The reviews are in and this year’s Old West Trail (June 18-24) was a resounding success, thanks to the excellent staff (both Coloradans) who took this little group in hand. The tour director, Doris Bean is an industry veteran who has led group tours to most sections of the United States (including Alaska) since 1988 for many major American and international tour companies. Our driver, Richard Maxcy, also deserves kudos for his personable style, excellent driving skills and ability to cope with the rains that – God help us – are still inundating this part of the world, and creating – shall we say – touring challenges!
Why can’t Mother Nature send some of this stuff to Arizona and New Mexico where they could really use it?
We strive to make every tour experience better than the last, and use passenger evaluations and tour director’s reports as guides to continually improve our services.
Many large tour operators are obsessed with the numbers on those evaluations, and even set tour director salaries based on them. Because I am a tour director myself, however, I understand that there are many factors which affect the conduct and appreciation of a tour, and some of them are simply out of anybody’s control. Road construction, foul weather, plus a myriad of other factors can have a major affect on whether a tour is successful or not. It is how the tour staff – a partnership between the driver and tour director – deal with these factors that make the difference. For that reason, we do not judge our staff by numbers, but by words. We ask our guests to put in their own words whether their travel experience met their expectations and how.
The 2011 Old West Trail was a TAP Guaranteed Departure, which means that the departure runs whether it has one person on it or 50. Another aspect of this unique program is that several TAP Partners (now 38 of us) participate in selling each departure. This one had 5 participating Partners and the tour had barely concluded when I received my first comment from a passenger forwarded by my Partner in Indiana:
“ I just wanted you to know how wonderful that old West trip was. So old West Trail, Doris Louise Beam is a gem. Something else the 14 other people were very compatible. So it was just magnificent. We saw all these baby Buffalo [in] Custer State Park and everyday was just a joy and it was just so wonderful. So just thank you so much for being able to arrange that tour for me.”
The email concluded with a query from my Partner asking for next year’s dates so she can offer it again. (June 16-22, 2012).
Next came word from Nevada, short and sweet: “[my clients] LOVED the June 18th tour. Thanks.”
Next came the evaluations from the passengers themselves:
“Your love of the West showed through in the ways you shared your knowledge…the little unexpected extras made the many miles of our “Old West Trail” memories that will not be soon forgotten.”
“We loved our tour.”
“All presenters at the different locations were excellent”.
“My interest was in being able in my mind’s eye to picture the Wild West. Trip did that for me!”
“I’ve been on many tours and Doris was great.”
“Doris exceeded my expectations”.
“It was more than I expected. I so enjoyed myself. Thank you.”
“The tour was wonderful and Doris and Richard made it super wonderful.”
“Doris was fabulous!! She made the trip so much fun.”
“I’ve learned a lot & have a greater appreciation of everything along the Old West Trail.”
“Doris is really great & so knowledgeable about this area. Very easy to travel with & very personable & professional.”
“Our tour director, Doris Bean, and our driver, Richard were wonderful. They were so helpful, courteous and knowledgeable of history of the west. It was a great trip and I am so glad I went.”
Shebby Lee is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West. Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO. She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.