Destinations Magazine - November/December 2015 - 43


"I operate 24 private homes and five mansions that are on tour
throughout the year. These are museum homes and antebellum
mansions. most are private residences. They're ornate and
expensive with elaborate decorations. And they're gorgeous."
-lynn Beach smith, director of Natchez Pilgrimage
Tours in Natchez, Miss., the city's only full-service receptive tour operator. The company's roots date back
to 1932, when local garden club members opened their
homes to the public to promote historic preservation.

What challenges do you face working with
tour operators?
"Some groups want to see 18 sites in three hours. I tell people,
'Sometimes less is more. You don't have to spend three hours
at one attraction, but don't do 18 sites in three hours. There's a
happy medium.' That's what we explain to clients all the time.
"Sightseeing in any metropolitan area, especially in D.c.,
changes every day. Security rules change. New attractions
open. other attractions close. So even groups that come year
after year need to know the most up-to-date information. And
that's the value of our company."
- neil Amrine, owner of Guide Service of Washington
Inc. His tour guides are familiar sights in Washington,
D.C., as they carry an umbrella to help groups spot
them in thick crowds.

"If you're a receptive, you need to be careful who you work with.
For example, one tour operator asked me to do three seven- to
10-day itineraries for him. (You know it takes a lot of work to
research costs.) I put them together and sent him a beautiful
portfolio. Later when I saw him at a convention, I asked him if
he had received the packet since I hadn't heard back, nor had he
replied to my emails. He replied-and I quote-'Des, I don't even
look at that stuff. I throw it in the garbage.'"
-Des lester, Eagle Custom Tours of Alaska

lOcal Receptive
OpeRatORs
knOw the Best
attRactiOns,
the secRet
laiRs, anD
MaGic hiDeOuts
knOwn Only
tO lOcals.

"I'll call it a lack of doing homework ahead of time. They want
to do too much in a day. An operator will say, 'We want to go
to Graceland. We want to go on your music tour. We want to
go to Sun Studios. We want to go to the civil rights museum.
oh, and we're getting into town at 1 p.m. and have to leave the
next morning.'"
-Bill Patton, Backbeat Tours

What misconceptions do out-of-town operators
have about your area?
"D.c. sometimes gets a reputation as a not-so-friendly city to
motorcoaches. If you do things that are inappropriate with a
motorcoach, like violate the rules and park in the wrong places,
then, yes, it can be unfriendly. but when you're working with a
good receptive operator, such as us, we can minimize those problems and it can be a good experience for everyone."
-neil Amrine, Guide Service of Washington Inc.

"I'd like people to understand this about Natchez: every day of
the week we have people here from all over the world, just as
New orleans does. You could stand at our desk and hear Dutch
and French. People from Australia and england visit us here."
-lynn Beach smith, Natchez Pilgrimage Tours

"Some people don't think New orleans is appropriate for a
faith-based group. They think the city is all about partying on
bourbon Street. Although bourbon Street is fun for great jazz
and restaurants, it may not be for all types of groups. New orleans has always had a strong faith, and on our tours we explain
how festivals and events that take place, including mardi Gras,
have strong christian customs. We show a beautiful side of New
orleans-its food culture, its music culture. In addition to showing the beautiful side of the French Quarter, where parents can
be happy about their kids' experiences, we also take groups into
other neighborhoods and parishes, which are unique. We consider our tours to be very different from traditional tours, and we
create fun and memorable experiences for our groups. bottom
line, I love what I do!"
-Michelle Mueller, Jazzed Up Tours

"The biggest thing in Alaska is that it's a long way from Point A
to Point b. It takes six and a half hours without stopping to drive
from Anchorage to Denali. Then it takes six hours to get back.
And then it takes another three hours from Denali if you include
Fairbanks. everything is far apart and time consuming to see,
and that means high cost. So most everyone who calls us knows
what they want to do. They just need somebody to clean it up
and make it go as smoothly as possible at a reasonable cost."
-Des lester, Eagle Custom Tours of Alaska

Anne Marshall is a senior staff writer at Louisville
magazine.
November-December 2015

\ destinations 43



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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