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Upscaling the tour industry in the nation's capital

Most visitors that tour Washington, D.C. to see its many historic and cultural landmarks are ferried around in a double-decker bus or a trolley. It’s solid transportation, but there’s nothing unique or upscale about it. Tyree Cook, a veteran tour professional in the nation’s capital, was convinced a strong market existed for a more luxurious experience, and some of his peers agreed. Together, they started iGuide Tours. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter was their vehicle of choice, and, Cook says, “That one decision has been the single biggest factor in a success story that has exceeded our most optimistic expectations.”

“The affordability of the Sprinter allowed iGuide Tours to enter the D.C. market with an upscale offering without breaking the bank.”

Widespread acclaim, from concierges to clientele

Cook purchased two 2012 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Model 2500 High Roof Passenger Vans with the 170-inch wheelbase, and his dealer, Euro Motors, in Bethesda, Maryland, handled all the customization for him. “They came up with the idea of adding an extra row of seats, and that goes right to our bottom line,” he says. The Sprinters also have a high-tech audio-visual system mated to an iPad app that lets customers participate in the complete tour experience, even if they choose to remain on board at certain stops. “The Sprinter so far outclasses anything else in the tour business here. Concierges at the luxury hotels love us and recommend us all the time,” he says. “Our customers are so happy with the experience that they have driven us to the No. 1 spot in vehicle-based tours here because of their reviews on sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor.” 

All startups face problems, but iGuide Tours’ biggest challenge is one most entrepreneurs would love to have. “We did a lot of market research before launching this business, and we were convinced the market would welcome our new model, but we had no idea there would be this level of demand,” Cook says. The young company is operating at 100 percent capacity, and they are planning to add more Mercedes-Benz Sprinters to their fleet and to expand their business model to other East Coast cities. “Everything about this vehicle is a home run—the fuel efficiency, flexibility, comfort, and maneuverability through congested D.C. streets,” he says. “And the image it projects when we pull up to the Ritz Carlton says just what we want it to say about iGuide Tours.”

 

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Last updated: Sep 7, 2012




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