These Las Vegas workers still make house calls

Two Las Vegas professionals are hanging onto two occupations seemingly on their way out of existence.

For Patty Romeo, being a travel agent is the joy of providing personal service in an industry filled with impersonal websites.

Meanwhile, Sean Reyes is trying to “bring back” the house call doctor.

Adapting to new times

Romeo, president of Holiday Ambassador Travel, has resisted the extinction of the travel agency for more than 20 years.

It seems like ages ago that airlines paid travel agents a commission for booking passengers on their flights. But the major airlines started reducing the percentage paid until 2002 when Delta Air Lines became the first major carrier to eliminate all commissions to agents.

Travel industry experts all but predicted that travel agents would go the way of the dinosaur. And for the most part, they have except for a few holdouts such as Romeo who have maintained a niche serving longtime loyal customers, especially on complicated itineraries, international travel with bookings on airlines many people have never heard of and cruises.

“Those of us who have been around long term have absolutely had to adapt to the changing times,” Romeo said. “A monkey can book flights on Southwest Airlines because their website is very easy to use.”

But sometimes the process doesn’t go smoothly for one reason or another, and travelers find themselves with a booking they regret.

“If you want to save $10 to go from here to L.A., with a change of planes in Minneapolis, knock yourself out,” she said.

But most of the time, she will get calls from remorseful loyal customers asking her to help undo something they did on an airline website.

Are house call doctors making a comeback?

Wes Rand/Las Vegas Review-Journal

An irreplaceable touch

While sometimes her job is fixing customer mistakes, the real value in her service is applying a personal touch, wading through the options of a complicated itinerary or offering wisdom from her years of personal travel experiences and information from classes she took at UNLV or what is now College of Southern Nevada — which don’t offer as many courses for travel agents as they once did. She said airline websites are impersonal and good luck reaching anyone who can help you by phone. And, by the way, if you do, you might get charged a new fee.

Romeo has taken cruises with most lines and isn’t shy about recommending options to her customers, which are evenly split between corporate and leisure travelers.

“Cruises are the biggest things we sell vacation-wise,” she said. “I know every line, and I’ve hiked on glaciers, kayaked with whales and gone crabbing in Alaska,” she said.

For those who have never been on a cruise, she will recommend a short “booze cruise” just to see if you like it before going on a weekslong adventure aboard a floating recreational vehicle.

She still collects some commissions from travel vendors, but she now charges $10 for one-way ticketing and $20 round trip for airline bookings to make up for the airline industry’s policy not to compensate travel agents.

Client loyalty

Romeo, a daughter of the late longtime Las Vegas physician Dr. Donald “Doc” Romeo with 10 siblings, has a client list built over a lifetime, and that client loyalty has helped keep her in business. That, and a relatively recent reduction in overhead that has her working from her home.

“Lots of agencies have become home-based,” she said. “It’s the best. I can feed my dog and do my laundry while I work from my home computer.”

She got the idea to work from home when her accountant recommended it after her strip mall landlord raised her office rent. She has no regrets about not being in a traditional workplace and won’t go back, she said.

Sometimes, she will do all her work at home and mail, fax or email travel documents to clients. Other times, she will meet a customer at a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, get on the laptop and offer face-to-face advice.

And, sometimes she won’t see her customer at all.

“I’ve had clients for 20 years that I’ve never seen their faces,” she said. “They either call me or shoot me an email and they say, ‘I want to do this, this, this and this,’ and I book it, send it to them for approval, they email me back and, boom, away we go. It’s a breeze.”

Seen a footmobile lately?

Meanwhile, in the age of convenience and next-day delivery service, Sean Reyes, 34, sees an opportunity to revive the house call doctor era.

Reyes works a regular 9-to-5 job as a podiatrist at the Foot, Ankle & Hand Center of Las Vegas. But in the evenings, you might have seen him driving around in his “footmobile,” making house calls to tourists and locals.

“I have a (fake) foot that comes out of my car,” Reyes said, joking that “it looks like a dead body’s hidden in the trunk.”

It’s one of the many creative ways Reyes tries to get the word out about his side business, a large part of which is removing ingrown toenails.

Toe calls

“If it’s not taken care of, it hurts like crazy,” Reyes said. “Let’s say a businessman is coming up here and he’s visiting and he has a big important meeting tomorrow. Somebody calls me up at 11 p.m. or midnight, they need it removed and I’m there.”

If it’s not an ingrown toenail, then it’s usually treating gout, plantar fasciitis “and then every now and then you get ankle sprains and fractures, and things like that.”

Each visit ranges between $250 to $450, with one month of free followups.

Reyes estimates 60 percent of business comes from locals, and the rest from tourists.

“It’s really surprising,” Reyes said. “I figured it would be nothing but tourists, but nobody’s open on weekends.”

But business is patchy. Some weeks he will have no house calls, and then the next week he could have three house calls in one day, he said.

A Vegas opportunity

Reyes moved to Las Vegas from Ohio two years ago, where he completed a three-year reconstructive surgical residency at Ohio State University.

He made the decision to be a house call doctor while he was in school, based on an interaction he had with a doctor he went to see for his own medical reasons.

He needed a family doctor. He asked around and decided to see one in particular based on his reputation, but he didn’t take insurance.

“I heard so many good things about him, so I sucked it up and paid his price to see him in office. He spent about 75 minutes just talking with me about my problems. I was thoroughly impressed with the one-on-one interaction I got, and then I just figured why not just see somebody at home if you’re going to spend that much time with somebody and bypass the overhead,” Reyes said, adding that it’s the overhead and paperwork that’s “killing doctors nowadays.”

He moved to Las Vegas after he finished his residency, thinking it would be a suitable market for being a house call doctor.

“There are so many tourists here — so many people coming in and coming out that need health care. And it’s a large, growing city,” Reyes said. “You got to go where the opportunity is. I can’t pull this off in a small town.”

Reyes said he really enjoys the level of care he is able to provide during house calls and especially likes not working with insurance companies.

If the business were to grow enough to sustain him full time, he said he would love to be a full-time house call doctor.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Contact Nicole Raz at nraz@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512. Follow @JournalistNikki on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tourists enjoy rain in downtown Las Vegas
Tourists break out the umbrellas. But Brian Herting of Lincoln, Nebraska, dons shorts and a T-shirt, as he makes his way through downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday
Thick fog blanketed Las Vegas Valley on Tuesday. The National Weather Service.forecast called for a 50 percent chance of rain. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Time lapse video of fog covering the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is shrouded in fog Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Tony Spilotro's Las Vegas home for sale — VIDEO
The former Las Vegas home of Chicago mob enforcer, Tony Spilotro, is now for sale. Spilotro, who was portrayed by Joe Pesci in the film Casino, is the original owner of the home at 4675 Balfour Drive, built in 1974. (Samia DeCubas/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffalo Drive And Mountains Edge Parkway Fatal
Las Vegas police and the Nevada Highway Patrol are investigating a fatal crash in the southwest valley on Saturday afternoon. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Joel Ntambwe on his play
UNLV forward Joel Ntambwe talks about his play at this point in the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sam Schmidt chats about hectic off-season
IndyCar team owner Sam Schmidt and lead driver James Hinchcliffe chat about the hectic off-season at the SpeedVegas high-performance driving facility outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory at New Mexico. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
UNLV's Noah Robotham on the win at New Mexico
UNLV guard Noah Robotham talks about winning at New Mexico on Jan. 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV's Kris Clyburn on big 3 vs. New Mexico
UNLV guard Kris Clyburn talks about his key 3-pointer against New Mexico. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marvin Menzies on beating New Mexico
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about UNLV's win at New Mexico on January 8, 2019. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New HOV Ramp Scheduled to Open in March
New HOV ramp scheduled to open in March of 2019.
American Preparatory Academy part of charter school growth in Las Vegas
American Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas has a waiting list of students who want to attend. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wheelchair tournament at UNLV
Cesar Robledo talks about wheelchair basketball and what it means for players to compete during the Wheelchair Basketball Division I-II Tournament at UNLV in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Marvin Menzies on UNLV's trip to Hawaii
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the upcoming trip to Hawaii. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Pinecrest Academy Horizon principal wins Milken Educator Award
Tony Sanchez on UNLV's recruiting class
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about his early signing class. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Siegel Cares delivers bagels to families in need
Since Thanksgiving, Mark Lenoir of Siegel Cares, has been delivering leftover Bagelmania bagels to families staying at the Siegel Suites.
Dan Barnson steps down
Arbor View football coach Dan Barnson stepped down Friday after 12 seasons at the helm. Under Barnson, the Aggies won 104 games and became one of the top programs in Las Vegas. The Aggies went 12-2 in 2018 and won a region championship for the first time in program history. Barnson loves Friday nights, but said the 12-month commitment was getting exhausting.
NFR 2018 Highlights
NFR 2018 highlights from every round of this years rodeo.
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights
NFR 2018 Round 10 Highlights of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada. (CBS Sports Network/PRCA)
NFR- Joe Frost
NFR Bull Rider Joe Frost talks about the difference in bulls and his family legacy with Cassie Soto before the last round of the National Finals Rodeo.
Herm Edwards on LV Bowl loss
Arizona State coach Herm Edwards talks about the loss in the Las Vegas Bowl. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State linebacker George Helmuth after LV Bowl
Linebacker George Helmuth talks about Fresno State's turnaround. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Youth cancer survivor receives gift bat at Winter Meetings
Cancer survivor Steven Mondragon, baseball player at Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights, California, received a complimentary bamboo bat during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NFR Day 9 Highlights
Highlights from round 9 of the 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas, Nevada. (CBS Sports Network/PRCA)
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Business
Bellagio Conservatory transformed to celebrate Year of the Pig
The Bellagio Conservatory Team transformed the 14,000 square foot conservatory to commemorate Chinese New Year, the holiday that marks the end of the coldest days of winter. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Intro uses sound to connect people
Intro, a startup that is part of the Future Worlds Accelerator in the UK, has an app that uses ultrasonic sound to find people and companies nearby.
CES 2019 Video: CES wraps up another year
Time-lapse video of the action at CES 2019 in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Create your own beauty products
Beauty Mix by BeautyByMe is a product that lets you create your own cosmetics and beauty products. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Picobrew’s home brew machine
Picobrew brings automation to homebrewing. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Surviving CES
What it's like to spend four days working the mammoth tech convention. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Haier’s smart home
Haier presented smart home technology at CES 2019.
CES 2019 VIDEO: Foldimate makes laundry day easy
Foldimate has created a machine that will fold your laundry for you. Just feed it anything you need folded and it will do the rest. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Opte device corrects skin spots
Opte from Proctor and Gamble is a device for correcting spots and freckles from skin. It analyzes the area for spots and then covers them with a serum of matching skin tone. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas unveiled
Derek Stevens reveals Circa hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. He plans open by the end of 2020. (K.M Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Circa, new casino coming to Fremont Street
Casino owner Derek Stevens announces his new property Circa, coming to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas in late 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dreenk My Oeno makes wine suggestions
At CES 2019 in Las Vegas, the Dreenk My Oeno tells you all about wine.
Polaroid One Step Plus camera unveiled at CES 2019
Polaroid has moved into the digital age with its One Step Plus camera with Bluetooth. With the connected app, it turns your smartphone into a remote for the camera, along with filters and features.
Amazon is everywhere at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Seemingly everything works with Amazon Alexa
LG Smart Mirror helps you dress snazzy
LG’s Smart Mirror is less of a mirror but more of an assistant to help get you looking snazzy. It takes your image and recommends clothes for you or matches existing clothes with new clothes, which can be purchased right from the mirror. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Underwater robots make waves at CES 2019 in Las Vegas
Robosea is a company dedicated to underwater robotics. They produce consumer robots for underwater filming as well as commercial products which can be used for underwater research. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019 - Victrola record players spin in Las Vegas
A new spin on an old favorite, Victrola record players are meeting a demand for retro products. The brand is also making furnitures with built-in speakers.
CES 2019: Slamtec robots ready to serve
Slamtec is a robotics company out of China whose goal is to provide solutions for laser localization mapping and navigation. They have created two autonomous robots that can be used in areas such as bars, restaurants and malls. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mixologiq drink maker appears at CES 2019 in Las Vegas.
This is the Mixologiq drink maker.
CES 2019: Veritable smart garden
Let’s face it; not all of us have green thumbs. And herbs are particularly difficult to grow, considering their constant need for sunshine. Enter the Veritable smart garden from Exky, which does it all for you. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas being sold to developer
Bonnie Springs Ranch near Las Vegas is being sold to a developer, set to close in March. Bonnie Springs, west of Las Vegas off State Route 159 — next to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park — spans more than 60 acres and was on the market for $31 million. The developer and his project partner are under contract to buy the ranch and plan to chop it up mostly into custom-home lots. The plans includes a 25-room motel, a restaurant and a 5,400-square-foot event barn.
Bone-conduction headphones form Aftershokz
Aftershokz offers bone-conduction headphones - headphones that don’t go in the ear.
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Autonomous Cars and Futuristic Aircraft Rule CES
Day two of CES was dominated by autonomous cars and futuristic aircraft in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
TekNekSavr fights neck problems caused by smart phones
Atiya Syverson invented the TekNekSavr to help fight neck and head problems caused by strains while typing on smart phones. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New eyeglasses know if you fall and call for help
The French company Abeye has created eye glasses that will detect if the wearer falls and call for help. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Company that creates vibrator-like device claims genders bias against CES
Lora DiCarlo is a women-run start-up that creates a vibrator-like device designed for female pleasure called the Osé. This year they were awarded the CES Innovation Award in the Robotics and Drone Category, but a month later the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, rescinded the award and their booth. Haddock and her team believe it is a reflection of gender bias and sexism in an industry with a long history of male domination.
CES-Wagz has new pet products
Wagz has three new products to help create better lives for your pets in a digital world. One is a collar with LTE tracking and an HD camera. Also a smart pet door that only lets your pet in and out. Lastly, a device to humanely keep Fluffy out of certain areas of your home. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Varram lats you play with your pet remotely
Varram’s pet robot is designed to let you remotely interact with your real pet. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES-Formlabs releases new products
Formlabs, a company that produces 3D printers for professionals, has released two new products that can be printed on their hardware. One is a material to print dentures, and the other is an elastic-like material that can be used for printing various flexible pieces. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like