We spoke to Mate from Brewer's Berlin Tours (also a TrekkSoft customer!), a company run by "a tight-knit team of Berliners who walk the German capital's streets in the name of Terry Brewer — the man, myth and legend who led tours across the Berlin Wall for allied personnel in the 1960s."
In this Spotlight interview, Mate shares how his company has evolved in the last few years to adapt to the competitive walking tours market in Berlin, and how accepting bookings online has set their business up for success.
We have a deep respect for the city’s history and believe in discussing both its brighter and darker periods openly, honestly and with sincerity.
When did you start your business? What motivated you to do it?
Our company was founded by Terry Brewer, one of Berlin’s pioneering tour guides. Terry had been giving tours since the 1960s and was an iconic tour guide who knew the city by heart. Our objective is to continue leading informative and entertaining tours with his passion and standards.
What obstacles and challenges did you have at the beginning?
Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Berlin and its visitors have changed rapidly. We’ve always made it our aim to constantly adapt while keeping our company’s basic concept of high-quality, informative tours intact. It has been challenging at times to keep up with all the changes and new opportunities that have emerged in the market, but that’s part of the fun!
How many people are in the team and what is a normal work day for you?
We have a main team of around ten guides, all long-time Berlin residents with in-depth knowledge of the city. Our office is basically a one-man team, but it’s supported by a group effort, with everyone pitching in and helping out wherever possible.
The day starts by attending to any booking requests and questions, and making sure everything’s fine with the first tours of the day. The rest of the day is never the same. Sometimes it’s all about organizing tours and answering requests. On others, it’s about working on new marketing ideas and partnerships, or developing new tours and concepts, for example.
What makes your company different or special?
Brewer’s Berlin Tours is built around our great tour guides. Our aim is to pull visitors into the city’s history and culture from the first moment, and show them a side of the city only locals with in-depth knowledge of the city can show them. That’s why we have no set routes and no scripts, making each tour a completely unique experience.
Our guides are all long-time residents of Berlin with a passion for the city and its history, giving visitors a unique view into the city.
What is your brand value?
Our values are built on the original principles according to which Terry Brewer ran his tours: integrity, professionalism, and a pinch of Berlin-style sarcasm and humor.
We have a deep respect for the city’s history and believe in discussing both its brighter and darker periods openly, honestly and with sincerity. We prefer to ask questions than to give answers, and we hope to leave our guests with a lasting impression of this open and vibrant city.
For your brand, the world would be better if...
... the lessons that Berlin has learned would be remembered more strongly across the world. The contrast between its dark history and the open, vibrant and colorful city it has become still strikes us on our tours each and every day.
What type of experiences do you offer to your customers?
We offer a range of walking tours, from our flagship all-in-one Best of Berlin tour, all the way to more specialty tours, such as our Craft Beer and Breweries or Rebel Berlin tours.
We also organize private tours for groups of all sizes, from family groups to large bus tours.
What's your most successful product and why?
Our flagship tour, the Best of Berlin tour, is based on the original tour Terry Brewer ran since the 1960s. Of course, Berlin is a completely different city since then, and the tour has changed with the city itself. It’s an all-encompassing in-depth tour that shows as much of the city as possible in a day, and it has remained consistently popular over the years.
The contrast between (Berlin's) dark history and the open, vibrant and colorful city it has become still strikes us on our tours each and every day.
You have excellent TripAdvisor reviews... what does it mean for you and your team?
It’s wonderful to get so much positive feedback about the experiences our guests have had on our tours. Even after thousands of great reviews, it always brightens up our day to read how we’ve made a positive impact on someone’s stay in Berlin!
What do you think is the secret of your tours? Why are they so popular?
As I mentioned, it’s all thanks to our amazing guides. We give them the freedom to run the tours according to their best knowledge and personal style, and they are all incredibly motivated, passionate people who want to share their affection for the city. That’s our secret I guess!
What are the challenges for city tours in general in Berlin?
The competition is quite fierce in Berlin, so only the best companies survive for long. Also, with all the construction sites in the city, guides have to adjust their routes and tours all the time, but that’s something you get used to while living in Berlin!
Who is your target market and how do you reach them?
We have an incredibly wide range of guests coming on our tours, from all age groups and all continents. The common link between them is their interest in seeing Berlin from the inside. Lots of guests hear about us from other guests by word of mouth, or through online reviews or other recommendations.
TrekkSoft brought us up to the level (selling trips online) immediately and online ticket sales have become an essential part of our business.
Seeing our bookings in advance, we can plan ahead better, and we’ve been able to introduce new format small-group tours by managing ticket sales precisely with TrekkSoft.
What role has social media played in your marketing strategy? What channels do you use and how frequently?
Since the majority of our customers are travelers, our online presence is vital in reaching them. We’re always on the go and guests contact us from all around the world, and we couldn’t handle that without a strong internet presence.
We use social media mostly to showcase our tours and to share useful information and interesting historic facts. Often, it’s our guides taking pictures or posting during their tours. We’re mostly active on Facebook but plan to expand across other channels.
How does TrekkSoft help your business grow? What results did you see after using TrekkSoft?
As a company focused on our tours, we haven’t always been up to speed with online developments and were quite late to start selling tickets online. TrekkSoft brought us up to the level immediately and online ticket sales have become an essential part of our business.
Seeing our bookings in advance, we can plan ahead better, and we’ve been able to introduce new format small-group tours like our Craft Beer and Breweries tour by managing ticket sales precisely with TrekkSoft.
Additional features like vouchers or integrations with other platforms have also been nice extras that have saved us time and energy, and allowed us to better manage and sell our tours.
“ There isn’t one exact feature we can point out. The best thing about using TrekkSoft is how comfortable and versatile it is. Being able to modify tours or bookings so quickly and easily has saved us many times! ”
Mate, Brewer's Berlin Tours
What challenges do you still need to overcome as a company?
Berlin never stops changing, and neither do we! We’re always adapting and updating our tours as the market changes, and that challenge won’t be going away anytime soon.
What are your plans and goals for the future?
At the moment, we’re building on our guides’ in-depth knowledge and our tours’ reputation to offer tours that go deeper into certain areas or topics. We hope to continue to educate and entertain visitors to Berlin as we have in the past and to continue to show them new and fascinating sides of Berlin.
Any advice to share with other tour and activity providers? Do you have any lessons you to share with our readers about the tourism business?
It might sound like a cliché, but it’s proven true for us: the most important factor for success is to be passionate about what you’re doing. If the guide is enthusiastic about their topic, that enthusiasm will pass on to guests, who will enjoy themselves and leave great reviews and recommendations.
It sure is a competitive industry, but the reward of meeting so many wonderful people from around the world and getting to spend our days talking about the city we love is absolutely worth the challenge!
Want to know how you can benefit from TrekkSoft's booking solution like Berlin Brewer's Tours did? Arrange a demo call with our team.