With all this downtime, I am starting to get back into the website and start some clean up as well as catching up on projects. The one project I would like to start again is my series of “Ask The Vegas Tourist”. Answering your questions not only about Las Vegas but also about traveling the southwest, things to do, see and experience. As well as the “why” and “how” of tours and travel.
I want to start off the series with a question I get a lot on tour as well as on the website.
Question: How did I go from being a Las Vegas Chauffeur to a Las Vegas Tour Guide?
I moved to Las Vegas from Minnesota in 2001. My first job was as a chauffeur on the Strip. At the time, Las Vegas was BOOMING. I mean, we hit the one million mark as far as the population, in 2001. Then 5 years later we literally doubled our population to 2 million people.
The Las Vegas Strip was a steady boom as well. always building, adding, and growing. It was an amazing time being a chauffeur. I work mostly nights from 4 p.m. To 2 a.m. In those hours, you see a lot of crazy things. I learned really early never say that you’ve seen it all, because the moment you say that you’ve seen it all, someone jumps into your limo and shows you that you really have not seen it all…
By 2005 I was starting to feel burn out. Just too much of everything. Remember, I’m a simple man from Minnesota!
So one day, a fellow chauffeur friend of mine told me that he had just interviewed for the perfect job for me. For Me? I asked. He said yes, for me. Why me? He said that I have a head full of useless trivia. That I would be perfect for this job! I took that as a compliment!
So I went ahead and applied for the job that he had applied for and he didn’t take it, but I took it because it sounded interesting and got me off of the strip. I need to add that I love modern American history. I love everything that happened in the last hundred or so years and Vegas has packed a lot of stuff in those hundred and some-odd years.
As a chauffeur, I got to meet people from all over the world and that fascinated me. I’ve always wanted to know why people are where they are. How and why got to be where they are. How do things happen? So this was right up my alley! I knew people did tours, I just didn’t know people actually made a career out of it. Now, here I was, hired to do tours.
One of the first companies that I applied for hired me. The first tour that they put you on or train for is Hoover Dam because it has a half-day it is very easy. On a Hoover Dam tour, “there’s not much there” to learn. This particular tour operator used buses and I was the step-on guide. It was my job to get everyone on board, I got everybody off did all of the narrations while somebody else drove.
You first have to do a ride-along. They send you out with somebody and you observe them. Well, it really bothers me because the person that they sent me out with, I thought was a freaking moron. I mean, it’s about a 40-minute ride from Las Vegas to Boulder City to Hoover Dam. He’s talking for about 5 or 10 minutes and then he plays a video about the building of Hoover Dam. I’m thinking that if we’re going to go see Hoover Dam why are we seeing a video on the building of Hoover Dam? Then I find out that once you get there, you actually see another video about building Hoover Dam. It made no sense.
Then on the way back, he’s talking about the concrete in the dam! We have left the dam and heading back to Las Vegas and the tour guide starts back talking about the concrete! Meanwhile, there’s a lot of stuff I want to know about along the way home that I want to know about. I didn’t say anything I was just there to observe!
So when they assigned me my first Hoover Dam tour, they handed me the script and the DVD and I got on the bus. I talked to my coach driver and on the way out, I just put all of that stuff in my bag and I talked about what I wanted to talk about. The history of Las Vegas, Boulder City, and Hoover Dam. I talked about what brought people out to the middle of nowhere to build a dam in the middle of a depression.
We get to Hoover Dam I do what I’m supposed to do there. After about four or five of these tours, my boss called me in and she says “look I’ve been told that you’re not following the guidelines on how to do the Hoover Dam tour. So I’m going to ride with you. I want to take your Hoover Dam tour and I don’t want you to change anything just because I’m on board. Ok?”
I didn’t understand why I would change what I say just because she is on board, but Ok. I do the Dam tour. We get back to the office and she looks to me. She said she had a great tour and loved how I did it. she wanted me too write down what I said and make it into a script she can pass to the other guides. I tell her no, it’s my tour. They need to deliver their own tours. She agreed.
My West Rim Training
Next, I was trained on the Grand Canyon West Rim. My trainer was named was George. After I was trained, the boss wanted to ride along with me on that one. So we do the tour. Get out to the West Rim and she is talking to me. Asking me who I trained with. I told her it was George. She looked t me and said it made sense. I asked why? On the West Rim, we make one phot stop at the Dam and one-stop for bathroom before we get to the west rim. George made an extra stop.
This when my boss informs me that George has a nicotine habit and when he needs a smoke break, he gets the driver to pullover, gets everyone out and he will go into a very well detailed description of what we are looking at on this “special stop”. He spoke very intelligently about the mountain chain, the flowers, and the trees found on it. But it was really so he could have a cigarette break!
Hoover Dam Revelation
After a while of doing tours, I’m on a Hoover Dam tour. we get tot he Dam, I get everyone off the bus and the driver and I are in the bus parking area just reading the newspaper and talking. Another driver walks over, looks up, and sees me. He smiles and says loudly “You Got Mark!” My driver smiles back and tells him in a matter of fact style that “Yes I do”.
This got my curiosity up and I need to know if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Apparently it was a good thing. In the morning, our office faxes over the trip sheets to the bus company. The drivers look to see what tours and who are the guides. When they see Mark Anthony, they begin to argue over that tour. Why? Because they make more tips with me as the guide than they do the other guides. I am told the guest really likes how I tell them stories, the information, and how it seems more personal. So the tips are higher.
Finding My Passion
After a few months, I found my self in San Jose, California for about six months. I discover that there is a school for International Tour Directors in San Francisco. In two weeks, I get certified and start doing over the road tours. I do tours from The Candian Rockies all the way down to Copper Canyon Mexico. My Specialty is the Southwest. The National Parks. California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. Right now, I am focusing on day trips or overnight tours out of
I prefer the Southwest. I love the Grand Canyon. I love Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park. Utah has a ton of State Parks I love touring. Of course, being in Las Vegas, we have Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Valley of Fire, Grand Canyon South Rim, Grand Canyon West, I can even do North Rim if you have the right. I really love what I do and it has gone from being a job to being a passion of mine. I will explain this in a later video. I love what I do. I love to help people discover new things to see do and experience while visiting Las Vegas. While visiting the southwestern desert areas. The whole West Coast is an amazing place to experience.
I always laugh when someone tells me “I’ve been to Vegas a thousand times, there is nothing new here!” Oh, Really? Take a look at my website and see Vegas tours and tell me you have seen it all. I’ve lived here for 20 years and I haven’t seen it all!
So that’s how I went from being a chauffeur on the Las Vegas Strip to be an international Certified Tour Director living in Las Vegas. I do some awesome tours up and down the west coast (so I am told). My specialty is the Southwest United States, Las Vegas, and the National Parks.
Ask The Vegas Tourist
Do you have a question about Las Vegas, tours, and travel? Ask me. I have lived here since 2001 and love to help people know more. Click Here
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