The Catch a Ghost tour in Savannah, GA is a fun, ghost hunt tour that you don’t want to miss if you’re ever traveling to Savannah, GA. The tour creatively blends southern history, with folklore, along with magic tricks, and special effects to vividly tell stories that help tourists “catch a ghost”. Check out my interview with the owner, Jimi Gibson, to learn more about his thrilling success.
- Hi, Please tell us more about the Catch a Ghost tour.
The Catch a Ghost tour was specifically designed as an interactive adventure for families, corporate groups, date night, girl scout troops, family reunions or anyone looking for things to do in Savannah, GA. Savannah is one of the most popular destinations in the United States for a ghost hunt. The implication of a “hunt” doesn’t always communicate success. However, by offering a tour to “catch” a ghost, the excitement is around bagging the real thing. Well, not the real thing. Let’s just say there are some magic, illusions, and special effects that make the “catch” happen.
My name is Jimi Gibson and I moved to Savannah about 4 years ago. I’m a magician and entertainer. I have produced and performed in magic productions for theme parks, corporate events, conferences in Las Vegas and a variety of private functions. I just knew that Savannah was the perfect place to combine magic, illusions and a ghost tour.
- What inspired you to start this niche tourist business?
There has been a steady increase in ghost, haunting, and paranormal-related television shows and movies over the last few years. Savannah has been promoted as one of America’s most haunted cities. With my background as an entertainer and the $2 Billion in tourism coming to Savannah each year, I knew there was business here. I just had to figure out my unique approach to “catch” a portion of the tour market.
- Your tour focuses on legends and folklore (awesome). Please tell us more about that.
When visiting Savannah, I tried a few ghost tours. The success of the tour depended on the personality of the tour guide and their ability to tell a story. Most of the ghost tours in Savannah focus on the paranormal investigation angle. Many guests show up with EVP devices and smartphone apps designed to detect paranormal activity (ghost detectors). A photo of a spirit “orb” is a sought after souvenir.
I realized there was no tour that addressed the need for a family friendly ghost tour. By focusing on the legends and folklore of Savannah, I am able to keep the tour fun, include comedy, and rate each “tale” by the “hogwash” factor of whether the story is plausible or just plain ridiculous. I study the history of Savannah. I try and cross- reference the legends. Trying to verify historical details to corroborate different versions and nuances of a tale is an ongoing search.
I often get families that include Mom, Dad, the 12-year son, 6-year old daughter, a jaded teenager or two, and the grandparents. There’s enough history, magic, and interaction that everyone has a great time. My motto is, “We create memories, not nightmares.”
Most of the kids (and adults) on my tour are big fans of Scooby Doo. I’m a lifelong fan of the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. Think of my tour as a mixture of these with a little magic and illusion sprinkled in.
- The “Catch a Ghost” tour is the only tour guaranteed to catch a ghost. How can you make such a “spooky” guarantee? We’re intrigued J .
There has never been scientifically verified evidence of a ghost, big foot, or alien creatures. I understand that many tourists coming to Savannah enjoy the spooky vibe created on a ghost tour. Others seek evidence of apparitions and hope the ghostly encounter will happen on their tour. Ultimately, the odds of seeing something paranormal, while strolling through the cobblestone streets, is slim to none. (Remember the “hogwash” factor?)
I’m upfront about the whole adventure. My tour is a walking show — mobile theater. Each square is a different scene in an unfolding quest to capture a ghost. Because I control the outcome of the show, I can guarantee we’ll catch the ghost. Sure, there are spooky things that happen along the way. I’ve been accused of calling forth the haunted happenings. However, I’m quick to dispel any supernatural or mediumistic powers. Believe me. It’s just a magic trick.
- One of the most challenging aspects about what you do?
There are hundreds of tour guides and dozens of tour companies in Savannah. The hardest part of this business is marketing the tour. It’s not like having a local business where you can advertise in a 5-mile radius of your brick and mortar store. You have visitors from all over the world coming to Savannah. Who do you target? How do you optimize your website for high rankings? What are visitors searching for online before they arrive and when they get here?
The other challenging aspect of the tour relates to the beliefs that tour guests might have when they arrive. Some believe in ghosts. Some don’t. I’m careful to approach the tour in a skeptical but comical way. I don’t want to offend anyone, but I’m also realistic about the topic. The desire for proof of the afterlife drove the popularity of spiritualism in the early 1900’s. Many of the séances of that time period shaped current beliefs about the possibility of communicating with the dead. These are heavy topics that can go the wrong direction fast. I find it more satisfying to keep the tour full of laughs.
Many visitors are not as familiar with the history of the south. Savannah’s history includes being founded by Christian colonists. I include some references to these beliefs. There is a heavy African influence in the culture. Some Gee Chee beliefs remain today. The mixture of these two created many of the original legends and folklore of Savannah.
It’s important to know your audience.
- One of the most rewarding aspects about what you do?
Most people haven’t seen a magician in person. When the tricks happen right in front of you, the reactions are priceless. My customers have been very generous with their reviews of my tour on TripAdvisor. I’ve got all 5-star reviews right now.
I also want my guests to leave with a healthy dose of skepticism. What they may have believed when they started the tour may have changed by the end of the adventure.
- Our audience mostly consists of entrepreneurs. If you had to give one expert piece of advice about the tourist industry, what would it be and why?
That’s an easy one. Make sure your product is exceptional and doesn’t try to capture the entire market. Find a gap you can step into. Then, learn all you can about search engine optimization to get your website ranked on page one of Google for the top keywords in your market. Honestly, if you’re not on page 1, you are invisible. The majority of your customers will be searching online. Part of that SEO strength comes from what others think about you. Be bold about asking for reviews, links to your site, and knowing how your competition is ranking ahead of you. Keep a consistent schedule of investing in your online presence.