I was walking up the street one day and passed the building used in The Jeffersons. It was on the Upper East Side, where I had just moved to, and I loved the idea of finding other TV and movie sites around New York City. I wanted to share this love of escaping to this fictitious world with other TV and movie fans.
I never had experience in tourism prior to this. The idea was a lightbulb moment, but the idea took several years to develop and become an actual business. I launched the business several months after the idea, but it took about three years to become more of a “business.” I validated the idea by making it into a great experience. Initially, I thought just the idea was enough, but turning it into an engaging experience made it a popular, well known, quality business.
On Location Tours is a one-of-a-kind sightseeing company that offers unique TV and movie-themed bus tours in New York City and Boston. Each tour highlights popular sites featured on the big and small screens. The company is one of the East Coast’s most popular tourist attractions and is one of the world’s largest TV and movie tour companies.
Nine separate bus tours and two walking tours are currently offered in New York City: NYC TV & Movie Tour, Mrs. Maisel’s Marvelous Tour of New York City, Sex and the City Hotspots Tour, Gossip Girl Sites Tour, Sopranos Sites Tour, The Super Tour of NYC: Heroes! Comics! More! TCM Classic Film Tour, When Harry Met Seinfeld Tour, Holiday Lights & Movie Sites Tour, Central Park TV & Movie Sites, and East Village TV & Movie Sites walking tours. On Location Tours also operates the Boston TV & Movie Sites bus tour and Boston Movie Mile walking tour in Boston.
The NYC TV & Movie Tour features more than 60 locations from some of the most popular TV shows and movies that use NYC as a backdrop. This three-hour tour showcases locations from Friends, Seinfeld, American Hustle, Ocean’s 8, Veep, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Trainwreck, Mr. Robot, Birdman, Girls, Isn’t it Romantic, Spider-man, How I Met Your Mother, The Amazing Spider-man, This is Us, Isn’t it Romantic, and a lot more. This tour is available in French via an app on your smartphone.
The bus tour of Boston TV & Movie Sites visits more than 40 locations including sites from Ted, The Heat, American Hustle, The Town, Good Will Hunting, Boston Legal and Cheers. The Boston Movie Mile walking tour visits more than 25 locations from movies and TV shows such as Good Will Hunting, The Departed, Blown Away, Cheers, and many others.
All tours are led by actors who offer inside industry information from a first-hand perspective.
Who is your target demographic?
I got my first three customers from a combination of print, our website, and selling on the street. Our target demographic changes by tour. It’s anywhere from a 20 year old on the Gossip Girl tour to an 80 year old on the TCM Classic Film tour, and everything in between. We also have a very global audience with fans from around the world. We have had up to 100,000 customers per year .Most of our sales are driven by SEO and SEM.
We had a request to have Sarah Jessica Parker lead a Sex and the City tour. My most popular tour is the NYC TV & Movie tour.
What happened in the Early Stages
I funded the business using my own savings. Then I met my co-founders through newspaper ads and the visitor center. In terms of finding your first employee, you must interview a lot of people. It’s worth the extra time.
What motivated you to start your own business?
On Location tours is my first company. I loved the idea of creative marketing, and didn’t like the idea of working for someone else! I loved working for myself, even if it meant working 14 hour days. My father was very encouraging, but my mother didn’t want me to take risks. She wanted me to work for someone else--for a more “stable” place.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
I never stop. I never give up. I just keep going until things get resolved. I have never dreaded a day coming to work, and I keep that positive “push forward” attitude to stay resilient.
For those who are just starting out, I recommend hiring someone right away, if not full time, then a part timer, or even an eager intern, since if you are trying to do everything yourself, and try to wear all of the hats, you will never have enough time to develop the company.
What is stopping you being 3x the size you are now?
I have less fear than I used to, but right now it’s time. I have two small children at home, and I am only in the office three to four days a week, which really limits me on what I can do.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
We protect ourselves simply by being the best out there quality wise, and always being on top of what’s filming in New York and Boston. We have the trademark for On Location Tours.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
The top three apps are our ticketing app FareHarbor, Instagram, and our sales app Hubspot. They are essential for the different aspects of our company.
What are your favourite books?
My favorite book is The One Minute Manager.
What are your next steps?
We are working on several new exciting ventures, including a This is Us tour in LA and potentially taking over the Chicago Film tour. We are currently planning a This is Us tour in LA that should start in/around April. I would like to be in at least three more cities in the next five years.
Would you ever sell?
I would only sell if I am kept in a management role where I can still help run the company.
|Company Name:||On Local Tours|