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Meet Trish Procetto of TOURific Escapes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Trish Procetto.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In November 2008, I lost my corporate job selling toys. I attended the Travel & Adventure Show a few months later and learned about a school for tour guides based in San Francisco, called the International Tour Management Institute (ITMI). I thought this might be a good next career for me and enrolled in their 2-week program. While I was there studying and receiving my certification, my husband lost his job in the aviation industry. I started working for various local tour companies and travel clubs to gain experience. After about a year of this my husband Matt, who is very entrepreneurial, suggested that I was using my personality to help other companies build their brands, and we should create our own company to establish our own unique brand in LA’s large tourism industry. After all, when you look at the numbers, LA, particularly Hollywood, is at the top of many traveler’s bucket list.

Since banks don’t give loans to two unemployed people, we wrote a business plan and got a loan from “the bank of Mom and Dad.” We used their investment to buy a vehicle and build a website. In August 2010, we launched TOURific Escapes with one tour, our signature Hollywood Sites & Bites tour that combines sightseeing with food tasting in one fun 4-hour package. Originally Matt was the certified driver of a 15-passenger vehicle and I was the dedicated tour guide. In 2015, when Matt was re-hired back into the aviation industry, we made a decision to rebrand into more of a boutique company with a personalized touch. So our tours are now led in a 7-passenger mini van with me as both the driver and guide. We offer three different tours plus customizable, private tours of the city in varying lengths. I love being an Ambassador of this great city!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Well, we didn’t realize how much work it was going to take to get travelers to notice our company among all the other tour companies out there. You can have a great product but if nobody knows about you, you’re not going to get any bookings. We seriously thought it was as easy as the tagline from a Kevin Costner movie: if you build it, they will come. Boy did we learn a lot in those early days, and in fact, are still learning. We ramped up learning about Google search words, SEO, social media, and researched and tried a variety of advertising channels. We touched up our website, I started writing blogs and encouraged our guests to write reviews on popular travel sites if they enjoyed their experience. Now almost ten years in business, we have 800+ reviews on Trip Advisor!

Driving in Los Angeles as we all know can be a real challenge. I realized that our guests LOVED sitting back and enjoying the experience while WE did the driving for them. Once I became the driver in 2015, I learned the art of being a safe driver while also entertaining my guests with my commentary. I often get asked how I learned to parallel park so well and how I always find a parking spot in just the right place. I smile and think, wow you should have been on the tour yesterday when I had to park two blocks away! I’ve also dealt with multiple parking tickets and the hot day in August 2016 when my van was towed while I was walking my guests around Hollywood. Not my best day.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
TOURific Escapes is a personalized, boutique local tour company. We currently offer three different pre-planned tours around Los Angeles plus customizable city tours in lengths of 4, 6 and 8 hours.

Our pre-planned tours include the original Hollywood Sites & Bites, a Chocolate Indulgence Tour and Celebrity Insider Movie Locations Tour. I am the driver/guide for all tours except the Movie Locations Tour, which is hosted by an esteemed entertainment journalist.

Private tours are really the way to go if you have been to LA before and have very specific sites you want to see, or if you have only one day in LA, I can get you around to as many sites as possible in your time frame. I can do pick up and drop offs at hotels, cruise ship ports, and the happiest place on earth (Disneyland area hotels).

I am most proud of our customer service and versatility. I am the one answering our business line and any email inquiries that come in, I create the tours and the commentary, develop relationships with our treasured food vendors, process tour bookings, create blogs and social media posts, and even wash and service the van. I love being able to talk to my customers in advance of their tour to develop a sense of their interests, and it’s important to keep in communication with them leading up to their tour date, to make sure everyone in the family has something to look forward to.

Our tours are perfect for both visitors and locals alike.

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was a very quiet, indoor girl. Books were my best friend, and in fact I wanted to be a Librarian “when I grew up”. My younger sister was much more outgoing and sports-oriented and she got me outdoors, especially after we moved to the country when I was in the 5th grade. We had an acre of land and thanks to the local 4-H Club we raised pigs, horses, cattle, rabbits and had an assortment of dogs and cats. Also, thanks to my involvement in 4-H, I developed a talent for public speaking at an early age and enjoyed writing speeches and presenting them at local contests. My two favorite speeches were ones I wrote on the Winchester Mystery House and my favorite author, Laura Ingalls Wilder. I like to think my early days of learning public speaking skills have lent themselves well to my career as a tour guide.

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