When musician and land developer Don Pratt started his new business in Sedona, AZ, back in 1960, he became the first company in America to provide Jeep tours. But that wasn’t all that made his company so distinctive; he also customized the Jeeps by painting them his favorite color: a bright shade of pink. Pratt launched his business by taking visitors on back-road and off-road tours of the breathtaking but rocky terrain around Sedona, and the idea immediately caught on.
Today, Pink® Jeep® Adventure Tours has grown into the country’s premier off-road adventure tour company, with excursions in Sedona, Arizona, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas, Nevada. It has become remarkable for several reasons — such as being the only tour operator that the U.S. Forest Service will allow to use the Broken Arrow Trail in Sedona. The tour is also the official site steward of the 700-year-old Native American cliff dwelling known as the Honanki Heritage Site.
Jeff Wind, guide supervisor for Pink Jeep Tours, says the company now has 150 vehicles. The fleet has expanded from its initial offering of Jeeps to include a custom-built Chrysler “Tour Trekker” that can seat up to 10 people and offers interior creature comforts while still handling the rugged off-road terrain.
The signature pink Jeep Wranglers, which can hold up to nine guests, have been customized to allow extra passenger room, but also to give the vehicles the sturdy suspension needed to climb over rocks. And, to get to their day tours from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, guests ride in style, in a fully decked-out Mercedes Benz Sprinter or Ford Transit Van.
While these are all impressive feats, there is something else that makes Pink Jeep Tours exceptional — its commitment to safety.
A Better Way to Drive
Given the nature of their business — which has welcomed more than 5 million visitors in the last 20 years alone — safety is always a priority for the company. Today, it is the only tour company in the U.S. that requires all of its adventure guides to be fully trained in The Smith5Keys®.
“Safety is at the forefront of our company’s operation, which is why we conduct such extensive training of our guides,” Wind says.
Pink Jeep Tours began using Smith System training in 2012. Initially, says Donna Helfrich, director of operations in Arizona, they used the training system to educate drivers in their Las Vegas branch.
“Our safety manager had previously worked for UPS and was familiar with the Smith System,” Helfrich says. “When we were looking for a comprehensive driver training program for all of our guides, we chose Smith based on the reputation, longevity and experience of the company. Smith is the leader in collision avoidance driver training and has taught tens of thousands of fleet drivers every year.”
After seeing how well the drivers responded to the training, Pink Jeep Tours implemented Smith System training company-wide in 2014.
“We currently have four Smith Certified Instructors on staff and require all of our drivers to be Smith Driver Certified before operating any company vehicles.”
Helfrich says they have noticed a decline in the number of incidents on the road since implementing the training.
“The guides are better at anticipating traffic issues and avoiding those situations rather than reacting to them,” she says. “The guides have told us that it has also made them better drivers in their private vehicles, as they have learned to leave more room and anticipate traffic changes.”
Reinforcing Their Commitment to Safety
Drivers must take refresher courses every one to two years, depending on which location they work from and what type of driving they do. Helfrich says this has been especially helpful for Pink Jeep Tours recently, as more attention is being given to the safety of the adventure tourism industry.
“The fact that Pink Jeep Tours has been using the Smith System for more than four years provides another layer of confidence that the company is committed to providing the guest with a quality, safe, experience,” Helfrich says. “It also demonstrates our commitment to safety with our own employees. As better drivers, our guides can focus on providing the customer with an educational and entertaining tour, increasing the overall customer satisfaction.”
Having the right drivers on the road begins with providing them with the right driver training. Smith System’s driver education programs use The Smith5Keys principles to provide drivers with the skills and knowledge they need.