Spotlight: CHAT South Florida Finds Unique Niche with Cultural Tourism

Spotlight: Guided Cultural Tour Company CHAT South Florida Provides Rich Cultural Experiences

There are plenty of guided tour companies out there. But not all of them dive into the rich cultural heritage of the area. But the Cultural Heritage Alliance for Tourism, or CHAT South Florida, aims to provide a unique experience that dives into some of the lesser known locales throughout the Miami area. Read more about the company in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers cultural tours in South Florida communities.

CHAT President Stephanie M. Jones told Small Business Trends, “CHAT provides rich cultural and heritage bus and walking tours and tastings that allow locals, domestic and international tourists off the beaten path experiences. Our tours highlight diverse cultures including African American, Haitian, Bahamian and Cuban that immerses our tour guests into the rich culture of heritage neighborhoods allowing them to interactive with local folks, taste authentic foods and drinks, listen and dance to jazz & Caribbean music and shop with local vendors and small businesses and attractions such as museums, galleries, book stores, restaurants and bars, and cigar shops. Our tours guests gain a better understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures and history of inner-city neighborhoods.”

Business Niche

Providing authentic experiences from those immersed in the culture.

Jones says, “CHAT is unique in the South Florida market because we are the only African American tour operator providing cultural and heritage tour experiences. CHAT uses local historians, hires and trains local residents as our community tour guides thus creating job opportunities. We are also known for providing high quality signature tours and exceptional customer service.”

How the Business Got Started

As a way to include more cultures in tourism activities in the area.

Jones started CHAT in 2016 to partner with local small businesses and attractions in heritage neighborhoods and multicultural communities as a way to curate cultural and heritage tours that drive locals, visitors and tourism dollars to their businesses and communities.

Biggest Win

Partnering with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Jones says, “As a result of this partnership, many other key partnerships have been formed throughout South Florida.The Broward Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution which includes CHAT as an official cultural tourism partner for Broward County. This is a huge win for positioning CHAT’s brand and further establishing our credibility in the travel and tourism industry as a leader in cultural & heritage tourism.”

Biggest Risk

Organizing a conference in its early stages.

Jones explains, “Currently, CHAT’s biggest risk is taking on producing the first of its kind cultural & heritage tourism conference in our start-up stage. Our brand and credibility as a leader in the travel & tourism industry is on the line if we do not deliver a valuable conference experience. However, we know the conference will be a success and our brand and credibility will be elevated, open up expansion and new partnership opportunities as a result of taking this risk.”

Lesson Learned

Get started as quickly as possible.

Jones says, “I can only imagine how much of the market we would have dominated as a tour operator if we had an earlier start. But that’s okay, we have time and we have already positioned CHAT as the premier source for cultural & heritage tours in less than 15 months.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Helping others become tour guides.

“Boy, we’d love to have $100K and we would use it to replicate our business model to help other women and veterans become tour operators and provide start-up funds to launch a tour business in their cities. We would also use part of the funds to recruit and train local residents in the neighborhoods we work in to become our local, paid community tour guides. We would also invest some funds in purchasing a 15 passenger van that will enable us to pick-up visitors daily from hotels to take our tours.”

Favorite Quote

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frighten us.” Marianne Williamson

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Image: CHAT South Florida

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

One Reaction
  1. There is always something to discover in your local area. Formalizing the tour just makes it even more interesting.