The extra mile
Ottowa, Kansas, isn’t exactly a big city or a well-known tourist destination. So the Franklin County Convention and Visitors Bureau offers step-on guide service as a way of boosting its visibility to group tour planners.
“Being a step-on guide is part of my job,” said CVB director Kristi Lee. “I just had a tour bus in this week, and it was really cool. I had been working with the group leader for two to three months to set the itinerary for their mystery tour.
“I met them when they arrived here, got on board and continued with them throughout the whole day, showing them points of interest.”
During the tours, Lee takes groups to see some of the city’s architectural highlights. They visit several historic homes and drive around to see the traditional quilt blocks painted on barns around the area.
“We stopped as a break in the afternoon and offered lemonade and cookies to the people,” Lee said. “It was one of those last-minute decisions — I stopped at the store in the morning and picked some up before the group arrived.”
Lee said that the casual step-on service is both entertaining for the visitors and helpful for the driver and escort who are leading the tours.
“If I’m not available to do it, I try to get someone in the community to do it,” she said. “It’s a service that the groups appreciate, and it helps the driver out tremendously. That goes a long way to making it a pleasant experience.”