Moostash Joe Tours
This edition of Take 5 talks with Joey Spellerberg, the second-generation leader of this Fremont, Nebraska-based company.
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Fremont, Nebraska-based Moostash Joe Tours is a regional powerhouse, operating upwards of 150 group trips annually. This 45-year-old company has withstood various economic downturns, but none like the current situation.
The tour company focuses mostly on retail tours, with a variety of trips ranging from one to 15 days. Over the years they’ve grown to develop both cruises and overseas tours.
“Our goal right now is to weather the storm,” said Spellerberg. “Be patient, waiting is the hardest thing right now,” he continued. “But when this breaks we’re going to have a lot of demand.”
Being a regional operator, Moostash is a little more agile than the big tour operators. “Our goal is to operate maybe a dozen trips between now and the end of the year,” said Spellerberg. “We can look at our tours and pick a couple that we’re able to operate. We have relaxed our cancellation policy.”
As an example, they have a group of 20 heading up to Minnesota in August for a five-day fishing trip. All participants have signed an updated liability form and they will have assigned seating on the motorcoach. “They have expressed interest and we don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t operate the trip at this point,” said Spellerberg.
Moostash also has a group ready for the Kentucky Derby and possibly Colorado. “It’s all a matter of if we can put a tour together that has restaurants, rest stops, and it’s going to take some revisions of our itineraries, but if we have people who have signed up and paid and states are open, we’re ready to go.”
Another unique nature of regional operators is their personal relationship with customers. “I think we’re as close to our customers as anybody,” Spellerberg said. “People that are still signed up for tours through the end of the year, they really want to go and are disappointed with trips that are being cancelled. He estimates that 25% of customers want to go no matter what. Another 25% might not go in the next couple years, they are going to wait it out. And roughly 50% are waiting to see what happens. As sentiment begins to change – the company believes customers will be ready to go.
“We’re planning our 2021 schedule normally. It’s going to break so you have to stick to your plan and work your business and eventually whenever it breaks people start booking again. You’re going to want to have inventory,” said Spellerberg, who’s particularly optimistic about next summer and fall.
The firm isn’t changing up their product line, feeling they have a good mix of products in place that are ready to reboot.
Spellerberg said, “Reassurance from our suppliers and DMOs is going to be huge coming out of this.” Clients will need to know that the destination is ready for them, things are open, and if something is closed they need to know.
As for what they’re focusing on going forward, the company is going back to their roots. “Obviously cruises are going to be tough in the first quarter, international is going to be tough. We’re getting back to our niche – domestic motorcoach trips – that’s what our bread and butter has been. We’re going back to our roots.”
“We’ll be back and stronger than ever. We just gotta be patient and hang in there.”
Personally, this has been an eventful year for the Spellerbergs as they’ve welcomed their third child and Joey is running for mayor of his hometown of Fremont, Nebraska. Good luck!