The focus at Master’s Touch Tours is on their guests.
“None of us would be in business without the people. And so we try and take care of the people we consider our guests. And we treat them like family,” said owner Warren Micale.
That philosophy comes from his previous vocation as a pastor for 18 years. Micale made the shift to his current role when he began working part time for a bus company, and several people suggested he start his own transportation business to meet the needs of local churches and private schools. He took that advice and launched Master’s Touch in 2001. Over the years, the Northern Arizona business expanded to charters and tours. Five years ago, he added a full-service travel agency.
“We’re a small company,” Micale shared during the Member Spotlight segment at a recent United Motorcoach Association Town Hall. “We only have five buses, and we’re in a smaller community, so we don’t need to have hundreds of motorcoaches, but we stay pretty busy. We have contracts with a couple of the local colleges.”
Business picking up
The business is nestled in Prescott Valley, about 100 miles north of Phoenix. Like most in the industry, Master’s Touch has taken an almost 90% hit on revenue during the past year as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought ground transportation to nearly a standstill. But business is on the upswing, Micale said. Bookings for March are double what they were in February.
“We see significant growth that’s coming up here real soon,” said Micale, who credits his optimism to not only thinking outside the box but throwing the box away. A few months ago, the business developed the “Thursday Get-Away,” a low-cost day trip.
One that cost $150 was a mystery tour, with a progressive dinner at three Italian restaurants in the Phoenix area. The trip also included a stop at The Phoenician resorts’ two-acre cactus garden, which is free to visit.
“We’ve tried to locate things that we could do inexpensively or free. It’s been very successful. Most of the things we’re looking at are lower-price features — because everybody’s taking a financial hit — so that we can market a tour at a lower rate,” Micale said.
A travel mindset
The strategy is to get people in the travel mindset.
“We get them back on the coaches and get them ready to travel again,” said Micale.
Master’s Touch does quarterly parties for guests, inviting them to their facility for a party with simple fare, hospitality and the opportunity to learn about upcoming tours. Their most recent one was “very profitable,” according to Micale, adding that many attendees signed up for the company’s upcoming 11-day trip to Branson.”
“People don’t want to fly right now, so let’s provide them a coach and go,” Micale suggested to fellow operators.
He shared a tip about affordable advertising that has paid off for his company. “It costs us 600 bucks a month to advertise in Money in the Mail. It goes out to every one of the homes in the community; over 100,000 homes in the area. When that book comes out the first week of the month, our phone rings off the hook the second week,” Micale said.
His ads highlight upcoming trips with color photos. He advises operators to spend a little bit of money on advertising and do day trips.
“Build small, look for things that are inexpensive or even free. I’ve got a bunch of people going to the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction.”
Learn more by watching the entire presentation online.