The last few weeks have seen a fair bit of action on the photography holidays side of my business, though none of it as I would have necessarily wished. It is though, giving me an opportunity to do things a little differently.
When my new travel partner and I first got together we put pen to paper to draw up contracts so we knew what each other’s responsibilities were and what we expected of each other which has worked well and held up. What we didn’t check into fully at the start was insurance policies and trading laws.
I had spoken to Trading Standards in the UK to find out what was expected of me as photographer running tours and what insurance cover I needed. All was well, by going in with a travel agent I was covered, however, and this is a big one, the UK has some pretty stringent consumer protection in place, and rightly so, to safeguard guests’ money. It’s not necessary for an agent to be ABTA bonded, however it is necessary for an insurance policy to be in place so that any money paid in is ring-fenced. This means if any problems arise with a company becoming insolvent, guests get their money returned to them.
It is illegal to trade in the UK without this financial insurance, however in America these consumer travel laws don’t exist, and my travel partner was based in America. I was deeply concerned about this imbalance in law between our countries and then a huge blow for my travel partner. It turns out that there are draconian state laws in place in America to prevent travel agencies trading in some states unless they pay them a large bond. This effectively limits the scope of business a travel agent can do in their own country. With all this coming to light and my concerns about financial insurance we dissolved the partnership.
So I am just in the process of sorting out my own tour operator and financial insurance so I can run the holidays myself under my company name. The holiday details themselves, the itinerary, accommodation, excursions and tour transport are all in place. So when the insurance is through I will be able to start selling the tours. My time of working for a major holiday company in resort both as a rep and in the office looking after bookings and hotels are standing me in good stead.
Since the start, I’ve been working with a local agent who I worked with when I lived in Italy; his contacts have helped us to jazz up my itinerary. Imagine a sunrise shoot at the top of the volcano, Mount Vesuvious with Naples stretched out below and amongst others, a private boat trip around Capri to get shots of the Faraglioni rocks, above, from the water.
I’ve put some personal things in too; a sunset shoot from a secluded, and little known bay, that was effectively my back garden when I lived in a villa above. I’ve watched and shot many sunsets from here with a view across to Mount Vesuvious, Naples and her islands of Procida and Ischia.
Lucky me, I get to recce this holiday very soon, I’m walking the hill footpaths to make sure they are safe enough under foot to take guests – it’s so different walking them yourself for pleasure and then thinking about taking a group with you. Oh and most importantly, I need to find some gelaterias, ice-cream shops, for our afternoon treats. Well you know, someone has to do it, I like to think of it as my selfless task on behalf of my future guests!
So I see this change in tour ownership as a huge opportunity to bring to the market a slightly different type of photography tour that might not have sat well in the mainstream market. A tour that helps people go from being someone who owns a camera and takes a photo to someone who looks and sees things as a photographer does whilst also developing a photographers view on the world.
For sure they’ll be some technical information and I’m always going to be on hand to answer questions whilst I’m ensuring guests get to view places from unique and unusual angles, yet it will also contain something else. A wish to help people connect with their subject and bring the joy they feel in that moment through to their work without fretting about the technical side of it. How am I going to do that? Well you are going to have to come along and find out!
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