The Best Savannah Tour Company is a family owned and operated walking tour company that blossomed from the Michaels’ love for their beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia.
The Michaels live in an 1850s historic townhouse in downtown Savannah, and love to show visitors how truly amazing their city is.
T.C. Michaels – a classically trained actor, historical storyteller, and radio personality in Savannah for a number of years – guides visitors on their walking tour experience. His wife Brenna – a novelist – is responsible for marketing, managing the website, and guest services. She also accompanies her husband on tours and makes sure everyone enjoys their experience.
“It’s not just a tour, it’s an experience in storytelling and sharing. It’s personal. So, it’s not just someone pointing something out to you, we’re a company that is submerging you into the history,” explained T.C.
Together, T.C. and his wife Brenna take visitors on a journey through history, while showcasing the city’s stunning and distinguished scenery. Visitors may even have the opportunity to meet a few of Savannah’s oldest locals, and by that we mean ghosts!
From a Colorful Past to a Brilliant Future
The City of Savannah’s story began in 1733, shaping not only the state of Georgia, but the world at large. As the oldest city in Georgia, and the most haunted in the United States, it originally began as a debtors’ prison – for those in the 18th century who were unable to pay their debts and were sentenced to work them off.
While Savannah began as a prison, it has transformed into historic squares, beautiful gardens, and big city park. Today, the city sees approximately 13.7 million visitors a year.
T.C. identified the need for tours with a differentiator.
“All the incredible stories here have really affected people’s lives. I saw that there was something missing from the walking tours. And now we’re proud to be the only walking company that utilizes audio devices to support our storytelling,” T.C. explained.
“[Other tour groups] were walking from location to location with nothing was going on in between. So, I took my radio background and when I found AudioConexus and the products they offered, it was perfect, and exactly what I wanted the experience to be for my guests.”
Differentiation by Immersion
In the late summer of 2016, the Michaels purchased a HearMe Tour Guide System to enhance their walking tour experience and distinguish themselves in the market.
“Taking the museum experience outside is what I wanted to do. When you walk around a museum, you have those earbuds in, and there’s narration. I wanted to bring that live radio show style to the walking tour.”
The HearMe Tour Guide System enables the Best Savannah Tour Company to transmit live narration and pre-recorded audio to their tour groups. This allowed T.C. to bring his unique radio show background to the storytelling experience, by portraying the life and events of historic Savannah in fun and engaging ways.
“We utilized the auxiliary input feature of the tour guide system where I can share actor’s voiceover letters, speeches, and journals – so that when we’re standing in front of a location, I’m playing what actually took place inside that house or location. It really took our tour to a whole new level. For instance, there’s a home called the Green-Meldrim House, and it’s where General William Sherman stayed during the civil war. That house is where Field Order #15 took action, giving 40 acres of land to freed slave families. We’re able to play audio of actual letters from that time. And that’s really amazing.”
The HearMe transmitter has an auxiliary input designed to support an additional tour guide. It’s also used for playing pre-recorded audio like music, excerpts, and character re-enactments. T.C. especially utilizes this feature to enhance his storytelling, creating walking tours his guest rave about and keep coming back for!
“I play excerpts of letters between General Sherman and President Abraham Lincoln of what he wrote when he was in that house. Its not just me talking, it’s a narration, a story, it’s sharing, it’s personal with our guests. Mixing live and pre-recorded stories for guests using HearMe means our customers get value for their money.”
Not only has HearMe enabled the Best Savannah Tour Company to stand out, the tour guide system has also allowed for a more relaxed tour environment.
“With our night tour, we’re doing some investigations of ghosts – because Savannah’s the most haunted city in the United States – but I’ll have people around the location taking pictures or investigating. They have the HearMe so they don’t have to be right next to me to hear a story. They can breathe a little bit, and that’s the best thing about it. Also, with both our day and night tours, parents love the audio equipment and earbuds. If they have a child whose crying, they can go to the other side of the square or street, and they can still hear me more than 200 feet away. That means they can listen in and not miss anything. So, parents of young ones really love this. Of course, older guests love it too because it’s hard to hear tour guides in bigger groups – but not with our tours. They hear every word.”
In addition to parents, Savannah sees many foreign language visitors from around the world, many of them choosing Best Savannah Tour Company as their guide.
“For me it’s a city, there’s noises. We’re the number one tour for guests from out of the country because English is their second language. The earbuds help them cut through the noise and distractions.”
The Philosophy behind The Best Savannah Tour Company…
For T.C. and Brenna, their passion for their work and for their city is apparent. It’s not just about showing guests their hometown, it’s about creating emotional connections and cherished memories.
“For us, I really like the live aspect because I get to know my guests personally. Its not just me talking to strangers. I get to ask them questions about where they’re from. Then I’ll connect stories to their lives so they can have some personalization with Savannah.”
T.C. recounted one instance when two men really connected with his tour:
“I never thought one of my stories would make someone cry, but the other day these two men got emotional when I was talking about our history. If it’s the difference between me saying something fact-based, and using the equipment to tell a story in a theatrical way. It brings people closer to the message. My background is classical theater. I’m not just a guide, I’m a professional storyteller.”
Currently, the Best Savannah Tour Company is growing, increasing business by consistently achieving five-star ratings on TripAdvisor and Yelp. They hope to expand their tours to include options such as boutique shopping and plantation tours.
“We’re family owned and operated. We don’t have the overhead of larger businesses – its just us. So, if anyone wants to start a business, it takes passion, perseverance, and commitment to do it. Our philosophy is simple. We treat every guest as our best friend. Treat everyone as your best friend, they’re going to love it.”
AudioConexus is proud to have them as a part of our family and we’re excited to see what success the future holds for them!
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