Founded in 2012 as one of New York State’s first benefit corporations, Turnstile’s mission is to advance public knowledge about the meaning of place, foster connections and understanding between people of diverse backgrounds, and inspire and reflect a culture of community participation through providing welcoming, well-researched, inclusive, and engaging experiences and resources to people of all ages and abilities. They do this through Turnstile Tours, operating tours of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal, the street food industry, and public markets in New York City, and Turnstile Studio, a consulting practice that supports cultural and government organizations in place-making efforts, visitor engagement, and in the development of tours, programs, and exhibits. Cindy VandenBosch, President and Founder of Turnstile Tours, runs the company with her husband Andrew Gustafson.
What Matters Most to Us
“Community participation matters most to us. Through our work, we are dedicated to documenting and sharing the stories of people and places that are lesser-known and underrepresented in the public record, and we primarily achieve this aim through offering public tour programming in partnership with community and cultural organizations in efforts to help support their work, share their stories, and reach new audiences.”
What We Learned
“As with any small business, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. More than anything else, we feel that the process of taking the assessment helps us take a step back each year to ensure we’re walking the walk and guides us in our strategic planning for ‘healthy growth in the new year.’ We learn something new about Turnstile Tours every time we take the assessment and there’s no question that it helps us refine and inform our policies, practices, and goals with respect to our impacts on community, the environment, our customers, and employees. One concrete example that stands out in my mind is a question on the assessment that focused on employee feedback to tenured employees. The best practices highlighted in the answer section sparked ideas for us that led to subsequent changes that we made to further improve in this area.”
What We Did as a Result
“In addition to adapting our pricing structure to include discounts for seniors, veterans, and children and quantifying a number of the practices we hadn’t quantified previously, one very tangible change that resulted from taking the assessment was in how we approached professional development and performance reviews with our staff. The assessment motivated us to more thoughtfully structure and standardize our performance reviews, including an annual self-evaluation with goal setting for skills development, peer-to-peer observation, training, and feedback, as well as collectively reviewing customer feedback through our annual customer survey and reviews to shape professional development and training sessions. This year, we’re excited about expanding our efforts to include a 360-degree feedback process.”
Features/Improvements we are Looking Forward to:
“We are passionate about providing experiences that are inclusive of people of all abilities, including those with disabilities and their family members, veterans and active duty military personnel, and people who may not be able to afford the price of a tour. In the coming years, we are dedicated to exploring models that will help us deepen our outreach to and engagement in the communities where we offer tour programming, and will seek to further expand our contributions to public archives through our research efforts.
In addition, we are seeking to reduce the amount of waste we produce on our food tours and are interested in sharing and helping to cultivate socially and environmentally responsible best practices and metrics across the travel and tourism industry.”