Kristine Geary is the owner of Maple Leaf Tours, southeastern Ontario’s premier motorcoach tour operator and group cruise specialist. Geary recently rebranded her company, formerly McCoy Tours, and is continuing her journey heading the female-operated, proudly Canadian company. Maple Leaf Tours is based in Kingston, Ontario, with a second location in Belleville and a third in Ottawa. Geary talked with Erin Albanese, Group Tour freelance writer, about her company and the industry.
[dropcap]Q. [/dropcap]Can you describe your tours?
A. We offer motorcoach tours throughout eastern Canada, the U.S. and beyond, offering group tours, fly and no-fly cruises, scholastic and corporate travel. Our tours have expanded so much! I changed the name to Maple Leaf Tours and rebranded to reflect our tour destinations, as we now travel outside North America and offer more global destinations. I wanted something distinctly Canadian and with the Maple Leaf logo, so as we travel and expand our scope, everyone distinguishes us as Canadian.
[dropcap]Q. [/dropcap]What industry trends are you noticing?
A. A destination dipping in popularity right now is New York City, while Nashville and cruising are very big for us. People are wanting to travel and experience new things. Nashville is really booming.
I like to plan my tours like a buffet: choose what you want to do, not be told what you are going to do. When you give people the choice to participate or not, they like that.
Last-minute bookings are still very common, especially depending on the age group. Some clients prefer to wait until closer to departure, forfeiting an early booking bonus, to make sure their health is stable before leaving Canada.
Another trend is an uptick in interest from younger travelers. Our girls-getaways to New York, Boston and cruises are super popular. A worry in the industry was that the millennials wouldn’t seek tourism professionals because they are so wired in. But younger professionals who travel are so busy working that when they want to get away, they want it carefree with no glitches. They just want to escape and chill — we take care of that for them.
[dropcap]Q. [/dropcap]What are you most proud of about your company?
A. I am so proud that I am a businesswoman who has built her business from the ground up, and I am able to mentor others who are coming after me. I am extremely proud that I am setting an example for up-and-coming women in this industry.
I love making my clients happy by making memories. When I plan a tour, it has to be just right. I love seeing clients getting off the coach smiling, hugging and being thankful.
I’ve been in this business for 25 years. There are times when I meet clients who have been on a Maple Leaf Tour but now can no longer travel. They break out into a big smile and say, “That was the best trip ever, a memory I will never forget!” I’m so very proud I am able to work and thrive in an industry that brings people so much happiness. My nickname is Happy Pants because I am always happy. To share that gift with people is a blessing.
[dropcap]Q. [/dropcap]What is the next big thing for Maple Leaf Tours?
A. Europe. In 2018 my first European tour will start, Rome, Paris and London, followed by Ireland, Barcelona and Prague!
Western Canada is also new on our horizon. With a name like Maple Leaf Tours, we’re going to keep expanding our proudly Canadian tour content, so we can share more of our beautiful country with our clients.
Maple Leaf Tours