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VOL. 127 | NO. 60 | Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Two-Wheeled Tours

Segway Experience provides unique way to see Memphis

By Andy Meek

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Tourists and other guests in Downtown Memphis can always leisurely stroll past landmarks like AutoZone Park and FedExForum as they take in the sights and sounds of the city.

Justin Caughlin leads Karen and Barbara Landay on the two-hour Segway Experience of Memphis tour along Beale Street.

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

But Segway Inc. has now made it possible for them to leave from The Peabody hotel and, well, to segue from one point to the next Downtown by riding as part of a guided tour.

The Segway Experience of Memphis, which is based at The Peabody, is now up and running. Its launch will give Memphians and visitors yet another unique option of exploring the city along with things like running tours and carriage rides.

Peabody guests will get a 20 percent discount.

“Segway Tours will be a great addition to our list of guest amenities here at The Peabody,” said Kelly Earnest, the hotel’s director of public relations. “Not only will it be a fun and exciting way for our leisure visitors to see Downtown’s historic sites and attractions, but we know it will be a big hit with our convention groups as well.”

The way it will work: The Peabody will take most of the reservations for the rides unless they’re done online. A Segway guide will meet visitors at the concierge desk.

After that, a brief video walking through safety issues and an orientation to Segway’s PTs (personal transporters) will be shown.

“And then from there, we start our tour, which goes all around Downtown Memphis,” said Deb Novak, who works for Segway and help set up the Memphis tour.

She helped scout out the route visitors will take. After guides were hired, they had input into the experience, and the route was then tweaked a little.

It was important to make sure the riding area was as smooth as possible, for example, so that the experience wasn’t too jarring for anyone using the PTs.

Justin Caughlin demonstrates how to ride a Segway PT to Karen Landay, while Barbara and Bruce Landay watch, for the two-hour Segway Experience of Memphis.

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

“The tour consists of Beale Street, the FedExForum, we go down by the Orpheum, down Main Street, over to the Civil Rights Museum, over by The Arcade, and then we go along the river and back up Union over to AutoZone Park,” Novak said. “And then our tour is pretty done from there.

“It’s about an hour-and-a-half experience. All our guests wear a lanyard with a speaker around their neck, so the entire time they’re hearing facts about the history of Memphis and really just everything. The tour guides are providing constant contact.”

There will be Segway excursions daily from The Peabody, and tickets are $59 per person. Riders have to be at least 14 years old and weigh between 100 and 260 pounds.

Also, helmets have to be worn for the entire ride.

The new Peabody experience comes at a big milestone for Segway Inc., which celebrated the 10th anniversary in January since the company unveiled the PT on “Good Morning America” in 2001.

In 2002, the PT became available to customers.

Segway today has a worldwide network of more than 250 distributors, dealers and “experience centers” in 80 countries.

“As a corporation that’s headquartered in New England, we’ve been blown away by Southern hospitality and how welcomed we’ve been by the Memphis community,” said Suzanne Dumaresq, a public relations specialist for Segway. “And I mean that all around, from the staff at The Peabody to the media to our first customers to the community in general. We definitely have not seen this kind of reception anywhere else.”

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