Joe Gunnels Tours and Reservations
Helping groups, families and couples in
Eureka Springs & Branson Since 1988
Meet The Owner - Learn About The Company
Joe Gunnels, is a 4th generation native of Eureka Springs and has been in the tourism industry all of his working life. It's the only kind of business he knows, and if you know him then you know he loves what he does. What he and his employees do, is serve people.
Joe, was an original cast member of the Great Passion Playin Eureka Springs, then worked in one of the largest and busiest restaurants in the area, where he worked for 5 years before going back to work for the Passion Play. After working as one of the animal trainers and cast members for a few years, Joe was asked to go to work with the local Gray Line Tour franchise in 1978. Though reluctant at first he decided to "try it" for a season. Well, as they say, "The rest is history!" In fact, history is a big part of Joe's life and business. Another and even more important event happened not only the same year, but the same week that Joe started working in the tour business, his first child, Crystal, was born. Which made 1978 an even greater milestone in Joe's life. He now enjoys 4 children, Crystal, Rebekah, Jessica and Jordan, all grown, as well as his grandson Christopher (9) and granddaughter Akemi (11).
Immediately after starting as a tour guide and bus driver, Joe, fell in love with the job and the business. Though only 20 years old at the time, Joe, had idea's that he thought would improve operations and increase business. However, the fact that he was young and a local boy, the owner and managers didn't want to listen or give him a chance in management. So, after 10 years, Joe, decided it was time to start his own company. Success was pretty much immediate. Joe, had also been working part-time for another local tour company that did step-on guide service exclusively, and he saw the local tour business trends changing. With the new motorcoaches being much more capable of maneuvering in the hills and crooked roads and streets of Eureka Springs, there was no longer a need for using local buses to tour the city and area. June Westphal, the owner of the other tour company, was ready to retire, and like Joe, she was a native of Eureka Springs, and loved the way Joe, did tours and took care of people, so June, sold Joe, her business for $1,000.00 in the winter of 1988, and Joe, was on his way to building one of the most respected local tour companies in the entire region.
Though his first love is tour guiding, almost immediately customers started asking for help with hotel reservations, show tickets, meals, etc. With Joe's background in the food and lodging industry, and knowledge of the local shows and attractions, he agreed to help. That's when Joe Gunnels Tour Guide Service, became Joe Gunnels Tours and Reservation Service, and a new part of business was born. The company quickly grew to almost $2,000,000.00 in annual sales by 1994. Not bad for a country boy with just a high school education!
Timing is everything in life and business, and little did Joe realize that Branson, Missouri was getting ready to explode onto the national scene. With so many popular television programs doing features on Branson, it brought not only national, but international recognition to Branson and the Ozarks area. Not only to would-be travelers, but to entertainers as well. Once again, Joe, was in the right place at the right time, and has benefited greatly due to the success of Branson and the Ozarks area.
As Joe, turns 51 years old in May of 2009, the company begins its 22nd year. When asked, Joe, is quick to tell you that he never wanted to be the largest tour company or receptive operator in Branson and Eureka Springs, he just wants to be the best. If you're looking for discount prices and don't care who you work with, Joe Gunnels Tours is NOT the right place to call. However, if you want someone who cares about the success of your tours, the happiness of your customers and a long term friendship in business, at very competitive prices, then you need to call Joe Gunnels Tours at 800-386-8711 , and let Joe's love and knowledge of Arkansas and Missouri, go to work for you. As Joe, will tell you, he's not going anywhere, so you can trust him and be confident that he and his employees will be there to take great care of you and your customers, now and in the future.