Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - 42


Receptive OpeRatORs

cue the local receptive operator, the tour industry's crucial
sidekick who has encyclopedic knowledge of his or her city.
receptives are familiar with the best attractions, the secret lairs,
and magic hideouts known only to locals. They have x-ray insights into traffic, parking, and under-the-radar spots. In a flash,
these mr. and ms. Fantastics expertly construct itineraries that
will neither overload nor underwhelm mere mortal travellers.
"clients have said a good receptive operator is worth her
weight in gold because of everything she can do for the client
while remaining a silent partner," explains Linda edelman of
custom Tours of Waterbury, vt. "An Indiana group leader may
put together a tour of New england working with me, but his
clientele never knows that I exist. I'm totally there to make the
tour operator the true hero."
meet six AbA member receptive operators from around the
country dedicated to their craft. A few step onto motorcoaches
as tour guides, proudly wearing a national tour operator's
shirt. Some execute their work behind the scenes. Some have
even been known to rush sick travelers to urgent care or do
their laundry if need be. All share the same goal: creating a fun,
memorable experience for visitors.

"a GOOD
Receptive
OpeRatOR is
wORth heR
weiGht in
GOlD Because
Of eveRythinG
she can
DO fOR the
client while
ReMaininG
a silent
paRtneR."
-linDa eDelMan, custOM tOuRs

-Bill Patton, owner of Backbeat Tours in Memphis,
Tenn. His nine-year-old company offers music tours,
ghost tours, historic walking tours, and custom
private tours. Patton authored a Guide to historic
Downtown Memphis.

"Folks are really looking for more hands-on experiences and
adventures these days. Those are the types of activities we
try to create-whether it's hands-on cooking or learning how
to drill a hole in a maple tree for proper maple syrup. Agrotourism is a big example of this newest niche. And experiential
tours too. We have an exclusive with the New england culinary
Institute. We can bring people into its kitchen. It's the only
culinary school in the nation that allows a full motorcoach to
come into its kitchens and prepare a meal with its chefs."
-linda edelman, owner of Custom Tours in Waterbury, Vt. For more than 20 years, Edelman has led
tours all over New England and eastern Canada. She
enjoys customizing packages, from girlfriend getaways
to eco-friendly adventures.

42

destinations

/ November-December 2015

"We go places where other tour groups don't go, and if we do visit
popular sites, we add a unique twist. We designed a really cool 'No
bones About It!' cemetery tour where groups learn what different
angels/statues mean and about grave gifts and the customs of
voodoo and their relationship to how we bury our loved ones. I
also like to bring groups into food-processing plants. We'll see how
cajun boudin is made and taste the product. In addition to visiting
bayous to learn about swamps, wetlands, and cajun folklore, I
have a passion for taking groups into old World-style churches
that immigrants built after they arrived in the 1800s. our groups
get specialty tours and learn the histories of the French, Irish, Germans, Spanish, Italians, and Africans, as well as their contributions
and cultures, which created New orleans."
-Michelle Mueller, owner of Jazzed Up Tours in New
Orleans. Mueller started her company two and a half
years ago but has an extensive background in hospitality, including work at a conventions bureau and
hotels and as a museum director of sales and events.

"We almost always have to include main priorities such as Denali
National Park, and we do a lot with the Kenai Fjords National Park.
but the lure of Alaska is getting away from those major points of
interest, and we have done that. We've done the Kenai Peninsula in
the middle of winter on multiday trips that include Homer, which
is gorgeous. So we try to stretch out visitors' experiences."
-Des lester, owner, with her husband, Joe Lester,
of Eagle Custom Tours of Alaska, based in Sedona,
Ariz., and Anchorage, Alaska. While Lester winters in
Arizona, this Alaska native knows the state well. She
has run her travel company for 35 years.

pReviOus spReaD: DaviD plunkeRt/theispOt.cOM.

What are your region's hidden gems you sell tour
operators on?
"There are treasures big and small, like Graceland. but I don't
think many people realize you can go in the Lauderdale courts
apartments (now called Uptown Square), where elvis's family
lived when they first moved to memphis when he was 13. It was
public housing. They're rental units now, and they rent out all
of them except for the old Presley apartment, which is restored
to how it looked in the early 1950s. It's a tiny little two-bedroom
apartment. You can see its old 1950 Frigidaire, old stove, and
furniture. It looks exactly as it did when the Presleys lived there."


http://www.THEISPOT.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015

Contents
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - BB1
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - BB2
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - Cover1
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - Cover2
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - 1
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - 2
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - Contents
Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - 4
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