In March 2009 ‘London Black Cab Sightseeing Tours’ were a ‘new kid on the block’ as a ‘London Visitor Attraction’ – in what is a very competitive market!
We decided not to be ‘understated cool’ – instead, set out to make a splash and hired the ground floor exhibition space at central London’s ‘Visit Britain Tourist Information Office’ on Regent Street for a week – in the heart of London’s West End – many thanks top man Andrew Bright (who is now at the ‘City Information Centre’ opposite St.Paul’s Cathedral.
The public would have been surprised to find a taxi with its hire sign glowing inside the building! Well it was ‘half a taxi’ anyway, or ‘Arfur’ as he has been nicknamed – the iconic London Black Cab sliced down its centre – an un-sliced one would never have fit through the main door! ‘Arfur’ lives at the ‘London Ambulance Museum’ in Ilford, London – surely the best place for a sliced taxi? He gets his chance of the limelight at events such as ours.
We had pre-invited other London tourist industry dudes to come and check us out – and many did, including ‘Encore Tickets’ (thanks guys). We dished out our new shiny leaflets to all and sundry – some to their obvious looking bemusement. We went out in turns canvassing the very top London hotels in Mayfair and St. James’s, who in the main were very pleased to see us (once they found out about our commission rates!). We blagged a vital 10-minute slot on the ‘Robert Elms Show’ on ‘BBC Radio London’ – the popular broadcaster could not do enough to promote us (glad to hear you back on the air mate!)
We were up and away!
The ‘Sofitel Hotel’ in Waterloo Place St. James’s can proudly boast themselves of being our first tour supplier (many thanks Concierge Oliver!). More Tours started coming in, and our team of qualified ‘London Taxi Guides’ with their new shiny green and gold badges, certified by the ‘City of London University’, part-funded by the ‘Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers’, started escorting punters around on panoramic sweeps of London.
We conducted continued running commentaries throughout the Tours (well, you just try to shut us up!) through crisp, clear intercom systems in our gleaming polished chariots that can comfortably sit up to 5 people (or 3 if you include a passenger in a wheelchair), not only stopping for popular photographs with famous London landmarks as a backdrop – but also negotiating tiny medieval streets that the tourist buses just cannot go – London comprises a much larger canvass than the well-known neighbourhoods of Westminster!
A great little product – ideally suited for folks looking to get ‘close and personal’ with ‘our London’ – looking to enjoy a presentation that is not only interesting and factual – but fun and entertaining too! We not only take in all of the obvious – but include secret haunts that the rush of modern London has yet to engulf!
Guess what? Our Tours did not seem at all expensive for the ‘happy campers’ that rolled up. In fact 5 people sharing pay the same price as the bus tours, with one huge difference – their questions do not get lost on a bus loaded with 50-plus people!
We started to develop ‘Theme Tours’ – ‘Harry Potter London Film Location Tours’ is still the most popular. Our ‘Royal London’ Tours went down a hoot while ‘Wills and Kate’ were getting married, or when Her Majesty was celebrating her ‘Golden Jubilee’. Bespoke requests are also handled with care, whether you are a ‘James Bond’ movie buff, a ‘Jack the Ripper’ rascal or a devout ‘Downton Abbey’ addict. One of our Guides is currently writing a ‘Beatles in London’ Tour – yeah, yeah, yeah!
Day trips outside London too are accommodated – Windsor, Bath, the Cotswolds, Stonehenge and Oxford are all in reaching distance from a central London bolt-hole – with ample time to get you back for ‘Let it Be’, ‘Jersey Boys’, ‘Billy Elliot’ or whatever else takes your fancy on a night out in London – unless of course you would like your ‘London at Night’ Tour of the Capital – we have a rather good ‘London by Night Tour’ as well
During our first (nearly) 4 years, we have gone in for a whole new name – ‘Black Cab Heritage Tours’, and taken on a USA-based partner – with a direct sales offices in Georgia and Florida (941-227-6038
) – but now, just ahead of our 4th Birthday we are going ‘Social Media’ – something us oldies have taken some time to adapt to!
With just a ‘Facebook’ presence to our name so far, that is all about to change. It’s all well and good being ‘old school’ – but there is a train running, and we need to get on it!
So watch out for our Blogs and Tweets!