Tbilisi Free Walking Tours was founded three years ago, offering travelers opportunity to experience Tbilisi in a different way no matter the budget.
Team, consisting of local experts and Tbilisi-lovers, are passionate about their city and its history and love sharing their favorite spots in Tbilisi. Caucasus Business Week talked with Levan Giorgadze, 29, founder of the FWT.
– When did you start free walking tours? What motivated you to do it?
– When I travel in cities I always take free walking tours, because this is the best option to explore the city! Once, when I was back in Tbilisi from my travel, I tried to find same type of tour in my city, but nothing appeared like that. Then I decided to make “Tbilisi Free Walking Tours”. Our mission is to offer every visitor the opportunity to experience Tbilisi in a different way, no matter the budget. Our motivation is our city! We want to show travelers our charming city in details and from different point of view, tell them the highlights from our history and give important information about culture, food, wine and more. Here they can find new friends and continue travel around Georgia with them. It is not as same style of tours which they can find in Travel agencies.
– What obstacles and challenges did you have at the beginning?
– Three years ago, when I started these tours, I asked a friend of mine to help me, she liked my idea and we started to make some steps. At that time I took my own money and printed some flyers, then I handed to people on streets, also I asked some hostels to put some of my flyers at their front desks. For the first time it helped me and I got new tourists on my tours. Then we put our tours on TripAdvisor and we created an official website which helped more people to find us.
Step by step we gained more and more tourists but, as you know, for now in Georgia tourist season is still in the summer when many visitors come in the country, this affects also our tours.
– How many people are in the team and what is a normal work day for you?
– In the team for now there are 4 guides, including me, but we are always open for new energetic, friendly, communicative and fun people. We have weekly schedules where we can manage our daily shifts. Some of us have another part time job and some still studies, so we need to know our schedule of tours.
– What makes your company different or special?
– We have three different free tours: “Tbilisi Free Walking Tour”, “Backstreets of Tbilisi” and “Tbilisi Free Photo Tour”.
As the Free Walking Tour we are based exclusively on tips, our expert local guides are always motivated and determined to please our customers’ expectations, ensuring a consistent high quality experience during their time in Tbilisi. Each of the guides have an unique approach to the audience which is clearly shown in reviews that we get on TripAdvisor. I guess this is one of the big reasons why we are different and special.
– What is your brand value?
– Our value is our approach, we keep things informal. At least we try that. We are not some officials who get a salary for promoting the country but we choose to be “distant friends” who would, on the one hand, tell the history of the city and, on the other hand, help to catch a taxi with the minimum price.
– What type of experiences do you offer to your customers?
– Our experience comes from our daily lives. We study daily and we discover with our guests. There always are the things in the city which we do not pay attention to because we live here and we are used to it but the guests are not. So, observing them, their questions, things they look at, the details which they take pictures of gives us many possibilities to find the answers and make our tour reach. For instance, many tourists would like to know why do we have both right-wheel and left-wheel cars. It’s so easy for us to answer but they don’t get it unless you explain.
– You have excellent TripAdvisor reviews… what does it mean for you and your team?
– Reviews for us are more important than anything else! For us it’s important every single opinion. By the reviews people choose you and your tours over others’. On the tours with the people from the different countries and different personalities it’s always difficult to find a golden middle to meet everyone’s needs. We always try to do our best for them and to do it in a remembering way. This is one of the best ways for good reviews and one good review is an opportunity for more people to the next tour.
– What are the challenges for city tours in general in Tbilisi?
– Main challenges for city tours always meet the main challenges of citizens. We are deeply concerned when we are faced with too many garbage in the streets or beggars or even some unfinished projects in the middle of old town. These things sometimes are really embarrassing as they give a clear message to the guests about our style of living and the level of development. So, they start asking questions about the government and civil society where we try our best to explain the situation.
– Who is your target market and how do you reach them?
– Our target group is everyone how wants to visit Tbilisi, no matter budget, we will offer our free walking tours. The main requirement is to walk with us. We use different sources to reach our potential customers, like social media, Tripadvisor, Google, Hostels, Hotels and even cafes and Restaurants.