Christopher Falvey is the co-owner of Unique NOLA Tours. Having a passion for everything New Orleans in the many decades before he moved to the city in 2006, he saw a need for more intimate experiences for the millions of tourists that come to the city. He soon found that to be more rewarding than the software development company he had founded in 2001.
Christopher has two decades of experience building companies from the ground up in myriad sectors such as tourism, accounting, and the record industry.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Christopher Falvey: My background is technology, so I’ve found myself doing core work in many industries: accounting, music business, high finance. When I moved from Chicagoland to New Orleans- only because I fell in love with this city- I felt I needed to do something in this city, about this city. So my partner and I had been involved in the tourism industry from different aspects, and decided to launch Unique NOLA Tours.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Christopher Falvey: Be able to pivot. And by pivot, I mean pivot the entire function of the entire company. This is not hyperbole. We were able to jump from live tours into multimedia virtual tours in a matter of weeks.
When COVID struck in 2020, we had a slate of large tours (some up to 400+ people) that were to go out, but almost cancelled because of travel and social distancing restrictions. So we made a major pivot to figuring out how to provide an analogous event virtually. This was not an easy task, as the entire DNA of our tour experience is being in person, seeing the places we present in real life.
However, my partner and I dusted off our multimedia skills from previous companies we ran decades ago, pulled some all-nighters, and produced complete history (and ghost!) tours for hundreds of people using video, images, and voice-over in a completely live Zoom-type setting. By producing the content beforehand, but most importantly performing it live, the whole event went from disaster to something people very much enjoyed during an extremely trying time for all.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Christopher Falvey: Back in my technology days, we always looked to have a good portion of our business be “recession proof.” By that I mean, products that were so core to the businesses we served that during an economic downturn we would/could never be an extraneous technology that could be trimmed off.
So I would look to do the same (as we may be heading into a recession) as well I’d add try to be inflation-proof. And by that I mean, inflation cannot affect your margins.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Christopher Falvey: The pandemic completely upended our seasons. Where certain months (and weeks!) were predictable up or down… that is no longer the case. Because people spent their vacation money at odd times, they no longer have it for the predictable busy seasons in NOLA. So we’ve just thrown out the book of measuring ourselves week-over-week and have to budget quarter-over-quarter at best.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Christopher Falvey: Here’s the thing about running a tourist-based business in New Orleans, where hurricanes can strike every year. We’re already prepared for disaster. I hate to be flippant about something as big as the pandemic… but what businesses were dealing with is something we’ve already done 2-3 times in the past decade. So that served us well.
I am always looking to improve upon our disaster readiness, and I hope the pandemic has shown other businesses that they need to prepare thusly as well.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Christopher Falvey: I actually see that receding back to tradition for awhile. I, personally, have worked remote my entire career. But most companies are not ready to move this quickly. Change happens in fits and starts, and often recedes before it moves progressively forward again. I feel the pendulum has another swing backwards until we FINALLY embrace technologies we’ve had since 2000 or 2010 at the latest.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Christopher Falvey: Anywhere between 12-16. Pretty much the entire day, but I’ve been doing that since 1994. I don’t quite know if this is healthy, but we’re going on almost 30 years of it.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Christopher Falvey: I try to stay away from lengthy stories, but I spend a lot of time crafting apt metaphors. Which is really the same thing, but shorter and not boring. It is important to abstract persuasion and motivation. But don’t bore people.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Christopher Falvey: The biggest challenge is always replication. Taking what is successful at one size and moving that up to a larger size. That can mean different things to different businesses… more locations, new but similar products, etc.
This is the great challenge of any and all businesses.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Christopher Falvey: Oh I went through the dot-com boom and bust, and found it all laughable then as I do with most of crypto, NFT’s, etc. now. There are nuggets of all of this that will, maybe, enhance (at best) the world. But none of it is going to revolutionize everything.
I do think AI at its core will change the way we do business. I definitely do not think AI is a bag full of buzzwords (though most people who use the term “AI” only use it as a buzzword. What you’re seeing in the creative world with AI generated media… that applied to business… I’m spending a lot of time learning that. That’s the real deal. Learn that.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Christopher Falvey: I actually don’t think much needs to change other than adapting to a workforce that moves between jobs even faster. This is a trend that goes back 20 years… people like my father worked for, at most, 2 jobs their entire life. Then my generation in the 1990s and 2000s had no issue moving between jobs. This is just accelerating, and I don’t quite see it as a problem. Or, let me put it this way, I don’t see that it will change and I don’t see it being a symptom of bad culture.
People have many reasons for moving on, and I posit that most of the time it is money. I think the best course of action for business owners is to structure your human resources so that people can move in and out of positions more quickly than before. Obviously the details there are different in every industry.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Christopher Falvey: I would love to know people’s intentions. That’s the nugget you’re looking for to sell more.
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Christopher Falvey: We were in a major growth phase in 2019, interrupted by the pandemic. I would just like to see that trendline come back, which we are seeing here in October of 2022.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Christopher Falvey for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Christopher Falvey or his company, you can do it through his – Instagram
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