“MakersPOV” is a series highlighting our diverse community of professionals and their unique point of view.
Today we’re taking you on a stroll through the sunny streets of Barcelona, where history meets humor in the most unexpected and delightful ways. Meet the star of our show, Charlie Simón – the mastermind behind History&Legends Comedy Tours, who has turned free walking tours into laugh-out-loud comedy adventures.
1. Tell us more about your work: What do you do?
I am the founder and CEO of History&Legends Comedy Tours. Since we are a startup I take up the one-man band role, operations, HR, marketing and of course tour comedy guide.
HL Comedy Tours is the realisation of a personal project. I am a business graduate that also happens to have two passions, history and comedy. I started performing stand-up comedy while working abroad in Luxembourg and I found that much of my material was history related; I made jokes about Jesus’ last supper, the difference between a Latino from ancient Rome and a Latino today… basically goofing around and having lots of fun.
That is why when I eventually returned to Spain, I asked myself these two questions: Why can’t history be humorous and entertaining? Where can I find a pool of clients who appreciate my particular sense of humor? The answer to those questions gave birth to a company specialising in free walking tours that offers unique experiences in Barcelona.
2. What’s your favourite part of your job?
There is no doubt that before being a manager I consider myself an entertainer. Touring is a spiritual balm for me. Even after a long day, it really gives me energy and I enjoy each one as if it were the last. Meeting and entertaining wonderful travellers around the world is really rejuvenating. It can be said that after much searching, I have found what the Japanese call Ikibai: the confluence between your purpose, mission and values.
3. What motivated you to start the comedy tour company?
Motivation usually comes in many ways. Mine had a name and surname, one of my best friends called Edu Aguilar also an entrepreneur in the tourism industry (CEO of Sea Saffron).
When I moved back to Barcelona, I was longing for a strong digital format to push my comedy. At the time he was living in New York City, he called me one day and told me that he had met a comedian that was servicing walking tours plus making digital tours through his YT channel.
Apparently, he saw a perfect parallelism with me as he had come to many of my shows and knew my humor to the bone. So, taking advantage of the fact that I was in one of the most beautiful touristic cities in the world, he encouraged me to create a YouTube channel with digital tours.
After many months of script writing, filming, and postproduction, I saw that the videos were not very successful and as a last bullet, I registered on a free tour platform and started doing real tours. Then many factors combined, luck, good timing, and a well-crafted product. The result was that I was able to create the company and work for a living in something that I truly love.
4. What’s the biggest challenge you face with your project?
Undoubtedly the established and fierce competition in Barcelona’s tourism industry. I always make the analogy that the famous New York catchphrase: “If you can’t make it there, you can make it anywhere” literally applies in the same manner to the Barcelona tourism industry.
Luckily, from the beginning, I was able to create a differentiating product, but given the fact that the client acquisition of my business is purely online (SEO/SEM), over time we had to implement various strategies to stay competitive once the main players had resettled after the mismatch of the COVID time.
It can be said that after much searching, I have found what the Japanese call Ikibai: the confluence between your purpose, mission and values.
5. If you could share one piece of advice with people who are in the tourism business, what would it be?
It is an industry that by nature is extremely cyclical. No matter how many action plans or strategies you put into practice, to a great extent, you cannot shortcut that temporality.
Thus, while it may be very obvious to many, what I’ve come to learn is that the best option is to adapt your work cycle to the industry’s temporality and focus your energy depending on the moment.
Meaning that at peak times, focus on the operational part and harvest the crop, and at valley moments, don’t become anxious, take the opportunity to do some high-quality introspection: invest time in innovation, product development, planning, and strategy.
6. What do you enjoy most about working at MOB?
Without a doubt, the family environment that it creates. What defines MOB compared to other coworking spaces is that its relatively small size, super good vibe managers, and center locations mix perfectly in the blender and generate a pole of attraction for a special breed of coworkers that make you feel a part of a small work family.
Proof of it is I never imagined a coworking space where “psychological support groups” would spontaneously take place in the lunch hall every now and then, or that I would have super profound conversations with fellow workers and MOB managers.
That is for me the coolest part, going to the office every day is a delight, you end up generating a lot of affinity with coworkers and consequently, you end up integrating a lot with all the after-work.