Target Tours will have been in business for ten years starting this January and we feel like it’s time to reflect on the progress we’ve made.
We started from humble beginnings in the basement of John & Lynn’s home in Morell, PEI with a counter top as a desk and a portable heater at John’s feet. The office dog, Taz, provided companionship and was always close by, especially during snack breaks! Actually, Taz was part of our Human Resources team and played a critical part during the candidate interviews. If the dog liked you, chances are good you were hired! Unfortunately, we had to say our final goodbye’s to Taz in May 2018, but her memory lives on (and her hires are still with the company).
As the business grew, we required more help. Lynn worked full time as a bookkeeper outside the business and worked on our books on evenings and weekends. As the number of tours increased, we needed more Tour Directors besides John. Donalda Doucette was our first hire. Donalda worked with John years before at The Travel Store so was already familiar with group touring. Merv McAdam came next followed by Joyce Gill who has since retired. We have added Walter van Beek and Gary Craswell to our team in the past few years rounding out our current team to five Tour Directors including John & Lynn. They all share similar qualities. They are entertainers, storytellers, but most importantly they are compassionate and caring people who look after each and every passenger when they choose to travel with Target Tours. We owe a huge portion of our growth to these amazing guides who have made our tours what they are today.
Back at the office, the work was getting piled up so we hired Janet Victor on a part-time basis. Janet was with us for a couple of years and was able to take care of things in the office while John was on tour. Soon it became clear that John needed full-time help. Alana McKie became our first full-time team member. She stayed for two years but had plans to travel the world. Fortunately for us, Alana had a friend from university who she had completed a foreign student exchange with, who also had a passion for the travel industry. This is our current Operations Manager, Jacqueline Skinner who began her career at Target Tours in September 2013 shortly before Alana moved on. We continued our team growth with Justin MacPhee in July 2014, Katie Dorgan in May 2015, Laura MacEwen in September 2017 and finally Bryanna LeClair in May 2018. Lynn eventually joined the business full time in January 2017.
Our growth in team members also forced us to look at our office space. In 2017 looking around all you could see was people and stuff. We were bursting at the seams. We had taken over bedrooms, hallways, and storage areas of John and Lynn’s home and when Laura was hired we had no other place to put her. In September 2017, a move was required and this led us to our current office in the Stratford Business Park (13B Myrtle Street). With room for growth we intend to stay for awhile.
Along the way, we experienced some milestones in our tour line-up. Out of the gate, we started with a day tour to see the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax and multi-day tours to NASCAR races, New York City and Amish Country. As our client base expanded, so too did our product offering. Our first No-Fly cruise tour was to Bermuda in May 2010 and our first European tour was to Italy and the eastern Mediterranean by cruise ship in September 2014. That cruise was also John and Lynn’s 25th wedding anniversary trip. Nothing like inviting 50+ people to come celebrate! They clearly didn’t mind though as this year in March they are taking another group with them on their 30th anniversary to Hawaii. In group travel, the more the merrier!
We also had some opportunities come our way that added to our business model. In 2015, we purchased Capture the Spirit Tour Service from Astrid Johnston. This led us to offering the services of local Prince Edward Island guides (in the industry known as Step-On Guides) for motor coach or private groups who were visiting the Island. We followed this up with purchase of Hayward Guide Service from Leah-Jane Hayward in 2017 which expanded our Step-On Guide team. Most recently we purchased a private tour business called Duncan’s Island Tours from Duncan Conrad in 2018 which added local PEI Driver-Guides for small private groups to our growing PEI tourism services. As a result of this last purchase, we decided to rebrand our PEI tourism services to “Target Tours Atlantic” complete with new website and social media accounts. We are now operating two independent brands that offer services for outbound travel (Target Tours) and inbound travel (Target Tours Atlantic).
We are excited about the growth in this area of our business. The accomplishments are many including taking our TripAdvisor rating for Target Tours Atlantic from #44 of #48 in May of 2018 to number #2 of #48 for for tours of Charlottetown by October of that same year, that’s less than 6 months! No small feat and a great example of the quality of services our guides and office team provide guests to PEI and Atlantic Canada.
The one thing we are most proud of in the past ten years is the relationships we have formed with our guests. This was evident during our 10 year Birthday Bash celebration in September of 2018 when over 325 past passengers attended from across the Maritimes. To look out into the crowd and see passengers reunited with fellow passengers, our Tour Directors, and our office team was beyond cool. It was a strong reminder of why we do what we do. Long lasting relationships.
As we look back on the past 10 years, we are so proud of how far we have come in that short amount of time. We are also looking forward to our future and all the possibilities and opportunities that will come our way. We’re planning on expanding our tours to outside North America and Europe, increasing our frequency of tours, expanding our team, broadening Target Tours Atlantic to other provinces and basically conquering the world. We feel pretty good about completing that in the next decade 😉
We hope you travel with us on this journey and be there with us as we write our history together. Without you, there would be no Target Tours. For that, we are truly grateful and we promise to never forget it. Our tag line that we came up with so long ago still resonates. Creating Memories, One Journey at a Time is as true today as it was when we first started.
Cheers to many more years to come!
John, Lynn and Target Tours Team