by Heather Larson
Keeping a travel-focused company running for four decades is no easy feat. Jeff Arensdorf, the current owner of Village Travel, credits his tour business success to hiring good people and offering quality service at a fair price.
“That’s what gets good results,” he said. “Also, I’m not risk averse, and I’ll take one if it looks healthy to me.”
Although the actual 40-year-anniversary celebrations for Village Travel won’t take place until next year, the Wichita-based company has already marked the occasion with major changes. A new name, a fresh logo and a state-of-the-art corporate headquarters building contribute to the rebranding of this bus and motorcoach company.
How Village Travel got its start
The company began in 1980 as a snow ski tour company called Alpine Village Tours. Soon the owner discovered there were not enough buses running from Denver to the ski slopes to accommodate his guests. So, he bought his own bus.
Then, when the Kansas City Royals were a hot commodity, Village began offering Royals Major League Baseball packages for guests. That helped spur the business to grow by one bus a year.
In 2000 Jeff Arensdorf and his dad bought the company because the previous owner chose to focus on a new business. From the single coach it operated in 1981, Village has expanded to a fleet of more than 130.
Major events tested the company’s moxie
Not everything has run smoothly over those 40 years.
“The September 11 attacks took the wind out of our sails and the entire tour business suffered for a few years after that,” said Arensdorf. “The recession also slowed our growth, required hard decisions, and we had to tighten the purse strings.
“We are aggressive, tenacious and we fight for what we believe is best for our company and for our customers,” Arensdorf said.
A key to making it through the tough times has been a staff that keeps its promises.
“We get compliments for doing what we say we will do,” explained Arensdorf. “We also get our passengers to their destinations and back again safely.”
The components of rebranding
All that has led to adding new services and new locations. As a travel-focused business, Village has both charter and entertainer coaches.
Each coach is receiving new graphic logos on their exteriors. The process should be completed by mid-October. Greteman Group in Wichita, Kansas, also the home base for Village Travel, created the streamlined design. According to the designer, the V-shape symbolizes a path or road you take when traveling, while the blue triangle nestled in the center of the “V” suggests the reward or surprise you receive on your journey.
Village’s rebranding coincides with the opening of a new 46,000-square-foot corporate headquarters building in Wichita in October that will hold workspaces for 40 employees. There is room to add more staff as needed.
The new climate-controlled structure more than doubles Village Travel’s previous headquarters. It enables passengers to board coaches under cover and keep comfortable in rain, snow and other inclement weather.
At least 12 motor coaches can be housed in the new facility. The old shop held only four. A drivers’ lounge with sleeping quarters has been added as well.
The company operates from six other locations in Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri and employs almost 400 people.
Over the years the business has operated under the names Village Charters, Village Tours and Village Tours & Travel. Arensdorf believes Village Travel suits his company best.
“We offer bucket-list destinations but also include other attractions nearby that passengers may not have seen or even thought about,” explained Arensdorf.
Celebrations for next year’s anniversary are in the planning stages but are already shaping up to fulfill the promise of rewarding or surprising guests. Visit their site at https://villagetours.net/ to see what’s scheduled.
Arensdorf also said that his company wants to be a good member of the motorcoach and tour community. If someone needs help on the road and a Village Travel employee is nearby, they will come to the rescue.