Business At A Glance
Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes
Tourists today can choose from a staggering number of specialty tours.If you love travel and you can communicate your enthusiasm to others,then a specialty travel and tour business might be just the ticket foryou.
The advantages to this business are that you meet lots ofinteresting people and you get to travel frequently and investigatehotels, restaurants and all sorts of fascinating spots in the name ofwork.
The main point to remember with specialty tours is that you musthave a niche, a plan that’s tailored to a specific type of person orgroup, like seniors, families with small children, women travelingalone, music lovers or chocolate fiends.
You can conduct just about anytype of tour you can dream up, but keep in mind that the closer youstick to home, the less expensive your start-up costs will be. If youlive in an area that attracts visitors or business travelers, you canspecialize in unusual tours like On the Town After Dark or AntiquesAhoy.
You might go with backpacking or rafting adventure tours tooutdoor areas close to home. Or you can sell worldwide adventures fromyour own armchair by advertising other companies’ tours and takingcommissions on sales. You can package overseas tours as well, but yourstart-up costs will be much higher.
Keep in mind that industryregulations prevent you from writing airline tickets, but you canovercome this by establishing a relationship with a travel agency thatwill cut the tickets for you. Some will pay you a commission in therange of 10 percent; others will pay by referring clients to you.
Youmust have a strong working knowledge of your tour terrain. Thisincludes fluency in at least one language of the countries you’lltravel to, up-to-date familiarity with hotels, restaurants and placesof interest if you’re doing cities, or trails and rivers if you’refour-wheeling or rafting it, and of course local customs andcurrencies.
You’ll also need excellent people skills for dealing withclients of all types (as well as innkeepers and other assortedpurveyors along your route), solid organizational abilities, and theability to roll with the punches. And last, but definitely not least,you’ll need terrific sales and marketing skills to sell your tours tocustomers.
Your customers will vary according to the type of tours you design. Youcan target everybody from mountain climbers to wheelchair-boundadventurers to museum junkies.
Market your tours on the Internet with aWeb site. Send your brochure to mailing lists of people who are alreadyconfirmed travelers (those who’ve already purchased tour packages) withsimilar interests.
Advertise in national and special-interestpublications. Get your tour written up in local publications. Donate atour to be auctioned at a charity event in exchange for freeadvertising.
Then get creative. If you’ve packaged an art tour, forinstance, send brochures to faculties and students at art colleges andsocieties and the fine arts departments of universities.
The only things you really need to get up and running are a computer system, Internet access, a fax machine and a phone.