Christian Watts Magpie Travel

On Episode 24 of Tourpreneur a podcast for tour operators and tour professionals, Christian Watts, founder of City Sightseeing San Francisco and now CEO at Magpie Travel shares his journey in the travel industry in our Tourpreneur Spotlight series.


Christian Watts reveals in a candid conversation with Tourpreneur host Shane Whaley, how he moved to San Francisco and climbed the ladder in the travel industry.

Christian started his career in tours and activities as a pedicab driver near Fishermans Wharf and went on to found the hop on hop off City Sightseeing bus tour company which he managed and grew for over two decades.

On this episode, Christian Watts shares:

  • How he moved to San Francisco from Leeds University and started working as a pedicab rider at Fishermans Wharf.
  • How he and some friends chipped in $3000 to start a bus tour company in San Francisco.
  • How he expanded from one bus to thirty.
  • How his bus tours evolved into hop on hop off tours and charter.
  • How the City Sightseeing model works.
  • How he dealt with competitors.
  • How he had to deal with the PR fallout from a renegade tour guide, who on her last day with his company went on a rant with racial slurs. The rant was filmed, shared online and attracted over a million views.
  • A year later, one of his buses was involved in a bad accident where a lot of people were injured. How did Christian deal with being doorstepped by the media and being chased and hounded all over San Francisco by reporters?
  • Why he decided to launch Magpie Travel for tour operators. Listen to his launch interview on Tourpreneur with Rod Cuthbert here.
  • His advice on how to get the most out of business books.
  • Which business books he enjoys reading and why.
  • Tips for networking at travel industry events.
  • How he views the tour booking platform and OTA landscape.
  • How he strives to achieve a life/work balance.
  • Why he wants to hear a Tourpreneur Spotlight with Rod Cuthbert.

    And Much More!


Learn more here.

Resources and websites mentioned on Episode 24 of the Tourpreneur Podcast with Christian Watts of Magpie Travel

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