Oleg: Tell us about yourself in a nutshell. Who are you, what do you do, where do you live?
Masha: We are both native Muscovites. Here we were born, and here we grew up. They studied at the same university - the Higher School of Economics, albeit at different faculties. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in management. And Vanya studied logistics for five years.
Oleg: I know that you are organizing travels in Russia. How did they come to this, and where did this idea come from??
Vanya: I have always loved traveling, since childhood. Even at school, I walked around and traveled all over Moscow, then set to work in other cities. I went alone, with friends, with my parents - in different 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 excursion materials, impressions from museums, parks, architecture. The interest in travel and knowledge about cities grew more and more, and after graduating from university I decided to try to organize a trip on my own for my friends. I called everyone I knew - classmates, schoolmates, colleagues from work. There were eighteen people. And I offered them a route that they themselves would not have thought of - to go for two days to Astrakhan and Volgograd. There is no way to get to these parts by train in one weekend, but I found a very cheap flight. And a month later we flew out early in the morning from «Vnukovo» towards 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 arranged 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 got in the way. Finally, for the third time I made up my mind and went with her to Kineshma and Plyos. I remember that I liked the atmosphere of that trip so much that I regretted for a long time that I had not gone earlier! It would seem that it was only two days, but we saw so much of everything, and the excursions were excellent, and the boat trip, and the company picked up what we needed. In general, it sunk into my soul so much that I wanted to go again. And it so happened that on the next trip, to Kirillov - Ferapontovo - Goritsy, I went as the second organizer of the Club: Vanya made me an offer, we got engaged, and since then we have been inseparable together. Then we named our Club «Ivan da Marya».
Oleg: It always seemed to me that it is quite difficult to combine travel and work, and you do not just drive, but also manage to drive groups. How do you manage it, a free schedule or some special approach to travel and life?
Vanya: When I made my first trip, I, like all the participants in that trip, worked full time. Proceeding from this, I already understood then that all our trips can only be planned as weekend tours, otherwise no one would have gone: on Monday everyone needs to go to work. And so, sitting at work, I was looking for free minutes, and sometimes hours, between my logistics projects, to prepare the first trips. Of course, evenings were spent on this. But even when there were a lot of trips and they became frequent, I still managed to work full-time, prepare new routes, and also read local history literature in order to replenish the knowledge of the guide. It was certainly not easy, but I did not dare to leave work. Accurate time planning and proper organization of work helped me then and now - it was not in vain that I studied to be a logistician: this is my important professional skill.
Masha: Then, when Vanya had the opportunity to move to another position with a freer schedule and partial work at home, it became, of course, easier. This is how we have been working ever since - I’m in the office all day, and Vanya is partly in the office and partly at home. The rest of the time we devote to the Club's trips, we already had more than thirty of them.
Oleg: Have you thought about quitting your job and taking up only travel? Or is such a task not worth it? And in general, what are your plans for the future?
Masha: We thought about it a lot, but decided to leave everything as it is for now. Still, travel for us is, first of all, a hobby, not a job. Vanya is interested not to find any one profitable route and «roll out» him, as travel agencies do, but to go to new places - to places where we have not yet been, or, conversely, to favorite routes, where it is interesting to come again for him and me, and for the members of our Club. Therefore, we do not have the task of completely leaving work, at least for now. If only go to both of them on a free schedule.
Oleg: You say that you consider organized travel as a hobby. Why? Many would be happy to engage in a hobby and make money on it. 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, this is more likely even a plus. You like your job so much, or the income from organized travel does not yet make it your main source?
Vanya: I am one of those happy people who love my main job. At least until she's bored yet. After all, now I no longer sit all day in the office, I have project work and a free schedule, I plan my day myself. And, of course, an hour of work in logistics consulting is more expensive than an hour of excursion.
Masha: And I am still sitting from morning till night in the office and I cannot say that I am delighted with my work. I dream of starting my own Internet project, but so far I have only ideas and feelings, and all the forces that remain from my office work, I send 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 some percentage or something else? Or, since this is your hobby, then the cost is close to the cost.?
Vanya: The mechanism is simple. We make a cost forecast, calculate the approximate number of participants and, based on this, set the cost. If there are few people traveling, the price is really very close to the cost price. The more people go, the more profit should be, in theory. But that's in theory. In fact, it happens that there are not enough people, and the trip brings almost nothing. A couple of times we even went to the minus. We decided that it was impossible to cancel the trip: people relied on us, which means we are going in any case! Later, losses from these trips were offset by income from other.
Masha: We also have a travel development fund, a kind of stabilization fund. It was the participants who came up with this name. If the trip brought in more money than expected, we distribute the surplus to this fund, and with this money we then subsidize unprofitable trips. Targeted spending comes from it: gifts to participants, tips to hired bus drivers, if they go well along the highway. Separately, we encourage our Club photographer, who regularly pleases us with his pictures - you can see them in our reports.
Oleg: How realistic is it to organize such an activity for an ordinary person who now, for example, works, but wants to try himself in a different role? What is needed for this, what qualities, in your opinion?
Vanya: I think it's quite real. But in order for this to work, you have to burn with the idea. For the first time, perhaps, you need to forget about money, and take for granted the fact that you will have to put in effort - a lot of effort, more than in a standard office job. Because the kind of activity that we conduct is non-standard, it is completely author's. It's kind of exclusive. I am convinced that everyone can find something to their liking. It must be a thing he is in love with - one that no one does as well as he does. And then you just need to set a goal and move forward, and everything will work out! Go for it! The main thing is faith in yourself, love for your work, directed work and the correct organization of your work..
Oleg: How do you decide where you will 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 wishes for future trips, they express them. And although we usually offer route ideas ourselves, we also listen to the wishes of people, drawing up a calendar for the season. Competent planning is also important here: we schedule travel dates for six months or a year in advance in order to successfully get with travel dates on all major holidays, especially the long May and New Year holidays. And then, together with the members of the Club, at our meetings, tea parties, we choose trips for ready-made dates. Nearest meeting - June 28 and July 10.
Masha: By the way, absolutely anyone, including a beginner, can come to our meeting, express their opinion on future routes, and it will be taken into account. I think it is very important to make a decision about the trip 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 is usually the case in a travel agency, but to make a one-of-a-kind excursion, one in which the listener learns exactly what is most interesting to him. And people like such excursions much more.!
Vanya: Speaking of excursions. In addition to weekend trips, from time to time, on behalf of the Club, we conduct excursions around Moscow for everyone. Well, nowadays you will hardly surprise anyone with a standard walk along the boulevards or gateways, but no one else will offer you in Moscow such excursions along the Moscow metro that I read: I have been professionally engaged in the history of the metro for more than ten years, and I even had a this topic on the radio.
Oleg: Still, it would be necessary to somehow come to your meeting and see what your travel club is like from the inside, at the same time to learn from the experience. Where are you dialing the nearest group now??
Vanya: Now we are recruiting three groups at once in routes for the summer. On 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 Ruskeale, where tourists do not often get there. We will also climb Mount Sampo to hear there ancient Karelian legends - runes.
Masha: The second trip after Karelia we will have on August 11-12. This is our traditional and favorite route to Kineshma - Plyos - Shchelykovo with a boat ride along 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 elderly people and families with small children will feel equally good there. A ride for all ages!
Vanya: Finally, on August 18-19, we invite everyone to Tatarstan: http://ivan-da-maria.org/2012/08/kazan-sviyazhsk-elabuga/ Kazan, Sviyazhsk and Elabuga are waiting for us. There will be Shishkin landscapes and delicious Tatar cuisine!
Oleg: Thank you guys for your answers! Hope we cross in real life too.