Tell me about yourself: a bit about your personal story, how you got to where you are now.
I’m originally from Switzerland, but always travelled and moved to different places, so I think I always saw places with different eyes. When I moved to London I thought something was missing here, especially for the LGBT community. I am bisexual myself, and in London I had the impression that people are not as warm as they’re in Brazil.
In 2013 I was talking to my best friend who did tours for Brazilians visiting London, many of whom were LGBTQ. He made me realize that there was something missing for gay tourists in London, and in 2014 I started developing the idea of Pink Tours.
I wanted to create an experience particularly for LGBT tourists, but I wanted this experience to be more than just tours. I didn’t want to start a business just to start a business. I wanted to start a business that was meaningful for me, and that I knew I would be doing for a long time. So I decided to put together 3 things that I love: Tours, Community and Technology. This second one is especially important for me as I suffered a lot of bullying and prejudice in my childhood, and I wanted to create a company to help people who suffer prejudice of any kind.
Can you describe the experience you’ve created?
We’ve created social tours, where tourists experience London like locals, knowing they are doing good for the society. Tourists are invited to be part of the social movement, which is represented by Pink Tours. We also have an app that connects tourists and Pink Tours while assisting them throughout their entire stay.
The app has a map that shows points of interest, and a messaging system. We’re also planning to add a social aspect in the future, where people can also connect to each other over the app. But as I’m the one developing everything, and I had to learn all on the go… this has to wait for the next version.
And can you tell us a bit more about the tours? What is special about them?
The tours are tailored. Every tour is different. Our guides are people involved in the social movement. It’s a lifestyle that we’re offering. We run several meetup events every month, networking, group counseling, tours, activities, drinks… Our clients are invited to those events for free. They pay for the tours, and during their stay they have this entire support system. And afterwards they’re invited to join our movement. In the end they can see where their money goes, they can feel they’re helping and connecting with others, and they’re making a difference in society.
We’re a non-profit. The money we make from the tours support the social part of our business, PinkHand.org, which we launched at the beginning of 2016. In the future, when Pink Hand grows exponentially, it can detach from the tours and become an organisation on its own.
What does impact tourism mean for you? What is the impact you aim to create with this experience?
My personal opinion is that it’s tourism that connects the world. Our social aspect is about fighting prejudice. But more generally I’d say it’s tourism that promotes a more connected world.
The main thing is that we’re here to have an impact on society. We have to make money, but we’re more worried about having something sustainable that can drive the social movement.
Do you have a customer success story to share with us?
I had a customer once who came to an event. He was with his family of 5 people. He stood up in the event and shared a story about the prejudices he faced. He had very poor English, but with his poor English, he came up there and spoke about his experience. There you could really see how he was connecting and opening up to the community.
Have you participated in any experiences yourself so far that left an impressive impact? If yes, can you tell me a bit about it?
I go to a lot of meetups myself, some LGBT, some social, tourism, networking groups… I like connecting to new people. Another great experience is from Lenard Pink – who we recently partnered with. Lenard is a gay icon in the UK. Lenard is a character who calls himself “the international homosexual and historian”. He does a very controversial tour of the evolution of the gay community in the UK. It’s controversial because he talks a lot about conspiracies. It’s a lot of fun and has a lot of educational aspects to it. He also did a few tours with us.
What made you choose to work with Authenticitys? What are your expectations from this partnership?
First of all, I loved Elena, who is behind Authenticitys. We met through the world travel market that happened last year- an international fair for travel related businesses. She contacted me and said she really loved my proposal.
There was clearly an opportunity for both of us. I think our messages are aligned.
I really want to develop that social aspect of our tours and Authenticitys can help us develop our story.
Pink Tours 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.