I started Ye Olde England Tours in 2013. As far as I know, I was the first person in Britain to do what I do. In fact I was so pioneering that I was thrown off Viator/Trip Advisor as back then such activities were very tightly controlled on that website and you have very certifications and accreditations and various other superfluous paraphernalia to be listed on there and my quickly rising number of 5-star reviews put some of those staid established noses out of joint.
Nevertheless I persisted and was soon being chased by websites to sell through them . I can only think of one tour out of over 60 that was not 100% unique when I created each one and even that is delivered in a unique fashion. With thousands of happy tours completed and getting on for a thousand 5-star reviews I obviously had a great idea and I still really enjoy coming up with new tours. Sometimes I have a brainwave and think to myself that surely someone must already be doing something like it but no-one is.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so I suppose I should be flattered that many copy and yet given that organisations such as the BBC, Netflix, CCWGC, Bloomsberg come to me must mean something.
Three weeks ago I saw an invitation run by Mail Metro Media and the Federation of Small Businesses and they wanted submissions and business plans with the successful applicant being granted £3,000 of free advertising in newspapers an online with i and the Metro (an incredibly large and successful range of free local city newspapers) and the Daily and Sunday Mail of which the former I believe has the most popular newspaper website in the world.
I didn’t have that great an expectation of success, after all it is just little old me and a Small or Medium size business can still be so titled and have up to 249 employees. The judges obviously didn’t want their money to go to waste and wanted to help someone who had been badly affected by the Coronavirus and no doubt not throw money away by picking someone with plans and drive for the future.
It appears that is me 🙂 as at the end of last week I received the email below and shortly thereafter I received a confirmatory telephone call. I beat 6,000 other businesses as the email below shows.
It’s nice to be recognised and to be given the opportunity of free advertising and to know I can write out a good business plan but really good to know they like my ideas enough for the future to do this for me.
I am sure lots of people in the travel industry will try something else but also lots of people might come to it thinking wrongly it is very easy. It’s possible to do something for a short while and not lose heart or be found out but it’s something else to be working 18 hour days 365 days a year. If you’re not happy to give up all national holidays be out in absolutely all weathers and take your own holidays out of season (or never) then you probably won’t make it as a tour guide and no amount of expensive accreditations or the gift of the gab will change that.
So now I just have to finish off my latest book and get down to the new project. I started working for myself after losing my job several times in circumstances out of my control. Things don’t get much more out of control that this virus when you’re in the tourist industry so hopefully in two or three years I’ll see this difficult time as another big stepping stone.