toni-walkerWalker: Thanks to the cruise industry, Alaska is a destination desired by many

Briefly describe business:
Logistics, LLC, provides comprehensive destination-management services, event and meeting-planning services and rentals and decor to both Alaska and Washington clientele. Logistics partners with companies or organizations to meet strategic objectives while utilizing unique elements and working with vendors to provide memorable and successful events and experiences. These services include exclusive, customized tours and activities, pre- and post- tours, entertainment, speakers and transportation services, among others.

Combined, the Alaska and Washington offices include nine full-time staff and more than 20 contractors. Starting in Anchorage 18 years ago, Logistics expanded into the Lower 48 market when their Seattle location opened eight years ago.  Logistics works with the cruise industry by assisting with incentive service such as airport pick-up and meet-and-greets, exclusive transfers, exclusive port-of-call activities, dinner functions and offsite events. Additionally, it has also provided onsite services directly on cruise ships for incentive groups and VIPS who want that extra special attention and last-minute assistance.

When did you first become involved with the visitor industry?
I first became involved in the visitor industry while attending Alaska Pacific University and pursuing my bachelor degree in hotel food services and travel/tourism. During that time, I worked for Phillips Cruises and Tours and at various restaurants as summer jobs. After graduating, I worked at the Hilton in sales, handling the  tour and travel, insurance and sports markets for five years. That is where I realized there was a need for destination management services and was inspired to start Logistics.

Over the past 20 years, I have also served on the board and marketing committee for the Alaska Travel Industry Association (formerly Alaska Visitors Association). I also currently serve on boards and committees of Visit Anchorage, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Visitor Industry Charity Walk and Alaska Aviation.

How is your business affected by the cruise industry?
The cruise industry provides Logistics with an opportunity to work with incentive groups looking for higher-end and specialized and creative ideas to cater to cruise guests.

The work we do with the cruise industry clientele often provides enhancements and exclusive, customized tours and events that create that extra special touch and once-in-a-lifetime experience.   For example, we may coordinate an exclusively unique tour, such as a dog sledding-helicopter tour that offers extra amenities such as Alaska Native dancers welcoming the guests and champagne toast with passed appetizers on the glacier, along with an onsite photographer for sourvenir photos. We also assist with planning for pre- and post-ports of call arrangements, including offsite dining events, exclusive activities, hotel accommodations or exclusive transfers.

How did you get your start with the cruise industry?
I really got my “feet wet” with the cruise industry while working for the Hilton. During my time there, I worked directly with Holland America and Princess cruise lines handling their sales contract and room blocks. I was also introduced to many of the cruise industry leaders through my involvement with the Alaska Visitor Association at the time.

What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that, no matter what, each day offers something different, unique and challenging while having a great time doing what I love to do. Every client presents new and exciting opportunities to provide unique and memorable experiences. I also get to work with one of the most dedicated and hardworking teams of professionals, vendors and individuals in the tourism and hospitality industries. We get to think outside the box and accomplish strategies and goals no one has done. I am also blessed to live and work in what I consider one of the beautiful and awe-inspiring places in the world, Alaska.

What’s your favorite cruise passenger story?
When you go into a small community where you’re providing  various high-end experiences, it gets very creative on how they make those things happen. We were tasked with putting on a high-end event at Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake in Skagway. In lieu of plastic products, we were able to obtain wine glasses, silverware and dinnerware in all different sizes and shapes from numerous vendors in the community.  The client also wanted to display smoked salmon on a large display, so we used salmon provided by the Westmark Hotel served on large mirrors from guest rooms.

It’s always memorable to think about what you have to do, all the resources you need to reach out to and how you have to depend on people in those communities to make our client experiences extra special. The guests on these excursions that are very well-traveled realize they may not get exactly what they are accustomed to at other destinations, but the experience and friendliness and hospitality of Alaskans is what makes it special, not the glassware or the stem wear or how it’s displayed.

What should Alaska do to better support/protect visitor/cruise industry?
Thanks to the cruise industry, Alaska is a destination desired by many. It is important that both vendors and businesses keep that in mind. In terms of “big picture,” Alaska’s economy and visitor industry would not be where it is today without the cruise industry and the television advertising they have done over the many years. The state had basically no money in the budget for TV advertising. Though cruise lines may not directly utilize the services of all the businesses throughout Alaska, the cruise industry has created numerous jobs for many businesses and it’s because the initial visit via cruise that many visitors return or extend their travels in Alaska and do utilize the services of various businesses throughout Alaska.

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