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In the fast-paced world of events and tourism, staying ahead of the competition requires a keen eye for technological advancements. Steven Garcia, the founder and CEO of Empire Tours and Productions, understands the significance of embracing technology to drive growth. His commitment to leveraging technology paired with creating unforgettable immersive experiences is what set his company apart from the rest.
NYC Empire Tours and Productions , headquartered in New York City, is a leading company in the events and tourism industry. Garcia recognizes the need to constantly evolve and remain at the forefront of the industry — and he’s made new improvements as recent as the last few weeks.
“I’ve been playing with AI for two weeks now,” he says. “I’ve got great ops managers, but I’m constantly watching YouTube videos on AI.”
By staying informed about the latest trends and developments, Garcia ensures that Empire Tours and Productions is equipped to leverage technology effectively.
“I stay up-to-date with the latest trends and different technologies to ensure that my business is current,” he says. “However, it can be challenging without a big network, and I don’t have the luxury of being able to wine and dine algorithms.”
One way Garcia maximizes technology is by training his reservationists to use artificial intelligence effectively for tasks such as answering emails and providing quotes. By incorporating AI into daily operations, Empire Tours and Productions enhances efficiency and delivers prompt and accurate responses to customer inquiries, leading to increased customer satisfaction.
“It can make a huge difference in employee productivity,” he says. “My reservationists are usually proficient in using AI by day three.”
In addition to giving his employees the tools they need, Garcia’s approach to employee compensation sets Empire Tours and Productions apart from other tourism companies.
“I pay my tour guides between $30 and $40 an hour plus tips,” he says. “This ensures that we have the best tour guides available and not just anyone, like ‘old man Bob,’ leading our tours.”
By offering competitive wages, Garcia attracts and retains top talent, including young, enthusiastic historians pursuing their PhDs and aspiring comedians. This diverse group of tour guides brings unique perspectives and expertise, enriching the overall customer experience.
When it comes to immersive experiences, Empire Tours and Productions was the first Airbnb experience in Chicago and some of the first in NYC, solidifying its position as a leader in this category.
“We have some of the top experiences, and I am one of the most reviewed hosts on Airbnb with over 2,000 five-star reviews,” says Garcia.
By partnering with Airbnb, Empire Tours and Productions reaches a broader audience and offers travelers authentic and memorable experiences that go beyond traditional tourist attractions.
“Most of our Airbnb accommodations are located in areas that prioritize reconnecting with the natural environment. These places are quite remote and often happen to be some of the poorest regions in the country,” says Garcia. “By employing locals from these communities, we are able to positively impact their lives and become an economic driver for these small communities. It’s truly rewarding to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Addressing concerns related to over-tourism and environmental impact, Empire Tours and Productions adopts a sustainable approach.
“About 90% of our tours are walking tours,” he explains. Firstly, it’s a healthier option for our customers and also better for the environment.”
By prioritizing walking tours over bus tours, the company minimizes congestion and pollution while providing a more immersive and eco-friendly experience for travelers. Additionally, the company promotes education on sustainable practices and conservation efforts. Through initiatives like birdwatching tours and clean-up campaigns, Empire Tours and Productions encourages visitors and locals alike to appreciate and protect the natural environment.
As an industry leader, Garcia has successfully combined technological advancements with high-quality employees, sustainable practices, and immersive experiences, to ensure Empire Tours remains at the forefront of innovation.