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Business Observer Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 3 years ago

New tour company gives visitors, residents inside look at Sarasota

Discover Sarasota Tours offers city tours, circus tours and ghost tours.

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley.

At least in Sarasota, where a new trolley-based tour company started operating in mid-October. The company, Discover Sarasota Tours, promises tourgoers a dose of Sarasota history aboard an air-conditioned trolley.

Tammy Hauser, founder and CEO of Discover Sarasota Tours, says, “I have a theater background, and I love tours.” Plus, she says she thought there was an untapped market in Sarasota for a tour company that would host a variety of tours on a regular basis. “The response has been really positive,” she says.

The tours leave from a cottage near downtown Sarasota and use trolleys leased from SRQ Trolley.

Hauser wants the tours to be entertaining, so she’s loaded them up with information about people, places and facts. There’s a city sightseeing tour that provides an overview of Sarasota, a circus tour that shares Sarasota history from a circus perspective and a ghost tour that Hauser describes like this: high jinks, bootlegging, gangsters, murders, scandals and of course, ghosts.

More tour themes are in the works, too, with additional offerings starting next year. “We have a couple other ideas up our sleeves starting in January,” Hauser says.  

For her tour guides, she’s making use of local theater talent. Her “cast,” as she calls it, includes creative performers who are developing content for tours. If a tour guide has a specific interest, she says, she lets that person run with the idea. The guide leading her circus tour, for example, has a background working in public relations for the Ringling Bros. Circus. “He came to me and said, ‘I would love to do this tour,'” Hauser says. “I feel like there’s no end to the potential of talent and stories and experiences we can offer people who are looking for something different.”

For Hauser, starting a business is nothing new. “This is my fifth business,” she says. Other businesses include a consulting firm and an event company. “It’s different for me as a startup than for someone who has no experience at all,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot from past mistakes.”

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