Why I still guide
Back in 2008 when we were using fax to apply for permissions to enter Chernobyl zone by the Ukrainian bodies there was clearly no vision for establishing a company. You know, when thrilled by a passion - same like sports, cars, pets or even sex - you do not really think about how the future should look like. You simply enjoy the present.
Still a university student, working full time as journalist and analyst, I enjoyed my trips to Chernobyl zone from time to time. Right after my first trip sparked by my never ending curiosity I knew I have to scream it to the world how fabulous place there is close to the capital of Ukraine, Kiev. How to scream it? I wrote my first website. I remember I had no idea about how the structure or graphics looked like. And today, looking back at the design, I can not believe somebody made an order. On the menu bar there was a small bus driving and every time it entered the silluette of the power plant, there was fume coming out of the chimney. No idea what this should mean… but it was the most entertaining part of the web that was all covered in black. Something totally opposite to how I conducted the tour – at least every 2-3 months. When I did my PhD. and I was leading some bachelors with their final paper, there was a girl called Dana who had an online marketing topic. Pretty interesting. However, she complained, she has no website where she can prove her theories. Well, I said, take this web and do whatever you want. Together with her boyfriend (nowadays her husband) - a programmer she came back in few months and showed the new web, logo and….we got closer to how the atmosphere of the tour with Dominik as a guide joggling in 3, sometimes even 4 languages….Do not ask me what all the nations in the 15 seat bus thought on listening to the juicy information four times in a row.
Thankfully, I started to spend more time on marketing and sales of Chernobyl tours than guiding them, because this was a real push for where the company is nowadays. I even hired some professionals…however still I wanted to learn all the things needed to run this organisation on my own. Guiding for me was like a reward after weeks and months spent on CHERNOBYLwel.come website and social media in my leisure time. It was probably 2013 when I felt, the tours in the summer started to be very weekend…and it was hard to explain my wife with two kids that she will not see her husband for most of the month. We hired first guide who – finally – could increase the quality of the tours by a laser focus on providing info and stories….yes, and presents.
As you can see, the face of the company - its brand together with the website - is changing over time. However some things will never change. Like the passion we share for Chernobyl. I still guide at least once a month and I enjoy it the same way I did 10 years ago. So, there is a chance I will guide your tour (especially when you are Slovak or Czech)….well, I know all our guides are far more better then me. So cross your fingers it wont be me 😉
Hard to explain but when I guide I feel super happy, even after 16 kilometres walked a day around ghost town of Pripyat, I am energised and passionate. There is a reward at the end. A hug, thank you, sometimes even a tear when we farewell with adventurers in Kiev…
Who the hell came with this stupid idea in 2017 to change the design of website again? No idea, I remember that the old web kinda hit the limit with changes implementation. And here we come, after over nine months (like when the child is born) of hard work, Juraj drew an excellent design, Mojsej managed to translate the new content into 12 languages (not on his own, of course), Yurij managed pictures, and together with Martin and Michal they made it live. Although I was not having long hours this time - I was only the main critique - I could feel the pain of bringing it up and running…besides other (at least 10) innovations we were bringing live. Hope you enjoy it, hope it brings the Chernobyl story closer to your heart and provides you with useful information and tips.