By Julia Vergara | Staff Writer
As tourism in Waco rapidly increased, Luke and Rachel Whyte and their good friend David Ridley asked the question — “Who is welcoming all of these visitors to Waco?” So in summer 2016, they decided to start the company Waco Tours.
Rachel Whyte said they first began launching the company through their personal social media accounts and websites. At the inception of the company, they only had one van and were doing one or two small tours per week.
In January 2017, Luke Whyte quit his day job in order to do Waco Tours full-time. This gave him the time to be able to sell the tour in downtown Waco and get day-of guests, Rachel Whyte said.
“We now do anywhere from three to seven tours a day with our three vans, which hold up to 12 passengers,” Rachel Whyte said.
The Classic Waco Tour is the most popular, Rachel Whyte said. It provides “a little taste of all of Waco,” making it good for tourists that are looking for what there is to do in the city.
According to the Waco Tours website, the Classic Waco Tour is 2.5 hours long and costs 65 dollars per person (55 dollars for children) for the month of January. The regular price is 79 dollars per person (69 dollars for children).
“The private tours are essentially the Classic Waco Tour with the ability to rent out an entire van and customize your tour experience,” Rachel Whyte said.
The charter bus guided tours are offered to big groups that come to Waco on charter buses, Rachel Whyte said. The guides step on the bus and give a custom tour to the group based on their own requests, size and budget.
The Waco Eats Food Tour is a new type of tour offered on Saturday mornings, Rachel Whyte said.
According to the website, tourists will not only get “8-9 small, unique dishes from various local eateries,” but they will also get the chance to meet some of Waco’s restaurant owners.
“Overall, our guests are routinely surprised and impressed by what all our city has to offer that they never would have known about if they had not taken our tour,” Rachel Whyte said.
Travel agent Sally Furtado Pavao said her experience with Waco Tours was a great one. She had no idea what she was going to find in Waco other than the Silos. The tour guides took them to all of Waco’s highlights and Pavao was “pleasantly surprised” as she walked around town.
“We went to a coffee shop or ice cream shop and they treated us as part of the tour,” Pavao said. “The guides were fantastic.”
Melanie Reed was a guest on Waco Tours last week and said it was the best tour she had ever been on.
“Dan and Dave [tour guides] took us all around the city, made us laugh and shared their testimonies with us,” Reed said. “We even stopped off for photo ops, coffee, ice cream and other adventures.”
Rachel Whyte said their guests usually come to Waco looking for the same sense of home and small town life that they experience while watching Fixer Upper and they love how relational, fun, energetic and compassionate Waco Tours’ guides are.
“We have found that when they take our tour, they leave feeling like they are somehow a part of the Waco family,” Rachel Whyte said.