Business offers Segway, bicycle tours of Charlotte

Business offers Segway, bicycle tours of Charlotte


by BOBBY SISK / NewsChannel 36
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Posted on December 1, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 1 at 7:23 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Think it's a bad time to start a business? Don't tell that to Charlotte transplant Dianna Ward.

She thought outside the box and came up with a company that lets customers really take off.

"It wasn't supposed to be full-time, but it is for now," said Ward.

Throughout her life, Ward heard one statement repeated by her father. "He said, 'You need to have a second gig."

Laid off from her first gig at a bank last April, she put her dad's advice to work, starting a new business called Charlotte NC Tours in a storefront in South End.

"We're a full service tour company. But since I love to cycle, it was just going to be bike rentals," Ward said.

But the concept grew to include van and bus tours along with another mode of transportation that gets a lot of attention.

"I'd never been on a Segway tour," she confessed while giving us a tour. 

Her company now has five Segways with plans to add five more next year. 

"Just this weekend we had families coming in who were bringing their relatives in from out of town for tours (on segways)," said Ward.

While it was scary starting a new business in an uncertain economy, Ward says she saw an opportunity. 

"I'm the person that when the stock market takes a dive, I'm buying. That's when you get into things. Everything is cheaper in a recession," she said.

Already, business is picking up as Ward and fellow tour partner Carol Frazee look to expand.

"We've been thinking about getting into some other things like rollerblades," she said.

It's safe to say this banker-turned-entrepreneur is having an absolute blast showing off a state and more specifically, a city she thinks is second to none.

"Charlotte is more beautiful than most of the cities that I've visited. And I thought this is something that we need to show off," said Ward. "We're having to educate people that they really do want to see the city and don't know it, and then we're having to sell our products. There are things that people just don't know of, especially if they're living in the suburbs. A lot of that is missed."

The company also offers both commercial and residential relocation services and will take newcomers on tours of prospective neighborhoods. And in case you're wondering about pricing, two-hour guided Segway tours cost $55 per person. Guided bike tours are $35.