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Nine years ago, Ruth Marr and Rick Bueckert decided to turn their favourite pastime into their own business.

The daring couple were always travelling around the world and creating their own adventures. “Instead of going on the traditional sightseeing tours, we preferred cycling and walking around,” said Marr. “You get to meet more people and we found that we experienced more from our vacations that way.” They soon had friends and acquaintances asking about their trips and showing interest in doing what they do. “Creating a tourism company was an idea we had for a long itme,” said Marr. “In November of 1990 we decided to do it and Randonnée Tours was created.”

Rather than being a traditional tourism company, Randonnée Tours found an under-developed niche in the tourism industry for specialty tours; tours where people can explore new countries by rafting, hiking, walking, cycling, skiing and driving. “We are the only company in North America that does this as a complete specialty,” said Marr. “It is something unique and business has been growing tremendously.”

In their first year of business, Randonnée Tours had only seven customers. Nine years later, they have in excess of 400 customers.

The business that began out of the couple’s home now operates out of large office space at 249 Bell Avenue and employs full-time Canadians and two part-time Europeans. Surprisingly, most of their clientele comes form the U.S. and the company does very little advertising. “Most of our customers come to us by word of mouth,” said Bueckert. “People go on our trips and tell their friends. It is amazing how quickly word travels.”

Among Randonnée’s first clients were Allan Grant and his wife, Cindy, who participated in a bicycle vacation in France. The Grants have been back on two more trips since. “We heard great things about Allan Grant from a friend,” said Bueckert. “He was a part of our first tour. It was kind of a bartering thing, and things couldn’t have worked out better.”

Randonnée Tours has been with Lazer Grant since 1990/91.

We are the type of business that has very complicated accounting needs, they are terrific and have always come through for us.Ruth Marr

Lazer Grant is presently working on redesigning Randonnée Tours’ entire accounting system. “It is very complex because we have to work with 12 different currencies,” said Bueckert. “But they always manage to come up with ways to make our business run more efficiently.”

For more information on adventure tours by Randonnée Tours, please call 475-6939 or check out their web site at www.randonneetours.com