A warm hello from Slovenia!
We are stepping into the last third of the year and what a year! A year marked with limitations, restrictions, uncertainty, change, adjustments, fear, anxiety, Covid-19… but “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” as the saying goes.
“Making lemonade”, the ARGOS guides (Association of Regional Tourist Guides of Slovenia) decided to be proactive and make the most out of the extra time on our hands. To keep up the spirits we organised regular virtual coffee sessions, discussing guiding issues. As Malcom X said, “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. And with this in mind, many guides participated in webinars and online courses improving or acquiring new skills, especially in the fields of communication, social media and marketing foreign languages.
We have also been busy appearing in media – TV, press and social – to make the public and authorities aware of the importance of tourist guides and of the precarious situation we have found ourselves in, advocating at the same time for financial support from the government.
Most importantly, during lockdown in March, we set up a You Tube channel to bring a piece of Slovenia to people`s homes. With ongoing limitations and restrictions in travel industry we decided to focus on the locals.
The challenge was how to promote Slovenia to its own citizens, making its towns and sights interesting and appealing? How to encourage people to explore their own backyard?
The answer was with interesting and engaging tours, fun facts, and storytelling. This is what tourist guides do daily and we excel at it. This is what we live for!
ARGOS guides designed more than 30 exciting, themed tours aimed at locals and visitors alike, using licensed local guides. The video clips produced highlight Slovenian habits, customs, and interesting facts, the art, architecture and culture of the country. The tours can be done on foot, bike, boat and even canoe, so they are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The video clips were not only aimed at national level, they are also available in English, German, Italian and other languages too.
We started promoting the tours on social media, particularly on Facebook. However, we also realized that most of our guests are not on social media and we needed to print to bulletins and leaflets. We managed to get our tours included in popular national and local magazines. This proved so successful, we will continue having 1 or 2 pages listing our tours. We are also counting on recommendations and word of mouth promotions from satisfied guests!
The promotions had excellent feedback. Locals loved the tours, commenting that they were entertained, informed, and developed a new appreciation of their “backyard”. They were amazed how many interesting facts the local guides could provide, facts they did not know about, despite the knowledge of their town or region.
Despite this year’s difficulties ARGOS guides are busier than ever and true to the saying there is “no rest for the wicked!”