Emma Parker, the founder of the walking tour company Coutours talks about the future of tours in the Covid-19 era
Tell us a little about yourself and your business
I set up Coutours in 2011 to tell interesting stories about London while we walk around.
As the name hints, Coutours creates couture tours. We can either work with clients on a theme that interests them to create a one-off experience or we can customise a tour to suit them in terms of length, content and detail. It is all about personalisation.
We offer private and public tours and events. All of our tours are fun and different.
The History of London in Four Drinks explores the impact of tea, coffee, beer and gin on the capital.
Fragrant London meanwhile is an interactive olfactory journey (and no, its not all bad smells!).
On The Food Lover’s Secret Market Walk, we take people to small food manufacturers and to a wonderful little-known food market.
What precautionary measures is your business taking to guard visitors’ safety?
During lockdown we moved many tours online so people didn’t have to go outside. This worked really well and we will continue with this.
We have now reduced our outdoor tour groups to six.
Guides wear face visors and gloves when dealing with food, and guests are given hand sanitiser and personal cutlery and plates. Customers may be required to wear a mask, too – we have a supply.
Can we expect anything different or innovative to enhance the customer experience?
Coutours has been working behind the scenes to adjust and create new and improved experiences.
We will extend our virtual events and tours, offering an online version on Zoom of most of our tours. These are hosted by a guide. They will also contain video clips and interviews with producers.
We have worked with partners to provide produce that we will send out in food and drink boxes via our fulfilment house.
We will also be extending our tours to London’s more unseen, unexplored areas.
Can you tell us one lesson that you have learnt during the lockdown?
Lockdown has given us the opportunity to be creative. I had already set up a gin experience company called Madam Geneva & Gent, so we turned the gin tours into virtual gin experiences in early April.
Going forward, Coutours will offer virtual tours and walking tours.
Book a Coutours tours here.