Today I published and sent out my 100th Activities and Tour News daily briefing, better known as the Tourpreneur Daily Brief.
Several Daily Brief readers congratulated me on LinkedIn and Twitter (I am forever grateful) and several emailed me asking what led to my starting the daily brief. So here is the story behind the Tourpreneur Daily Brief.
So, what’s the story behind the Tourpreneur Daily Brief?
I am lucky enough to have worked in the online travel industry since 2002. For over a decade I worked in the online hotel sector, where I opened the Nordic market for Booking.com and built up and grew 7 major markets on the West Coast of the USA and throughout Canada.
You can read more about my role in bringing Priceline and Booking.com together in this excellent article written for Skift by Dennis Schaal – The Oral History of Travel’s Greatest Acquisition – Booking.com
The big difference between working in the online hotel industry and tours and activities.
When I made the move to what Douglas Quinby of Arival quite rightly calls, ‘the best part of travel‘ – tours and activities – I quickly realized two things:
- The Tours, Activities, Attractions and Experiences market was changing at a much faster pace than the online hotel landscape ever did.
- The tours industry is so fragmented and so broad that it was a challenge to keep up with all the news and developments in the industry.
At the time I headed up OTA GetYourGuide (GYG) for North and South America. I won’t lie, I lived in daily fear of an Exec asking me about the latest news from say, the Empire State Building, or worse, a tour operator asking me for my thoughts on a recent industry development that I was not aware of.
Nobody wants to look stupid, we all want to be well informed.Shane Whaley, Host and Producer of Tourpreneur
The online hotel and aviation industry are well served when it comes to news sites and reporting, but there was precious little out there for those of us who work in tours, attractions, and activities.
Since then, I have been glad to see Arival and Phocuswire publishing more Tours and Activities news. I am a fan, and I always link to their articles and reports in the Brief when they cover tour and activities news.
I am still shocked that an industry estimated to be worth over $180 billion get so little press attention.
My role at GYG relocated to NYC, and for personal reasons I decided that a move back to the Big Apple was not the right one for me at that time in my life.
What I learned by asking Tour Operators about their challenges.
During the months that followed I took some time out, traveled, and started talking with many tour operators, whom I call ‘Tourpreneurs.’ I asked them what they felt was missing in our industry, what tools and resources they lacked to grow their businesses.
I heard a lot of ideas and suggestions, but the one that kept coming up was how isolated many Tourpreneurs felt, especially those who are not based in big cities such as London and New York.
They wanted to read about or listen to stories of other tour businesses, and not just the good stuff: they wanted to hear how those tour businesses overcame nightmare situations, as well as what tools, books, tech systems, resources, and TripAdvisor tactics helped them grow their tour business.
Those conversations were the catalyst for the Tourpreneur Podcast (where I interview tour business owners and share their stories) and also for the Tourpeneur Daily Brief.
Shane, ‘you are crazy’ they said.
‘You are crazy!‘ several friends told me when I explained my initial idea about curating a daily tours and activities email.
‘That will take so many hours to research and write, plus, people don’t like getting emails every day!’ they added.
Yet I knew that back in my days at GetYourGuide, I would have valued such an email.
Finance professionals read daily emails from the Wall Street Journal, politics buffs read daily emails from Politico, airline and hotel experts read daily emails from Skift and Phocuswire. But what about tour operators/owners, or OTA staff? Where could they go to stay informed on the news in the tours and activity industry on a daily basis?
I enjoy reading The Daily Skimm, Morning Brew, and While You Were Working – as do millions of others – so why not a daily news email for tour operators and tour professionals?
In fact, one of my former colleagues at GYG (who will remain nameless) was one of the first people to write to me after reading the brief for a few weeks. I have her email printed out and on my office wall.
She wrote ‘I’m loving this Shane!! So great to start my day with super relevant news!
If you are reading this you know who you are and you are getting a large Scotch at Arival in Orlando.
Despite being a 20+ year sales professional, I am actually rather shy. I never like being in the limelight; I always preferred making my team the heroes whilst I worked in the background.
I realized that the Tourpreneur project would swing the spotlight squarely on me and I would not have a big brand or organization to hide behind. I needed to get out of my comfort zone.
Dealing with Imposter Syndrome.
The night before the first Brief went out I did not sleep a wink. Imposter syndrome was setting in and I tormented myself with thoughts of ‘what if nobody opens the email? or, ‘what if they open and immediately unsubscribe because the content is crap?’
How is the Brief faring, 100 emails later?
One hundred Tourpreneur Daily Briefs later and the average open rate is a whopping 63%, with very few unsubscribes. More important though, are the wonderful messages I receive from subscribers telling me how much they appreciate the emails, and the relationships I am building through the Brief and TourPreneur Podcast. In addition, I am learning so much valuable insight and information about our exciting and fast-changing industry.
I am all ears.
I have a lot more to learn about daily emails and podcasting, so when it comes to your feedback about what you want to hear and read, I’m all ears.