Discover Sarasota Tours


Discover Sarasota Tours

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Discover Sarasota Tours

Posted on

Aug 03, 2023


Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties

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When did you start the business?  Why? When I moved to Sarasota from Minneapolis in 2015, I wondered why there were no trolley tours in a tourist town with such a storied past. As an arts consultant (part of my past career), I was asked to take on the role of leading the Center for Architecture Sarasota as part of a Gulf Coast Community Foundation consulting assignment. For them, I developed the Architectural Trolley Tours which led to me realizing the potential for other types of tours. In 2018, I started my own tour company Discover Sarasota Tours (DST) to showcase all the wonderful and hidden aspects of Sarasota’s rich history and culture. DST offered three trolley tours when we started (Circus Tour, City Tour, and the Haunted Tour) but now have 16 different tour themes running all year long. During COVID to keep the business open, I operated The ChillMobile vintage ice cream truck which became so popular it was featured in a Facebook movie and in AARP Magazine as the ultimate pivot business. My career in the arts as a theater performer, director, and producer taught me how to bring stories to life in an informative and entertaining way which remains the hallmark aspect of all DST tours. What is your connection to Bradenton? I have had regular ChillMobile clients (Westminster Point Pleasant and other healthcare businesses) in Bradenton during the past three years. Driving there monthly to serve ice cream to seniors allowed me to discover the downtown area, the restaurants, and cool neighborhoods that comprise Bradenton’s charm. I have also spent time in the library researching some of the important history of Manatee County and how it shaped Sarasota’s own story. What is your background?  Is this business a result of your passion? Yes, this business was started to have fun and make money. I chose to live in Sarasota because I fell in love with the town and my tours are a sort of gift back to this beautiful interesting and artistic place.  Prior to my role with DST, I spent 23 years as the Founder & CEO of a consulting firm for arts organizations called Blue Sky Thinking LLC, and before that worked as an Arts Administrator for state grant makers, museums, theater and dance companies, Broadway Theater, and live radio shows for 15 years. I am also the creator of The Founder & CEO Tammy Hauser Discover Sarasota Tours 36   |   BMAGUltimate Pajama Party™, a grown-up girls’ slumber party extravaganza and commercial theater enterprise. What were your drives to start up? I was ready to leave my world of arts consulting for nonprofits and be able to make my own decisions rather than enacting Board decisions. Running a company that sold goods and services instead of time and expertise seemed like a whole new exciting challenge. I saw a unique need to offer tours that no one else was offering and thought they would be successful because this area is filled with smart, curious people who love to learn and have fun while doing that. Are the sacrifices worth it? Most days yes. COVID was quite a challenge and the ensuring staffing shortages, the trauma that employees still feel after the constant stress of the past three years, has made it really hard. Ian did not help matters but we are finally feeling on solid footing with a loyal growing customer base. Many customers have become SUPER FANS coming on our tours (sometimes the same one) over and over again with new friends and family members. I am so proud of what we do, of my tour guides, and of our resilience to just keep going. It’s so important to help new residents learn about their hometown so that they may cherish some of our remaining historical buildings. It’s also important for residents to keep falling in love with our area as they learn new things about where they live. What are some goals you hope to accomplish with your efforts? We are continually adding new tours. In the works are a Naturalist tour for nature lovers. We just launched Sunset Cabaret, Music & Craft Beer tour for younger residents and visitors. Our nighttime “theatrical shows on wheels” will be adding new murder storylines during 2024 and really, there are just so many new things happening that we could offer 20 tours and not cover it all! What do you enjoy most about what you do? I love coming on my tours and experiencing the joy and interest our guests have. I love my staff and am so proud and awed by their knowledge, talent, and sincere desire to help people fall in love with our area. I also LOVE our Annual Trolley Bash in November where we celebrate our CUSTOMERS! Has it been everything you expected? It has been WAY more than I expected in every way. I used to serve as a consultant for many different nonprofit groups going to them to do my work. Having a company that focuses on individuals and business customers coming to us seven days a week has been a totally new learning curve for me. And of course, the world has changed so much in the past two years so it’s new for everyone. What makes your services unique? We are the ONLY trolley tour company in the Sarasota area offering professional public trolley tours. We offer 15 unique tours designed for EVERY taste! Our ice cream truck is Sarasota’s ONLY local ice cream truck and she just turned 44 which makes her one of the only operating trucks of her generation in the country. Our Trolley Cottage Gift Shop provides so many unique, whimsical, and charming gifts and collectibles that have a local feel and flavor. We produce original musicals on the trolley and all our tours are created by our team so all very unique. What advice would you give someone to start their own business? Make sure you have personal support from your family. Make sure you have MORE money saved to use for business than you think you need because you will need it! Take it slow… learn along the way so you can change things that may not work as planned. Slow and steady wins the race. Business ownership is definitely a marathon not a sprint so pace yourself and ask for help. Additional Information: Many people think tours are just for tourists and nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, during the months of January through April our trolley is filled with tourists, or family members of residents, but most of our customers are local and some have lived here for decades. They tell us they had NO idea of all the places, history, stories of Sarasota and they just love learning more about the place they call home. Awards 2021 Award Best of Sarasota Magazine 2021 Award SRQ Magazine Best New Business 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award Best of Florida 2022 Award for Entertainment/Amusement 2023 SRQ Platinum Award from SRG Magazine Best LOCAL Tour Company B

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Local Services By This Author

Discover Sarasota Tours

Senior Activities 1826 4th Street, Sarasota, Florida, 34236

Discover Sarasota Tours is a locally owned tour company offering many entertaining, interactive and informative air-conditioned trolley or van tours about the most interesting people, intriguing places and amazing stories that have shaped Sarasotas rich cultural past.If you are looking for a fun activity for your next group outing, look no further. Our tours are perfect for groups. Check out our private group tours and nonprofit programs pages.Our tours run year-round, but during our hottest months of the summer, we don't run all tours every day, so please check the calendar. If there is a date not listed when you would like to tour, please email us at