Originally established as metroConnections Public Tours, Award-Winning City Tours has been providing sight-seeing tours of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area since 1987.
In 1988, Award-Winning City Tours began to receive recognition from the local tourism industry and won an award from the Minnesota Office of Tourism. In the early 1990s, after winning another tourism award, founder Sam Thompson reached out to hotels and visitor bureaus across the state to create partnerships. In one particular event, Thompson invited various cities to join the tour by representing their region with a local “hero”—Grand Rapids sent a Judy Garland look-a-like, Bemidji was portrayed by Paul Bunyan and Little Falls was depicted with an actor outfitted as Charles Lindbergh.
Throughout the years, Award-Winning City Tours has expanded from the Twin Cities Highlight Tour to include other excursions such as the Stillwater City Tour & St. Croix River Cruise, Minneapolis Tour & Mississippi River Cruise, and the Holiday Lights Tour.
In 2010, metroConnections Public Tours was rebranded to “Award-Winning City Tours.” Originally the company’s tagline, it was a natural switch as many customers were already referring to the tours by this name.
Award-Winning City Tours owes much of its success to the outstanding tour guides—from the very first public tour, it was imperative to have highly trained tour guides rather than just a bus driver doubling as the guide. Because the tours are very interactive, guests feel comfortable asking questions along the way.
Award-Winning City Tours Announces Partnership with Gray Line
Award-Winning City Tours, in collaboration with Gray Line Tours Minnesota, has announced a partnership for the 2013 Twin Cities public tour season. Serving more than 4,000 riders each year and known for their knowledgeable, well-trained and friendly guides, Award-Winning City Tours conducted more than 20 sold-out tours in 2012. Offering the premiere city tour of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, Award-Winning City Tours will continue to operate and provide guided commentary for each tour, while Gray Line Tours Minnesota will be proving the motor coaches and drivers.
According to Renee Splittgerber, Director, Transportation Services for Award-Winning City Tours, this partnership will combine the best of sight-seeing tours in Minneapolis.
“We are excited about this partnership as it allows us to continue to provide the best tour options and service to the area,” said Splittgerber. “We are known for our highly trained guides and interactive nature. Gray Line brings extensive infrastructure, experience and expertise to our already popular tour offering and our customers will benefit from the partnership.”
Kathryn Belcourt, Sales & Marketing Manager for Schmitty & Sons Bus Co., operators of Gray Line Tours Minnesota, noted that the two companies share the same core beliefs.
“Our staff and drivers are extremely excited for the partnership between Gray Line and Award-Winning City Tours as it is wonderful that two local companies will be working together to promote tourism in the state of Minnesota,” said Belcourt. “By partnering, we will be able to take our joint knowledge and experience to create a unique, Award-Winning City Tour. Working together to combine our tours, we can take quality equipment as well as knowledgeable tour guides to create an experience for our passengers that is unforgettable.”
The tour routes -- Twin City Highlights, the Minneapolis Tour & Mississippi River Cruise, Stillwater Fall Colors Tour and the Holiday Lights Tour -- will all remain the same.
Award-Winning City Tours is a division owned and operated by metroConnections, Inc. For more information on metroConnections, including our private and group tours, visit www.metroconnections.com.