Your time is precious, so why book your Okanagan adventures with anyone other than the best operators? Family-owned/operated by Allen and Lou Burke with their son Reign, Cheers Okanagan Tours has catapulted from 124th to 2nd ranking on TripAdvisor® in just five short but action-packed years.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2021, Cheers delivers a range of modest, classic, and premium tour experiences along with safe, clean, reliable transportation solutions, which have been enjoyed by over 75,000 guests. When asked about Cheers’ secret to success, Allen explains, “Our WHY is I CARE.”
People Don’t Make the Difference: The Right People Do
Allen notes: “Today, we have a much better understanding, which is helpful because previously it was somewhat annoying not knowing why Cheers was growing by 100 to 130 per cent a year as we added to our services and offerings. This year, our employee-partner base of tour guides will exceed 30 amazing people. Our secret is in hiring the right people.”
Cheers’ advertising makes it clear that only people who are naturally inclined to be exceptional guides need apply. The Burkes are willing to train the right people, and they state in their job postings:
“Ten qualities every Cheers tour guide should have:
1. You need to be charismatic.
2. You should be a good communicator.
3. You need to be a good storyteller.
4. You must have good organizational skills.
5. You need a good sense of humour.
6. You must be empathetic.
7. You need to think on your feet.
8. You should have a good sense of direction.
9. You should be knowledgeable about wine and the valley in general.
10. You must be passionate about being a tour guide: if you aren’t excited about what you do or about sharing an experience with new people, then being a tour guide probably isn’t the right job for you.”
While the job posting goes on to outline specific requirements, Cheers makes no mistake in declaring its biases. Allen learned from a customer that his own service as a guide was “legendary,” and Cheers is determined to raise all its guides to such revered status. Consider its attitude on service, quality, teamwork and customer experience:
Service: “Customer enthusiasm is our obsession.”
Quality: “Perfection is our goal; excellence will be tolerated.”
Teamwork: “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it,” and “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
Customer experience: “We want our guests to experience once-in-a-lifetime moments—all day long.”
Peer Approved: Impact on BC Wine Trail
Given the commitment by Cheers to ensure everyone on its team is a “people person,” the leaders at the tour stops are also big fans of the company and its professionalism. Take, for example, a testimonial from Karnail Singh Sidhu, proprietor/managing director/viticulturist at Kalala Organic Estate Winery. He described when he first met Allen and Lou as novice guides and their “rare dedication to delivering extraordinary experiences along with their authentic desire to know my products and team members.”
Karnail tracked Allen and Lou’s learning curve through the years and stated, “Today, their more than 20 kind, caring, friendly, professional guides teach Wine 101 at the beginning of all their tours. I appreciate that their guides have a good knowledge of our wines and typically deliver our winery’s history before arriving. Unlike average guides or drivers, Allen and Lou’s are easy-going with unforeseen changes, plus they have lots of patience and aren’t hurried or harried. Their calmness is appreciated.”
In previous Food & Wine Trails articles, glowing TripAdvisor® reviews were shared. Whether the reviews are from peers like Karnail, tour and golf package companies, wedding planners or day trippers, the theme remains the same that Cheers goes well beyond the norm in exceeding expectations.
Pick Your Package
Cheers (over-)delivers do-it-yourself, modest, classic, and premium top-tier wine and experience tours throughout the 200-kilometre-long Okanagan and neighboring Similkameen valleys; airport and ski shuttles; wedding, golf and group transportation; family-friendly and accessible tours; plus, specialty tours like bachelorette and boat excursions.
See cheersokanagantours.com to “tour differently.” Get specifics on all the services offered by Cheers, its set itineraries and how to customize your package. You’ll also learn more about the family, the tour guides and Cheers’ work in the community for organizations such as Freedom’s Door, Mamas for Mamas and Dreams Take Flight. There’s a comprehensive FAQ and even a blog with helpful information such as wedding checklists. You can even revisit those rave reviews!
Cheers has set the bar for tour companies high by becoming the most recognized tour and transportation brand in the Okanagan; top-rated employer; and best-managed company in the Okanagan. Clocking five years in business, Cheers is delighted all its goals are being exceeded.