motorcoach Archives - Starr Tours & Charters
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From Sea to Shining Sea and Memories in Between

Christine Durling

Escorting passengers three times on Starr’s Cross Country tour has touched me with so many terrific memories. Of course, there were the famous landmarks beginning with the Gateway Arch in Missouri, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Old Faithful in Wyoming, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not to forget the Grand Teton Mountains, the Great Plains, the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts, Lake Tahoe and streams and waterfalls, and the Pacific Ocean.  Even with all of this beauty and wonder, I will never forget the in-between memories that were reflective of the passengers on the tour as well as the people I had met along the way.

One day after being on the road for a week, one of our passengers asked me if he could talk on the microphone for a few minutes. Not knowing what he was up to but thankful for a talking break, I quickly agreed.  Little did any of us know, he was observing our daily activities and would spend his evenings writing lyrics about some missteps— like someone leaving house keys in a hotel room, meeting up with a snowfall in Nevada in July, or being awakened in the middle of the night by a hotel fire alarm because someone got stuck in the elevator.  Not only did he sing the song but he accompanied himself with a portable cassette player—remember them? We laughed so hard and so long that he never had to ask for the microphone again.  He had a standing gig on the bus each week thereafter. We could hardly wait to hear what and who he was going to sing about next.

Food was always on our minds when traveling cross country.  Starting with satisfying hotel breakfasts to surprise snacks shared by our passengers.  It was not unusual for a bag of grapes to suddenly appear being passed up and down the aisle followed by a big bag of chocolate candies.  Then there was the box lunch in the middle of the Painted Desert in Arizona – not another vehicle in sight as we savored the solitude and the indescribable landscape.  Dinners ranged from fine dining menus to pizza delivered to hotel rooms.  One of my favorite food memories was our stay in Los Angeles.  Our hotel was across the street from Ralph’s Supermarket.  One of the passengers asked me what my dinner plans were for the evening.  I mentioned I was going over to Ralph’s for a roasted chicken and something from the salad bar.  She thought that was a swell idea and joined me by the pool.  There we were surrounded by California palm trees and digging in to our dinner with plastic knives and forks.  Fine dining— at least in our minds!

 

Probably the number one question I get about the cross country tour is “What about laundry?”

My view while walking to the laundromat

Starr has that figured to a “tee”! —pun intended.  Many of the hotels en route have laundry facilities on-site.  The passengers were great about taking turns doing their laundry to everyone’s satisfaction.  After 14 days on the road, I decided to do my laundry in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, for me, there were no on-site facilities.  Desperate times called for desperate measures.  So after a few directions from the front desk, I packed up my dirty laundry in a small suitcase and rolled my way up a couple of hills in San Francisco to the neighborhood laundromat humming, “I washed my socks in San Francisco. . .”  Being in the heart of this famous town, game me a bird’s eye view of its diversity when I met a young man from New Jersey who moved there a year ago for a job.  He was cleaning his apartment and doing his wash before his mom’s visit that weekend.  Then there was the girl with multiple tattoos who ran in and out checking on her stash in the dryer.  While waiting for my wash to be completed, an elderly Chinese gentleman wearing a large straw hat, asked me if I was from Australia?  Somewhat amused, and somewhat flattered, I asked him why he would think that.  He said, “because everyone that comes in here is from Australia.”   I had to chuckle because when I first arrived at the laundromat— a mother and daughter who helped me maneuver the money changer told me that they were on a three-week tour of the States – from Australia!

On our 26th and final day on the road and after traveling over 7,000 miles—yes, on a bus—yes, with the same people—a couple of our male passengers asked if they could say something to the group.  It came as no surprise that their comments brought tears to everyone’s eyes.  They, too, spoke about their memories that no guidebook could explain nor postcard could picture—those in-between memories!

 

I hope you one day have a chance to collect your own treasure trove of in-between memories on our wonderful Cross Country tour!
Christine Durling, Starr Tour Director

Motorcoach Safety Update

Motorcoach Safety Update

70th anniversary seal2017 marks Starr’s 70th year in business. As a second generation owner of Starr Bus Charter & Tours as well as the Strategic Safety Chairman for the American Bus Association (ABA), it is with great interest that I look ahead to the new motorcoach safety regulations which are put into place every year by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). I am always interested in how new regulations will move our industry forward and how, we at ABA, influence these regulations.

Throughout my 46 years in the motorcoach industry, I have been witness to the implementation of many new regulations by the various leaders of the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve motorcoach safety. Traditionally, as presidential administrations change, new department heads are appointed. Elaine Chao has been selected by the new administration to lead the U.S. DOT as Secretary of Transportation. Ms. Chao served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush, and I expect Secretary Chao will take a hard look at existing motorcoach safety regulations in addition to new proposals put forth. I anticipate her approach and determination will be effective and practical to ensure riding on a motorcoach will be as safe as possible, and even safer than in the past.

Starr will continue to be a leader in safety and regulatory compliance as we manage our own fleet of coaches and highly trained Drivers. Starr will continue its philosophy of providing the highest level of safety, not only by its lawful operations, but resulting from the many proprietary safety programs we have put in place to help ensure our riders a safe and comfortable travel experience. The safety awards earned by Starr are evidence of our safe driving commitment in addition to our commitment to you, and our quest for new and improved operational policies and practices.

Safety Rating SealOur entire team at Starr is dedicated to continuously advance and look for new ways to increase the level of safety in our industry. Starr is proud to introduce on its two newest coaches additional L.E.D. turning signal lights. The additional lights will serve to increase the visibility of our coach to other motorists and pedestrians when it is making turns or changing lanes. The additional coach lighting is a safety idea that we at Starr suggested to our motorcoach manufacturer, Prevost. An idea we envisioned, will be adopted not just by Prevost, but by the other motorcoach manufacturers to create safer vehicles for their motorcoach customers.

Alan Glickman
Alan Glickman, CEO

We thank you for your loyalty and for the faith and trust you have placed in us.

Warmest regards,
Alan Glickman, CEO Starr Transit

Top 5 Reasons to Attend an Industry Convention

ABA Marketplace Business Floor
This is the entrance to the business floor where literally millions of dollars of travel business is booked through 1 on 1 meetings with travel buyers and sellers

I just returned from the American Bus Association Annual Marketplace #ABACleveland and although it started on a Saturday morning and lasted 4 full days, it was worth it and here’s why:

 

  1. It’s all about networking.
    Meeting people in your industry is very valuable. Sharing “war” stories and successes is a wonderful thing because you may adopt an idea to your business that works! Or, you might have been thinking of an idea that didn’t work for someone else – this is a way to avoid making mistakes! Building a network also helps increase your business. Industry friends are more likely to refer your company. Worse case scenario: you build friendships to last a lifetime. Case in point I sat next to someone on a FAM tour many years ago and not only do we both use the other’s company (his a tour planning company and mine a charter bus tour company), now we call ourselves friends and will always have a special connection.
  2. Get away from your office and think big.
    Being stuck at our desk day after day sending and responding to emails and managing the day-to-day grind often doesn’t allow us to “step outside” and generate business building ideas. Being away from your desk on a business trip allows you to be creative and brainstorm (with yourself or others) ways to improve your business. On this last trip, I developed two new bus tours that I am very excited about sharing with my customers.
  3. Visit a destination you may not have otherwise visited.
    Who knew I would love Cleveland as much as I did! The people were friendly, the city was clean, and the food was phenomenal. My hotel and the Convention Center were brand new, built for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Some surprise destinations I have visited and enjoyed were Branson, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Colorado Springs and so many more. After visiting new destinations, I use the information I learned to help me plan future bus trips.
  4. Learn the newest developments in your industry.
    Here I am attending a "Women In Buses" seminar. Another great avenue to network and learn at the same time.
    Here I am attending a “Women In Buses” seminar. Another great avenue to network and learn at the same time.

    Even though I get emails (and snail mail) from lots of organizations and Travel Partners, I am not always “in the know” about the latest innovations and trends. Attending an industry convention allows me to learn the latest and greatest things I need to know to improve my business and make it run efficiently. I can’t always assume that I know what’s going on in and around the charter bus and tour industry but attending conventions and industry events keeps me abreast and “in the know.”

  5. Take the opportunity to thank your Travel Partners.
    We do lots for our Travel Partners but there are so many out there that are doing wonderful things for our company and our guests. Thanking someone over email is one thing but thanking them in person brings it to a completely different level. I like the personal interaction and being able to put a smile on someone’s face.

 

So next time a convention alert pops up and you are thinking you’re too busy or don’t have the budget to attend, think about those benefits and maybe, just maybe, you’ll change your mind.

Sandy2013-768x514-cropped

 

Sandy Borowsky, VP Marketing

Researching How To Spend Time “On Own”

Many of the trips we offer at Starr include free time to explore an area “on own.” Your free time on own might include seeing the sites, local attractions, or tasting the best of the local faire. However you choose to spend it, here are some great ways to research the best of the best in the area.

 

  1. tripadvisorTripAdvisor
    TripAdvisor is a travel website boasting reviews of the best and the worst. If you go to their website, you can type in your destination and what you’re searching for, such as “Boston restaurants” or “Cape Cod attractions” for example. The website then lists the top go-to places in the area by rank. The information and reviews are always current, so this is one website that we highly recommend!

 

  1. Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)
    Local CVBs are known for their tourism marketing. They always have an abundance of brochures and can recommend the best and most popular places in town. It helps that they are knowledgeable of every area of town too, so they can easily locate attractions nearby where you will be. You can either visit the bureaus in person, or simply do a Google search for the town website and contact them.

 

  1. Google
    GoogleIn any case, there’s always good ole Google! You can simply go to www.google.com and type in your destination, like “Cape Cod,” and an array of websites will appear that can give you tourism information for your specific location. If you want to get a little more specific, you can type in “Cape Cod restaurants” or “best Cape Cod restaurants.” Many times, bloggers have already written about your chosen destination with helpful pointers on the go-to places in the area.

 

  1. Smartphones
    If you own a smartphone, then it probably comes equipped with the handy little “map” app. What’s neat about this is that you can actually search for restaurants, bars, shopping, fun, and so on, all in this little app. It can give you the reviews and distance from your location, too! So if you’re just at a loss for how to spend your free time, search on your map app for what’s nearby!

 

yelp

  1. Yelp
    Similar to TripAdvisor, Yelp is another great travel website. It lists reviews for local areas and allows you to search for specific places. If you’re in the mood for Mexican, you can input your destination and “Mexican” to see what restaurants are highly rated.

 

  1. grouponGroupon
    Once you have figured out how you’d like to spend your free time, then you can look into discounts. Groupon is an awesome website that lists deals that you can snag for dining and activities. It is also available as an app for your smartphone.

 

We love offering free time during travel because it allows you the freedom to customize your trip exactly how you’d like it. These websites and apps are great ways to research and plan the perfect getaway for you!

Preparing Tiny Travelers For Big Adventures

Preparing Tiny Travelers For Big Adventures

It’s always exciting planning the perfect summer trip with your little ones. You found the best deal, maybe bought some snazzy new clothes for your getaway, and now it’s time to prepare the kids for the adventure! You can tell them all about your bus trip: your chosen destination, the fantastic sites you plan to visit and new cuisine you plan to try, but be sure to let them know what they can expect during travel too.

When you start packing for your bus trip, don’t forget to pack for the bus ride! If you keep your child entertained with an iPad or phone, always make sure that it is charged and ready for a long drive. Some stores even sell iPhone cases that charge themselves when the battery dies. Other options to keep your children entertained are workbooks with word games, coloring books, or something fun to read. Personally, I remember having a ball with disposable cameras when I was little! It’s a great idea to purchase a few for your kids to capture their own memories. Packing some healthy, non-perishable snacks like nuts or dried fruit can help when those little tummies start getting hungry too! It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water and a change of clothes (for the wee ones) in case an accident happens while on board.

Another idea, either before the bus trip or on-board the bus, would be to get your kids excited about the destination by showing them pictures, brushing up on history, or exploring websites. Many websites and attractions have a kid’s section with things to know or check out. Showing this to your children on the way to your destination could spark an immediate interest and build their excitement before your arrival.

The night before you depart, you’ll want to make sure your family gets plenty of sleep. Traveling can really take a toll on your body – little ones, especially! – so it’s important to start your trip well-rested.

kids-smiling-bus
Pre-trip prep is key for a happy, relaxing ride.

Make sure that your children know what they can expect when traveling via motorcoach. Take a potty-break before arriving to the pick-up point. Let them know that there will be lots of other people on the coach so it’s polite to use inside voices, remain quiet when announcements come on from the Tour Director and/or driver, and stay seated for safety. Safety is our top priority at Starr and we wouldn’t want any of our tiny travelers to get hurt!

You can always count on our destinations to be fun and thrilling, but the adventure starts before the bus even departs. Kids thrive on the excitement of their parents and traveling companions, so the more you know and prepare them, and the more excited you are, the better the trip will be for everyone! Planning and preparing early makes for less stress leading up to the trip and it’s sure to give your kids something to look forward to. We can’t wait to have you on board!