that count. From a small Pleasant presence in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1970s, by 1985 the Pacific Northwest accounted for almost one-third of Pleasant’s west coast business, about the same as Southern California and slightly more that Northern California, both with much larger population bases.

I now work for a small but very successful retail travel agency with a very limited marketing budget, but and have kept in touch with Sparky and followed his amazing story over the years. I can truly say that he is as energetic as ever, and even more creative. I can highly recommend him as an advertising agency and as a true marketing partner.


Rick Long, CTC DS
Journeys to Paradise, Leisiure Division of Continental Travel, Inc.
2737 77th Avenue SE, Suite 202
Mercer Island, WA 98040
206.230.5177 or 206.979.2042 (cell)