Wednesday, December 19, 2012
From overnight trips to Nashville to three-week trips across the United States, Randy Clark has organized it all.
The Ringgold businessman began operating Clark’s Tours out of his home in 1989 and has been traveling with groups ever since.
“At Clark’s Tours we arrange and conduct group travel,” he said. “We work with a lot of different travel groups, from banks, churches or whoever.”
Clark said he tries to work with groups of 24-48 participants on a typical group travel trip. Having somewhere in that range of participants helps people get the best deals for their money and creates a fun atmosphere of traveling with friends, but it can also be a difficult trip to plan for someone who is not accustomed to organized group travel trips, he said.
That’s where Clark’s Tours comes in.
“Group travel is a unique form of travel that comes with its own set of unique problems,” he said. “I’ve seen most of them and know how to handle it. People are always amazed at how little effort they have to put in to one of our trips.”
Common destinations for group trips include New England for fall foliage site seeing, Branson, Mo., for shopping and entertainment, Savannah, Ga., for its all-around regional appeal, Washington, D.C., for the history contained and Amish communities in Pennsylvania. Other destinations have included Hawaii, Alaska, the Canadian Rockies and even places in Europe.
Typical trip packages include transportation, site seeing and some organized meals.
“Trips are totally customizable for groups in the organization stage,” said Clark.
Before opening his own tour business Clark worked with a friend operating a similar business that owned its own busses. He said he enjoyed the tour aspect of the business, especially working with seniors, but grew weary of the bus part of the business.
With Clark’s Tours, he said he gets to work often with seniors, which is one of his favorite things about the business.
“I love the people,” Clark said. “I get a kick out of people laughing and talking and having a good time, especially seniors. I feel like they’ve earned that right.”
He personally goes on 90 percent of the tours he does, helping with logistics and leading the groups through different destinations.
“A lot of the places we go I’ve been there half a dozen times, but when you go back you see it with different eyes because you’re with different people,” he said.
In addition to traveling and organizing tours, Clark said he is available to make presentations to different groups about travel options. He also has a mailing list people can join to find out about upcoming trips. He said sometimes on a group trip there’s an option for a smaller group to join or individuals to participate in the tour.