Trailblazing in Portugal's Hot Tourism Market: One Operator’s Niche Concept Becomes a Winner

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2 minutes, 39 seconds
   

Iain Bendrey, a former train driver from the UK, is making his way in a well-established Portuguese tourism market while targeting a new type of traveller. This covid project was born from necessity; Portugal Tours 4 Two takes the standard private tour concept and adds a unique twist.

Having moved to Portugal during the pandemic due to his wife’s job, Iain needed to find something to do and not speaking Portuguese was proving to be a challenge. Iain’s former career as a train driver was no longer an option due to the resulting language barrier. Iain was well aware that tourism was the largest industry in his new home country, and while he didn’t have a background in the industry, he was confident his extensive travel experience would come in handy. His confidence was not ill-placed.

The initial inspiration for Portugal Tours 4 Two came while travelling on the south island of New Zealand. Iain came across a tour operator who had offered private wine tours in a vintage Mustang convertible. Impressed with this simple yet fun and cost-effective concept, Iain drew inspiration and Portugal Tours 4 Two was born. Today, Iain offers private tours outside Lisbon for small groups in his convertible.

Starting in 2021 proved challenging, but Iain has continued to grow. “My biggest audience at the moment is solo travellers and couples looking for an affordable private experience.”

Iain works hard to provide a flexible experience for guests. He leans into the private aspect as much as possible by routinely encouraging guests to ask for what they need, take more time in places they enjoy, and make suggestions on the fly. Iain thrives on these requests, challenging his knowledge and flexing his expertise in the process. These attributes have served him well as his business has continued to grow and expand.

“Customization and providing the experience that people don't even know they are looking for is the power behind Portugal Tours 4 Two. Sometimes we just don't get very far, they just want to spend an hour on the beach. So there's flexibility because you're not restricted by time. I don't have to be anywhere by a particular time.”

Iain has also had success with people considering moving to Portugal and hoping to explore areas they might call home, trying to answer the question, “What would life be like if you lived here?” Again, Iain’s first-hand experience with this process has come in handy. He has found a niche with this type of visitor and hopes to continue to work closely with this ‘to-be’ expat community.

Looking Forward

With about 50% of his reservations coming through booking platforms, Iain hopes to expand his direct bookings and grow the business into a sustainable and full-time endeavour. Iain’s passion for showing visitors the beautiful Lisbon area is palpable and will serve him well as he continues to work with guests.

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