What has been happening at my tour company in Munich
Like many people, as Christmas approaches, I like to review what I have done during the year and prepare for the year to follow. This year is no different except that we have lived through what can only be described as an incredibly unique one. We have had to deal with a global pandemic, something that none of us have experienced before in our lifetimes. The consequences of that have affected people in different ways, for me personally, my tour business has been the most affected.
Here in Munich, some tour operators have been forced to close and find alternative employment. Freelance guides have had to do the same just to pay the rent and support their families. Others have had to initiate side projects and hustles just to keep things ticking over. If people have families and children to support the needs become even more pressing, with all the worry and anxiety that goes with that.
I am extremely fortunate in that my wife has switched from part time to full time employment, my Father-in-law is also my landlord which helps tremendously but still my income is down 90% and like everyone affected I have had to burn through savings to make ends meet. Where I am fortunate though is that I have been granted time to work on my tour business and to be fair I have not wasted that time. I also took the opportunity to obtain my German citizenship, a process that involved passing a couple of exams and a lot of bureaucracy. I managed to get this done before the Brexit deadline, so I have also retained my British citizenship, this is probably my most important achievement during 2020.
In terms of Alun Evans Personal Tour Guiding Munich, I have started a YouTube channel Munich Tour Tips TV
The idea of this channel is to offer value to people who are visiting the city, to give them a resource that they can use to prepare for their trip, or to inform themselves of a topic pre tour. Over the years, I have found the same questions cropping up repeatedly during tours. For example: What is the best way to get to the airport? So, my plan is to make videos that cover those common questions. The process of making and producing the videos has been enjoyable and in some way cathartic for me, it has also been a steep learning curve as I have never done anything like it before. I am hoping that the quality of my videos improves over time so that over a couple of years an evolution can be seen. If you aim for perfection it just leads to procrastination, so I decided just to take the plunge and get started.
When I started my tour business, the aim was for it to be a digitized business, I am so happy that I chose that model and it is mainly down to one of my mentors, Daniel Priestly. Daniel’s book Entrepreneur Revolution was like a bible to me and I would recommend it to anyone starting a business. He advocates leveraging technology to make your business robust in the twenty first century. In the late nineteenth century we had the industrial revolution but in the twenty first century we are going through the technological revolution and those that do not adapt get left behind. Many businesses are now forced to digitize and streamline during this COVID-19 period to survive.
During the pandemic, I have changed my booking platform to Fareharbor and so far, I am delighted with them. It means that customers can book tickets for tours with availability in real time. The software creates a booking manifest for each day with bookings from all sources, whether online travel agencies or through my website. Using their app, I can then check guests in by scanning their online ticket, making everything hands free which is desirable under the current social climate. If I hire a freelance guide, they can also download the app and be given access to their manifest. All this makes business operation easier from my perspective but also more importantly for the guest.
I have also developed a shiny new tour here in Munich, focusing on German resistance to the Nazis https://evansguide.net/tour/german-resistance-to-hitler-in-munich/
It is refreshing to be able to deliver a tour which focuses on the positive aspects of human nature, and how exceptional individuals showed tremendous courage and resolve in the face of ruthless totalitarian authority. Again, in what has been a difficult year developing this tour has been enjoyable.
So, despite everything, I look forward and hope that 2021 will offer us a ray of light to the end of these difficult times, it will be a long process for sure. I estimate that we may start to see some tourist activity by the second quarter and hopefully steady increase from the third. I still do not expect to see the numbers on tours at more than say 30% of 2019 levels, but right now I would settle for that. From a guest’s point of view that will be a positive in terms of smaller groups.
To close this blog, I would like to wish everybody an enjoyable Christmas period, despite the regulations. I hope you and your loved ones have a much happier 2021 and hopefully I will see you in Munich soon!