A launch party on February 21st will officially mark the re-branding of Discover Longmont Tours into Wonder Tours.
For the last year and a half, Jennifer Ferguson has operated food tours, ferrying clients between several local restaurants on each trip. The tours accommodate 15 to 18 people and usually visit three area food or drink establishments. Diners spend 30 to 40 minutes at each one, enjoying a pre-set menu and sometimes getting to meet the business owner. “There is always food and usually an alcohol option,” Ferguson said.
Initially, Ferguson partnered with the Brewhop Trolley, running tours on Saturday mornings, and testing the waters during non-brewery times. She branched out to Mondays, hoping to lure in people “who don’t want to watch football.” Mondays became very popular and more days were added.
As business continued to grow, Ferguson decided to buy her own bus and rechristen her business ‘Wonder Tours.’
Ferguson is proud of her bus, which features a luxury feel and perimeter seating, “so people can hear well.”
She found the bus on eBay after looking at “what must have been a hundred other buses,” and traveled to Montana to pick it up.
Ferguson’s tours offer variety. Often the restaurants are chosen by location, and she likes to do thematic tours. “I had a rib challenge,” she said, “and I’m going to do a pizza challenge.” One of the biggest obstacles, she admitted, is finding restaurants that can accommodate a table of fifteen.
“Restaurants are why I do what I do,” Ferguson enthused. “I love hearing their stories, I love sharing their stories, I love introducing people.”
“I wanted to take a model which is typically a tourist model and reinvent it [for locals],” Ferguson said of her business. “In the beginning, I thought that sampling the food and the drink was my main product, and I’m finding that meeting other people and community is one of the favorite things people have about these tours.”
Ferguson got the idea for her venture from tagging along on a ‘food caravan’ her mother ran for Parents Without Partners in Boulder, when Ferguson was a kid. “It stuck with me,” she said, adding that the rest of the plan started one night a couple of years ago while waiting an hour for a table at an Outback restaurant. She wondered “why we all wait at the same places, when there are amazing local places serving probably even better food, just down the street. People often don’t know what’s right around them!”
Ferguson said she has always been entrepreneurial. She has an MBA and got involved with start-up activity in Longmont six years ago, leading the first ‘Start-Up Week’ in Longmont. She loves being based in Longmont, saying, “there is definitely something special here.”
When asked about the re-branding and new name, Ferguson explained, “the name, ‘Discover Longmont Tours’ was exceptionally long,” a fact she said she realized every time she typed her email address. “I needed something shorter and more memorable.” She also felt that people were confused and thought that maybe Discover Longmont was a city entity.
“My tagline is ‘Stop wondering and start doing,'” says Ferguson.
Ferguson has plans to purchase more buses and expand her business first across Colorado, and then to the rest of the U.S. in the next couple of years. First up will be Gunbarrel and Niwot, then Louisville and Lafayette, and Boulder later in the year.
Right now, Ferguson is the tour guide and employs five part-time contract drivers. She gets a lot of help from her family and anticipates hiring additional guides in the future. Wonder Tours will offer opportunities for charter and private events and, after the launch, Ferguson looks forward to hosting at least one tour every day.
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