Ep. 171 — What I Learned Running a Tour Business for Over 30 Years

Lauren’s Lessons Learned Running a Bike Tour Business for 31 Years

Today’s guest shares with us some of her lessons from 30 years of running a tour business. We cover a lot of ground including marketing tours, dealing with journalists, websites, hiring and managing tour guides and chatbots! 

Lauren Hefferon joins us to discuss how she started, developed, and expanded the bike tour business Ciclismo Classico.

She explains the significance of Ciclismo Classico’s website for booking and why she is keen on talking directly with her customers before they book.

She shares how she made use of the Zoom culture to hold virtual events during the CIVID pandemic.

Lauren also highlights the power of event marketing and offers advice for cultivating effective public relations.

Our customers are our mGive tour guides a level of freedom on a trip. Their personalities are part of what makes a tour wonderful.

Lauren Hefferon

This week on Tourpreneur, the Tour Operator Podcast:

  • Lauren’s background and career arc
  • How she decided to build a tour business around her passion for cycling
  • The early days of Lauren’s tour business and why she chose Tuscany as her first base of operations
  • How chatbots have benefited Lauren’s business
  • Dealing with tire kickers and how Lauren qualifies her clients
  • The philosophy behind the company’s slogan, “Pedal your passion”
  • The expansion of Ciclismo Classico and how Lauren hired people for the business
  • Doing due diligence when hiring tour guides and growing tours through collaboration
  • Marketing activities that have had the largest impact on Lauren’s business
  • Hiring and using social media and social media companies to increase business leads
  • The power of doing events and public relations for marketing
  • Lauren’s advice for collaborating with influencers and working with journalists
  • Building and curating the Ciclismo Classico website
  • Using booking systems and working with online travel agencies
  • Guerilla marketing, organic growth, and creating newsletters
  • Tackling the Great Resignation and Lauren’s secret to retaining talent
  • The importance of creating a safe space for giving and receiving feedback
  • Where Lauren draws inspiration for innovating bike tours

Today’s episode of Tourpreneur is kindly sponsored by Tourism Marketing Agency and Arival Las Vegas

More about today’s guest…

Ciclismo Classico’s Lauren Hefferon

Lauren Hefferon is the CEO of Ciclismo Classico, a pioneer in specialty bike tours in Italy.

With over 30 years of experience, Lauren and the Ciclismo Classico team have been delivering well-crafted cultural, educational, and transformative tours in Italy, France, Spain, Austria, and New England.

She graduated with a degree in Anthropology and Fine Arts from Cornell University, where she became Cornell Outdoor Education’s first bicycle tour instructor and advisory board member.