Shutterbug Walkabouts



In this quick call, we check in with Coreena Vieth, the tour operator behind Shutterbug Walkabouts in Tasmania, Australia to learn how she is coping with the COVID-19 lockdown and how she plans to come back stronger.

Today’s episode is kindly sponsored by Checkfront.

Checkfront is the booking platform trusted by over 5000 tour and activity operators around the world. You can start your own free 21-day trial over at Checkfront.com.

Hello, and welcome to episode 73 of Tourpreneur, the world’s only weekly independent podcast for tour operators.

This week we’re doing something a little different on the show. Monday to Friday, each weekday, I’m going to be calling a tour operator from around the world, and taking the pulse on where they are in terms of their business, finding out how their tour business is dealing with the Coronavirus crisis,

  • What are their action plans during quarantine,
  • What’s the daily routine,
  • What’s their message to other tourpreneurs around the world,
  • What are they learning, to make sure their business comes out of this stronger than before?

Transcript – Coreena Vieth of Shutterbug Walkabouts on the Tourpreneur Podcast.

Welcome to the Tourpreneur podcast. Travel industry veteran, Shane Whaley, Will take you on a journey with fellow Tourpreneurs, sharing their tips, ideas, insights and success stories to inspire you to make your tour business the best it can be. And now here is your host, Shane Whaley.

Shane:

Hello and welcome to episode 73 of the Tourpreneur podcast. Today we carry on with our daily check-ins with tour operators all around the world, and today we’re going to call a Tourpreneur who is based in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. We are talking with Coreena Veith, she is the Tourpreneur behind Shutterbug Walkabouts. You can find their website at shutterbugwalkabouts.com.eu or head on over as always to tourpreneur.com/73 and we’ll add the resources in the show notes there, as well as a transcript. I’m getting these transcribed and only able to do that with the generous support of our friends at Checkfront because it’s quite expensive to get shows transcribed but I wanted to have the transcripts that you can refer to, as well. So let’s call Australia, let’s call Coreena.

Shane:

I’m curious to know what the mood is like in Tasmania right now.

Coreena:

Oh look, it’s hard to tell because I haven’t actually been out, of course, but I think all in all we’re actually doing mostly okay. Our [inaudible 00:01:54] premier, has been very good in communicating everything with us. And as in the numbers and stuff, we’re an island off an island, so we’re in the Southeast of Australia. Our own little Island, so we had our borders close pretty early on. I think when it comes to Coronavirus, our count is quite low, and we’re kind of doing okay. It’s obviously got its moments.

Shane:

And are you speaking to other tour operators on the Island at the moment? What’s the mood like in the tour operator community?

Coreena:

I think a lot of people have been just trying to just get on with things to some degree, not obviously working and everything. I think we’re still very early on in our lockdown. So, we’ve only just been locked down for two weeks. So I was still touring into mid-March. So, my last tour was on the, I think the 30th of March, I think it was. So I think we’re still pretty much, there’s been a lot of industry insiders I actually have managed to get to. When I say industry of [inaudible 00:02:54] as in online. And I haven’t managed get to all of those as yet. I have actually been focused a lot on just trying to sort a few things out myself and prepare somewhat to [inaudible 00:03:06] over the next few months. But at the same time listening to lots of podcasts and with the [inaudible 00:03:13] outside of my own region, I think sometimes it’s good to get an international perspective, especially from those that have been here a lot earlier than us.

Shane:

Absolutely. So you’ve been on webinars. What’s been a key learning for you since you’ve been on those?

Coreena:

I think a lot of it for me has been about the faith that everyone has seen in what they’re doing and gaining strength, regaining that strength to say, “You know what, we’re going to be okay”. I think the feeling that everything was just going out of control, and I think the one thing is we just have control it. And I think the thing that I got from was the people that are just being so ingenious at the moment. And that strength that people have got, that resilience, we can bounce back and we will bounce back as an industry. I think that’s my really big takeaway in that sense, because I’m only a little tiny business trying to make it in a big world.

Shane:

As are most of us, as most of our listeners are. And that’s why this is scary because you take that livelihood away or even if, we have a lot of listeners where I don’t really like the word, but it’s a side hustle to [inaudible 00:04:31] running on it weekends or in their spare time because they are passionate about what they’re doing, but still this is affecting all of us. What would you say you might do differently or what are you working on now? Are there any things that you didn’t have time to get to before in terms of learning or working on the, like, okay, I’ve got this time at home, I’m going to work on such and such?

Coreena:

Well, it’s interesting when you asked that question, we were very lucky and I say lucky, I feel very fortunate that we were toward the end of our peak season, so we were actually heading into our winter off peak. And whilst I was still had a good number of bookings, which obviously got canceled, I’ve already had a plan for how I would spend most of the downtime over the winter. So, let’s just kind of fast forward it a little bit. And yes, I do have a plan in a roundabout way and it’s just been implied, I guess you could say, in that now I have probably more time to concentrate on the things that did get backlogged. [inaudible 00:05:34] that I [inaudible 00:05:35] get to, but I think the big thing I’ll be concentrating on is my website, SEO, really ramping that up a lot. And social media, they’ve been a few [inaudible 00:05:45] of mine over the years, so I’d be wanting to desperately get to that. And they’ve been begging for my attention for far too long. So yeah. So I think website and SEO definitely.

Shane:

Yeah. I I’m hearing that a great deal. And are you, in order to improve your website and work on your SEO, what resources are you using for that?

Coreena:

So I’ve been, I’ve got the wonderful [inaudible 00:06:10] from…

Shane:

From Chris?

Coreena:

From Chris, yes. So, it’s a book that sat there looking at me for a long time and it’s been signed. Instead of just looking at me, get reading, so I started reading that and already in the first couple of chapters. [inaudible 00:06:29] Oh my gosh, this is just so enlightening. It’s time that’ll actually read a lot more into this. So, now that I’ve got that time, yes. Like I said, I’ve only just gone two weeks into lockdown, so I’m still at the very early stages of trying to work out my timing. Although, I do [inaudible 00:06:45] to make pretty early decisions, so as I could into it, rather than just I’m missing about going, “What will I do, how will I do it?” [inaudible 00:06:49] Decision, decision, decision, and I think that’s really important in my practice, too. Except what lies ahead for the next coming months, just make those early decisions and get stuck into it.

Shane:

Yeah. I like that you have goals. I like that you have things that you want to achieve because it’s very easy to kind of be distracted by the news and reading Facebook. And Facebook’s great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you say, okay, I have to switch that off and work on my SEO. I actually have to put into practice what I’m learning here, not just reading about it, which is sad.

Coreena:

That’s hard. And I did, in the first week, I guess I did sign up for a lot of webinars, including webinars that were actually crossing over time. So I just thought, “What am I doing? Why am I doing these things?” All the news on the TV, which I was very quick to say, “Right. Morning, afternoon, get the updates, switch it off.” It was really important, otherwise I’d be sitting there, listening to all the bad. I guess I can say I’m also very fortunate that where I live is an acreage, so I’ve got bush surroundings and I’m able to get out and go for a walk and stay home at the same time. So, I’m very lucky like that. And my husband’s working your five day week from home, so his program, is enabling me to remain focused, as well, on what I want to achieve in that same timeline. So, as you know, being a tour operator your seven days a week and all over the place most of the time but I guess I’ve now got a routine. More of a routine.

Shane:

Absolutely. And your booking partner is [Rezdee 00:08:32], correct?

Coreena:

That’s correct. Yes. Yes.

Shane:

And how has communication been with Rezdee?

Coreena:

[inaudible 00:08:38] with Rezdy for a long time on this and I haven’t had any issues at all with Rezdy. I wasn’t on a monthly subscription, plan, I’ve got a separate sort of thing which is… I’m not sure, just going back a few months ago, I basically spoke to them and said, “I need some help here. I’m going to be smokey, so don’t take high volume tours, like numbers of tours. But I do take high value tours.” So back when [inaudible 00:09:11] was doing all their thin, their marketing campaign, trying to win over clients and everything, I really wanted to restore that [inaudible 00:09:21] because I think [inaudible 00:09:23] and so I made sure I had that conversation with them back then. So, I feel prepared for something like this in that way. Yeah. So I’m not going to [crosstalk 00:09:31].

Shane:

Are you now off the subscription model but it’s customers when they do start booking again will be a percentage fee on top?

Coreena:

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. [inaudible 00:09:42] so I’ve arranged that completely separately. And I think that works well. We win our business because obviously our process need to account for that, just like you would do if you’re on a monthly subscription. But it means I don’t have that expense right now, when I don’t have the bookings. So it’s a very helpful thing.

Shane:

Well, I mean it’s one of those things we often think of just ourselves. But you know, my heart also goes out right now, not just the tour operators but to the booking platform companies, which is if you’re not taking any bookings, they’re not making any revenue. And we sometimes see Rezdee, [Fair Harbor 00:00:10:18] as these big kind of giant companies and they still have to make payroll and…

Coreena:

That’s right. Exactly.

Shane:

Keep people employed and everything. So, my heart goes out to everybody at the booking reservation platforms too

Coreena:

Yeah. With [inaudible 00:10:30] it’s no sort of constellation, I’d guess, in regards to all of those, the companies have been amazing at supporting businesses in Australia. I’m taking it that it’s probably similar around the world. But our government was [inaudible 00:10:48] scattered in some way but they have rolled out some support system. That’s not great in the sense of people who have lost their jobs and everything. It’s out there. But I think it’s just up in the air as to what people can get and win. I think the timing, it’s just such a rush thing. I think everyone’s in the same boat. So the big companies lost, it’s not a constellation for the big business. I really hope that they survive because obviously without them, how do we survive?

Shane:

Absolutely.

Coreena:

We need them, they need us.

Shane:

And as we wrap up here, what is your message to your fellow tour operators around the world who listened to the show? What would you say to them today?

Coreena:

Look, I think for me it’s been more about making sure that I don’t set too many high expectations on what I can achieve over this period of time. And just, I think just had time out to breathe and review everything where you’re at. And I’ve done a lot of work over that over the last year or so, especially. It’s like, where am I at [inaudible 00:11:49]? So I’ve done a lot of visualizing of where I want to be on the other side. And I think if there’s anything for the smaller brains like me, visualize what it is he wants on the other side and think about how what you’re doing now fits in with that. And then take a moment to breathe and just work towards that and continue building from your strength and resilience and come out the other side and we’ll be all ready to roll.

Shane:

Very inspiring, Coreena. Thank-you for sharing that.

Coreena:

I hope so.

Shane:

And I hope [inaudible 00:12:18] invite you back on the show when we’re through this pandemic and find out more about your business and how you started and how you’ve grown it and I’d love to find out more.

Coreena:

I’d love to share that. Than-you.

Shane:

Marvelous. Thanks Carina.

Coreena:

Thank you very much. Bye.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for listening to the Tourpreneur podcast. Be sure to visit Tourpreneur.com to join the conversation and access the show notes, including links to the resources mentioned on today’s episode. This is Tourpreneur.


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Shane Whaley is the Producer and Host of the Tourpreneur Podcast. He is also the curator in chief for the Tourpreneur Daily Brief. Shane has worked in the travel industry for almost twenty years.