I just returned from my first trip to Chicago. Instead of reading tourist guides, or asking the concierge for recommendations, we asked a few city natives what they thought were the must-see places and attractions. The suggestions did not disappoint…until our last day in Chicago.
One our way to the Art Institute of Chicago, to see the world’s second largest collection of Impressionist paintings, we decided to go somewhere else.
My husband is a fan of all things “Mob” related, so when a friend arrived at our hotel lobby and excitedly waved a brochure about a tour of 1920s Chicago gangster hangouts, we were instantly hooked.
Chicago’s Original Gangster Tour
Being picked up in front of a McDonald’s should have been our first clue that this venture might not rival the Impressionists, but we had already booked and paid for the tour, so hopped on the old school bus that was now painted jet black with bold white letters: “Untouchable Tours.”
- Two story tellers dressed up in 1930s garb
- Depression era music
- Machine gun sounds, to which we were instructed to duck, whenever we heard the rapid fire blasts
- A bus trip through Chicago’s North, South and West sides
- A lot of laughs
Untouchables bus tour business model
- 2 old school busses, painted black with white letters and bullet hole decals: no air conditioning
- 2 story tellers per bus (tour guide plus driver)
- 4 page website
- 3 fold marketing brochure (the one our friend brought to our hotel)
- 3 fold b&w informational brochure for tour participants: no frills black & white 8-1/2” x 14”
- 90 minute bus trip around Chicago
- Pickup and drop off in front of a 2 story McDonalds = restroom availability
- Merchandise for sale as you get off the bus
- Reservations for tours that can be booked and paid through hotels, online via email, and on site.
‘Just the facts, Ma’am’ website
- Simple 4 page website written with 1930s Gangster slang: home, price & times, tour guides, products
- No shopping cart: products listed for sale could not be purchased on the website, but were available at the end of the tour when you got off the bus
- Top 10 organic searches for “untouchable bus tour Chicago”
- Trageted Google advertising
- Many positive reviews
Word of mouth is always the best advertising
This tour was highly recommended by our friend who asked a clerk what she should see while in Chicago. Had we taken the time to read the website and marketing brochure carefully, we would have realized the tour would not have met our expectations of being taken to places where we could get off the bus and “see” the sites.
We were taken to crime sites of historical interest, but the majority of these infamous locations were no longer standing. Instead, we saw empty parking lots. To “see” the original locations, we had to refer to an old photo in the low-resolution, black and white informational brochure that was handed to us when we boarded the bus.
It wasn’t the Impressionists, but the Impressionist paintings we missed seeing could have been hanging on any wall, in any museum in the world. Untouchable Tours: Chicago’s Original Gangster Tour was amusing and informative. I also enjoyed driving through the South and West side Chicago, which I would not have seen, otherwise. It also opened my eyes to the importance of a good business model today, which includes:
- positive reviews
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