Kathy Hedges is marketing coordinator at the Northern Alaska Tour Company in Fairbanks, Alaska. “As a small tour operator, we don’t have defined lines between company departments in the traditional sense,” said Hedges. “For instance, our guest services team does everything from deciding what new tours to offer to planning, marketing, sales, reservations, greeting the guests, and execution of the tour.”
Q: How did you get your start in the motorcoach travel and tourism industry?
Kathy Hedges: I got my start in the industry partly by luck and partly by design. Growing up in Juneau, Alaska, I knew that tourism was a solid industry in which to establish a career. When I graduated from university and returned to Juneau, I was hoping I would be able to get my foot in the door ... and I did. My first position was at Southeast Alaska Tourism Council as administrative assistant, and I haven’t looked back since.
Q: What does Northern Alaska Tour Company offer to its customers and community that is unique?
KH: Less than 2 percent of visitors to Alaska actually make it into Alaska’s Arctic. Northern Alaska Tour Company gives travelers the opportunity to earn that badge of honor—and even receive an official Arctic Circle Adventure Certificate. Our customers have many tour options, including traveling by motorcoach along the famed Dalton Highway, flying into the Brooks Mountain Range, or a combination of both. Depending on the customers’ interests, they can fly to a remote village only accessible by air, dip their toes in the frigid Artic Ocean, or simply stand at the iconic Arctic Circle sign.
Q: What is your leadership philosophy?
KH: I hope I am a leader who listens to what people need and makes changes accordingly. I want to lead while working right alongside my coworkers; there is no task too small or one that is “not my job.” This may mean separating recyclables from the bins, cleaning the restrooms, or welcoming guests for the next tour.
Q: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the motorcoach travel and tourism industry?
KH: Be open to all possibilities because you never know where they will lead.
Q: Why did you get involved in ABA’s Women in Buses Council?
KH: That’s easy—I was invited. I have found it very valuable to meet with other women in our industry and hear how they work through challenges and find solutions to everything from marketing and sales challenges to personal time management to how to wear our many hats—and keep them all straight.
To learn more about or join the Women in Buses Council, click here.