Bank travel manager turned entrepreneur, Patti Beth Anderson leads intrepid travelers across the globe.
Terrific group leaders are hard to track down because they’re always on the road with their groups. I managed to catch up with Patti Beth Anderson, owner of Good to Go with Patti Beth between a week-long California and Lake Tahoe trip and a cruise the Rhine River, visiting Holland, Germany, France & Switzerland. Her story is one of opportunity, parlaying successful stint at an Oklahoma bank travel club into her own successful enterprise. Enjoy this edition of Take 5.
1) How did you get started in the business and how have you managed to grow?
I was a college Speech and Theater instructor and after doing this I said, “OK, what’s next?” Our local bank approached me about starting a travel program and I thought, “I know more about high school seniors than those seniors.” That was 20 years ago. I have been very blessed to explore the world with wonderful travelers making their “some days” come true.
At the bank, the program had age and account restrictions. When I started my own business I felt it was important to me to open tours up for anyone. While I still have many of the same travelers, I have brought in the “boomers” with each successive year. My travelers are mostly retired couples, but I still have some that are working and can’t wait to travel more.
Word of mouth is my best recruiting tool. But I write an article for local papers, use Facebook and encourage people to sign up for my emails. People ask me to speak for their organizations which get me in front of new travelers.
2) I see you have created extensive video diaries for your extended tours, that’s quite an ambitious project. Who’s the videographer?
Yes! My husband Doug is an excellent photographer. When he is able to travel with us, our travelers have come to expect a neat little edited DVD from Good to Go as a gift. He works like crazy to edit sometimes 60+ hours of video down to something that their friends can (and will) actually watch within an hour. It is ambitious, and I certainly couldn’t afford it without him, but he believes in the business too.
We like telling people that we promise to share photos that they are in so stop stressing over missing shots and enjoy the moment! Our clients enjoy getting and sharing the videos with friends and family. Some have even used the video to do their own travel shows for organizations. Of course, we make sure our logo is there!
3) How many trips are you doing per year? Plan them on your own, or work with a tour operator?
We try to offer 15-20 trips per year, that’s day trips and extended tours. I plan my own shorter trips and Mystery Trips, but for the longer tours, I always use a tour operator. I don’t even want to pretend I have the knowledge or time to properly research and put something together that could compete with something tried and working.
4) What advice do you have for someone starting out as a new group travel leader?
It’s the best job in the world, but it is work. Sometimes very stressful, ugly, heavy, unglamorous work. People want to think that we are on vacation all the time. Let ‘em think it. We know differently!
5) The worst tour escort/step-on guide you ever had was…
Appleton, Wisconsin. Our step-on guide discovered we were from Oklahoma and thought he would be clever making Indian jokes. Really? I’m a Cherokee as were many of the passengers and his remarks weren’t funny. I stopped the bus and asked him to step-off; his tour was over. Then there was the step-on that got lost in his own tiny hometown, but that’s another story.
Entering her third decade of leading groups, with Patti Beth’s style and flair, it’s apparent that more stories are just around the corner.