Starting a Tour Company

Interview with Georgette Blau, Founder of On Location Tours, Inc.

Did you ever wonder where the sit-com family the Jeffersons lived? Georgette turned the location of her first NYC apartment into a business. Now Location Tours is 10 years old and thriving!

Georgette Blau started Location Tours to take advantage of two things NYC has a lot of -- tourists and movie locations!

Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?

At On Location Tours, Inc., we run TV and Movie Sites Tours in New York City and Washington D.C. Before founding On Location Tours, I worked in the publishing industry in New York City.

How did you come up with your business idea?

Armed with just a van and a driver, I introduced the concept of TV and Movie tourism to New York City in 1999 at the age of 24. When I realized that my first apartment in New York City was a stone's throw away from where The Jeffersons lived, I got the idea to scout other New York City locations that had been used in filming TV shows. Using my passion for classic television and cinema as inspiration, I soon turned a weekend job and a small company into the world's largest TV and Movie Tour Company.

Have you hired additional staff? What is your greatest human resources challenge?

Ten years later, I now have 8 full-time employees and 30 part-timers, including tour guides and weekend staff. I have had to hire more staff because of the rate at which the business is growing.

For women entrepreneurs, what specific advice would you have for young women who would like to become an entrepreneur? Are there specific advantages, disadvantages to being a women business owner?

Women entrepreneurs should not let their male counterparts intimidate them. We have just as much ability, if not more, as they do. We can be just as successful if we work hard and give it everything we've got. Making good business decisions has got nothing to do with gender. Commitment and passion will make you successful no matter what your business venture is. There will be challenges along the way but you have to be resilient and weather the storm.

Finding employees to work in a new and growing business can be a challenge. How did you find your employees?

All our tour guides are working actors and actresses and New York City is the place to find them. There are casting houses in which they are registered so those are a great resource. Word of mouth has also been great - lots of our current tour guides know other actors who need jobs so we have taken advantage of that as well. We have also used the media to fill such positions. Free listings in newspapers and websites can bring in lots of applicants.

Social marketing is consistently being written about in the small business space. Has it worked generating business for you?

Definitely! We do not necessarily have a huge advertising budget so social media has played a big part in our marketing strategy. We use Facebook and Twitter to communicate our products to the public. We provide discount codes and such via these means, attracting a lot of prospective customers. We also update our blog often to keep our information fresh and relevant. Social marketing is underrated.

Thank you for your time, Georgette! Next time I am in the Big Apple I will be sure to catch a tour!

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