Emma Parker

Company name 

Coutours

Profession

Creator of bespoke London tours

Power group

Hospitality

Our Story

I am owner and tour guide for Coutours (couture tours!). I launched Coutours in 2011 as a way of showing London in a fun and informative way. I was in PR (mainly fashion and retail) for over 20 years but thought I wanted to challenge myself more and stop talking about skirt lengths!

What we bring to the table 

Tours are not just for tourists. I offer tours to businesses as staff socials and for team building. I also have a series of packages for companies that include tours for HR or PR/marketing purposes. Tours are great for telling the story of a brand and also for helping people socialise and bond outside the work environment. I offer unique and creative tours including:  The Secret History of Street Food, A History of London in Four Drinks (the impact of tea, coffee, gin and beer on London) and Fragrant London (a scratch and sniff approach to exploring London). Also years in retail teaches you how to create a good customer experience.

About me

Likes:  London, brunch, parks and green spaces, entertaining people and being happy

Dislikes: Littering, people who do not give up seats to those who need them more and the whole pigeonholing people as Millennials, Baby Boomers etc. It causes unnecessary aggro!

One thing you wouldn’t know about me 

I was asked to do comedy at The Comedy store but didn’t take this up. I think my tours are a bit like doing standup – you have to understand your audience.

What word or phrase best sums you up ?

Someone once called me “The Humorous Historian” and I quite like that!

What’s your greatest achievement to date 

Being asked to create tours for Mastercard’s Priceless campaign and being their London tour guide.

Quick fire questions:

How long have you been a BNI member? 

3 years

What does your role entail, in a nutshell? 

Coutours designs, creates and leads tours of London for business and pleasure.

How do you help your community? 

Bring all trades together to make a project work.

What is your job title?

Owner/Tour Guide

What does your role entail, in a nutshell? 

I create tours and lead them. I offer scheduled tours at weekends where you can book a place on any of the available tours. I also take private tours at other times. A lot of what I do involves researching, creating and practising specially-created private tours. I am often found wandering around London muttering to myself all to ensure that the tours are filled with enough interesting facts and include fabulous locations for that wow factor!  I work with private clients and deal their requests for new and unusual tours to engage clients or even staff on socials, team building and networking walks. I have to try and think of tours that will be of interest and engaging for a wide range of people. The rest of my time is spent having meetings with clients and potential clients. Sorry, that was a big nutshell!

Why did you decide to take that direction? 

I had a great career in PR especially my time as Head of Press & PR at House of Fraser but I wanted a change. I came up with the idea of being a tour guide on a holiday. Since then, I have got to understand that the skills I learnt in publicity have helped me enormously as a tour guide. For example, I like to create a ‘story’ around London, a hook on which to engage people and then fill the tour with unusual locations, hidden details and fun facts.

 

How do you help your community? 
I show London in an interesting and unusual way and I also educate my customers and bring smiles to their faces.

 

What is the most exciting / rewarding aspect of your role? 
I love leading the tours especially those with food and drink. I have so much passion for what I do and people really appreciate that. By the end of my tours, I feel as if I have made friends with them and also most of the group are chatting away like old chums! It’s a wonderful feeling.

 

Why did you join BNI? 
I joined to try and learn the best way of growing my business. As a small business it is easy to get stuck into the admin. I used BNI to get myself talking to people. From there, I realised that this was a fabulous opportunity to grow both as a person and as a company.

 

What has BNI done for you? 
BNI has made me question what I am doing and hone my company and tours to be something that would be of interest to businesses. It has given me a network of people looking out for potential new contacts and clients and also a valuable resource of people that have been able to help me grow my business.  It is invaluable.

 

Any pearls of wisdom for fellow entrepreneurs / Business Professionals? 
Believe in yourself and work through those times when you think you might not make it. I always believed in what I was doing but I definitely struggled to keep the faith as it was taking shape. That was hard. My advice to anyone who is struggling at the start of their business is to keep moving forward even baby steps work, review and move forward again. It is there determination and effort that will get you success.