Melbourne By Foot provides small and personable walking tours to those who wish to delve into the rich history and culture of the city. Dave loves meeting his eclectic customers and teaching those who are willing and interested in learning more about Melbourne. In fact, he loves it so much that it doesn’t even feel like work.
Owner Dave Carswell is usually out and about roaming the streets of Melbourne, leading his customers on an educational tour about its rich history and culture. But until recently Dave found himself spending less time pounding the pavement, and too much time sitting behind his desk!
Ever since he adopted Rezdy in 2012, Dave’s bookings have been growing exponentially. In most recent times, the new Marketplace has enabled Melbourne By Foot to go from zero agents bookings to averaging 50 third party reservations a month.
We caught up with Dave earlier in the year and chatted about his ongoing devotion to Rezdy and plans for future growth.
D: I used to work in the hotel industry and was inspired to start a walking tour company through a passion for travel, storytelling and sharing my knowledge and experience with visitors to the city.
The business grew a lot since its humble start in 2007. We originally focused solely on tourists and visitors. However over time we gained more and more interest from locals who wanted to learn more about their own backyard. They sometimes come along in their own spare time or bring friends or relatives that may be visiting. So it’s grown and changed a lot since the early conception of the business.
Our Culture Walk Tour is run daily. This is a bit of a highlight of the city. We talk a lot about indigenous history, the formation, colonial history of Melbourne. We take people on an exploration of the laneways and the arcades, the cafe culture, street art, music, and all of the interesting parts of Melbourne that make it a vibrant place. There’s an evening tour as well, which is some sort of a historical exploration of Melbourne’s beer and pub history. It’s a social evening where we get to taste locally crafted beer. Our offerings also include work with school groups, conference groups, and corporate tours.
D: We like to highlight many different aspects of the city. We’re not really focused on one particular theme or one type of history. We try to give people a broad and overarching idea about the city, so we tend to look at the past,what’s currently happening and also, look at future developments in the city. And I think that’s how our tours are different.
D: I really enjoy showing off the city to people. It’s a city where you can easily miss out on the good paths, unless you have someone local to show you around. The best part is sharing an experience and meeting people from lots of different corners of the globe. Hearing their stories, and being able to relay stories of Melbourne to people who are seeing the city with fresh eyes. I guess the reaction from people, when they see what an interesting and varied city Melbourne is, gives me a lot of job satisfaction.
D: Melbourne weather’s pretty unpredictable, and it has a relatively big impact on people’s experiences. So that’s probably one of the biggest challenges.
Some of the administration that goes with running businesses, is probably not the easiest or the most fun, but in lots of ways a necessary part of running a business. It can be quite challenging to find time to do.
D: The majority of the work, the hard lifting is done outside taking tours, so it’s important to set aside time each week to look after administration. We’re quite lucky because Rezdy takes care of itself most of the time, so we don’t need to do a lot of manual data inputting. It also helps cut down on time spent on the phone or dealing with enquiries.
These days in the travel industry, more and more people are able to research, find out, and book their own activities. The majority of our customers are overseas guests, so they like to try and find out as much as they can before they arrive. They also might not necessarily have the ability to be able to contact us through phone, so having a concise website, and a streamlined booking system makes it easier for them to plan their travel before they actually arrive.
D: In the early days of the business, the bookings were all done manually, which was a bit of a nightmare and quite time-consuming. Then we moved to another booking system which was really set up only for accommodation providers, and was in no way specific to a tour company. In 2012 we signed up with Rezdy. At that time Rezdy was quite young, but with a clear focus on delivering a service which wasn’t offered, as far as I could tell, anywhere else in Australia, or even in the world – specific to tourism and tour businesses. So, a lot of the features they had were really appealing and gave us confidence to sign up, knowing that that aspect of our business will be taken care of entirely with little or no intervention from our side.
Rezdy really alleviates so much administration and paperwork.
D: Rezdy really alleviates so much administration and paperwork. Having an automated system allows us to focus on other parts of the business and let that roll over. Recently there’s been more integration with a lot of the travel agents that we use. This cut down on a lot of manual computer work we used to allocate to lining up our reservations and live inventory with what we had on the books. We now don’t have to worry about that aspect of the business. It’s saved a lot of time and continues to save time, as well as being quite innovative and responsive to a lot of demands that come with running a tourism business.
It’s also different because it’s set up specifically for tour businesses. The pricing is structured around a flat rate, whereas some of the other companies charge you per booking, which can be quite restrictive if your business changed, and particularly if you work seasonally. There’s a lot of aspects of the system that you can adjust and change to suit your business needs. For us, the ability to send reminder emails, integration with social media, sending follow-up emails and requests for reviews, and the ability to create gift vouchers, all of those have been a huge time-saving aspect of Rezdy.
D: The latest Marketplace has opened up our products to lots of other travel agents that we previously hadn’t worked with, and they range from smaller micro businesses and affiliates to major international travel sites like Viator.
We basically went from having no agent resales through to having that ability for other tourism operators and industry bodies to be able to sell our tours through their respective websites. In that space I’ve seen a tremendous increase – from zero to having a substantial amount of third party bookings.
The latest Marketplace has opened up our products to lots of other travel agents that we previously hadn’t worked with.
D: I think tourism, generally, in Australia is growing at a rapid rate. We noticed that year after year, lots of people are coming to the city, wanting to know more about modern culture and history. So we’d like to introduce even more tours and show people different aspects of the city.
Rezdy have the capacity to handle growth of business and, so we hope that we’re with them as we grow and move forward as well.
D: I would definitely recommend Rezdy because it’s very user-driven and user-intuitive. It’s ridiculously easy to set up and integrate with your current website, which means it doesn’t require much technical knowledge to actually get it up and running in no time. From a usability perspective it’s suited to anyone, and once you have it running, you can relax and let it do its job, while you continue to focus on doing yours.
Rezdy has given us the ability to be able to do away with a lot of tedious administration work and instead of chaining us to the computer all day, it frees us up to be out doing the job that we love doing.