Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dilemmas of integrity

It's a happy event when you first have to ask yourself - is this person right for our site?  It has really made us question exactly what we are about.

We're still busy gathering content and I'm proud to say that, a couple of weeks in, we have got some awesome experiences on board, but more of that later.  The issue arised because we now have a couple of slightly larger operators wanting to be on the site (i.e. they're not a one man band!).  Now there are various characteristics we look for in featuring an operator; they should be independent, authentic, a little off the beaten track, local, not too big and most of all the guide or host should be passionate about what they are doing.  At this early stage it becomes really difficult applying these criteria because saying no for the first time is not easy when you are keen to see the site brimming with content.  Many sites (ebay for example) have taken the view that you let everybody on and allow the community to filter out the dross.  The problem with this approach is that in the early days you need to be very careful about what is up there, because customers are going to come to the site and make a very quick judgement about whether you are just like everybody else or hopefully that there really is something different here.  So it's important to really get across what you're doing through the products on the site.  They almost need to be exaggerated examples of the vision!

Anyway, we decided that we are sticking to our guns and will definitely be filtering who goes on the site which of course means saying no.  However in the cases we came across today we said yes. Ultimately if someone doesn't fit one of the criteria but excels at others then we need to ask ourselves would our customers want to see this persons products on the site, and the answer in this case is a resounding yes.

Anyway to give you a flavour of some of the people who really do fit the bill and excite us, check out Roger Davies who runs A Question of Taste.  Roger is a real foodie who lives in Seville and takes his guests on some stomach rumbling tours including a trip to one of the best Iberian Ham producers or a guided tour of the Tapas bars in the City. 

(apologies to the vegetarians)

Also take a look at Jim Sutherland.  Jim runs a couple of companies nineonesix and pipedtothetop.  And I really think pipedtothetop is such a great idea and dare I say a rare bit of innovation in the UK travel industry.  Jim is a passionate and experienced hills man and has been guiding for years, but in pipedtothetop he'll guide you up a beautiful Scottish Munro, lay on some fine local Scottish produce for lunch and play the pipes at the top. 

Finally, also in Scotland is Jeremy Hastings.  I have had some entertaining conversations and emails with Jeremy over the last few weeks and I'm delighted to see him on the site now. Jeremy runs bird tours and wilderness experiences in Islay.  Now I can't say I've ever been really interested in birding before, but I would love to do this, Jeremy would be great company, the scenery looks out of this world and there is an abundance of wildlife.


Hopefully in future blogs we'll have the time to be able to interview some of these really fascinating and charismatic people.  The problem is the more I find out about them the more I'm jealous of their lifestyle!  I spoke to a person last night in New Zealand running kayak tours and he answered the phone on the beach, bearing in mind it was close to midnight in freezing England - it hurt!

1 comment:

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