Who was this person Cees Dros, the history of the Benjamin foundation!
In the beginning of the sixties Cees Dros founded Marysol Vliegreizen (Air travels) ,one of the first tour operators in the Netherlands. He was specialized in holidays in countries around the Mediterranean and owned a hotel (Carihuela Palace) in Spain.
Cees Dros was a unique persons, who showed the travel branch, many years how to operate a successful travel business in air holidays. He was not only the first person to come up with this new formula, but also the one who strictly followed this formula during many years. Key-factors of this formula can be characterized by: efficiency oriented, being the cheapest but still delivering a good quality and a slow and controlled growth of the organization. He was able to realize this by buying large allotments in a few accommodations, prepay all of them, work with a small number of coworkers and doing all procurement by himself with a good nose for the finest accommodation fitted to his target group. Due to a small offer in destinations and accommodations being Spain specialist, he was able to control his program expenses. He did not believe in marketing activities. His slogan, mentioned on all his travel brochures on the front page was : “The cheapest of the Netherlands ”, which was true and via word of mouth reached a lot of new customers. Through his way of working Cees was able to build up a good relation with the accommodations which were loved by Dutch vacationers. It started with Hotel Goya in Calella, which he booked entirely during the season of 1966. For years this hotel was one of the top destinations, and almost each year a new phenomenon accommodation was added like Cruz del Sur in the Costa del Sol, Cervantes in Benidorm and Playa Mar in Mallorca. Each of the accommodations, people already cued for in December to be able to book them.
Cees was a skilled businessman and bought in 1977 a five star hotel Carihuela Palace in Torremolinos. He renovated this hotel and changed it in a luxury apartment-hotel and expended it with Carihuela Park, restaurant ‘Hans en Grietje’ and a discothèque ‘Voom Voom’, which hosted many well know Dutch artist for their performances. The formula used, offered many Dutch people a marvelous holiday during many years.
A book could be written about the life of Cees Dros. Starting when he was a child during the second world war, growing up in a Children’s Home, until reaching the age of a young man who refused, during his military service, to repeat the oath to become an officer. He did not agree with the text of the oath, which resulted he was downgraded to soldier, but only one day later, out of respect for his firm stance he was promoted to sergeant-major administrator.
A man read in 1964 in the newspaper that Martin Schröder was very proud, because of buying a DC-7 airplane from the KLM. In the article was mentioned the price for a return flight Amsterdam-Barcelona with this specific DC-7. This stimulated Cees, being an accountant, to calculate the price for a camping flight to the Costa Brava for only 195 Dutch guilders (€ 87,75) and even making some profit.
In 1965 he launched a travel program by the name of Marysol. It was written on a A4 page folded to an A5 with a Holiday promotion : 8-, 15- en 22-day camping flight to Canet de Mar for only 195 guilders. The DC-7 from Martinair was used for all flights on each Thursday night. All flights were between beginning of May and half of September. At the end of that year Cees had earned 5.800 guilders. With much care Cees was able to build up a solid organization during the period many other tour operators were taken over, merged or went bankrupt. Cees expanded Marysol to become a solid, travel organization with around 75.000 travelers per year.
Cees Dros was not part of the “old boys network”, he operated alone and new exactly what he was doing.
The funds he was able to earn during all this years have been donated for a major part to theBenjamin Foundation. The foundation founded by him and his wife Ria, is offering over 3000 vulnerable (orphaned) children worldwide a brighter future. Looking at his own background, he was sure that this was the way to have some influence to reduce some of the world suffering.
In Schiphol airport statutes have been put down for pioneers of the charter-aviation. They earned their success thanks to the risks, tour operators in the sixties took. One of this tour operators was Cees Dros, with everything he realised, he also earns to get a statute.
Text: Willem Bloem