Talaysay Tours – Talking Tree Tour

  • Business Name: Talaysay Tours
  • Owner Name: Candace Campo
  • Website: www.talaysay.com
  • # Of Staff Employed: 12 on contract
  • Types Of Experiences Offered: Hiking, walking, kayaking, snowshoeing
  • # Of Years In Business: 12
  • Target Markets: BC, Alberta, Ontario, some Europe

Located in Vancouver and on the Sunshine Coast, this well-established Indigenous-owned eco-tour company hopes to start providing a tourism experience that will appeal to cruise passengers and working with the cruise lines coming to Vancouver in 2015.

Talaysay Tours offers guided walking & hiking tours from a First Nations perspective, and has been successful in doing so for over 12 years. These tours explore the North Shore Mountains of Vancouver with Indigenous guides, as they share their unique knowledge of the cultural significance and natural beauty of this area.

 In the company’s quest to expand its current target markets, Talaysay Tours wishes to work with Vancouver’s cruise market by providing a Talking Tree walking tour in Stanley Park. The company has been discussing this option with a cruise specialist to find out what they need to consider when working with the cruise lines and how their current product needs to be adjusted.

Q & A between Candace Campo (Talaysay Tours) and Darryl Anderson (Wave Point Consulting Ltd.)

Q: What do I need to consider when I start adjusting my current Talking Tree Walking Tour for the Cruise Market?

A: I know your experiences are export-ready but for the cruise market, they also need to become ‘cruise-friendly’. We call it cruise export-ready. There are many components you will need to consider when you look at developing your Talking Tree walking tour for the cruise market. Here are a few important points:

I could see this tour potentially working for the multi-generational passengers. Families or small groups travelling together wanting looking to engage in an educational experience while in Vancouver prior to, or after their cruise. When you design the narrative and activities along the tour, keep in mind that this would be your main target (range of ages; e.g. 7 to 70 years old) within the cruise market. Including a hands-on activity will enhance the appeal and make it more distinctive and memorable than a self-guided walking tour.

A walking tour right from the cruise ship terminal may eliminate the need to partner up with a transportation company. Plan to walk to Stanley Park with an engaging and interesting narrative involving storytelling and pointing out important sites along the way. Make the walking trip to Stanley Park just as important as the activities that will occur in the park. Create a key photo moment on the trip to the park that tour members can share with one another and on social media.

Even though the walking tour will appeal to a certain demographic, making it an accessible tour for motorized wheelchairs will open up a wider market. Keep this in mind when you pick the route from the cruise ship terminal and back.

Q: How long should the tour last? 

A: Cruise passengers have limited time. They would either do this tour before getting on a cruise or right after. Therefore, I would suggest about 2 hours in total. This would mean ½ hour for getting to Stanley Park, one hour in the park and ½ hour back. You will need to plan for restroom stops and for a break mid-point.  

Q: What amenities should I include in the tour? 

A: Good question. As we know Vancouver can be wet at times, so you will need to provide rain gear; e.g. rain coats or umbrellas. Bottled water would also be a good idea. As well as include something the guests can take home (e.g. a piece of cedar, braided cedar bark) that becomes a highlight of their experience visiting Stanley Park.  

Q: Are there any logistical requirements? 

A: In addition to the export-ready standards, you will need to be able to ‘scale’ your experience as it relates to the minimum and maximum number of visitors. Figuring out how many participants you will need to run the tour and also how you could handle multiple tours from multiple cruise lines. Sometime there could be up to four cruise ships at the port at the same time.  

Q: What kind of marketing materials should I produce? 

A: Providing a unique and compelling description about the tour and what people will learn, as well as showcasing great images, is key. Consider both the content on your website and social media channels since many cruise passengers do extensive research about a destination at the time they book a cruise. For the tour itself, consider handing out maps that showcase the route and some of the tour’s highlights. 

Q: How can I market to the cruise industry?

A: The cruise lines look to see that shore excursion operators have a proven track record with a product that has consumer appeal. Perhaps try introducing the Talking Tree tour, to the independent travellers, this season, to build a track record. This tour can be offered via hotel concierges, Klahowya Village, Visitor Centres and your other industry partners. To reach the cruise lines I suggest building partnerships with Tourism Vancouver and Aboriginal Tourism BC, as well as working with Tour Operators and Receptive Tour Operators.

Since the cruise sales cycle can take up to 18 months (from the time a cruise line expresses interest in a new product to having a new shore excursion included as part of their menu of products offered) it is essential that you don’t rely exclusively on cruise passenger volumes to make the business venture profitable. Consider the cruise industry as a market extension.

It is also important to recognize that in a mature cruise market such as Vancouver cruise lines tend to work with established tourism partners who they have established relations. Working with others tourism partners in your local community is frequently a more cost effective way of serving the needs of the cruise markets before trying to go directly to the individual cruise lines.

 Q: Can you give me some advice on pricing?

A: Your net rate should be your actual costs plus a profit margin. You can give the net rate to the cruise lines. Keep in mind that the net rate you are giving to a cruise line or a tour packaging partner needs to be 30% or 40% less than the retail rate.

Q: Do you have any final suggestions?

A: Before you start designing your tour, make sure that you have done your research. This site provides opportunities and a comprehensive tool kit to get you started. It is important to know what the cruise lines are looking for and what is being offered in other ports-of-call on a cruise itinerary involving Vancouver. Sometime it makes sense to partner up with another tourism supplier. Thinking out of the box on how to make your tour different is key. For example, you might also want to consider including a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium after the tour. This would associate your company with one of the leading attractions in Vancouver.


Overview of the Cruise Ship Industry in Canada.