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I was recently looking into merchandise for tour operators. We’ve all seen merch being offered as an add-on to a tour, and some really don't hit the mark.
No, I don't want a postcard with your giant logo, but a fridge magnet with your excellent destination and your little logo in the corner, absolutely.
As someone running food tours, I lean towards edible goodies, but then that's short-term with no trigger memory later. In comparison, metal re-usable straws would fit my ethos and have a long-term attachment value.
Is anyone doing this? and if so, what do you offer? How are you selling it (through your website, end of the tour etc.)? Are you using something like Shopify to manage your inventory?
I really appreciate any help you can provide 💜
I’m not doing this right now, but plan to, and I spent a chunk of time looking into it last week, so FWIW...
I wanted to sell a branded t-shirt, but that was it. I didn’t want to sell coffee cups or tote bags or steak knives or anything else, just a single item. The obvious fit for this is one of the eleventy billion Print On Demand (POD) outfits...
The thing was, I wanted the tshirt to be as “environmentally friendly” as possible—regardless of the cost. However for most of the POD outfits I looked at, the information on where the t-shirt (or anything else for that matter) comes from or how it is made, was near impossible to find.
I ended up finding a French outfit, called Tpop (link: www.tpop.com/en ). They’re all about what they call “eco-responsible” print on demand and they have full information on where all the products come from and info on each brand etc. See here for Stanley/Stella for eg:www.tpop.com/en/pro/print-on-demand-with-stanley-stella-eco-friendly-products/
The shirts are not cheap, but I’m fine with that. They also do cute things like stick your own branded sticker in with a shipment for an extra buck, no plastic etc. I was really impressed, and I signed up.
Then, next problem. They do fulfillment, but not the shopping cart or anything like that—they integrate with Etsy, Spotify etc. but I feel like setting up a shopping cart to sell a single product about as much as I feel like driving in Bali’s traffic... ie no thanks.
So I emailed them and asked WTH should I do—I mean I know take the orders manually and enter but that’s tedious. They answered promptly, and said they have a product on the way so I will be able to sell through their site—it is apparently launching “in a few weeks.”
So, now, I wait!
I know this doesn’t exactly answer your question, but I thought sounds like you’re looking for something at least eco-ish, so thought this might help. I don’t think they do straws, but what about pillow cases—who doesn’t need to lay down after a food tour!
Thanks Stuart, that does help - I'd love to see the pictures of the products when they arrive. I added you on Instagram incase you upload a pic there, or throw over an email firstname.lastname@example.org
I might try to fulfill the orders myself, as I'd like to offer them during the tour which requires the ability to take payment, then later wait to send out the items... significantly less hassle, and would also let me pop a photo of the tour in the package as well, giving that little 'Wow' moment when they receive it.
I found a few ethical companies for straws, and will take note of the one you recommend as they sound like they're on it!
Fingers crossed for a few weeks time 🤞 💜
Loved that pillow cases idea!
I’m a sucker for beer holders. They are lightweight and easy to pack, long lasting, and serve a purpose. I’m sure there’s more fancy versions for wine bottles, etc.
Actually... you might be on to something here! That never crossed my mind, but we do a wee beer tasting on the tour :P
Next time you're in Glasgow Ian, I'll take you for some sightseeing and nibbles 😜
I second Ians comment, I have beer holders from a favela in Brazil, a beach in Indonesia, my old employer Topdeck, a rugby trip etc etc. always useful, always can justify buying another (for the next bbq when 6 mates come over), packing is simple - stuff your socks in 'em. If I could add a picture here I'd share the one I bought in Brazil, we have kiwiana in NZ, I'm not sure what this term would be for Rio, but this beer holder is it, always takes me back to the trip.
Admittedly this is a self-plug but our organization, Outpatch (outpatch.org) is trying to tackle this exact issue. More specifically, we're working to offer sustainable alternatives to swag and souvenirs that actually benefit the communities they represent. We haven't worked with any tour operators yet but would like to so if anyone is interested feel free to reach out and we can work something out maybe.
Just wanted to quickly chime in and share a souvenir company based out of India that inspired me at a tourism startup competition called Pashoo Pakshee (www.pashoopakshee.com). Hopefully you can find some inspiration in there too that could be useful as you explore the market for merch.
And to follow up on Ian's mention of lightweight souvenirs, I tend to go for the same gifts when traveling. Unique magnets, handcarved chopsticks (and utensils), bookmarks, wine sleeves, etc...
I am a DMC in Turkey, we usually do/give a few things if they are coming to our city all if not we donate two saplings for reforestation and combating on erosion via an NGO we work with and send them online certificates on their names, where saplings were placed. We tell them we will look after those until they come back and water them and in the meantime where ever they may live they would benefit from the cleaner & fresh aid due to their growing saplings. They love it and I have seen them getting emotional. We give a mid-size Evil Eye without any branding ( planning to make a nice gift box with our logo only, and we send a handmade ceramic bowl filled with nuts and Turkish dried fruits adding a compliments card to wait for them in the hotel room. This is the way we do and we are happy with the outcome. Happy travels