Founded in 1978 by Nancy and Dwight Thompson, Randleman, N.C.’s Holiday Tours Inc. is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, growing from a small mom-and-pop-type operation to a full grown family business. In fact, the company is now being operated by its third generation — David Moody as GM and his brother Jonathan Moody as assistant GM — while its second generation is still represented by its President David Brown; VP, Sales, Gary Moody; and Director, Marketing, Rhonda Moody.
“The interesting lesson that can be learned here is the wonderful transition of a family business that we have seen with this company,” says Larry Hundt, managing director of Great Canadian Coaches. “Succession planning, the transitioning of a successful company to new owners, is one of the biggest challenges many of our operators have struggled with. The way in which David Brown has engineered this transition is something many [United Motorcoach Assoication (UMA)] members would benefit in following.”
From then until now
To mark its 40th anniversary, Holiday made a video about the company’s history, which is narrated by Nancy — the Moody’s grandmother — who talks about the company’s humble beginnings and the rush she got from being out on the road during those initial trips. While his grandparents were already ramping down from the day-to-day operations of the business, David says some of his earliest memories about his grandparents and the company were stories he heard about how hard they worked to get the business off the ground.
“I often heard stories of how they’d get back from a trip at midnight, and then spend the whole night washing clothes and getting everything ready to get back out on the road the next day,” he says. “They really just had a lot of dedication.”
For his part, David explains that the bus business was always in his blood even before he started at the company in 2005.
“There was never any or pressure or anything like how some family-run businesses can be,” he says. “It was always something that interested me, and I enjoyed doing the things that they allowed me to do since I started working here when I was in high school.”
With a background in IT, David worked on converting the company’s custom-developed back office software system to a web-based application to make it easier to use.
“To do that, I had to sit down with all the people here to learn what everybody’s job was and how they used the current system, and then see how we can make the new system better,” he says.
That experience gave him a jump start on his knowledge of the business and after graduating with his MBA, David took over the role of GM in 2013.
Over the years, Holiday Tours has grown to a 74-motorcoach charter and tour business that prides itself on creating a family-like atmosphere amongst its employees, which helps drive the company’s prolonged success.
“My family, in one way or another, has taught me that if you treat your employees right and take care of them they will help take care of the company,” David says about the lessons learned from the generations that came before him. “So, that really is one of our core values. We treat our employees fairly, and in some fashion, they really become part of the both the Holiday family and ours.”
Because of the operation’s continual growth, focus on customer service, and safety, David and Jonathan Moody were recently named METRO Magazine’s Motorcoach Operators of the Year at this year’s UMA Expo, which was held in San Antonio in early January.
“[They] are clearly two of the up-and-coming talents in our industry; they are very bright, well-educated, and have great values,” says former UMA President/CEO Vic Parra, who is now with Washington, D.C.-based firm Strategic-Focus Advisors LLC. “They were given the reigns to run an already successful business by his parents and uncle, David Brown, a real superstar in our industry. Needless to say, they had a very tough act to follow. They have not only met the challenge, but have continued to build on Holiday’s past successes by responding effectively to changes in market forces.”
“It takes the entire team to get you there,” adds David on winning the award. “It is an honor and privilege to accept the award, but it would have been great to have our whole team on hand to accept it.”
Keys to success
One key for Holiday’s success is its participation in Spader 20 Groups, explains David.
“We joined in June 2000 and it has been a tremendous reason for our success,” he says. “You can put your business on a good path, but 20 Groups are like a rocket booster that propels you forward.”
David says that almost every time he comes back from a 20 Group meeting, he brings with him two to three ideas the company implements to improve the way it operates.
“The deal is, every company does something better than you do it,” he says. “As long as you go into 20 Group meetings, or any meeting really, with that mindset, it really allows you to sit, listen, and learn and then come back and make improvements to your business that will help you in the long run.”
Going back to Holiday’s family-like approach, another key to the company’s success is its focus on providing excellent customer service.
“We really try to drive home at every meeting we have that our drivers are the face of the company,” David says. “Sometimes, our drivers are the only person from Holiday that they will ever meet in person, so the impression they make is what will keep the customer coming back again and again.”
Including safety and customer service training, Holiday also has a fairly extensive preventative maintenance (PM) program that helps keep its coaches out on the road and out of the shop. Part of the reason for the success of the company’s PM program is its fleet, which consists of solely Prevost H3-45 coaches and Temsa 30- and 35-footers.
“We forged a relationship with Prevost over 35 years ago and I really attribute a lot of our success to that relationship,” says David. “The success of our PM program really goes back to the consistency of the vehicles we run and Prevost deserves a lot of credit for that.”
After adding three Prevosts and one Temsa in 2017, the company plans on adding four more Prevost coaches in 2018.