People often ask how Steve how he came to be the Tourism Champion he is today…a self-employed business owner working in various aspects of the tourism industry…Tour Director, Interpretive Tour Guide, Instructor/Trainer and Consultant.
Ironically, it all started working through undergraduate school as a tour guide, with no intention of making tourism a career. Years later, after more than a decade in corporate services management and as the owner’s representative on redevelopment projects, managing employees and contractors who provided huge corporate facilities with everything from building security, to mechanical system maintenance, to food service…it’s a long list, volunteering as a Journey Guide drew him back to the occupation he was truly wired for.
As it turned out, managing corporate services was great training for the job of organizing resources, events, services, logistics and the array of contracts it takes to deliver tourism services reliably and efficiently.
Corporate services management experience came in handy directing tours for the former American Orient Express Railway (AOE), a private, deluxe ‘cruise ship on wheels’, operating 1996 to 2006. Steve had the good fortune of working with the company for six of those years. At its peak, the AOE operated two private trains and offered eleven astonishing itineraries spanning the United States, Canada and Colonial Mexico.
A high degree of learning agility quickly led him into other aspects of the AOE’s operations, where he was a trusted resource for developing new tour itineraries, training on-board guest services personnel in creating an exceptional customer experience, as well as safety and emergency response responsibilities. Each member of the train’s crew required training not unlike that of a flight attendant, and Steve stepped up to the job. He worked closely with Amtrak and railroads in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to offer guests, and crew, the experience of a lifetime.
Between training programs offered nationwide and in Canada, another part of Steve’s job was to locate qualified suppliers, negotiate contracts, and manage dozens of contractors that keep the AOE’s two 15-car trains supplied with vital services under challenging logistical conditions. Even parking a private train presents obstacles most people cannot imagine, and in his experience, dealing with a train wreck is more than a cliché. It was the perfect nexus for his experience as a tour guide, corporate services manager, instructor, and personal love of travel.
Steve has taken pride in leading hundreds of travelers on scenic byways, forest trails, glaciers, Great Lakes and rivers, on adventures aboard private trains and meticulously restored vintage rail cars, large and small cruise vessels, and deluxe motor coaches. Clients have enjoyed vacation travel full of fun discovery to more than 50 national parks and monuments, visiting North America’s most inviting, vibrant cities.
It has all been a great path to the engaging, fulfilling and fun combination of services Tourism Champion offers today.