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  1. Road-To-Iran-WFTGA-2017-Convention-Kickoff-Party

    The “Road To Iran” Gathering was held on September 1st in Washington, DC hosted by Mahvash Keshmiri and her family. A night that was filled with culture, conversation, food, tapestry, sculptures, poetry, music, dance, outfits, and smiles. 

    It was a wonderful kick off event that led to helping answer questions that anyone might have in regards to traveling to IRAN in 2017 for the wftga convention. 

    Check out some of the fun videos that portrayed the evening :)

    Video sources and pictures provided by Maricar Donato and Ibrahima Diallo proud tour guide ambassadors for the WFTGA convention.

     

    Scholarship opportunities and more information are available at the convention website: www.wftga2017.com

  2. Spotlight on a GANYC Tour Guide: Matthew Baker of Beautiful New York Tours

    Spotlight on a GANYC Tour Guide!

    Introducing Mr. Matthew Baker of Beautiful New York Tours!

    www.beautifulnewyorktours.com

     

    How long have you been a tour guide?

    I got my license just over 10 years ago and gave my first professional tour on Dec. 30, 2005.

     

    What time of year would you consider your busy season?

    My busy season takes off like a rocket on March 15 and doesn't slow down until June 30.

     

    Have you or your company received any awards (recently or in the past)? If so, what was the award for, who awarded it, and when did you receive the award?

    Alas, as much as I love awards and award ceremonies, I have yet to win a single trophy for anything.

     

    Have you or your company been featured  in print, broadcast (tv or radio) or online media?  What about movies or TV shows? Do you have a favorite piece we can share? Please provide us the YouTube link or Article link.

    When I was president of GANYC, I was interviewed in the Get Real column of Catch & Release, the Columbia University Journal. Also, in 2011, when Grey Line was threatening to fire all their guides and replace them with canned recordings, I was on NY1 protesting against the measure.

     

    What drove you to become a tour guide or tour operator or create this company/organization?

    Like many, I came to New York to be an actor and a director. When my daughter was born, I needed to make a steady living and fell into tour guiding rather accidentally when a double-decker driver was chatting with me on the corner and told me what it involved and what it could pay.

     

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    I love having a microphone and a captive audience.

     

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization?  Any fun stories about when they visit your business?

    I have had the good fortune to have several celebrities on my tours, including Tony Bennett, Marcia Gay Harden, and the entire Duke University Basketball team (including the much admired Coach K). However, on all of these occasions, I was working as a guide-for-hire for other companies, not under the auspices of Beautiful New York Tours.

     

    What upcoming or annual events, promotions or sales would you like to promote? The only annual events I seek to promote are not on my own behalf, but on GANYC's: Remember to buy tickets for the annual GANYC Apple Awards, traditionally held on the first Monday of March each year. It's the tour guide Oscars!

     

    What special deals, sales, events or promotions are you offering to GANYC Followers and our industry partners and their customers?

    So far, all my tours are by private charter, but I do hope to host a fam tour for GANYC members soon. It would probably be my Irish Heritage Tour. After all, this year is the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, so it's a highly appropriate topic.

     

    How long have you been a member of GANYC?

    I joined GANYC in Spring of 2007.

     

    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?

    Lee Gelber first told me about GANYC when I was working for CitySights in 2006.

     

    What types of tours do you offer? (Walking, Biking, Bus, etc...) Could you describe them for us?

    I tour by bus, by boat, by car, and on foot. On foot is my favorite because I can completely control the speed, the tempo, and the content of what we do.

     

    Do you offer Niche Tours?

    I love niche topics. They are such a relief from the standard overview tours that make the bulk of my business. My favorite is my Irish Heritage Tour, which begins at the Irish Hunger Memorial and ends at St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. I also do a Broadway Theatre District tour that discusses everything from Shakespeare to the newest musicals. And I love Harlem. My Harlem tour could begin virtually anywhere but, ideally, I like to begin at the Apollo and end at the Harlem Market on 116th Street.

     

    How has GANYC helped you and your business?

    My reputation with my colleagues has led to an enhanced reputation with my clients. Several GANYC guides, when they need an additional guide or a substitute, have me high on their call list. And the job board has helped as well.

     

    For more info or to book a tour with Matthew check out his GANYC profile by clicking here.

  3. Spotlight on Industry Partner: Arkady Azrilyant of Davinci Limo & Tours

    Spotlight on Industry Partner!

    Arkady Azrilyant of Davinci Limo & Tours inc.

    www.davincilimotours.com

     

    Can you tell us a little about your ideal customer?

    Every customer is an ideal customer.

     

    Has your company or organization or any members of the organization received any awards (recently or in the past)?

    I have received an award for an outstanding affiliate from another company located in Boston.  We covered most of their work here in New York.

     

    What drove you to work or create this company/organization?

    I have been in this industry since 1985. I ran my other company for almost 15 years. I like this industry. Being on both sides of the fence, driving and being behind the desk. Most of all I still like getting out there and meeting people. I am a people person.

     

    What upcoming or annual events, promotions or sales would you like to promote?

    For GANYC it's always a promotion. There is a special rate in place at all times.

     

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    You have to love what you do. I love what I do and people sense that. Getting paid for something you love is very gratifying, putting a smile on someones face is extremely gratifying.

     

    What celebrities (if any) have patronized your business or organization?  Any fun stories about when they visit your business?

    Too many to mention. As I also provide service for Dignitaries. On the Entertainment end of the business there were:  Lauren Bacall, Snoop Dog, Asap Rocky (rap artist), Big Sean (rap artist), KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, Mr. Duke Fakir (the last original surviving member of the Four Tops), Valeria Perfilova and Iosif Prigozhin ( very famous Russian star and her producer husband) and numerous other Russian stars, Capt. Sully Sullenberger, Ceaser Milan (The dog whisperer), Lisa Lisa (of the Lisa Lisa and the Cult jam), Omar Little, Joye Fatone (NCYNC), Armand Assante, Chuck Zito, Sharon Glass, Steve Harvey, Ludacris, Neyo, Trez Songs (he actually did a live pod cast from my old Caddy, with all the lights in the SUV he decided to play a "Cash Cab Game" on the streets of New York). On the political side: Two former British prime ministers: Mr. Tony Blair and Mr. Gordon Brown. Former French President Nicolas Sirkozy.Two former Secretaries of Defense and Directors of the CIA:  Mr. Robert Gates, Mr. Leon Panetta and Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Former Secretary of State Ms.Condoleezza Rice. Former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowls. Former Senator Alan Simpson. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleisher. Thats also just some of them.

     

    For more information or questions about reservations check out their website: www.davincilimotours.com

     
     
  4. Spotlight on Industry Partner Stéphanie Calla from La Maison d'Art!

    Spotlight on Industry Partner!

     

    Introducing Stéphanie Calla from La Maison d'Art!

    info@lamaisondartny.com

     

    What year did your business open?

    2009.

     

    Awards and Recognitions: TripAdvisor Award 2011 to 2015, Top 10 B&Bs in NYC Booking.com Award, Customer Award 2012 to 2015

     

    Can you tell us a little about what your business entails?

    La Maison d'Art is a unique Art House, set up to accommodate not just a particular medium, but to unite artists from a variety of backgrounds: visual, spoken word, dance, film, etc. aimed to provoke discussions, debates and critique about the role of art in society. “Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it”. Bertolt Brecht We seek to create a space where cultural, social or political artists can present their work and to discuss, debate and critique all forms of art and from there cultural, social and political ideas as a whole. Our Brownstone is also a private showcase and Movie Location house full of local Designers decors and artists artwork, available to transport their style and art into your own home.

     

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    Being inspired and empowered by the energy of artists. Meeting people from all over the world and sharing our commun love for art. Being part of community activism.

     

    What celebrities have patronized your business?

    • Ty Hunter (Beyoncé's personal designer)

    • Vera Moore

    • Perle Lama (singer)

    • Tim Brown

    • Senator Perkins

    • Gamilah Lumumba Shabazz (Malcom X's Daughter)

     

    For more information or to book reservations check out their website: http://www.lamaisondartny.com

  5. Spotlight on NYC Tour Guide Oliver Grieb

    Meet our spotlight on NYC Tour Guide Mr. Oliver Grieb!

    Gidday and "Grüß Gott", my name is Oli, your fun, fitness oriented, energizing and certified NYC Sightseeing Guide. I am originally from Würzburg, Germany and have been traveling and working all over the world for more than 10 years.

     

    What is your Tour Companies Business Name?

    Olidaytours

    Email: office@olidaytours.com

     

    How long have you been a tour guide?

    I have been a tour guide for more than 20 years. I started working as a tour guide to musicals and to cities all over Germany, where the musicals were played in 1992. Since than I have been a skiing guide in Austria, a dive guide in Fiji, Tonga, Thailand, Greece, Australia and India, a mountain biking guide in Greece and Turkey and a NYC sightseeing guide.

     

    What drove you to become a tour guide?

    I have been a traveler my whole life and once I was old enough to be a tour guide on buses in Germany I started my career. In the beginning it was just for some extra cash, during my studies to become a teacher for children with disabilities. After my studies I started traveling and working all over the world. While I was taking people skiing one of my guest said, we should spend more time of our Holiday with Oli - so I said, why not stay for a couple more Olidays. That was it!

     

    What is the most gratifying part of your work?

    Happy guests, that become your friends especially during the private tours! Customers that are enjoying every moment of a tour - at least they look like they do ;o)

     

    Is there a discount you want to give to our readers?

    Sure! Use #GANYC-ODT for a 10% discount on any of our Olidaytours. Only good for a minimum of 2 guests!

     

    How long have you been a member of GANYC?

    A year and a half.

     

    How did you hear or learn about GANYC?

    I was looking online to find out about tour guides in NYC and found GANYC. It took me a while to be able to go to a meeting and then it took me a while to get the application back. Once I had my interview I have been attending a lot of meetings and even joined the welcome "committee".

     

    What types of tours do you offer?

    I offer a lot of different kind of tours form private walking tours, to sight running tours, all day biking tours, NYC children tours - not only in NYC, but also beyond NYC! I am actually located on Greenwood Lake in New Jersey, so I am also offering hiking tours out in the wild ;0) Besides that I run trips to the mountains of Austria (skiing) and to the Octoberfest in Munich (Germany).

     

    How has GANYC helped you and your business?

    Through GANYC I was able to connect with other guides and I was also able to get my profile up, which actually got me a couple of gigs already.

     

    For more information about Oli or to book a tour visit his profile and website by clicking here.

  6. GANYC Represents NYC’s Tourism Industry at USTA’s Destination Capitol Hill 2016

    GANYC President Michael Dillinger and Government Relations Committee representative Lee Gelber

    GANYC was the only organization representing New York City tourism professionals and the NYC tourism industry as a whole at the US Travel Association’s (USTA) Destination Capitol Hill 2016 lobbying event in Washington, D.C. March 16-17. GANYC President Michael Dillinger and Lee Gelber, who serves on the GANYC Government Relations Committee, met with Congressional officials and other key travel leaders to advocate in support of travel via legislation and other initiatives because of its importance as an economic driver.  

     

    Destination Capitol Hill brings travel professionals from across the country to Washington, D.C., to educate policymakers about the power of travel. The program combines a legislative day on Capitol Hill with advocacy training, guest speakers and peer-to-peer networking. DCH provides delegates with an opportunity to learn about upcoming legislation that impacts travel, network with peers and meet with members of Congress to stress the importance of travel as an economic driver.

     

    GANYC President Dillinger reported that he and Gelber enjoyed several productive meetings with Congressional staffers as well as other tourism leaders.

     

    “We became the face and voice for the travel industry in our city,” Dillinger explained. “I think this was a very good beginning for GANYC and, over time, this will bring us great dividends. Even the handful of people we were able to meet are now aware GANYC.  As industry professionals, they do have interactions with people across the country so someone here in New York City may even hear our name from another part of the country. “

     

    GANYC’s upcoming bid to host the 2019 WFTGA convention in New York was a topic discussed with several attendees, including Aaron Wodin-Schwartz, Director of Public Policy for Brand USA, which heads up the nation’s global marketing effort to promote the US as a premier travel destination.

     

    Dillinger and Gelber joined Dr. Kristin M. Lamoureux, Associate Dean of the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at NYU, along with tourism representatives from Suffolk County on Long Island, and Erie and Niagara counties from Upstate New York, in meeting with staff from the offices of Senators Kirstin Gillibrand and Charles Schumer, while GANYC and Dr. Lamoureux met exclusively with staff from the offices of Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler.

     

    GANYC’s representatives were involved in high-level discussions about several key issues related to the tourism industry. Dillinger stressed that as the ground troops for tourism in the country’s largest tourism market, GANYC should be a resource when issues related to travel and tourism came up, and the association is happy to assist in any way possible. Among the major topics discussed were:

     

    ·      Retaining and expanding the Visa Waiver Program, which allows for greater security while providing travel opportunities for foreign visitors to the U.S.

    ·      Air Travel Modernization, especially upgrading the nation’s airports.

    ·      Requesting that lawmakers to work with travel professionals when responding to crisis so travel is not adversely affected by broad restrictions when precise, targeted responses would be more effective.

    ·      Advocating for the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act -- the FAST Act in order to shore up our nation’s aging infrastructure.

    ·      Encouraging New York’s legislators to be involved in the House and Senate Travel and Tourism Caucuses.

     

    In addition, the GANYC coalition enjoyed productive meetings with other key players in travel. Andrew Eisner, vice president of Scripps Networks (owners of the Travel Channel and Food Network), was very interested in GANYC’s operations, and also was curious about New York’s food tour scene.

     

    Licensing and certification of tour guides was a major topic with Barbara Newton, president and CEO of the California Travel Association.

     

     
  7. Congratulations to Lee Gelber from The Department of Defense!

    Our esteemed colleague and inaugural Guiding Spirit award winner Lee Gelber received the following congratulations from The Department of Defense: 

    "Attention:
    Guides Association of New York city
     
    I would like to take a moment to congratulate Lee Gelber for receiving the inaugural Guiding Spirit Award. I cannont imagine a more deserving recipient. Lee has been guiding the NYC historical tours for the Defense Institue of International Legal Studies (DIILS) for over 12 years. During that time, he has shared his knowledge and love of New York City with more than 1000 military officers from around the globe. He answers all questions, regardless of how obscure, without consulting 'Google'. Lee Gelber is New York City's very own 'Google'. 
     
    A few of his accolades from DIILS alumni, 'He has no match'; 'A great historian of New York, a great story teller and memorable tour guide'; and very simply 'Mr. Lee is the best'. Warm congratulations Lee, for the most deserved Guiding Spirit Award, indeed the 'Dean of NYC Tours'.
     
    Dana Scott
    Resident Course Program Manager
    Defense Institute of International Legal Studies"

    For more information about Lee Gelber and the upcoming GANYC Apple Awards visit our website: www.ganyc.org/2016-ganyc-apple-awards

     

     

  8. DESTINATION NEW YORK Episode #11 William Helmreich

    Join Destination New York Host and Member Aaron Tabackman as he interviews Professor William Helmreich, the 2015 GANYC Apple Award winner of "Outstanding Achievement in Book Writing" for his best-selling tome, "The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 miles in the City."  They have a free ranging conversation not only about Professor Helmreich's book but also plans for future books, his favorite New York City neighborhoods, disappearing New York and where Harlem begins and ends.  Don't miss this fascinating interview.  

     

  9. Meet Marjorie Eliot, GANYC 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

    How to describe Marjorie Eliot’s weekly Jazz Parlor, which she hosts every Sunday from her living room at the historic 555 Edgecombe Avenue? It is part jazz concert, part poetry reading, part theatrical production, and part revival meeting. But what it is, most of all, is therapy.

    Eliot, who will receive GANYC’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the second-annual Apple Awards ceremony on March 7, started the parlor in 1993 after the death of her son Phil. He passed on a Sunday, so Eliot began the parlor as a way to get past the day each week. Because of this, she says that as much joy as her audiences get from coming, she gets so much more out of it than any of her visitors.

    “I knew I would still be doing it (all these years later), because I had to, emotionally,” Eliot says from her apartment about 30 minutes before a Sunday parlor in late January. “I couldn’t have imagined someone coming in from Russia, for example. But having faith in my great-grandmother’s teachings, I’m not shocked at that, because it’s the sincerest piece of me. I do it for the right reasons. The prettiest part of this is the audiences. They come and embrace the idea, and we are more alike than not, and that’s the thing that gets me.”

    People from every corner of the globe – she casually recalls interactions with Australian and Finnish guests – fill the folding chairs that colonize her living room, kitchen and hallway to witness one of the most unique performances in New York. With Eliot behind the piano, an ensemble of musicians and actors enter and leave the parlor, interspersing several versions of the jazz standard “There Will Never Be Another You” with dramatic readings of Eliot’s poetry about the African-American struggle, as well as other jazz numbers. On this day, Eliot jokes with GANYC’s resident jazz tour guide, Gordon Polatnick, that he must be getting tired of hearing this song, since he brings so many visitors to see the show – today he has brought two clients from Holland. Polatnick will present the award to Eliot; she says that when he informed her that she was going to receive this award, she thought he was playing a practical joke on her.

    The set lasts about two hours, ending after both a donation bag and a bag of protein bars have circulated the room – Eliot does not charge admission for this most intimate of performances. Latecomers line up in the hallway outside her apartment 3F inside the historic “Triple Nickel,” waiting for a seat to open inside. Regulars and newcomers are welcomed equally, and everyone sings in one voice at the grand finale, “This Little Light of Mine.”

    “They get it,” she explains of her visitors. “They talk to me about it. I integrate theater, and they get it. One Sunday, a woman from Italy said, ‘Marjorie, I don’t speak very good English, but the emotions – I’m there.’ And I thought – this is it, this is it. So I feel that I’m a part of the family, I could go home with anybody (who comes to the parlor). I think they know I’m not complacent about them. We give the best we can do on a given day. That’s it.”

    While claiming to not know much about the tour business, Eliot’s early efforts at publicizing the parlor in the mid-1990s are quite reminiscent of how many tour guides begin marketing their tours.

    “Word of mouth is what got us going. I used to send out 200 calendars a month. Killing myself doing it. To let people know – friends, jazz lovers, taking it to the music stores: Sam Ash, Manny’s,” she remembers. “They would tell folks. A guy at the Edison Hotel, when they had music, he would say ‘It’s a cheap date!’ So many Columbia University thesis projects have been done about this. They would call and I would say, ‘I need an audience, get here!’ And they would come.”

    Now, she bashfully states, the audiences look forward to seeing her play the piano – initially, she didn’t play very much during the sessions, but rather would sing duos. Her regulars also look forward to hearing her son Rudel Drears play. She has kept the parlor going in part to allow “Rudy” to perform in whatever style he likes, and her regulars talk about seeing him grow up, contributing to why Eliot humbly describes the parlor as having “morphed into a family affair.”

    It has also morphed into such a joyous and popular New York attraction that GANYC has chosen her for its lifetime achievement award, an honor of which she is still trying to grasp the meaning.

    “I haven’t allowed myself to think a lot about (this award) because, GOD!” she exclaims. “I didn’t even pick out my dress yet!”

  10. Spotlight on GANYC Member: Linda Sarrel

    Spotlight on GANYC Member: Linda Sarrel!
     
    Linda is a licensed New York City sightseeing guide and the founder of Rent A New Yorker Tours.  She is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn.  She has lived in Manhattan for over 35 years. Join her on a tour and share her intimate knowledge of New York's most fascinating neighborhoods!
     
    How long have you been a tour guide?
    13 Years
     
    Has your company or organization been featured  in print, broadcast (tv or radio) or online media? 
    My Coney Island tour was featured in the online magazine TheStreet.com under the title "Skip The Tour Bus, Hire A Personal Guide". The link is http://www.thestreet.com/story/10383526/1/skip-the-tour-bus-hire-a-personal-guide.html
     
    What drove you to become a tour guide?
    I love history and I love New York. I think it is just a spectacular place and I want to show the spectacle to visitors. I want to show them the great buildings. I want to see them snack on great food. I want to take them into neighborhoods and down streets they'd never find on there own. New York can be a scary place. I want to help them feel safe and taken care of. After working for the New York Telephone Company-Verizon for 24 years I took early retirement to become a sightseeing guide. I have never regretted it.
     
    What is the most gratifying part of your work? 
    When people say they never thought they would like the city but now they do like it. Now they are talking about a return trip! 
    I love when guests appreciate my stories and jokes. I think most guides are performers and who doesn't love an appreciative audience!
     
    When's a good time to tour with you?
    Spring, through the Fall is a great time to visit Coney Island or Brighton Beach.  I start doing these tours in April. Rates depend on type of tour and hours.
     
    What types of tours do you offer? (Walking, Biking, Bus, etc...) 
    Walking tours through a number of neighborhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn. During my walking tours I focus on a number things. These would include the history, architecture and definitely the food of a particular area. I want my guests to get a picture of how this or that area fits into the puzzle of the city both in the past and present. The future also, as the city changes rapidly.
     
    Bus tours through different areas of the city as dictated by the guest's itinerary. Stops are usually made according to the needs of the guests. Any good guide knows where good restrooms are! My personal favorite is the Time Warner Center. People love those Botero sculptures! 
     
    Subway tours with groups that really want to do the subways but are frightened to do it alone. I like to do the Q train over the Manhattan Bridge with the phenomenal views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines. 
     
    I also do custom tours for guests. They tell me what they want to do, see, eat etc. and I work out the logistics and create the tour.
     
    How has GANYC helped you and your business?
    It has provided connections through FAM tours and creating a space where I can meet other guides to network with. The Job Board on the GANYC website has been very helpful to me.
     
    For more info visit her website or book a tour with her!

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GANYC is an association of independent tour guides. Each member is licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. GANYC provides a listing of all member guides to the public. GANYC is not liable, or responsible, for contractual obligations made between clients and tour guides. GANYC stands for Guides Association Of New York City.
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