Carlson Companies is a global leader in the marketing, travel, and hospitality industries. Among the names in the Carlson family of brands and services are: Regent International Hotels ; Radisson Hotels & Resorts ; Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts ; Country Inns & Suites By Carlson; Park Inn hotels; Regent Seven Seas Cruises ; T.G.I. Friday's and Pick Up Stix restaurants; Carlson Wagonlit Travel; Cruise Holidays; All Aboard Travel ; Cruise Specialists; Fly4Less.com ; CruiseDeals.com ; Results Travel; Carlson Destination Marketing Services; Carlson Leisure Travel Services; SeaMaster Cruises ; SinglesCruise.com ; CW Government Travel; Carlson Marketing ; Peppers & Rogers Group ; and Gold Points Reward Network , an online/offline consumer loyalty program.
Ranked among the largest privately held corporations in the United States, Carlson Companies is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Carlson-related brands and services employ about 171,000 people in more than 150 countries. Carlson Companies is on Working Mother magazine's 2001-2004 and 2006 lists of "The 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers," and Fortune magazine's 2002 list of "The 100 Best Companies to Work For." In 2006 Carlson was named one of the "Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality" by the Human Right's Campaign.
The history of Carlson Companies is one of the classic business success stories in the American free enterprise system. Starting in 1938 with an idea and a $55 loan, entrepreneur Curtis L. Carlson (1914-1999) founded the Gold Bond Stamp Company in his home city of Minneapolis. Carlson knew that grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations and other independent merchants could use stamps to distinguish themselves from their competitors. During the 1950s and 1960s, in fact, Gold Bond and sister company, Top Value Stamps, helped revolutionize the way retail goods were marketed. Trading stamps proved to be right for the times and swept the nation in a wave of dramatic growth.
In the late 1960s, when the trading stamp market reached its peak, the Gold Bond Stamp Company expanded into the hospitality industry. In the 1970s, the company acquired dozens of additional businesses, including the highly successful T.G.I. Friday's restaurant chain and internationally renowned Ask Mr. Foster travel agencies. To reflect its diversification, Gold Bond changed its name to Carlson Companies in 1973.