I am not great at selling myself. I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised. I cringe when people and companies declare they’re the biggest or the best at something, not because I necessarily have some information to prove them wrong but because I was taught that even though you are the best you shouldn’t boast. Maybe it’s an Icelandic thing. Maybe it’s because we as women are taught to be nice and pleasant and not take up too much space when we’re growing up or maybe I’m just lacking in confidence.
Whatever it is, being this way has made it difficult for me at times to tell the world who I am and what I’m capable of. I was also taught that actions speak louder than words and that if you do a good job it will not go unnoticed. You reap what you sow and if you just keep your head down and do the work good things will come to you.
What I’ve learned through the years running I Heart Reykjavík, though, is that although these may be good rules to live by in your personal life the same cannot always be said when you’re running a business that is trying to sell something. If you don’t remind people why you’re worth doing business with, they will probably go with someone who’s more than happy to shout it out loud.
Don’t get me wrong, I Heart Reykjavík has always done well. I’m sure we could have done better if I had hired someone more hardcore to work on that for me but at this moment I’m genuinely content with being small. There were other companies starting out at a similar time as I did with similar ideas (albeit completely different at the same time) that now have billions in turnover and for a while there I got sucked into trying to compete with that. Not for the money but just because I’m quite competitive and I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do when you run a business.
I now realize that I don’t have any desire to have hundreds of people working for me and I like having a personal connection with our guests which becomes impossible when the company reaches a certain size. I’d rather serve fewer people well than everyone and do it badly. I think there’s a place for a company like ours and I think our guests agree. At least they tell us all the time how much they appreciate us and the personal service we provide.
Having said all that, we still have to eat. Which is the reason for this post and why I’ve decided, despite it making me somewhat uncomfortable, to try to explain why I think you should consider booking your tours and activities through us.
How does I Heart Reykjavík make its money?
Before we dive into why I think you should consider booking with us, I just want to tell you really quickly how we make the money that makes it possible for us to keep this blog alive and answer all the questions we get from travelers such as yourself.
Our revenue stream is mostly twofold: We offer our own tours and activities such as the walking tours and then we offer tours from our partners from which we earn a small commission. That’s it – all our eggs are basically in these two baskets.
Now that we’re winding down our daily walking tours, my husband and I will have to rely more on the partner booking earnings. That has always been a much smaller part of our business but the reason we can still survive without our walking tours is that fact that most of our earnings from the walking tours just go into paying our staff and keeping the office running and such – costs that will be cut dramatically (along with the earnings) when we will no longer be offering our daily walking tours.
Just so there’s no misunderstanding, we will still be offering private tours and seasonal activities such as our Christmas celebration. We’re not going anywhere (hopefully).
I know it’s faux pas to talk about money but the fact of the matter is that this blog cannot exist unless we can make enough money to live of it. Maintaining it and answering all your e-mails is more than a full-time job for two people and we would not be able to do what we do if we had to work somewhere else too.
So if you appreciate this blog and it has helped you plan your trip to Iceland – the best way to pay it forward is by booking your tours through us. We don’t charge you anything extra for it and if you’re booking them anyway, why not with us?
If the fact that the blog has helped you is not reason enough to consider this, maybe these benefits of doing business with us will change your mind.
What do you gain from booking your tours through I Heart Reykjavík?
Personal recommendations that save you time on research
We have contracts with a selected number of partners that we know and trust to take good care of our guests. We’re very selective in our partnerships and we say no to more companies that want to work with us than we say yes to. Even so, we have over a 1000 tours we can book you on directly through our booking system and hundreds more that we can book through e-mail. If this is the number of tours that we can book with our limited number of partners, imagine how many tours there are on offer in general.
It’s no wonder that people experience anxiety trying to figure all of this out.
We only have a small number of the tours we recommend on our website because we don’t want to overwhelm you with options. When people contact us and ask us for help with their bookings we take a look at everything they want to do and see and the time they have to do it and try to match them with tours we feel will make their stay in Iceland the best it can be. We don’t care whether that’s the cheapest tour we offer or a private luxury tour – we always put you and your needs above everything else.
If you have a fairly good idea about what you want to do and see but just can’t decide on which tours to take to see it, it can take us less than 24 hours to send you a suggestive itinerary, book the tours for you and send you a secure payment link where you can pay for everything in one easy payment. Having someone who does this for a living help you doesn’t make you a bad traveler, it makes you smart because time is our most valuable resource.
Of course, if you are in the early stages of your planning this will take longer because we need to get to the bottom of what will make you happy but we’ll never pressure you into booking until you’re ready and committed.
We may be little but we’re fierce (when it comes to customer service)
For a long time, I looked at our size as something to worry about because we wouldn’t be able to compete with the bigger companies that have armies of people working for them and could, therefore, in theory, offer their guests better and swifter service than we can.
What I’ve learned though is that even though we are smaller than most (we’re a tiny company that punches well above its weight) we actually in many cases offer much better service. We’re quicker to answer and react than most of our bigger partners and guests that book through us often get their issues resolved much quicker with us than if they would have booked directly with the partner.
It’s not because we’re necessarily better, we’re just leaner and agiler and can, therefore, react quicker.
The advantage of doing business with a smaller company like ours is also the fact that you know who you’re dealing with. If you read the blog you know who we are and what we stand for. We don’t have any faceless employees working behind the scenes – there’s a good chance that if you send us an e-mail that it will be either myself or my husband that answers.
Weather-related cancellations and adjustments to your itinerary
If you travel to Iceland in winter there is a good chance that you’ll need to make spontaneous changes to your itinerary because of weather-related cancellations. When you book each tour directly with each company (or through foreign booking websites like Viator) it becomes much more complicated to change things around in case of a cancellation. The tour companies are usually only willing to re-book you on their own tours and if they don’t have anything suitable available they will either try to book you on something completely different (so they don’t lose the money) or they will offer you a refund that sometimes takes a while to process.
When you book all your tours through us we have an oversight over your whole schedule and can therefore often suggest changes that are not obvious to the untrained eye that help you do everything your initial itinerary set out to do. Often it’s only a question of simply switching things around but we can’t do that if we don’t know your whole schedule and we were not the ones who booked the tours.
Not to mention that fact that you’ll save a lot of precious vacation time that would otherwise be spent on the phone or your computer trying to figure out an alternative.
We are locals and know our stuff (including what we don’t know)
Maybe the biggest advantage of using our service is that we just know things. We know when it’s more economical for your group to book a private transfer rather than booking a normal airport transfer. We know when it’s worth it to pay a little bit more because you get a lot more in return and when a tour that looks good on paper is not worth the extra money. We know how it’s best to combine activities to get the most out of your short trip and we know who to call when the information you need is not available on any website. We just know.
Sometimes I get e-mails from people who’ve paid a travel planner who has never been to Iceland considerate amount of money and the plan is completely bonkers. Sometimes the mistakes are silly and only cause mild frustration but often times they are downright dangerous or will cause the guest utterly avoidable stress. For the record, I’ve also worked with some very capable travel planners and agents that know exactly what they are doing but sadly those people with the insane plans were not lucky enough to work with them.
I’m not going to claim we know everything, we definitely don’t, but when we get an inquiry or a booking request that we are not the right people to deal with – we send you to those we know can help you. We would rather have you get the best possible service somewhere else than try to do something ourselves for the money if we know we can’t deliver.
To make a long story short – you should take advantage of all of this!