Travel planning agency Kids Love Greece designs tours to help kids experience Greece in a new – and fun way. Your kids will love with it too!
Kids Love Greece
Ahead of our trip to Greece this summer, we connected with this amazing Boston-based tour planning service called Kids Love Greece. Touring with kids will never be the same! If you have tried to expose your children to the rich history of Greece and listened to your kids whine about a tour or museum visit, keep reading! This is for you!
Q&A with Kids Love Greece Co-Founder Katerina Makatouni
Maria A. Karamitsos: What is Kids Love Greece?
Katerina Makatouni: It’s the only informational portal created by three Greek parents for other parents which offers also family travel planning services to Greece. Our goal is to promote Greece as a family friendly destination by offering authentic experiences (and by avoiding the tourist traps).
MAK: How did this come about?
KM: Almost four years ago, two friends, Maria Tsigoni and Maria Giannouli, and I started brainstorming about business ideas given the financial situation in Greece. We are all friends from Crete – they still live there, with me being the only one living abroad. I lived in Chicago and now live in Boston. I have a PhD and am the co-founder of Kairos Consumers, a market research agency. Over years many people – Greeks and non-Greeks, I know here in the States come to me usually around March and ask where they should go in Greece. I got tired of writing long emails to make suggestions. Today, Greece is being sold as a brand name, but I don’t believe that’s optimal. I believe Greece should be promoted differently to different target audiences, i.e. couples, families, older individuals, etc., and not a one-size-fits-all approach. There’s a huge gap in the market for families.
Around May and June, Greeks in Greece talk about where to vacation in August. There are so many options and every year new places are trending. We all agreed there is a need in this area. We’re mothers, with kids from 3 years old to 13 years old, so we know kids.
On this tour, organized by Kids Love Greece, kids experience the Acropolis in a whole new — and fun — way. Using tablets with an augmented reality program, they see how the Parthenon originally looked. IMAGE: KIDS LOVE GREECE
MAK: How did you get started?
KM: Initially we started with a blog. Using our market research background, we began to collect names of friends, and friends of friends, different Greek families who live in different parts of Greece. We surveyed them, asked what was their favorite place in their home town – restaurants, hotels, vacations, etc. We called that group, “A local knows best”. We received many questionnaires, then analyzed them and came back with a list of favorite places for Greeks. We translated everything to English, and then created profiles for the standouts. We began blogging about beaches, restaurants, hotels, each with a profile. We do not take money from companies to list their products, so we are completely independent, and this makes us so unique.
MAK: How was that received?
KM: We’re starting see a lot of traffic on the website. People began to email us asking to help plan their holidays. They’d say things like, they want to go to the Acropolis and can we help them find a guide. We added more content. Without a Google AdWords campaign, we were the #1 link in Google. We did not do any advertising. We continued to add content every week.
With the response, we saw the demand and knew there was an opportunity. Two years ago, we decided that we would become a travel agency. We’re part of ASTA travel agency association and are certified. We don’t sell tickets, but rather we are a family travel planning service. We are not a tour operator in Greece but have hand-picked specific guides who work with local tour operators, companies that organize sailing trips, guided Acropolis tours, cooking classes, outdoor activities. Along with our kids, we’ve have tested almost all tours. We now have 600+ kid-friendly tours, activities, accommodation, and sailing in Greece.
MAK: Tell us about the mythological tours.
KM: Our mythological tours inspired by Percy Jackson were launched in 2017 and have been very popular. The idea started when one of our kids was crazy about the Percy Jackson book series of Rick Riordan. We had also observed that fans of the series began asking their parents to take them to Greece to see the archaeological sites.
Along with a local operator in Greece, we launched the ‘Mythological Tours inspired by Percy Jackson’, a series of tours in the major archaeological sites in Greece which are mentioned in Riordan’s books. In the tours, the guide always refers to myths mentioned in the books. The author has twisted some of the myths and kids sometimes are confused – they think Riordan’s myths are real. We say, “Let me take you to Temple of Poseidon and tell you where Riordan was inspired to tell you this story.” There are tours in the Acropolis, Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, Mycenae, Olympia, the Palace of Knossos, etc. These tours are very popular so that we launched a separate website for Greek Mythology Tours.
MAK: Are the tours with large groups?
KM: 90% are private tours, and most are small groups of no more than 12. For some mythology tours, we offer the small group tours, where 3-4 families who do not know each other can join them. But we like to keep it small so it’s more personalized, and the kids get more out of it. The guides are amazing, and the kids love it. The kids meet other kids.
Kids Love Greece founders Katerina Makatouni, Maria Giannouli, and Maria Tsigoni hare their own love of Greece with tours specifically designed for kids. IMAGE: KIDS LOVE GREECE
MAK: You provide tips for parents traveling with young kids.
KM: We try to be as independent as possible and try to present the activity/tour in an unbiased way. For example, in each profile, where we present the activity, there is a section called ‘Parents Should Know’ which provides tips and suggestions, such as ask for hotel room far away from pool because it could be noisy during naptimes. Or there are lots of stairs at XYZ place and it could be a challenge with little ones. All these tips come from people we know and trust.
MAK: So how does a family get started with your service?
KM: Visit the website. Click ‘Design Your Trip’. Complete the form. We’ll review it and come back to you with ideas. Of course, you can search the site by location and interest or enquire about a specific activity/tour. We’ll provide the inspiration for a memorable trip and create a package perfect for your family.
MAK: You love what you do.
KM: This job really makes me very happy. We help families make memories with their kids. Recently, I received a message from a woman who said it was the best trip they ever did as a family. They fell in love with Greece. Now her husband wants to run the Athens Marathon, and she wants our help again to plan the next trip. We’ve even helped people go back their roots. Greeks living abroad are among our top clients. You see, there are many people who want to go to Greece and say explore for a week, but don’t know where to start.
Exploring with Kids Love Greece
When my family and I went to Crete this summer, we arranged a tour through Kids Love Greece at the Palace of Knossos in Heraklion. It was amazing, geared to the kids, and brought the history to life. I’ve not seen anything like this. Our kids were engaged the entire time – and it was a several-hour tour. It really was a memorable part of our trip — our girls are still talking about it! When you travel with your kids to Greece, arrange a tour through Kids Love Greece. I highly recommend it. Your kids will have a great time and they’ll learn so much. Whether you plan to go to Athens, Peloponnese, Naxos, Milos, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, or other places, check it out. Your kids will love Greece, too. Your family travel experience will never be the same.
We need your help!
Thanks for reading! You’re one of a growing audience around the world that relies on WindyCity Greek to discover the Best of the Greek World. It’s becoming more and more expensive to produce this publication and maintain the site. We want to keep our publication and website free, so people across the globe may find out about the innovative and exciting endeavors of Greeks around the world. If you’re enjoying this magazine and site, we humbly ask you for your support, so we may continue to bring you the Best of the Greek World. We appreciate it! Sponsor us today!