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Bed and Breakfast

Create a cozy spot for travelers to rest with a B&B.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Bed and Breakfast

Startup Costs: $100,000 +
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

While a bed and breakfast is by definition a lodging that servesbreakfast as part of the room rate, there are several different typesof B&B properties ranging from intimate family homes with less thana handful of guest rooms to full-fledged country inns with a dozen ormore rooms.

Part of the charm of B&Bs is that each is a bitdifferent, but they all fall somewhere within five basic categories. Ahomestay, also called a host home, is a private home with one to fourguest rooms that are used to bring in supplemental rather than primaryincome. Homestays don’t typically post signs on their property oradvertise, relying instead on reservations services.

A bed a breakfastis a step up from the homestay, typically consisting of four to five(but as many as eight) guest rooms and a live-in owner or host family.Bed and breakfasts typically have a sign out front, advertise andconform to zoning, health and other government regulations. Bed andbreakfast inns are full-fledged lodging establishments rather than afamily home with rooms to rent.

With six or more guest rooms and alive-in host, the B&B inn has a well-posted sign, does lots ofadvertising and adheres to all government regulations. Bed andbreakfast hotels are really B&Bs but instead are hotels with 30 ormore rooms in a historic building. Breakfast is offered as part of theroom rate. Unhosted apartments or cottages are sort of a cross betweena vacation rental and a B&B, a self-contained lodging that iscompletely separate from the host’s home.

The Market

Do research in your area to see if your B&B should be targetingtourists, business travelers or couples. Is there a hospital oruniversity nearby? Family and friends of students and patients could bea target audience. Your B&B could also be a destination for eventslike weddings and meetings.

Needed Equipment

First, you need your inn, whether you buy a new property or use yourexisting home, either possibly requiring interior and exteriorrenovating or refurbishing. You’ll also need furnishings for the guestand common rooms, linens, kitchen equipment, cleaning supplies andappliances.

Perhaps the most important office item on your startup listis a computer system for tracking reservations and deposits, performingaccounting functions, maintaining guest databases, and creatingmarketing materials. For the office you also need phones, furnishingsand general office supplies like stationary.

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Travel

Kayak Tours

If you love being outdoors and on the water, start a business giving kayak tours.

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Business At A Glance

Kayak Tours

Startup Costs: $10,000 – $50,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Turn your passion for kayaking into a profitable full- or part-timeenterprise by starting a kayak tour business.

Offer outdoor enthusiastsvarious tour packages’a half-day beginners’ course, a full day ofpaddling including basic training and lunch and weeklong paddlingexcursions including overnight campouts on islands and beaches. Ideallocations for this type of venture are coastal areas of the UnitedStates and Canada, as well as states and provinces surrounding theGreat Lakes.

Current rates are in the range of $65 per person forhalf-day tours, $120 for full day and $1,200 for weeklong toursinclusive of transportation, overnight gear and meals. Multiply thesenumbers by six and you have the potential to earn $3,000 per week andmore having fun, enjoying your sport and living it up in the greatoutdoors.

The Market

Outdoor enthusiasts.

Needed Equipment

You will need to invest in five or six fiberglass or plastic touringkayaks and related equipment including life jackets, dry bags, sprayskirts and paddles, as well as suitable transportation for six, and atrailer to carry the kayaks and gear.

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Travel

Off Road Tours

Stay off the beaten track of 9 to 5 and start your business on a different path.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Off Road Tours

Startup Costs: $50,000 – $100,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Off-road, or four-wheel-drive, tours havebecome an extremely popular day excursion for many vacationers, as itis a reasonably priced vacation activity that can be enjoyed by everymember of the family.

Generally, off-road tours are offered in half-dayor all-day packages to clients and are currently priced from $50 to$100 per person. Advertising and promoting off-road or backwoods toursis very easy and is best accomplished by designing and distributingpromotional material about the activity to all local restaurants,hotels, and travel agents.

This kind of tour business can be veryprofitable, even if the business associates or partners receive a 10 or20 percent commission for referring clients to the business.

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Travel

Specialty Travel

Don’t just start a travel business–have a specific niche.

Entrepreneur

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Business At A Glance

Specialty Travel

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

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.

The Market

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.

Needed Equipment

The only things you really need to get up and running are a computer system, Internet access, a fax machine and a phone.

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