DAMREP, an Amsterdam based tour company, holds 13 years of experience in Amsterdam’s tourism, hospitality and events business, and specialises in bringing Indian travellers to Amsterdam. Wouter de Vries, the managing director of DAMREP, recalls some fun times and how it was necessary he shift focus from bachelor parties to guiding tours for grown ups. As told to Radhika Sikaria
My career in tourism started at as the Operational Manager at Ultimate Party Pub Crawls. This is the biggest pub crawl in Europe, with approximately 50,000 people annually paying 20 euros each to get legless drunk. In peak season we would have 50 promotors and night guides working for us. Besides the pub crawl we would also organise bachelor parties. This could be anything from beer bikes, to midget strippers handcuffed to the groom-to-be on canal boats.
Once, I had to guide a bachelor party from France. Sometimes things do go wrong—massively. To start with, the pizza trolley tripped, causing the topping on the pizzas to move to one side. Just when everyone on board reached out to grab their beers, disappointed by the pizza, I realised I had forgotten to switch the cooling box on. As if the no-topping pizza and warm beer wasn’t enough, the attractive blonde stripper cancelled and the stripper company had to send a replacement—Jewel.
Now, Jewel was a lady that probably was a great stripper 15 years ago, but clearly had passed her peak. She showed up on the dock, in her lingerie and started her routine. The French were already getting pissed off with this, but just as I thought things couldn’t get any worse, Jewel did her ‘signature move’—she pulled off someone’s belt, then turned to the groom-to-be and started spanking him with the leather belt. Imagine being spanked by an aged stripper on a boat, with crappy pizzas and warm beer. The group turned on me aggressively. I asked the captain to return immediately and after a 15-minute French shouting match, they finally cooled down and we proceeded to the rest of the night. Unfortunately, as they were still on the edge, they were being refused by one bouncer after another. After 30 minutes and 5 bars of rejection, the group reached the boiling point. I called one of my colleagues, Timo, to help me out with this. He showed up at the right time and saved me from the havoc of 12 angry French men. Soon after, as they enjoyed their 200 euros worth of shots, I slipped out and left it to Timo to take care of things.
How He Ended Up With Indians
As our company grew, we received many requests from travel and MICE companies, requesting assistance on incentive groups, Indian Gala dinners, weddings, business travels and individual travel packages—all from India. Since we did bachelor parties, I had to say no, but I still kept getting requests from the same party to help them find a willing tour operator in the Netherlands to help them organise this trip. When I asked how they ended up with Ultimate Party Pub Crawls, I would get the reply—”You’re the only one answering our e-mails!”
At that moment I knew what I wanted to do: I would start a company that would handle Indian groups, and because I was the only one, I would be successful. This started around April 2015 and one year later I was up and running and doing Indian groups non-stop. I have had quite a few memorable experiences with Indian groups. Once, we had a request to rent out a medieval castle and organise falconers and trumpeters for when the group walks the drawbridge, and musicians to entertain them during dinner. That was pretty awesome. This took a few weeks to prepare, but with the right people around us, we managed to pull it off. Another time, we rented out a TV-studio for an Indian gala-dinner and awards ceremony. They went all-in—fire shows on stage, moving stairs with screens built in that, DJ’s, everything. That was epic. We cancelled all other appointments and locked ourselves in the office for a week to make this whole thing happen.