Over the past 11 years, Brand g has grown from a two-man company offering one vacation a year to a five-person staff (soon to be seven, along with additional trip host staff members) debuting nearly 20 different trips around the world each year.
But we couldn’t have managed this growth without the hard work and talents of these fairly awesome individuals. They’re not in it for the money – well ok, maybe a little money, I mean, a girl’s gotta eat – they’re in it because they love travel, they love people, and they love occasionally wearing drag in foreign countries.
Jeff Gundvaldson & Brian Van Wey
The former President (Jeff) and Director of Marketing (Brian) of RSVP Vacations, they’re the co-CEO’s of Brand g. But these aren’t guys who lie around on chaise lounges being fed grapes. (Not that they haven’t asked us to do that.) They design vacations, negotiate deals, and spend ungodly numbers of hours every week making sure that every guest is cared for and that Brand g is a well-oiled machine.
With more than 40 years of travel experience – and millions of air miles – between them, these two are the best in the business when it comes to creating memorable vacations. They’ve done it all, seen it all, and they’ve put that vast storehouse of knowledge into making Brand g a force to be reckoned with in the LGBT travel space. (Brand g is now the premier operator of 5-star all-LGBT+ vacations.)
Jeff is sporty – a total athlete – which annoys the rest of us to no end. No one should look this good and be able to catch a ball without screaming. He often bikes to work, and has ridden in many Red Ribbon Rides (Minneapolis’ version of the AIDS Ride), which also speaks to his amazing commitment to charitable causes. Hate him yet? You should. But you just can’t.
Brian is straight – he’s married, and has a gorgeous wife and a little girl you could eat with a spoon – but you’d never know it on a Brand g trip, because he makes every guest feel like they’re his best friend. Why, you may ask, would a straight guy start a gay travel company? Like so many of us, he fell into the gay thing. (Your joke goes here.) In his 20’s, he was offered a job at RSVP, and just loved the world of travel. He has ZERO bias, and could not be a cooler (or more adorable) ally.
On any given trip, you’ll often have either Jeff (and his equally handsome husband, Troy) or Brian onboard. They’re there to make sure our vendors go above and beyond, and to make sure you’re having a great time. I don’t personally know how they maintain such phenomenal calm and good humor (it’s almost freakish), but I suspect medication is involved. Truly, they’re two of the best human beings you’ll ever meet.
Johnathon began his career in airport management. But since international travel was his passion, he joined British Airways as a flight attendant, where he entertained show business and corporate royalty in first class. He’s still entertaining royalty (well, lots of queens), but fortunately for us, he now does it for Brand g. We challenge you to find someone who has been on a Brand g trip who doesn’t RAVE about this man.
As Director of Operations, Johnathon heads up Brand g’s European office. (He resides in bonny Dumfries, Scotland.) Thanks to his wealth of management and customer service experience, he’s also instrumental in making sure Brand g runs like clockwork. But our guests mostly know him as the HILARIOUS face of Brand g, since he serves as Cruise Director on the majority of Brand g’s trips. When Johnathon is on your trip, you’ll laugh until you get a hiatal hernia. Buy travel insurance.
This terrifying woman is Johnathon’s slightly drunker evil twin. Maissie makes her appearances as Cruise Directress whenever Johnathon is “napping” (typically with a crew member) in his cabin.
Born in the back streets of Glasgow as the daughter of a docker (shipbuilder) and Clippie (bus conductor), Maissie began as a pickpocket, then graduated to pimping, eventually blossoming into a Cruise Directress with hardly a criminal record or restraining order to be found (unless you Google her). Her innate gift for clawing her way to the top has led her from the gutter to the gangway of luxury ships.
“Give the people what they want,” Maissie will bellow in her lilting foghorn voice as she blows kisses from the top deck to passing sailors, who, oddly, don’t blow them back.
As Director of Marketing, I (the author of this and pretty much all blog posts) came to Brand g in an unusual way: I won Brand g’s annual free cruise giveaway in 2016. I loved the experience so much, I made them hire me. (Literally. At gunpoint.) As a former Fox Television marketing executive – for the broadcast network, not Fox News, I have a soul – I handle the advertising, social media, newsletters, blog posts, the podcast, our in-person parties, etc.
I’m also an author. My first memoir, Where’s My Wand? One Boy’s Magical Triumph Over Alienation and Shag Carpeting was published by Penguin and developed as a sitcom for ABC by Adam Sandler and Sony Pictures Television. My second, Excuse Me While I Slip Into Someone More Comfortable, from Simon & Schuster, is also out and will hopefully have a similar but maybe more successful TV fate.
When I’m not doing marketing stuff, I spend my time trying to get Maissie DuBois to make out with me. This is less difficult than one might imagine.
Yes, that smile is indicative of the big bundle of love known as James. Born and raised in Utah, he has lived all over the west, which has helped he and his adorable husband Jeremy develop a mysterious (well, to me) affinity for camping. So why on earth is he with a luxury travel brand?
Much like my journey to Brand g, James’ happened by coincidence. He has spent his career (up to this point) in the healthcare insurance industry…but his love and side hustle was always theatre. (He’s an extraordinarily talented sound guy and has designed the sound for almost every professional theatre company in Utah.) So, a few years ago, when he was a guest on a Brand g Europe cruise, he approached Jeff during a show and volunteered to improve the sound for one of our performers; and voila, his path to a new career with Brand g began. Over time, James began handling the sound for most of our entertainers, and slowly became a vital – and beloved – member of the family. The fact that he’s a brilliant data guy and a charming voice on the phone only adds to his allure.
He is now our Reservations Manager and has begun hosting trips, so most of you will have occasion to talk to him either via phone, email or in person…or all three. And you. Will. Love. Him.
Want to be a part of the magic? Brand g is expanding! If you’re interested in joining the team, email us at email@example.com.