Delta Queen Has New Owners

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Leah Ann and Randy Ingram, founders of All Aboard Travel have purchased the charter rights of the Historic Delta Queen from Sydney Slome and have assumed full responsibilities and operational control of the Delta Queen hotel.

The transfer was financed by Gateway Bank and Trust at a non-disclosed price.

Mr. Slome said, “This couple has an enormous energy level. They seem to have a solid business plan that revolves around groups and tour business. It was an honor to have served the Queen.”

Hotelier Slome, owns the historic StoneFort Inn in Chattanooga, and recently relocated following the acquisition of two boutique hotels in North Carolina.·

Harry Phillips negotiated the charter agreement with Ambassadors, Inc. late 2008 and personally relocated the legendary Delta Queen from New Orleans to Chattanooga in January 2009.

Mr. Phillips said, “My fondest moment of the relocation was with my son and me at her helm maneuvering Moccasin Bend and letting the whistle blow. I now have steam in my system and will always remain attached to the Delta Queen.”

The Delta Queen is moored at Coolidge Landing under a berthing contract with Mr. Phillips. Mr. Phillips said he remains available to the Delta Queen’s new owners on a contractual basis and works closely with the United States Coast Guard, TVA, Army Corp of Engineers and the city of Chattanooga.

Mr. Phillips said he will continue to provide large groups with personal tours of the Delta Queen. He often consults with river related commercial ventures.

Mr. Phillips said, “I continue to work with various groups that envision the return of the Delta Queen and the American Queen as operational commercial ventures whether dock-side or on the inland waterways”.

Mr. and Ms. Ingram have over 40 plus years combined experience in the hospitality industry. Their five year plan for this boutique hotel is to increase occupancy, ADR and overall revenue from all outlets on the Delta Queen Hotel.

The management team has designed a marketing plan that is aimed at repositioning the boutique hotel into the top ranks in the Chattanooga area.

"This historic landmark is well-known worldwide, and by her name alone, will attract a wide range of visitors to Tennessee and the Chattanooga region," said Ms. Ingram.

The current management has created a marketing plan which will target increasing occupancy to 60–65 percent. The average daily rate needs to remain competitive in the local market but also needs to reflect specific benefits, such as complimentary breakfast and valet parking, it was stated.

Ms. Ingram is a travel industry expert and the owner of All Aboard USA, a group tour and motor coach transportation company based in Chattanooga. The company offers customized tours throughout the United States catering to a broad range of markets, specializing in educational and senior travel planning. The company’s fleet consists of 56 passenger fully equipped luxury motor coaches, 28 and 14 passenger mini-buses for local shuttles.

All Aboard was founded in 1996. The company began a relationship with the Delta Queen immediately, providing ground transportation coordination and city tours for passengers during stops at port. This relationship continued in this manner until the Delta Queen stopped sailing in 2008.
Most recently, Ms. Ingram partnered with the Delta Queen Hotel as the exclusive agent for group arrangements. She is responsible for growing the hotel bookings significantly since the boutique hotel’s opening, and continues to work with the historic Delta Queen to improve efficiency and offer the best experience to group and leisure guests on board.

Mr. Ingram has over 20 years of experience in the tour and travel industry. He is a former co-owner and founder of Premier Transportation in Knoxville. Premier was founded in 2003 and increased initial gross revenues from $720,000 in the first year to over $3,000,000 by the year 2008. He is currently a co-owner of All Aboard USA with his wife.

All Aboard is a leader in the group travel industry and serves as the exclusive group sales agent for the Delta Queen Hotel. All Aboard also operates several motorcoaches. Randy and Leah Ann have numerous contacts throughout the United States in the tour and travel market. All Aboard is a member of the American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, and Tennessee Motorcoach Association, where Mr. Ingram is the current president of the association.

Julie Dodson, sales and marketing director, received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and began her career as a teacher of high school English. After eight years of teaching in the Knoxville and Nashville areas, she moved to Memphis and joined the forces of United Airlines as a ticket and gate agent. Needing to return to East Tennessee, she continued her work in the travel industry at a local travel agency. As an agent for five years and the manager for five years, she traveled extensively as a tour director for groups of 100 or more. Countries visited were Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and others.

The next career stop took Ms. Dodson to the Chattanooga Choo Choo, where she worked in sales for five years, them became its marketing director for 15 years. Her responsibilities included all media and public relations, packaging the hotel with attractions, all print collateral, trade agreements, in-kind services, and more.

In November, 2009, Ms. Dodson joined the Delta Queen Hotel crew as the director of sales and marketing. She is also managing all marketing responsibilities at All Aboard USA and Reliable Transportation.

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