Samo Toplak

Samo Toplak, CEO of Value World Tours. Celebrating 27 years in the business, Value World Tours has several divisions. Including Value World Cruises, specializing in small ships and river cruises world-wide, Value World Tours features Escorted Tours of Eastern Europe, Yugo Air and Global Tours & Cruises.

MailPound: What inspired you to pursue a career in the travel industry?

Samo: I started as a local guide along the Dalmatian Coast during former Yugoslavia when I was a student. It was a summer job, but boy... the sun, and the fun got under my skin!

MailPound: Share with us how you started Value World Tours.

Samo: When I moved to the US, I worked for Uniworld as their Sales Manager. Then, my original Yugoslav company Yugotours hired me to open their LA office as Vice President of Sales. All went well until the start of the civil war in Yugoslavia in 1992 when all Yugoslavian companies were shut down by executive order of then president G. H. Bush. So with no employment or other options, along with my friend and partner James Pierce, who was Sales Manager of Yugoslav Airlines, we started Value World Tours. For further details you are welcome to take a look on our web site:

MailPound: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing travel professionals today?

Samo: Frankly the Internet. Many suppliers are now bypassing the Travel Agents and offering their products directly to consumers. Look at hotel sites (,, airline sites, etc. It is difficult for Agents to get commissions and earn a fair wage. As a tour operator we support our Agents with commissions that range from 10% to 20% depending on volume.

MailPound: How do you maintain your daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles or setbacks?

Samo: I love what I do! I love working with people whether it's negotiating contracts with suppliers, creating and exploring new products and destinations, or providing people the opportunity to travel and experience the wonderful world we live in at a price they can afford.

MailPound: In the classic saying, “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger,” what are some things that you wish you had known ahead of time?

Samo: I wish I knew not to stress the little stuff… but I do wish I studied computer science rather than English.

MailPound: What are some fun facts about yourself?

Samo: I come from a soccer family – my father Ivan Toplak was a world renowned soccer coach so I love the sport and follow it. On a personal level, I love ping pong and BBQing with friends. And I love to cook although I am terrible at it... but it relaxes me. I am fortunate that my wife of 34 years tolerates me... still!