Starting a tour operator business from scratch | Step-by-step guide

Have you been thinking of starting a tour operator business? Here, I will detail a step-by-step process for people who would like to hop on the process of planning a travel business and help others have great travel experiences. Now, let’s review how you can start your business in this industry from scratch.

 

These days, the travel industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. With a growing success rate, it is considered to be a great and profitable economic sector for entrepreneurs to venture. Starting a tour business can be a difficult process, as a lot of factors have to come together to make it successful. 

 

Don’t panic though, I have got you covered.

 

Frankly speaking, it is really challenging to explore the markets, research the best suppliers, find a suitable channel for customer relationships and deal with the financial as well as legal issues of the business. But, hey, starting any business takes hard work! In spite of the fact that the process requires lots of determination and learning, your efforts will be worth it in the long run.

 

To help you start this journey and deal with the challenges, I have highlighted some of the most important steps to consider before starting your own travel business. We’ll explore it together.

 

How to start a tour operator business?

There are various steps for starting, and following all of them in the right order will help you build a successful tour company. The first thing to do before even opening your business is to choose your niche by considering your city and its trends, the target market and, lastly your competitors. 

 

After that, it becomes important to name and register your travel business. But that’s not it, to make it successful, you should consider other factors as well.

 

Choosing a niche

The first and foremost step in starting a tour company is to choose your niche. As the entire process takes a lot of energy, I have to point out that at this very first stage, you need to find out what you are passionate about. At this stage, you have to take into account what keeps your inner fire burning bright.

 

Moreover, you need to think that what you can offer to your customers is really unique and different. This step also involves considering the city in which you are going to start a business, identifying the target market as well as considering your competitors.

Let’s begin:

  • Take a look at your city

I consider this to be one of the most important factors to consider while starting a travel business. With your passion in the back of your mind, evaluate your city to consider the opportunities. Passion without a business opportunity is nothing but a hobby, so to properly start a business, you need to consider your city and the product ideas that it can provide you to get going. 

Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash

 

Quick tip: Ask yourself questions that will help you hunt down the perfect opportunities. For example: What is the current trend around? Are there any areas that should be getting explored but aren’t? 

  • Map out your target market

After choosing a suitable tour niche, it is the time to identify your target market. This involves mapping out the potential customers who would be attracted to your products and services. This crucial stage will have a huge impact in your business as a lot of marketing strategies will rely on it, for example, your social media efforts.

 

Quick tip: Getting to know your customer is something that you should do at the early beginnings of your tour company. Following a buyer persona template may help speed this up.

  • Identify your competitors

After getting to know about your target market, the logical step would be to register your business, but, before that, you need to do research and pinpoint your strongest competitors. Among the factors that you should investigate, you should find out the way that they operate, the opportunities they have found, and, finally, discover any gaps that your business could cover. 

 

In this manner, you could propose a unique selling proposition, and distinguish your organisation from the sea of competitors.

 

Quick tip: Competitive analysis goes hand-in-hand with keyword research, which is a fundamental stage of any SEO campaign. After identifying your competitors, do website analysis as well. 

 

Plan your business

Planning your tour business involves sourcing local suppliers, getting insurance, setting the product prices, doing creative thinking for the logo, company history, business name, etc. Put simply, this entire stage is the time at which you should start considering the options for registering your business. 

 

For this purpose, you need to contact your local tourism board. In addition to that, you should look for the requirements for starting a tour company in your area.

  • Give a particular name to your tour business

As mentioned earlier, the first thing to consider at this point is to give a particular name to your tour business. You should take into account that the name of your company should be easy, descriptive as well as memorable. It is important to note that you need to check if the domain is available for your business name or not. 

 

Quick tip: It isn’t mandatory to have a domain name alignment, the chances of domain name alignment might not have any negative bearing on your website. In spite of that, an exact-match domain could help your customers find you right away through search engines.

  • Register your business

After naming your business, it is the time to register your tour company. You need to prepare a proper plan and consider the pros and cons of each business category such as sole trader-ship, partnership or corporations. After registering, you also need to get a local business license and open a bank account. 

 

Quick tip: A business bank account will allow you to accept payments made out to your business name, and help keep your company and personal banking separate. This comes with other benefits such as a cleaner and accurate bookkeeping, and showing professionalism.

 

Design your products

The first step in designing your tours is to write an effective business plan which is simply a document that holds all of your product business ideas. For writing your business plan, you need to consider your company description, the analysis of the target market as well as partnership opportunities. 

 

Craft an effective roadmap by including your marketing and operational strategies, as well as a list of the products and services you’ll offer. 

 

This step also involves creating a one-line statement for your customers and telling them how you can benefit them if they attend to your experience. After that, determine the price of your products and services keeping in view your market value as well as operating costs. 

  • Opening your website

After setting the price of the tours and creating a selling proposition, it is the time to build your online presence. You can do this by building a creative and user-friendly website. While building your website, keep the user experience as your number one priority. 

 

Quick tip: Take a sustainable approach, it will be a win-to-win decision for you and your customers, as well as the rest of the world!  Sustainability drives purpose and passion because people want to be part of something good and bigger than themselves.

 

Create relationships

Unlike popular belief, starting a new business shouldn’t be a road to take solo. Instead, build relationships with other operators (that aren’t your direct competitors). This way, your business can be in constant growth as you’ll have an experienced friend to rely on when anything goes wrong. 

 

Photo by HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan on Unsplash

 

Build a tour promotion strategy

Considering a booking software for travel operators will get you the tools, distribution, and support you need to get bookings at a faster pace, especially when you’re getting started. The main reason for this is that you’ll get to sell your experiences on the world’s largest travel marketplaces, as well as taking bookings directly from your website once your business gets popular.

 

Final thoughts

Starting a travel business does not require any professional qualifications but you need to have a high level of skills that are necessary for your success. Along with setting business and marketing operations, most of the time will be spent with people, so you must be skilled at connecting with your customers. 

 

What are you waiting for? Adopt the above steps so that you can successfully start your tour business, if you need any help, feel free to reach out to us so we can guide you through the process.

2 responses on this

  1. Hendry Teweli Mworia 26/07/2019 9:55 pm

    Hey Guys,

    Now I understand why you say Clean Travel brings the most enriching ethical tours on the planet. This kind of article gives great help to someone who is about to start a business of tourism but it’s also give a very big assistant to someone who is already in the business. The only thing that distinguish my company from my competitors is that I respect my team and consider them among the owner of the company, I treat my team fairly and make sure everything is transparent especially in Mount Kilimanjaro where porters or wagumu or wapagazi in swahili are not treated fairly with some operators. The biggest problem is to see other tour operators manipulate the business by price but at the end of the day the one who struggle are the team of porters.

    Reply
    1. Vanessa 26/07/2019 10:22 pm

      Hi Hendry, thanks a lot for your amazing comment. We are happy to hear that you’re part of our amazing community of ethical tour operators. Know that finding what distinguishes your business from the competition is an INCREDIBLE advantage already. So, make sure to promote your business objectives and stand by these. Avoid overlooking greenwashing and spread the word about the importance of sustainable tourism to places like Mount Kilimanjaro with potential and current clients. 🙂

      Reply

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