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Studio Tickling Tours in the COVID Age

The Studio Tickling Tour has been a staple in the services offered for both Bee Productive and B Double E. It’s taken me away from home and shown me parts of the country I’ve not had a need to go to before. And it’s helped voiceovers get to grips with their studios and resolve issues preventing them from getting the best out of their kit.

The Covid pandemic has seen – at least for 2020 and (part of) 2021 – an end to them but it remains an in-demand service. So as we come out of what has been a strange year it’s an opportunity to have a think about how these might work in future.

What is a Studio Tickling Tour?

Firstly for those of you who are new to B Double E a quick explanation about what a Studio Tickling Tour is.

I am one of the very few people who offer an at-home studio consultation service in the UK, and the only person who offers it nationally. If you’re not local-ish to Manchester I have to charge travel expenses in order to make it worthwhile for me to travel. The further away from Manchester you live the more that will be, so if I can get enough appointments in a certain area I can stay for a few days in that area and visit multiple clients and share the travel costs between them all, making the visit much more affordable. Can you see why that doesn’t work in Covid Times?! If you have a look at this blog you’ll see it’s an account of a Tickling Tour – little did I know as I wrote it, it would be the last Tickling Tour I was able to do before Covid happened. Tickling Tours have largely – but not exclusively – been London based, but wherever there’s a number of voiceover artists in an area it’s a potential for a tour.

The impact of COVID

So throughout 2020 I stayed at home. I am still able to offer a good amount of studio assistance and training online, as has always been the case, and have had to rely on that more than usual over this last year. But I know that the home visit is still a much needed service, as I am asked about it quite regularly. I’m always willing to travel to see one client (and as it’s a work visit it has been largely allowed for me to travel to see a client despite covid restrictions) although we then run into the whole travel expenses issue which can be prohibitively expensive. I have been to see a handful of people over this last year, and they’ve been about the only times when the car’s had a good run.

And so we get to April 2021. The UK’s lockdown is easing, and we prepare to get back to whatever ‘normal life’ means now.

Can the Studio Tickling Tours resume? How? When?

Firstly to say that I have a long list of people who are waiting for them to kick off again. To them I say keep holding on. They will start again, but not yet. I think for the ease of organisation and people’s confidence we all need to wait a little longer. The current roadmap isn’t set in stone, and the dates published for the stages of unlockdown are followed only if things are going to plan. Parts of Europe have recently gone back into lockdown, so there is a fair possibility that we will follow that path as we’ve followed many of Europe’s waves of infection. A Tour needs a few weeks to plan, so I need to be as confident as possible that it will be able to go ahead as planned.

Keeping everyone safe

The next consideration is client’s confidence. In the past I’ve travelled over a wide area and seen quite a number of clients. Before I can visit people in their own homes or studios they need to be confident as possible that I’m not super-spreading the virus around. So for that to be best served I need a couple of things to be in place.

Firstly I need to have had the vaccination. I’ve had the first one, so hopefully it won’t be too many weeks before I get the second. I also need to go fully equipped with PPE. This I already have in place. On top of that I may need to limit the number of people I go and see and/or the geographical area I cover. This is something I will need to figure out as I plan a tour and talk to the people who want me to go and see them.

Accommodation on tour

And there’s another factor which impacts the viability of the Tickling Tour, and that is my accommodation. In the past I’ve been able to keep the costs of the tours to a minimum by staying with friends as much as possible. This has meant a good deal for clients, and a fair amount of socialising in the evenings for me. I don’t think that arrangement is now fair on clients or friends as it means that I’m meeting with more people and potentially exposing myself and others to the risk of catching the virus. This means that I will have to stay in hotels whilst I’m on the road.

These extra expenses will inevitably have to be passed on to the people I’ll be going to see. I’m not super-fussy about where I stay, so don’t need 5 star accommodation, but it will still mean I have more homework to do before I can figure out whether the extra costs make the Tickling Tour viable. The more people I get to see, the more viable the tour becomes, but the increased risk of passing on any bugs I encounter on my travels. And let’s face it, after a year of staying at home it’ll be like the first day of school when we start meeting people again – we’ll all catch everything!

The future of Studio Tickling Tours

So this is what I’m thinking about the future of Studio Tickling Tours. They will start again, but probably not until Autumn 2021. And a visit will be priced higher than it previously was. If you’re happy with me to visit and happy with the price and the precautions I can put in place then I’m happy to visit.

In the meantime, I’m happy to travel to see a single client if you’re happy to pay a much higher callout charge covering my travel costs.

Remember that I can do a lot remotely, so if you do have studio issues don’t wait until I’m back on the road again. Get in touch now and I’ll do my very best to get them resolved as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.

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