A discussion with Ride the Ducks of Seattle – Day Tour Operator – Seattle, Washington USA

Welcome to the Industry Insider blog series. The Industry Insider aims to highlight common challenges across the tourism industry. From sales to reservations to accounting to operations, we all strive to operate efficiently and profitably. At the core of TourConnect is a passion for uniting the industry around the solutions to these challenges.

Today, we look at a closer look at Ride the Ducks of Seattle, a day tour operator that focuses on providing a unique way of seeing the beautiful Seattle skyline in their amphibious buses. We spoke with their Director of Sales, Tammy Guill, to learn about the challenges they face in the tourism industry today.

What makes Ride the Ducks different from your competitors?
We’ve been voted “Best City Tour of Seattle” for seven years in a row by the viewers of King5 TV’s – Evening Magazine! Ride the Ducks of Seattle is an entertainment venue from the moment guests arrive on site – our entire staff is engaged to make our guest experience on board extraordinary!

How do you manage all of your business relationships and keep them engaged in your company?
We currently use a classic CRM database management system to manage our business relationships. It’s effective and does a great job of tracking projects. Also our team is highly creative and very active on social media which drives engagement with our ridership base regularly.

What advice would you give to a new company as they try to find and build relationships with new business partners?
I would suggest diving deeply into your prospective partners’ long term goals, prior to a business arrangement, to be sure their business model aligns well with yours. Great partners open doors for one another and help each other grow as a result of that partnership.

What is the most challenging or tedious part of your job on a day-to-day basis?
Challenge: In Seattle, it’s cold and rainy in the winter season, and it can be tough to get folks on board during that time of year. This is especially challenging if they don’t realize we have windows that close and keep the wind and rain out of our vehicles.

We’ve been very creative in forming packages which creates demand in the off season. We run targeted specials during that period and make it fun by including some value added amenities we normally would not include during peak season. There’s no lack of creativity on our team which makes it a great experience to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Some take off like a Duck from a pond and others, not so much, but each time we learn a bit more about how to connect and be more successful with our guests.

In short, we are challenged to create great offers and effectively communicate those offers to our partners.

Tedious: At Ride the Ducks of Seattle – every day is an adventure and no two days are ever the same – tedious is not a word spoken in our vocabulary.

What do the next five years have in store for Ride the Ducks of Seattle?
Ultimately, our long term goals are to focus ridership growth in shoulder and off seasons by offering unique packages and experiences for our guests and increase our ability to accommodate high demand in the summer months by increasing our fleet.

Why did you decide to sign up for TourConnect? What do you hope to gain?
Ride the Ducks of Seattle joined TourConnect as a way to continue our outreach to new tour operators as well as other attractions and vendors. We’ve found some of our best connections come through networks and associations, such as TourConnect, which helps us grow our business. We hope to be able to promote our off-peak packages and special offers to partners through TourConnect.

The TourConnect Take
Below, we break down the interview to share relevant experiences, analysis, ideas, and thought provoking questions with the industry.

Ride the Ducks of Seattle has highlighted a challenge that every company in the tourism industry has every year…how do we grow sales during our off-peak months? We know we deliver great products throughout the year, but the seasonal nature of tourism businesses presents all sorts of issues from cash flow, to staffing, to equipment and more. The question for our industry is – how can we be better at generating more off-peak bookings?

Tammy mentioned something that seems quite small, but is very important – people don’t know that their vehicles have windows to keep them warm and dry during the winter season. Even if Ride the Ducks is great about sending updates to their partners, it is often hard for their partners to manage these types of updates from all of their partners. This is because inbound tour operators, outbound tour operators and travel agents sell hundreds and thousands of products, and these notes just get missed. As an industry, we can solve this problem by creating a standards around how important product updates are communicated, agents are trained, and travelers are informed.

Ride the Ducks clearly works hard to create great packages and special offers for their partners. The challenge for booking partners is trying to load all of these products into their booking systems (you can read more about why this is important here). The process is time consuming and ultimately many of the products never make it to the market. This means a lot of time and effort spent to create and promote these packages gets wasted. The easier we make it for tour operators and travel agents to load and sell products, the more specialized offers we can get into the market. This means unique offerings that apply only to a few months a year would now be available…which would increase off-peak sales for everyone.

Inefficiency plays a major role in overcoming the challenge of increasing off-peak season bookings for everyone in the industry. The more efficient we are as an industry in processing important product information and getting new products into the market, the more sales we can all generate.

Tammy Guill, Ride the Ducks of SeattleTourConnect would like to thank Tammy at Ride the Ducks of Seattle for taking the time to share their experiences and honestly addressing their challenges so that others have the ability to relate.

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Have you or your company experienced these challenges? How have you addressed them? Comment below, so we can all learn and relate.

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Mike Herrmann

Author Mike Herrmann

After beginning his career in technology, Mike moved to Sydney in 2004 to start Bonza Bike Tours. His unique combination of experience in software development and tourism helped form the vision for TourConnect. While wearing out the airspace between the US and Australia, Mike has also become an expert in sleeping in uncomfortable chairs and B-grade movies.

More posts by Mike Herrmann

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Great article. I’ve always been a fan of Ride the Ducks and I can speak from personal experience that Tammy brings an abundance of passion and energy into working with her partners and clients. I appreciated the focus on off-peak times and in making it a priority to make sure your partnerships align in a mutually beneficial way.

    • Hey Meilee, thanks for the compliments. It’s been fun for us to get a chance to talk to passionate people in the tourism industry. It really helps you realize that you’re not alone out there in facing some of the day to day challenges. We’ve now got a backlog of great new topics for the blog, so I can’t wait to get them posted!

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