Pepe Martinez

Exploring London By Taking A Virtual Tour With A Blue Badge Tourist Guide

Lockdown has been pretty devastating for London Blue Badge Tourist Guides, as you can imagine. However, rather than sitting at home polishing up our shining badges waiting for the clients who were never going to arrive, we decided to bring London to the world.

Last month after three months of live broadcasts, we launched the London Virtual Tour offering on the Guide London website. Whilst we don’t ever expect a virtual tour can replace the real thing, we hope it will whet your appetite, so that when travel restrictions allow, you can come to London and we will show you the real thing.

How does a virtual tour actually work exactly? We do our virtual tours using the Zoom platform. Using a variety of dynamic photography, video and google street view we are able to immerse the viewer and allow them to experience the streets and sites of London in real-time with a professional guide.

If your group would like to experience London through a particular theme, that’s easy to organise. How about the 19th-century London of Charles Dickens, or the London of Agatha Christie, or perhaps the East End of Jack the Ripper or a Royal London tour?

Exploring London though a virtual tour_The Story of the New East End.  Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez.  Exploring London though a virtual tour – The Story of the New East End. Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez.

The average virtual tour lasts between 45 minutes and 1 hour and each session is usually followed by a question and answer session. Zoom allows you to interact with the guide or if you are a little shy you can send messages via the chat function.

If you have any concerns about the technical aspects of a London Virtual Tour, don’t be nervous. My mother says she loves it, so if she can do it anyone can. All you need is a laptop, pc or a tablet or smartphone. You will receive a link which opens directly into Zoom and then your off and running.

One of the benefits of a virtual tour is that we are able to focus on the minutest of details on a building or in a painting and show you things you could never see in real life. We can also show you the interiors of buildings and sites that aren’t normally open to the public.

Exploring London through a virtual tour_Who was Altab Ali. Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez. Exploring London through a virtual tour – Who was Altab Ali. Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez.

Perhaps you belong to a social club and are missing your weekly or monthly meetings? Our guides can create a themed walk usually followed by a question and answer session that will educate but also give you a chance to interact with your group. Or maybe you’re a teacher to a student group who was planning a trip to London? Why not let one of our guides give you and your students a fun and interactive virtual tour of this great city. The virtual tours are reasonably priced from £60 for a small group.

How do you book a virtual tour? Go to the front page of the Guide London website and click on the link at the top that says London Virtual Tour. This opens out to our new virtual tour page where you will find lots of ideas about the different tours you can request. Fill in the GuideMatch form and make sure you give us plenty of details in the special requirements box.

Still not sure? Here’s a review from one of my satisfied clients.

Your virtual walk through the East End yesterday morning was a resounding success. 90 devices tuned in and we have had many appreciative emails already. Several people commented that this was a bonus of lockdown as they would never be able to book for an actual walk due to reduced mobility or other disabilities. There may be a life for virtual walks even after COVID-19. Thank you very much for such an engaging experience and terrific historic detail.

Exploring London through a virtual tour_Whitechapel Gallery.  Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez. Exploring London through a virtual tour_Whitechapel Gallery. Photo Credit: © Pepe Martinez.

Pepe Martinez

I  was born and bred in London and have  lived here all his life apart from a year travelling the world in my  20’s.  

My professional life  began working as a stage manager, followed by 15 years as a Tour Manager leading tours of the UK, Ireland…

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