Tauck redefines itself after 75 years

With its air tour to Nova Scotia in 1958, Tauck was the first American tour operator to marry air travel with motorcoach travel.

By David Cogswell
WESTPORT, Conn. -- When young Arthur Taucknitz painted "Taucknitz Tours" on the side of a bus back in 1925, he didn't like the look of it. He changed the name to Tauck Tours. From then on, the family name was Tauck.

In June, in commemoration of its 75th anniversary, Tauck Tours changed its name again, this time to Tauck World Discovery. Now in its third generation of family management, one of the companies that most defined the modern tour industry has redefined itself.

Armed with an eighth-grade education and an innovative spirit, the senior Arthur Tauck started his career as a bank clerk. After a disastrous spill as he carried coins in cigar boxes to the vault, Tauck was fired.

Tauck went home and invented an aluminum coin tray that wouldn't break like the cigar boxes the banks used. It also eliminated the need for counting.

When he took the tray to the bank, he was offered his job back. But soon the spirit of enterprise got under his skin, and he decided to try selling his new coin tray to other banks. Tauck's coin trays caught on, and are still used in banks today. But that was not to be his legacy.

As a traveling salesman, he soon realized other travelers were missing a great deal by not knowing the country.

He ran a classified ad in the newspaper offering an inclusive guided tour of New England. "All I want is a congenial party," it said, "no grouches." At first he planned only one tour. But word spread, and a new business was born.

Tauck Tours was instrumental in laying the foundations of the tour industry as it exists today.

When an examiner of the Interstate Commerce Commission declared that "this whole industry is illegal" because of restrictions on interstate bus travel, Tauck took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He joined with other operators in the fight, forming the National Tour Brokers Association, which became the National Tour Association. Eventually, they won the right to take passengers across state lines.

In the early 1970s, Tauck Tours became one of the founding members of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA).

With its air tour to Nova Scotia in 1958, Tauck was the first American tour operator to marry air travel with motorcoach travel.

The company is always in search of new ways to experience destinations. A prime example is its series of heli-hiking tours, which fly clients to the peaks of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Tauck's small-ship cruising program offers travelers a more intimate cruising experience than do traditional cruises.

In the 1990s, Tauck Tours grew from a domestic operator to a world tour operator with extensive programs overseas. In 1999, Tauck introduced its first Antarctica programs, and in 2000, Africa became its seventh continent.

Tauck's new Africa program includes one itinerary in South Africa and one in Kenya and Tanzania. Also new for 2001 are three new adventure tours in North America and four new itineraries in the Yellow Roads of Europe series.

The new name was determined after two years of market research, which included trying different names on travel agent and consumer focus groups.

The word "tour," the Tauks found, no longer represented their style of experiential travel or their varied modes of transportation.

"World Discovery" is a name they think they can live with for the company's next three-quarters of a century.

Fast Facts

Operator: Tauck World Discovery
Product line: Premium travel programs in all seven continents.
Chairman: Arthur Tauck Jr.
Co-presidents: Peter Tauck and Robin Tauck
Managing director of international new tour development: Scott Supernaw
VP of sales and marketing: Dan Mahar
Director of agency sales: Marc Kazlauskas
Director of special agency accounts: Rick Baron
VP of guest relations/information systems: Randy Durban
Manager, groups: Gail Mutusky
Phone: (203) 226-6911
Reservations: (800) 468-2825
Fax: (203) 221-6828
Web:www.tauck.com

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