Interview - How realistic is it to be a travel organizer?

Oleg: Tell us in a few words about yourself. Who are you, what do you do, where do you live?

Masha: We are both native Muscovites. Here we were born, grew up here. We studied at one university - Higher School of Economics, however, at different faculties. I graduated from the Faculty of Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Management. And Vanya has been studying logistics for five years.

In Vitoslavlitsy, Novgorod region

In Vitoslavlitsy, Novgorod region

Oleg: I know that you are organizing travels in Russia. How did you come to this, and where did such an idea come from?

Vania: I have always loved traveling, since childhood. When I was in school, I walked around and traveled all over Moscow, then began to work on other cities. I traveled alone, with friends, with my parents - in a variety of ways. At the same time, I was interested in history and every time I came to new places, I read a lot about them, wrote down materials for excursions, impressions from museums, parks, architecture. Interest in travel and knowledge of cities became more and more, and now, after graduating from university, I decided to try to organize a trip on my own for my friends. He called everyone he knew - fellow students, schoolmates, colleagues from work. There were eighteen people. And I offered them a route that they themselves would not have come to — go for two days to Astrakhan and Volgograd. A train to these lands in one weekend doesn’t turn around, but I found a very cheap flight. And a month later, we flew out of Vnukovo early in the morning to meet the southern sun, the Astrakhan steppes and my beloved Motherland. It was a great trip, and everyone still remembers it with joy.

Masha: I didn’t know anything about it then. My classmate told me that her friend Vanya made interesting trips and offered to join. I called once, twice, but, although I really love to travel, and I wanted to go, both times something hindered. Finally, the third time I decided, and went with her to Kineshma and Plyos. I remember that I liked the atmosphere of that trip so much that I later regretted for a long time that I had not gone before! It would seem that only two days, but we saw so much of everything, and the excursions were excellent, and a trip on the boat, and the company got close to it. In general, I was so sunk into the soul that I wanted to go again. And it turned out that the next trip to Kirillov - Ferapontovo - Goritsy went as the second organizer of the Club: Vanya made me an offer, we got engaged, and since then we are inseparably together. At the same time we called our club "Ivan da Marya".

Before a master class on chess in the City-Chess Palace, Elista, Kalmykia

Before a master class on chess in the City-Chess Palace, Elista, Kalmykia

At the helm of the TU-144 in the Ulyanovsk Museum of Civil Aviation

At the helm of the TU-144 in the Ulyanovsk Museum of Civil Aviation

Oleg: It always seemed to me that it was quite difficult to combine travel and work, and you not only drive, but also manage to drive groups. How do you manage it, a free schedule or some special approach to travel and life?

Vania: When I was making my first trip, I, like all participants of that trip, worked full time. Based on this, I already understood that all our trips can be planned only as weekend tours, otherwise just no one would go: on Monday everyone needs to work. And here I am, sitting at work, looking for free minutes and sometimes even hours between my logistical projects to prepare my first trips. Of course, the evening went on it. But even when there were a lot of trips, and they became frequent, I still had time to work full-time, prepare new routes, and read the local lore literature to supplement the guide’s knowledge. It was of course not easy, but I did not dare to leave work. Then and now, accurate time planning and proper organization of labor helped me — it was not for nothing that I was studying to be a logistician: this is my important professional skill.

Masha: Then, when Vanya had the opportunity to move to another position with a looser schedule and part-time work at home, it became, of course, easier. So we have been working since then - I am at the office all day, and Vanya is partially at the office and partially at home. The rest of the time we devote to the trips of the Club, we had more than thirty of them.

At the Hanseatic sign in ancient Novgorod

At the Hanseatic sign in ancient Novgorod

On the salt lake Elton, Volgograd region

On the salt lake Elton, Volgograd region

On the relict lake Manych-Gudilo, the border of Kalmykia and the Rostov region

On the relict lake Manych-Gudilo, the border of Kalmykia and the Rostov region

On the Red Rocks in the Bogdinsko-Baskunchaksky Reserve, Astrakhan Region

On the Red Rocks in the Bogdinsko-Baskunchaksky Reserve, Astrakhan Region

Oleg: You did not think about leaving your job and just doing travel? Or this task is not worth it? And anyway, what are your plans for the future?

Masha: We thought a lot about it, but decided to leave it at that. Still, traveling for us is, above all, a hobby, not a job. Van is interested not to find any one profitable route and “roll out” it, as travel agencies do, and to go to new places - to places where we have not been, or, on the contrary, to favorite routes, where it is interesting to come again and to him, and me, and members of our Club. Therefore, we do not have the task to completely leave work, at least for now. If only go to both the free schedule.

Oleg: You say that organized travel is a hobby. Why? Many would be happy to engage in a hobby and make money on it. Yes, and your approach is quite conducive to this, that is, personally, I do not see anything bad in the fact that you constantly have new routes, it is rather even a plus. Do you like your job so much, or do the income from organized travel mean that they are not considered the main source?

Vania: I am one of those happy people who love their main job. At least while she was still bored. After all, now I no longer sit in the office all day, I have design work and a free schedule, I myself plan my day. And, of course, an hour of work in logistics consulting is more expensive than an hour of an excursion.

Masha: And I just still sit from morning to evening in the office and I can not say that I am delighted with my work. I dream of starting my own Internet project, but for now I have only ideas and feelings, and I’m sending all the forces that remain from my office work to help my husband.

Oleg: I have long wanted to know how the price for a trip is formed in such individual tours. How do you do it, calculate your costs and add a percentage or something else? Or, since this is your hobby, then the cost is nearing the cost price?

Vanya: The mechanism is simple. We make a forecast of costs, we calculate an approximate number of participants and on the basis of this we establish the cost. If people are traveling a little, the price is really very close to the cost price. The more people go, the, in theory, more should be profit. But it is in theory. In fact, it happens that people are not enough, and the trip does not bring almost nothing. A couple of times we went at all in a minus. They decided to cancel the trip: people relied on us, which means we are going anyway! Later losses from these trips overlapped by income from others.

Masha: We also have a travel development fund, a sort of stabilization fund. This participants came up with this name. If the trip brought more money than expected, we distribute the surplus to this fund, and with this money we subsidize unprofitable trips. From it are targeted spending: gifts to participants, tips for hired bus drivers, if they go well along the road. Separately, we encourage our Club Photographer, who regularly pleases us with his pictures - you see them in our reports.

Oleg: How realistic is it to organize such an activity for an ordinary person who, for example, now works, but wants to try himself in another role? What is needed for this, what qualities do you think?

Vanya: I think it is quite real. But to make it happen - you need to burn with an idea. For the first time, perhaps, you need to forget about money, and take for granted the fact that you have to make an effort - a lot of effort, more than on standard office work. Because such an activity as we do is non-standard, it is completely authoring. This is a kind of exclusive. I am convinced that each person can find something for himself. It must be a thing in which he is in love — one that nobody does as well as he does. And then you just need to set a goal and go ahead, and everything will work out! Dare! The main thing is faith in oneself, love for one’s work, directed work and proper organization of one’s work.

Oleg: How do you decide where you are going to take people next time?

Vanya: Oh, this is always a very interesting discussion. We already have about two hundred people in the Club, and among them there are many active people who have their own wishes for future trips, they express them. And although we usually suggest ideas of routes ourselves, we also listen to the wishes of people, composing a calendar for the season. Competent planning is also important here: we schedule travel dates for half a year or a year ahead in order to successfully get on trips to the dates of all major holidays, especially long May and New Year holidays. And then, together with the Club members at our tea parties, we choose trips for ready-made dates. The nearest meeting is June 28 and July 10.

Masha: By the way, absolutely any person, including a novice, can come to our meeting, express his opinion on future routes, and it will be taken into account. I think it is very important to make a decision about going together directly in contact with its future participants. We even discuss the topics of specific excursions in such a way - to make not a standard excursion, as it usually happens in a travel agency, but to make a one-of-a-kind excursion, one on which the listener will learn exactly what interests him most. And people like these tours much more!

Vanya: Speaking of excursions. In addition to trips for the weekend, we occasionally conduct on behalf of the Club and excursions in Moscow for all comers. Well, now you won't surprise anyone with a standard walk along the boulevards or courtyards, but no one else will offer you such excursions around the Moscow metro, which I read to you in Moscow: I have been professionally engaged in the history of the metro for more than ten years, and I even occasionally come up with this topic on the radio.

Club meeting

Club meeting "Ivan da Maria" in Murom

Before the bike tour in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Before the bike tour in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

In Arkhangelsk - the city of a five-hundred dollar bill

In Arkhangelsk - the city of a five-hundred dollar bill

Oleg: Still, it would be necessary to somehow come to your meeting and see what your travel club is from inside, at the same time and learn from experience. And where are you currently recruiting the nearest group?

Vania: Now we are recruiting three groups at once for routes for the summer. July 28-29, we will have an interesting two-day trip to Karelia, here is its announcement: http://ivan-da-maria.org/2012/07/karelia/. We will visit the Kivach waterfall, the Marcial Waters, and the marble canyon in Ruskeala, which is not often visited by tourists. We will also climb Mount Sampo to hear ancient Karelian legends there - the runes.

Masha: The second trip after Karelia will be August 11-12. This is our traditional and most favorite route to Kineshma - Plyos - Shchelykovo with riding on the Volga: http://ivan-da-maria.org/2012/08/kineshma-plyos/. This is one of the most beautiful routes, and at the same time the most comfortable: both aged people and families with small children will feel equally good there. A trip for all ages!

Vania: Finally, on August 18-19, we invite everyone to Tatarstan: http://ivan-da-maria.org/2012/08/kazan-sviyazhsk-elabuga/ We are waiting for Kazan, Sviyazhsk and Yelabuga. There will be Shishkin landscapes and delicious Tatar cuisine!

Oleg: Thank you guys for your answers! Hope we cross in real life.

On a tour of Minsk

On a tour of Minsk

In the car of the Minsk Children's Yellow Road named after Zaslonov

In the car of the Minsk Children's Yellow Road named after Zaslonov

Favorite walking place of Dostoevsky - Polisti Embankment in Staraya Russa

Favorite walking place of Dostoevsky - Polisti Embankment in Staraya Russa

In the Vologda hinterland, on the timber-carrying Monzensky railway

In the Vologda hinterland, on the timber-carrying Monzensky railway

Extreme car ride on the Monza railroad

Extreme car ride on the Monza railroad

Soligalich from the height of the bell tower of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Soligalich from the height of the bell tower of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Summer thunderstorm in Kineshma

Summer thunderstorm in Kineshma

On Mamayev Kurgan

On Mamayev Kurgan

Salt lake Baskunchak, Astrakhan region

Salt lake Baskunchak, Astrakhan region

Red rocks at the foot of the Bolshoi Bogdo mountain, Astrakhan region

Red rocks at the foot of the Bolshoi Bogdo mountain, Astrakhan region

Beauty Kenozerye, Arkhangelsk region

Beauty Kenozerye, Arkhangelsk region

Fifth fort of Brest Fortress, on the border with Poland

Fifth fort of Brest Fortress, on the border with Poland

In the ethnographic park Suvar, Chuvashia Republic

In the ethnographic park Suvar, Chuvashia Republic

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