Sunday, May 31, 2009

The benefits of our New Look

Scott Major models our new vests, and shows the new logo on the decals that are on all of the buses now.

We had several instances in the past few days where guests and the guide were in the same lobby but didn't find each other for 10 min. These yellow vests will help solve that issue! Wear them; embrace them; love them.

Same goes for the logo on the buses ... very nice being able to tell people to look for the Tours Northwest coach.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kudos (times 2)!

A guest's email from this week:
We had a great time on our city tour! Our guide, Daniel, was a hoot! What made it even better was ow much history he knew about Seattle, its architecture, and its people. We will definitely book anohter trip with you next year, when we return! Contratulatios for your terrific business.
It should also be noted that Nicole took extra steps in an earlier email to find these same guests secure, free parking in SeaTac. FIRST CONTACT with guests is as important as an excellent tour. We provide exceptional customer service, along with extraordinary tours!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tour Guide's Aphorism

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 22, 2009

History Trivial: our first monorail

Do you know when a monorail was first built in Seattle? Click here to be surprised by the Boyles Monorail experiment. And here for a picture.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spot Times

Please follow the recommended SPOT TIMES for tours. We don't want you in too early, and we don't want you to show up late. If you are the first driver on a main tour, you do not need to call(unless you will be late); other drivers SHOULD call-in at least an hour before their spot time, or the night before (NB) in the case of the 11 AM tour which starts on June 1.

If you are not required to call, we will call you if it looks like your tour will not be running.

Morning Tour Spot and Call-in Times

MR BELL OC BTam 9am FSam 10am 10am 2d 10am 3d 11am
6 AM 7:45 AM 8 AM 8 AM 8 AM 8:15 AM 8:15 AM 8:15 AM 6 AM
Call Call Call Call Call NB

Afternoon Tour Spot and Call-In Times

1pm 1pm 2d BTpm 2pm 2pm 2d FSpm FSpm 2d OC pm 4pm
11:30 AM 12:00 PM 12:30 PM 12:30 PM 12:30 PM 1:30 PM 1:30 PM 1:30 PM 2:30 PM
Call Call Call Call Call Call

Monday, May 11, 2009

Anniversary of Wilkes Exploring Expedition

Am I the only one who sees an amazing resemblence between Charles Wilkes and Eric Idle? (Contest: who can come up with the best caption to this picture? Email me.)

You have all read the articles for the week, right? (See link in the right hand margin for Important Links for Guides.) If so, you'll know that Charles Wilkes led his expedition into Puget Sound this week, back in 1841 (seems to be a typo in paragraph three.) Elliott Bay is named after the chaplain on board.

Accounting Sheets for two DIFFERENT tours

If you run a double consisting of two City tours, the Accounting Sheet works well. If you run two DIFFERENT tours, such as a City tour and a Boeing or a Famous, then I'd ask that you use a separate accounting sheet for each. We divide up our Sales between types of tours and to get an accurate reading of how each does over the season, we need you to help out our Daily Accountant (Duane, or on occasion, Steve) by doing a separate accounting. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Our Start of the Season Party

Dan sternly forks out the new policies; and models the new company color (Mimosa!)

Duane, as usual, cleans up.

There are many, many more pictures from our party. In the upper right hand corner of the Flickr site, you'll see a slideshow button. Click here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Season Opener - Dinner at La Spiga - May 5th

On Tuesday, May 5th from 6 PM to 9 PM we will have a fine dining Season Opening Meeting. This will be very special! It will be held this year at Osteria La Spiga on Capitol Hill at Pike and 12th. This is a very nice restaurant, where Sabrina Tinsley reigns. She is one of three Iron Chef America participants from Seattle (Tom Douglas and Tamara Murphy are the other two). We drive by La Spiga (and Brasa and 4 of 5 of Tom's restaurants) and talk about these three on our Famous Seattle tour.

We should arrive at 6 PM. We will have appetizers, a pasta entree, and dessert. Wine and other alcoholic drinks are each individual's responsibility this year; please limit consumption so we can have a pleasant evening and safe journey home.

Please call the office to RSVP. THIS IS A DRIVER/EMPLOYEE EVENT ONLY: we have lots of work items to cover - new tours, new faces, new rules. Thank you.

Consider coming a half hour early and walking around to explore this neighborhood. To the south is Seattle U (another Famous Seattle stop at the chapel and business school to see the Chihuly chandelier). And window/menu shop the great restaurants in the neighborhood: Boom Noodle,, Quinn's, Oddfellow's Cafe, a new Molly Moons ice cream shop (sample the pomegranite curry sorbet!), etc. Stop and say hi to Jimi, at Broadway and Pine.

(Personal post-side-note: After the party Andree and I walked back to our cars near 10th and Pine. Here is what we found: two Century Ballrooms (tango! and swing), Molly Moons with lines our the door, a DODGEBALL! game (which I first mistook for a gang rumble), bike polo! , and many people on the streets heading to clubs and restaurants. It really was one of the most vibrant city night scenes I have ever seen! Anywhere! Anyone want to go progressive appetizer-ing and dodgeball watching some Tues. night?)

And, finally, here is a very good article everyone should read. Think of these points in terms of this get-together, but then re-read and think of them in terms of your tours and your role of "hosting" our guests from around the world.

New Guides

We don't have pictures of all of our new guides yet, but these four will get you started in learning faces and names:

Martin Jay Menlove

Marvin Newton

Scott Major

Eric Litt

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maria won!

Maria Hines (of Tilth restaurant in Wallingford) just won Best Chef of the NW division at the James Beard Awards! Tom Douglas did not win Restauranteer of the Year, but was his incomparable self: NW casual at a black tie event. Here he talks about Porchetta and many many other NY restaurants he ate at ... in only one day (?).

Follow the James Beard Foundations Awards!

The James Beard Foundation Food Awards is a two day affair in New York City. Seattle is well represented and we allude to these awards on our Famous Seattle tour. Last night, writer Rebekah Denn won and night its the chef's turn. Tom Douglas and Maria Hines are two of several Seattle chefs nominated.

A fun way to follow this is to use Twitter tonight around 4 PM. Search for "beardfoundation" and read the entries throughout the early evening. We twitter as a company also - "toursnorthwest" - as a way of spreading word about our company and sending immediate news out to our followers. It has resulted in some business!

Or go to the James Beard Foundation site to get longer updates. A Twitter tutorial: a hashtag is a keyword with a # in front of it. You can search for those in Twitter and get ALL tweets that include them. For example, try "#jbf"; don't do "beard" and expect to avoid lumberjacks, hormonally challenged women, in addition to the food awards.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tip of the Week: Finding Guests at the Westin

When picking up at the Westin, if you can't find the guest to the right of the concierge desk, make sure you check out front on 5th Ave. before you head back down the escalator to your coach. If they are self-booked, they may well assume that in front is where we pick up. (Telephone people do try to explain everything, but with busy phones, we might miss this key direction.)

I post these tips based on real events when I'm reminded of Good Practices. On a recent Mt. Rainier tour this occurred. The driver drove away; the guest called (thankfully); and the driver had to come back to the Westin (thankfully, he hadn't gotten on the freeway yet.) It obviously is in the driver's best interest to not have to do so. It is a team effort, and the Dispatcher will remind and urge the driver to check and double-check for guests before they leave.

Related to all of this is an observation that everyone is doing really well on CALLING IN THEIR NUMBERS 1. before they leave remote locations and 2. before they begin their tour. Thank you!