Christine Michaels shares her experience with virtualizing her business, Little Havana Tours, to keep it alive despite the decrease in tourism
Christine Michaels is the Founder of Little Havana Tours, a business that has faced some hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, as tourism is at a low point. However, Michaels figured out a solution to save her business, using her background in strategic marketing.
After hearing about COVID-19 reaching California in January, Michaels began to prepare for a move online. By the middle of February, she’d heard from a local businessman that experts believed the virus would spread globally, and by March, the city was shut down. Luckily, she was able to convert her business completely to online, hosting live virtual tours and experiences.
Michaels offers virtual lessons on preparing Cuban coffee, Mojitos, black beans, cigar history and etiquette, and even dance lessons for Merengue or Salsa. She has found that the online experiences are successful, although they are also more competitive in a time where everything has moved virtual.
For non-Miamians, the Mojito making lessons are the most popular, but Michaels expressed a special sentiment for the dance lessons, which couples love.
“The men gain confidence and the women love that their husbands will now dance with them or promise to dance at the next outing,” said Michaels. “Almost makes us feel like Cupid, bringing couples closer so they are using time wisely together at home instead of driving each other crazy.”
It is this connection between couples that drives Michaels to enjoy these virtual experiences. Although she believes the connection isn’t the same as in-person, she finds that it is nice to communicate with people who are not weighed down by the stress about traffic, parking, or weather, and are simply relaxing at home.
Michaels has also found that she is able to relax rather than having an immense amount of stress due to the pandemic.
“I tend to look at the glass half full, So I'm an optimist. And I am used to working hard, I'm very busy but not stressed.”Christine Michaels
Her optimism shows as she discusses the fate of the tourism industry. Michaels believes the industry will not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until next year but is sure that innovation and community connection will save local businesses. She describes local business owners and staff as her second family and adds that offering each other moral support will get businesses far during the COVID-19 recovery period.
The main sentiment that Michaels wanted to get across is that there is a silver lining in every bad situation, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different.
“I'm looking forward to discovering that new horizon, that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after a storm. The journey may be difficult, but the reward is always worth it.”Christine Michaels