Walking Tours With Thematic Depth
Most all walking tours have a theme or recurring element. Be it the wildly popular "haunted" theme of Dark Tourism or storytelling with history & Hollywood intertwined, themes help sell tickets by enhancing the entertainment or the education. If one theme is good, is two better? How about a single theme that permeates itself into other aspects of the event like the charity it benefits? We look at walking tours rich with thematic depth that may inspire your tour.
Multidisciplinary Walking Tours
Professional photographer Tara Jones wants to combine photography and everyone's love of good food together a memorable experience. The result is 'Eat This, Shoot That!' The gastronomic adventure operates in Santa Barbara California and has a set route around the beach side community's restaurants. The walking tour is currently by appointment only and its frequency is based on demand.
From Jones' original 'Eat This, Shoot That!' announcement:
I am absolutely tickled pink to announce the newest venture for Flare Productions: Eat This, Shoot That! It’s a walking, food tasting and photography tour through Santa Barbara’s magical waterfront neighborhood. And it’s awesome and fun, if I do say so myself!
According to Noozhawk Staff Writer Gina Potthoff, 'Eat This, Shoot That!' was "started over the summer by Tara Jones and a team of professionally trained photographers and foodies who have lived in Santa Barbara for years and want to show others around."
Jones may not be a tour guide by trade, but those that are may want to consider combining two disciplines on one walking tour just like 'Eat This, Shoot That!' has done (photography and culinary). If photography & food can be the theme for a walking-tour, why not classic cars and 50's Rock & Roll?
The wider the base of interest, the more people per tour. Here's an example The city of Memphis already has several popular 1950's era Rock & Roll walking tours, but none have (yet) broadened their appeal to include the army of classic car affiliations. Expanding an established music themed walking tour to also have a classic car theme may be as simple as a phone call to the classic car collectors club.
The creative specifics are up to the tour guide, but suffice it to say, walking tours seeing success with one theme may be twice as successful with two (or more!) themes.
Monolithic Walking Tours
In Pomeroy, Ohio there is a walking tour of local churches called 'Christmas Along the River'.
Charlene Hoeflich of the Sentinel spoke to the tour coordinator about what the participants can expect. Coordinator Sandee Mills emphasizes the family friendly nature of the event:
This is a guided walking tour going from church to church where a 20-minute program filled with history and holiday entertainment will take place. Five downtown Pomeroy churches will be visited on the tour...There is nothing so memorable as walking in the snow, singing carols and laughing with family and friends during the Christmas holidays.
'Along the River' sells its tickets from a church, the tour begins and ends at area churches, and all five stops are churches. How much further could this monolithic theme be taken?
All of the ticket proceeds go to a benefit a nonprofit food pantry that provides food for Christmas dinners to disadvantaged families. The pantry is an established charitable cause taken up by the Pomeroy religious organizations. There is something to be said for having walking tours with self-reinforcing themes. In this case, churches are the tour's subject matter, the point(s) of orientation, the ticket outlet and the ticket sales benefit a related charity - "thematic depth" to be sure.
Multimedia Walking Tours
Walking tours can also be multi-media. Historical walking tours of great writer's homes have a single media theme (literature) while others journey to the homes of movie stars (film). In the case of one walking tour in Los Angeles California, the theme is photographic, literary, cultural, and historical wrapped in a solemn existential review of who we are as human beings.
Recently featured in a multimedia special section of the New York Times is a review of photos from one of the darkest times in United States history - racially motivated illegal acts of vigilantism. History and Art meet to tell a somber story of locations where tragedy occurred - not in the South - but in the far West. Since so few people are aware of the events that took place in the early 1900s, the rare photographs that still exist are the subject of a multi-media display which also includes a walking tour.
The review's author, Maurice Berger, notes the sensitive nature of the subject:
The artist’s intention is not to diminish the story of African-American lynching, but to correct the historical record and broaden our understanding. Mr. Gonzales-Day a widely exhibited artist, photographer and researcher who teaches at Scripps College, is committed to narrowing the psychic distance between the viewer and the photographs of violence and death.
The associated walking tour was planned by the artist for a very specific reason:
Gonzales-Day has produced [the] walking tour of lynching sites in downtown Los Angeles that allows participants to revisit places and events made infamous in the context of their present-day lives.
There is the expectation that participants of the walking tour will have already seen the photographs in the exhibition and read the written works, before embarking on the tour. The depth of this walking theme transcends the physical mediums and locations to be an abstract and introspective look at the human experience.
Multiple Themes. One Ticketing Software.
Sightseeing and walking tours that have multiple themes need not have multiple ways of selling tickets. ThunderTix has everything needed to sell tickets online including guided tour industry specific features like recurring calendar dates and coupons. We meet the ticketing needs of tour operators so they can focus on what they do best - creating memorable experiences.
Special note for tour operators - the holiday season is here and the ability to easily expand an established tour schedule, by the day or by the hour, is just one of the special features available when you sign-up for a ThunderTix account. Give us a call and we can have you up and selling tickets right away!
What do you think? Does a single, one-dimensional theme provide enough entertainment or should every walking tour have thematic depth to challenge the patrons? Let us know in the comments below!