Regular readers know the “La Vie en France” blog posts talk about the Webmaster’s cultural experiences in France and/or the process that led to his sabbatical to pursue his passion as a freelance tour guide for the AEF battlefields on the Western Front. This post covers the latter topic. Specifically, what direction should the Webmaster’s next career take? His first career was as a financial analyst; but in the world of finance one only gets re-hired at age 55 if one was “the best thing since sliced bread” or if one was a tremendous networker. He probably does not qualify on either count–although he made some very good investment decisions. Thus, the Webmaster has been kicking around thoughts about expanding his tour business. He really enjoyed being able to share his knowledge with others so that they could “see” the story.
One of the great advantages of guiding clients in 2017-18 is that he was able to meet a wide variety of people that he would not otherwise meet. Call it networking. Here is where serendipity–part 1–began. A few days ago he reached out to a 2017 client who had some travel agent experience. She suggested he think about attending the Berlin Travel Show, one of the biggest in the world. That was a bit of a stretch, given the cost involved. However, he googled “New York City Travel Show” and found out that it was running from 25 – 27 January, with a set of industry discussion panels on Friday, 25 January. His plans changed on a dime. Friday am he was headed to the Javits Center for The New York Times Travel Show.
Serendipity–part 2–began during the first panel discussion, where he met Kathy and Charley Wood of Knoxville, TN. They have a life adventure similar to the Webmasters. After years of both working in the corporate world they decided to step out of the rat race and spend a year in France. They found and fell in love with the town of Bonnieux, in Provence. Initially, they played tour guide to family and friends. Enjoying it, they began to offer a few tours commercially. Today, they run fourteen small-group tours a year to various destinations in Europe and the U.K. Details can be found on their website: www.european-experiences.com. Most important: They were willing to share their story and strategy with the Webmaster; showing him that a small tour operator can–with hard work and some luck–build a business.
Now it is the reader’s turn to participate in this adventure. The Webmaster is seeking input on the direction his life should take:
- Should he expand his tour offerings? The American battlefield tour market is way too limiting.
- Should he branch out to the British battlefields and Verdun?
- Should he branch out to WW2 battlefields? Both of these markets already have a lot of competition. Historically, the Webmaster’s strength was WW1–and he recognizes that it will take time to build a following in the other areas.
- Should he branch out to non-military tours? He speaks German fluently and has some proficiency in French, and he has lived in those two countries more than two years of his life.
- What kind of tours would you like to see him offer?
- For those of you who participated in a tour, what do you think were his greatest strengths? His weaknesses?
- What is the craziest thing you think he should try?
Please respond to him via email, [email protected], or via phone, 908.451.0252. However, please put some time and thought into your response. It doesn’t have to be a novel, but simply stating “You would make a great tour guide.” does not provide useful feedback.
Thank you in advance!