Why did I set up PastPorte with Dinah? Well, it all started one Christmas, many years ago…
From the age of 4 I wanted to be a knight.
This new career ambition was prompted by the purchase by my parents of a toy wooden castle (a bit like the one above) and some plastic knights for me one Christmas (well actually, plastic cowboys and indians as they got the figures mixed up with the ones to accompany my brother’s new fort – we swapped). It transported me to a whole new world of towers and dungeons, Black Knights and Hospitallers, tournaments and seiges and sparked a lifelong, and yet to be extinguished, passion for history.
Yet after a 20 year affair with travel and the travel industry, it was a book by Paul McKenna that brought me back to my first love. When looking for the challenge I wanted to undertake for the second half of my career, I turned to his book ‘Change Your Life in 7 Days’. I’m not a great self-help book reader – in fact, this was the first one I’d ever read (and I haven’t read one since). But as it was lying, abandoned by a previous owner, in my holiday apartment in Mallorca it seemed rude not to pick it up and at least read a few pages. In the end, I read it cover to cover.
In the chapter entitled ‘Dreamsetting’, when defining my ‘Big Dream’ in life, McKenna posed a number of questions:
Q. What do you love so much you’d pay to do it? A. Mmmm – a few things spring to mind…
Q. What do you feel really passionate about? A. Well there’s that, and that as well of course…
Q. What did you want to be as a child? A. Bingo!
I started thinking about my enduring passion for history. Of that excited feeling I used to get in my stomach as I ran around castles as a kid. You know that feeling – it’s why you do what you do too.
But I also started thinking about how, even though I loved visiting historic places, they didn’t fire my imagination as they did when I was a child. I often found myself shuffling from plaque to plaque, nobly trying but failing to take in all that information and frustrating my wife who’d make a bee-line direct for the giftshop. The thought had occured to me many times:
‘Is there a better way of doing it than this?’
So my new mission became to create experiences at museums and historic places that fire the imaginations of adults and children. That get that tingling feeling going in the pit of their stomachs again.
The more vivid I can make them, the more entertaining and memorable they’ll be. People will learn more, be prepared to pay/donate more and tell their friends more – a virtuous loop for increasing revenues. And I wanted to help the custodians of heritage raise more money to preserve these artefacts and buildings – that had to be at the heart of what I did.
But what could I offer? I was a qualified, if rusty, historian with a 2:1 in Economic & Social History from Sheffield University, so I knew how to research. And I’d had 20 years experience of marketing in travel and tourism – 20 years in which I’d endeavoured to and often succeeded in igniting conversations amongst my customers and potential customers for some of the most interesting brands in travel, such as Simply Travel, A&K and Kuoni.
And of course I was a customer – I’d ‘consumed’ 100s of heritage attraction experiences over the years, and my visit rate has increased markedly over the past few years in pursuit of my new career.
So that became my new direction, and the focus of this blog – helping you to create experiences that bring history to life. That are memorable. That help people to learn. That people will value and share. That will bring in more revenue to help you to preserve these magnificent monuments to our past endeavours.
And with cuts seemingly never ending, additional revenue sources have to be as welcome to historic attractions as wooden castles and plastic knights are to 4-year old boys.