Today I’m pleased to make two major announcements for my little business. First, we are resuming tours (with special COVID-19 precautions) starting immediately. Second, we’re changing our name. Let me explain.
After being shut down for the better part of three months, we’re pleased to announce our tours have returned.
Following the advice of the Victorian government, we’re immediately opening up all our tours except for the Hidden Bar Tour, which we plan to relaunch in a matter of weeks.
Starting from today, you can book on to our tours in Melbourne & Sydney. We’re also pleased to announce our newest tour, the Melbourne Ghost Tour. Our team spent isolation brainstorming new tour ideas, and this dark history tour took our fancy. Melbourne is filled with dark stories that just don’t fit the tone of our cheerful Complete Melbourne Tour, so we’ve saved one experience to talk about Melbourne’s Victorian murderers, wartime austerity and the creepy stories that took place in the city we traverse everyday.
To lower the risks to our guests and crew, we’ve implemented the following changes:
- Complete Melbourne Tour will depart at 11am only — the 3pm departure is suspended until further notice
- Melbourne Free Tour will depart at 3pm only — 11am departures are suspended until further notice
- Pre-bookings required. We’ve prided ourselves from accepting walk-ups, but with the need to “contact trace” our guests, it is no longer possible. We’ll only be able to accept the number of guests who have booked, so if you plan to come in a group of 3, please mark “3” on the tour booking
- Cash transactions suspended — Free tours in the past have run on a cash basis, but in the interest of protecting our staff we are now asking everyone to make their free-will payment by card using the card readers we will have on-hand. Those of you who have been on our Free Tour since last August will have seen our card readers in action — they’re fast, efficient, and reduce the risks associated with transacting cash
- At least one public hand-wash stop will be added to every tour. Additionally, we recommend you bring hand sanitiser along with you and use at the start and end of the tour
- If you are feeling unwell or have been overseas in the last 14 days, please do not attend one of our tours
These are strange times, so we take comfort in our ability to help our guests take their minds off it all and escape on a 3-hour experience.
Why we’re retiring the “Walks 1o1” name
The return of our business gives me the opportunity to do something I wanted to for a while — change our name.
When this all began in early 2017, I was an experienced tour guide moving to a new country with my Aussie wife. I created the business to give me work in a market where I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance at finding any. I started a business and called it Walks 101.
Where I grew up in the USA, a “101” course was the first university course you took in a subject. English 101. Chemistry 101. Philosophy 101. I wanted to do walks. So I registered the name “Walks 101” and I was off to the races.
Three and a half years later, my little business had turned into a bigger one. This past summer we had 13 guides on our team and welcomed thousands of guests. With more guests brought more scrutiny, and so I started to notice a few issues with the name.
First, I found myself explaining the “101” constantly. I had made a classic traveler mistake of assuming my experience was universal. But for many of our British, Korean, or Aussie guests the “101” was a bit random.
Second, the name simply wasn’t memorable. Regularly, we’d have fantastic feedback crediting the experience with “One Hundred and One Tours,” “101 Walks” or “Walking Tours 101.” We’ve started growing to Sydney and have ambitions to continue, and expanding to other destinations will only work if our guests do our tours in multiple places. The lack of name recognition was becoming a problem.
Third, I learned of the excellent Take Walks, a tour company focusing on outstanding small group tours (sound familiar?) that was based in Europe and North America. They’ve done lots of great work creating their brand, and as we both grow the opportunity for confusion is ripe.
It was time for a rebrand, so last year I set forth on a mission to find a name that would imply a travel experience without defining it. Already, our tours include more tramming, sitting, eating, drinking and more. As we add digital experiences, a descriptive name like “Walks” makes less sense.
I also wanted a name that reminded me of why I started this company to begin with.
What “Depot Adventures” means to me
In 2009 when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed kid, I quit my job, put my things in storage, and moved from my home in Minnesota to Galway, Ireland.
I didn’t know anyone in Galway, so I was grateful when my flatmate-to-be, Rita, offered to pick me up from the bus depot and bring me to my new home.
Shortly after moving in, Rita organised for all her friends to visit and celebrate a holiday the Irish typically don’t: “American Thanksgiving.” They brought their instruments and played music and welcomed me into their community of friends. My nerves about living overseas melted away, and I began to crave the experience of being welcomed into a new community.
That pick-up from the bus depot meant a lot to me back in 2009, and I’ve been seeking out experiences like it ever since.
It’s in that vain that I built one of Australia’s top-reviewed walking tour companies, and I work hard with a talented team of guides to provide the kind of feeling I experienced all those years ago at the depot.
That’s why, starting today, we will now be known as Depot Adventures. We can’t thank enough those of you who helped us build Walks 101 over the past 3.5 years.
Now, we can’t wait to see where you take Depot next.