Courier February Courier - Page 58

AFTERWORDS The best job(s) BY TAMMY GUILL I HAVE THE BEST job in the world. As director of sales at Ride the Ducks of Seattle for the past seven years, I’m living the dream of connecting groups with our amphibious and entertaining adventure tour of Seattle. I have another “best” job, too, that I’ll tell you about later. I used to work for the Washington State Tourism Office, where I created itineraries and led Fam groups all over Washington. And for five years prior to that, I owned and operated a tour com- pany, Bravo Tours, where we focused on senior groups and military reunions. Working with seniors was very reward- ing and, honestly, one of my absolute favorite types of traveler. One of my clients was a reunion group of nurses who, during World War II, accompanied wounded soldiers on flights from Paris to London. While holding the lives of patients in their hands during each harrowing journey, the nurses also had to deal with the possibility of being shot down. They were so young—and so courageous. People in our industry say “once a tour operator, always a tour operator,” and in my current role with Ride the Ducks, I’m White Pass in Mt. Rainier National Park 56 February 2018 Skagit Valley Tulip Festival happy to help operators with their state- wide routing and to offer ideas for new and off-the-beaten-path tours. That saying also applies to the job I do in my spare time; I lead senior tours for my church, CenterPoint, out of Eatonville, Wash. We’ve done a trip to Snoqualmie to take in the Northwest Railway Museum and a train ride, to Naches for a winter tour to watch hundreds of elk, to Federation Forest for a summer hike, and to Olympia in autumn for the farmers market com- bined with a pumpkin farm in Yelm. And yes, of course I took my seniors on a Duck tour—they absolutely loved it! We keep the costs of the church tours low, which helps seniors on limited incomes, and we encourage them to invite their friends and family to create even better memories. We’re helping the destinations we visit because there aren’t a lot of groups that make it to some of the less-traveled areas of Washington. Washington no longer has a state tourism office, so many of these gem destinations get overlooked because they have no budget to reach tour operators directly. I love being able to help small businesses by bringing our seniors to their establishments. There’s a certain kind of magic in seeing the joy our seniors experience on the tours, especially for those who may have wondered if they could still travel and explore. The light in their eyes touches my heart every time, and knowing they can share their new expe- riences with friends and loved ones is what it’s all about. Being able to lead tours for my church—while also truly enjoying my job and work family at Ride the Ducks— makes me think that my life and work balance is the best of both worlds in the tourism business that I love. Tammy Guill is director of sales at Ride the Ducks of Seattle. You can email her at tammy@ridetheducksofseattle.com.