It’s time for 7 Questions, this time with Laura Elwood, native Rochesterite and president/owner of Chamberlain Concierge.
You started a new venture in 2020. Tell me about it?
I purchased the Rochester Trolley and Tour Company in September 2020. I’m not new to transportation; I was raised in the industry, and five years ago, I started Chamberlain Concierge. It keeps evolving into different experiences, and the trolley company is a good fit. We now have a really wide network — but for the most part, we’re about bringing people to places.
What’s the most exciting part of running Chamberlain?
I love stories. My dad would always tell me bedtime stories, and we’d listen to Paul Harvey every day. Stories are a huge part of how we see the world. The trolley company has been able tell different versions of the stories of this city — through its history tours or its ghosts and graveyards tours. And I love sharing that with visitors. And Chamberlain is the point of contact for a lot of hotels. We run hotel shuttles between Mayo Clinic and hotels. Our staff is trained to entertain as well as transport. The patients don’t always get good news, and we want to do what we can to be a support. And, as our community opens up this summer, I’m excited to help it come back to life.
And the scariest thing about running Chamberlain?
Every day is scary, because we don’t know what’s going to happen with the uncertainty of this pandemic. Living in this time of COVID, we don’t know what things are going to look like six months from now. But, really, the scariest part is feeling like you’re not prepared to be at the pace the world wants you at when we open. But I’m trying not to worry about the what ifs. I’m trying to be optimistic, and to remember that I've got this, and to remember who we serve. I just want to be the best part of our guests’ day.
What’s a goal you want to reach this summer?
Work/life balance! I want to prioritize time for myself, because I’m really good at not doing that. During the pandemic, I never stopped working. I answered every Chamberlain call for six months straight. I took every reservation. But I also made myself go on a walk every day. So I’m getting better. Also, I just picked up golfing, so that’s my other goal. I’m really trying to work on my golf game, specifically putting.
What have you learned from the pandemic?
I’ve learned that I don’t have to say “yes” to everything. I can be selective on how I spend my time and who I spend my time with.
You’re a traveler. What’s your best travel experience?
This is a hard one! When I graduated from college, my best friend and I went to New Zealand, and that’s where my travel heart exploded. I met people who moved there from all around the world. That experience launched me into that travel wanderlust world. I would visit my friends from New Zealand every two years. One year I met some of them in Hawaii. Then, in 2018-2019, six of us met in Thailand over New Year’s Eve. I was there for about a month, and it was the coolest experience.
Whoa. How did you spend that month?
It forced me to navigate a country where you don’t know the language, where the pharmacies and the foods and even the toilets are different. You experience how the people operate, how they move, how they love and live, on their time. I visited temples, I got a tattoo from a monk, I visited these incredible food markets. It was living in a world where you’re just in awe … and you have no idea what it’s like until you’re there. It’s taught me that the world is a beautiful place and will surprise you. And it will take care of you if you take care of it.
Jennifer Koski is associate editor at Rochester Magazine. Her column appears Tuesdays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.