By Eli Ruiz
SOUTH FALLSBURG The folks over at Big V Tours have only three things in mind for their new tour company and its patrons: fun, fun and more fun.
A division of Rolling V Bus Company in South Fallsburg, Big V Tours started up in January as the brainchild of Phil Vallone and his son Nick, who saw an opportunity to fill a void in Sullivan County.
As Nick explained, “We saw an underserved market out there and after much discussion we figured, who better to do this than us?”
Between its January launch, and its first tour in July the father-son team had a lot of work to do before getting the new tour company up and running.
The first order of business was marketing the venture, and in mid-January, experienced marketing consultant Dali Levy was brought on board to get the word out.
“There’s a lot of preliminary work involved when you’re trying to set something brand new like this up… a whole lot of legwork is involved,” said Phil. “Dali is a very talented individual and we knew she’d be a great fit for us… we knew she’d get the job done.”
Noted Levy , “First we came up with our branding, then we got to work on creating an online presence for the company and marketing our packages.”
In early March, Nick Vallone and Levy shared a booth with the Sullivan County Visitors Association (SCVA) at the annual New York Travel Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
“Hundreds of people stopped by our booth expressing interest in the Catskills and sharing stories about traveling in the Catskills,” said Levy. “From that point we knew it was a go.”
For more than 50 years, family-owned Rolling V has provided full-service transportation services. First known as Parkway Bus Service, the company merged with two other transportation companies in the mid-1950s becoming Pioneer Bus Corporation and later Rolling V.
Well known in the Catskills for its extensive school bus services, Rolling V also provides regional charter, coach and taxi services to area residents. As Phil Vallone put it, “Expanding to the tour market, I believe, was a natural progression for us since we were already in the charter business.”
Earlier this summer, the Sullivan County Democrat tagged along on Big V’s launch tour.
Dubbed the 911 Memorial and City Cruise Tour, about 30 patrons took part in the daylong, all-inclusive excursion. A sort of “one stop shop,” as tours go, the folks at Big V plan their excursions down to the very smallest detail.
“We create the tours and we do all of the legwork… itinerary, meals, entertainment, it’s all taken care of on our end and we make sure folks have lots of options,” said Levy.
Indeed, the crew at Big V makes sure that all of its patrons’ needs are taken care of. From breakfast to lunch, to the onboard entertainment and structured itinerary, there never seemed to be a moment throughout the entire day to be hungry or bored.
Big V Tours will even work with folks to customize a tour to a group’s needs.
The launch event started out with a Circle Line Tour of NYC landmarks with at least three guides available at all times to answer questions or take care of any patron’s needs. A highlight was a visit to the 911 Memorial, where participants were free to go their own separate ways, with a designated meeting area and time set beforehand.
By all accounts the launch tour was a bona fide success with rave reviews from those onboard for the event. (For privacy reasons the Democrat was asked to use only the first names of those interviewed)
Constance said, “I was truly impressed with the trip and how well prepared they were. I didn’t know they’d have games for us while on the bus… I had a wonderful time today.”
“What a great trip… the staff was incredible and I liked all the little extras,” exclaimed Kathy.
Shernett described her experience, saying, “the tour guides were excellent and the bus driver was just great… I had so much fun and I hope to go on a lot more Big V tours.”
Shernett will certainly have the opportunity to go on a lot more Big V tours, as the company has more events planned throughout the year. Another 911 Memorial and City Cruise Tour is set for September 24 and had already sold out.
Other themed, multi-element tours, include, but are not limited to, the Baseball and Brew Tour which includes a tour, tasting and lunch at the famed Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, admission to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and another tour and tasting at the Newburgh Brewery. The Stretch, Sip and Shop Tour includes a visit to Crossing Vineyards for yoga and a wine and cheese tasting, followed by a shopping excursion to Peddler’s Village where folks can, of course, shop, and enjoy lunch as well as a cooking demonstration.
For a full list of Big V Tours upcoming events, as well as dates and times please visit www.bigv.com or call 1-888-707-BIGV.