Tell me about yourself: a bit about your personal story, how you got to where you are now.
I came to Madrid 8 years ago for a Spanish love interest, and then developed a love for Spain and for Madrid… and I stayed. Prior to that, I had spent a gap year in Latin America after working as a leisure tourism and art consultant in Amsterdam. In that latter role, our clients required that we were always very creative in finding what made places attractive. That gave me an eye for finding places a bit off the beaten track.
I applied all that experience when I arrived in Madrid. At the time, it seemed like all the tourism offers in Madrid were very traditional, focusing on the typical highlights, and I thought Madrid had a lot more to offer than that.
The experiences I offer are experiences that you wouldn’t find among the typical highlights in the guidebooks. We come in when you want to discover Madrid from the locals’ point of view. I started with three tours: industrial architecture bicycle tour, rooftop walking tour, and an underground tour, through the metro system. That was 7 years ago.
Can you describe one of these experiences you’ve created?
We have many tours, but I can maybe describe one of them as an example- the rooftop walking tour, Madrid Uplifted.
What we try to do in our tours is to show the city from another perspective… in this case the city from above. It completely changes your perspective on Madrid and on cities in general—which is a theme that’s present on all of our tours.
We also try to change how people look at Madrid and how they look at Spain through story telling. We share anecdotes about traditions and culture in Spain. We explain cultural differences between where the visitors come from and where they’re visiting. How does a Dutch person look at Madrid? How would a Spanish person look at tourists from Holland? What we’re really trying to do is to create a cultural bridge here.
What does impact tourism mean for you? What is the impact you aim to create with this experience?
Apart from obvious things such as offering tours with sustainable transport, I see it as taking people to places they don’t expect to be and change their perspective on a city and a country. We all have prejudices because of where we come from, and my goal is to help people look beyond those prejudices.
What kind of people joins your tours?
We cater for travellers who don’t want to be seen as tourists. This is a very important distinction. Travellers have seen much of the world. They’ve probably been here before and are already done with the highlights. They would be repetitive visitors, maybe a bit older and would have more acquisition power, above average income, above average studies.
So your customer profile is quite niche…
It is. And I want it to be like that. I don’t want to cater for just everybody. We’re not a typical company that is going for money, and volume. We go for quality and doing what we love.
How big is your team?
At the moment I have two partners, so we’re three. And depending on demand, in high-season we have up to 12 freelancers.
How do you choose your team?
I don’t choose them. They choose us. They normally find us. Among those that find us, I have a strong gut feeling to identify the right people.
Have you participated in any experiences yourself so far that left an impressive impact?
I’ve participated in many. That’s where I get my inspiration from! For example here in Madrid I participated in a tour of Madrid Street art, which was very inspiring. Then there’s another tour where they take you on a tour of art galleries. What I like about these tours is that people are very passionate about things they’re showing you. The girl who does the gallery tour for example… You can feel her passion when you go on a tour with her. Similarly the people running the street art project are from the street art scene and are passionate about it. And you really feel it.
What made you choose to work with Authenticitys?
It was always my frustration that I wanted to have a company that has social impact but I never knew exactly how. I did have impact of course but I didn’t make it explicit. I didn’t profile it or so… So when I met Authenticitys I felt like I finally found a strong partner that could help emphasize this aspect of our tours.
MadWay’s Profile & Experiences on Authenticitys
This interview is part of a series about our experience partners. More interviews will follow soon and also be linked here.