Owner, TravelChic World LLC
YWomen in Business Accelerator participant
April Cheng is the owner of TravelChic World LLC, a Honolulu-based travel agency that specializes in creating personalized, tailor-made trips for clients with a focus on delivering unforgettable experiences that showcase diverse cultures of various destinations.
After graduating from the University of San Diego, April had an extensive career as an account manager with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii before moving on to the Sullivan Family of Companies where she held various positions, including human resources manager, district manager, and director of marketing, and then as a district manager for Jamba Hawaii. “I always dealt with the tourism industry and customer service, and I became very passionate about it,” she said. “I’ve always loved traveling with my family, and I planned the trips. My father had this idea, ‘Why don’t you open your own travel agency?’”
In 2018, April took a leap of faith and started TravelChic World, serving clients in Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and internationally. She takes tremendous pride in bringing attention-to-detail and offering personalized, customized services, as evidenced by the fact that most of her clients’ trips take at least one year or more to plan. TravelChic World also boasts a referral and return rate of about 90%. “We handle all the little details, like the figuring out the safest locations to stay,” she said. “I take all the time and research away from my clients.”
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and travel came to a halt throughout the world, April became a member of the Chamber’s Small Business Advocacy Committee. Although she had no income because her itineraries were canceled and she worked diligently to get her clients’ money back, she used this as an opportunity to get involved with the community and be a voice for others.
“Being asked to join the committee really gave me a voice to help the wedding and event industry. They bring billions of dollars into Hawaii and the rules and regulations to operate weren’t doable logistically and operationally,” she explained. “That helped me, even though I wasn’t getting income, connect with small business owners and the community and use my expertise to open Hawaii up for tourism.”
The connections April made because of her activism are still going strong today as she now brings visitors to Hawaii for weddings, honeymoons, and family vacations, while also educating them about Hawaii’s unique culture and being respectful while on their trip.
April is also a huge supporter of other small business owners and has made connections with many of them throughout her journey. “I love introducing people and small businesses that can help each other, and meeting new people,” she shared, noting that clients will often book with her for weddings, then their honeymoon, and then family trips, thus becoming lifelong friends.
Hawaii is a small community, so it’s no wonder that April has two connections to the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center—financial counselor Stacey Katakura and marketing counselor Ryan Mae Sweeney. All three know each other through their involvement with the Chamber, and April and Ryan are also founding members of the Helping Hands Hawaii, Young Professionals Board. April is now part of the inaugural cohort of the Center’s YWomen in Business Accelerator with instructor Mariko Gordon.
When asked about the program, April said: “I love Mariko. My skill is managing people and networking. Finance is my weakness. I’m not alone in being a woman-owned small business, wearing so many hats, and focusing. It’s not just me who doesn’t understand. This class has really taught me to focus on my numbers and expenses. It helped me catch something on my QuickBooks, look closely at my numbers, and come up with numbers to predict my financials for the future. Mariko is such a person to look up to.”
April currently has two agents working under her and hopes to have four to six eventually, so she can focus more on sales and branding. This will allow her to give the agents itineraries that align with their strengths and areas that they want to specialize in and help them build successful businesses. She also aspires to bring to more business to Hawaii, while helping locals to travel more. April is also a nominee for this year’s Pacific Business News’ 40 Under 40 class.
To her fellow woman entrepreneurs and small business owners, April offers the following advice: “Give yourself a ton of grace. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re not perfect, but you’ll learn from your mistakes. Even if you make a mistake that might seem disastrous, that’s just part of the learning process.”