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Our Autumn 2018 Blog

Posted: 30/9/2018
Posted: 30/9/2018

Entering our 4th Season

Seems amazing that we are planning our 4th season of walking tours of Birmingham city centre. In 2018 we gained a lot more experience and built on our foundations. Perhaps we should take a second to recap what we got up to: Live audio system: From the start of our walking tours we have always seen everyone being able to hear the commentary as really important. We started with a loudspeaker system and these worked OK. Investigating an audio system with live transmission of the guide commentary has been fun and has now taken us to a different level. While uncommon in the UK walking tour community overseas these systems are very common. In Venice for example cruise ship guided walks use them all the time. We started with a system which was not quite legal as it worked at the wrong wavelength for UK compliance. We moved on to actually having our own UK legal system manufactured for us. Three of our four tours now use this all the time and the system certainly comes into it’s own for private tour groups. The audio system opens up many exciting avenues. Currently we are starting to trial the audio system with the use of translation systems.  Certainly in the future running live tours with everyone dialing into their native language will be commonplace. Today though this is  for us on a limited budget still at the experimental stage - with the number of 3.5mm microphone/earphone connectors Jonathan has purchased from the internet testifying to the mysteries of it all….. Tripadvisor reviews: We have always encouraged tour participants to write a review and now with over 230 reviews this has been a great success. The feedback allows us to adapt and improve our tours. People really appreciate reading the reviews, with many being well informed about their content when they come along to walk with us. We now also offer our tours for booking from the Tripadvisor website and this has much to do with a West Midlands Growth Company  and Visit Britain joint initiative to help businesses such as ours. Certainly the Tripadvisor commission fees are considerable but this new sales platform has opened up doors that we never knew were there. Birmingham Redevelopment: It has been challenging keeping the tours going with some considerable issues for our routes with the Centenary Square, Chamberlain Square, Metro extension and Arena Central developments all around us. Sometimes people have struggled to get to the tour start and on occasions we have had to change routes along the way with pedestrian routes moving on a seemingly weekly basis. When Centenary Square is finished in June 2019 hopefully things will get better. One benefit for us is that with some of the artworks back in the Square we will be able to incorporate them back into our tours. Tour 3 Discovering Birmingham: A real fun addition to our offerings. Aims to get beneath the surface of the city and allows people to consider for themselves the complex things we see around us and how the city redevelops itself. A great friendly tour for Sunday afternoon and presently run personally by Jonathan Berg, who has set up these walking tours based on the concepts of his books of the city. Tour 4 Early Riser: Will anyone want a tour at 08:00 - 08:45 to familiarise with the city and get a basic introduction with ideas for things to see and do? We will see very soon as the first tour is planned for Easter Saturday. Donations to Sifa Fireside: We have continued to give a proportion of our turnover and also donations for earphones to Sifa Fireside, who  work on homeless issues in Birmingham. In the three years we have been walking the streets there has been a huge increase in rough sleepers. It has been great to create awareness in these issues and to point out there are organisations out there working in this area.