Do you dream of a life outside of the 9 to 5 grind that allows you to follow your passions? You’re not alone. Many people are waking up to the fact that your career plays a vital role in the quality of your life. So if it’s making you miserable, why stay? You may have heard of the ‘Great Resignation,’ a wave of people who are switching careers and rejecting the idea that they need to participate in the corporate rat race. While the idea of quitting your stable job may seem scary, the thought of wasting your potential at a job that isn’t meant for you can be scarier. In a post-COVID world, industries are shifting and changing, making 2022 the perfect time to start your dream tour business.
If entrepreneurial hustle culture doesn’t seem like your thing, then starting a tour company may be your ticket to a truly fulfilling career and the life you want to live. It lets you follow your interests and do what brings you joy, and best of all it lets you share that joy with others. Let’s look at how to start a tour business so you can figure out how you might fit into the industry.
The conditions are ideal for starting a tour business
Like most industries, the tourism industry took an economic blow with the pandemic. But where the industry stands out is in its recovery. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that the tourism industry is expected to reach its pre-pandemic contributions to GDP by 2023. If you are considering starting a tour business, now is the time. The industry is thriving, with a projected growth rate of 5.8% between 2022 and 2023, it is doubling the 2.7% increase projected for global GDP.
Although the industry is on the mend, many tour companies had to shut down or downsize during the pandemic. While regrettable, this is great news for anyone starting their tour business because it means less competition and more opportunities in the tourism industry.
The tourism industry has proven to be adaptive, welcoming fresh thinkers and new ideas. In recent years, the industry has had its own technological revolution. It’s shifted from traditional booking methods to user-friendly, highly automated booking software that will help you sell tours online, like Rezgo. For the Gen Z’s and young Millennials who have grown up in an increasingly digitized world, managing tours and bookings online will almost come naturally.
Advantages of the tour industry
For anyone looking for an exciting and creative career to move into, a tour operator career has it all. By starting a tour business, you get to experience the fun things that people pay to do on vacation everyday. Better yet, you get to create that experience.
Dave Butler, the director of sustainability for Canadian Mountain Holidays sat down with students in a Tourism & Recreation Management Program and highlighted some reasons to work in the tourism industry:
- Experience is a renewable resource: “In tourism, if we do it right, we can provide experiences to guests, and each one will perceive that experience in a different and personal way—day after day, and year after year, on the same piece of ground,” Butler said.
- Diversity of career opportunities: From high-end glamor to rugged outdoor adventure; from ancient practices to state-of-the-art technology, the field of tourism encompasses thousands of possibilities.
- Sharing a passion and a place: Tourism provides opportunities to show some of the unique and special features of a region, which can aid in conservation efforts.
- Tourism can be sustainable: “It’s my firm belief that tourism—perhaps more than any other sector of our economy—has the opportunity to achieve economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability,” said Butler.
These are just a handful of the wonderful things that the tourism industry has to offer. From setting your own hours, to working with colleagues and customers who have similar interests and values, a career in the tourism industry has a wide range of benefits.
What being a tour operator is all about
There are many different types of tour operators, so the role varies depending on the type of tour that they offer. Generally speaking, as a tour operator you will need to have a deep understanding of the customer experience, meaning you’ll be immersing yourself in the activities and destinations that will be included on your tours. This will allow you to make any changes that might enhance the travelers experience. Once you have ironed out all the details of your tour, you may be the person who oversees all of the day-to-day tasks, while also supervising, motivating and training staff.
Reasons to start your own tour business
There are a number of benefits that come with a career as a tour operator. It is a dynamic career that offers fun and adventure at every stage of development. If you’re considering starting a tour business to escape the drudgery of corporate life, you may be attracted to the control you’ll have over your workload. You can work as much or as little as you like. Additionally you can choose the projects you would like to work on, since you’ll be your own boss.
Another great part about working as a tour operator is that you are not always chained to a desk. This line of work typically involves a lot of movement; you might spend your day walking on tours, or running errands for your business. This is great for your energy levels and overall health.
One of the best parts about being a tour operator is how rewarding it can be. You are working on something that you truly care about and you get to create unforgettable memories for your customers. You’ll also have the opportunity to support and connect with your local community. You may choose to highlight a local vendor or visit a nearby art exhibition; whichever area of tourism you choose to enter, this career has endless opportunities to uplift your community.
The first steps to starting a tour business
While there is a lot that goes into starting your tour business, here are a few key steps that will help you get started:
Choose your name: A strong company name is crucial when starting your tour company. It could be the difference between someone clicking on your company website and booking a tour or deciding to go with another company. You will want to get creative and choose a name that stands out, while also representing you and your business.
Decide your niche: If you’re having trouble generating tour business ideas, choose a niche! Deciding on a niche that you are passionate about will give you a chance to become an expert in that area, and ensure that you are marketing to the right audience. No niche is too small, so if you’re passionate about something, go for it. There will be people out there who share your enthusiasm and would love a chance to participate in a tour that celebrates their unique interests.
- Develop a brand identity: This is an important step because it tells people who you are, and what you have to offer. Having a clear brand identity will help you develop your company’s voice, communicate your mission and vision and attract the right audience and opportunities to your business.
- Develop your business plan: Your tour business plan is a document that describes what your company is and does, and how it will be successful. Within your business plan, you should include a market analysis, partnership opportunities and measurable goals. The business plan should also include a marketing plan and operations plan. For your marketing plan, social media marketing is a small business owner’s best friend. It can be relatively inexpensive, and has the potential to reach a massive audience.
The skills involved in starting a tour business
When you are starting your tour business you will be involved in the planning, development, promotion, administration and implementation of your tours. You may find starting a tour business daunting and think that you don’t have the right experience. The truth is that many skills are transferable to the tourism industry and you could be more prepared than you think!
If you’ve worked in the customer service industry, then you already have a huge leg up. Those people skills are vital to your success as a tour operator. Customer service jobs provide you with the interpersonal and communication skills that are invaluable in the tourism industry. Supervisor positions at customer service jobs give people team building and leadership skills that will come in handy when starting your tourism business.
When starting a tour business, having knowledge of the destinations and attractions in your area is a huge asset. If you’ve lived in the area, you likely already know the local culture and best spots to visit. While research is important, having this preexisting knowledge is a huge help when it comes time to put your tours together!
Are you an organized person when it comes to scheduling and finances? If you are, then you possess two important skills needed for starting a tour business. Strong time management skills will help you at the beginning when you might be working alone or with a small team, you’ll want to maximize productivity while making sure you still maintain a good work life balance. Similarly, financial management skills are important when starting your business, you might be working with a tight budget that you’ll need to spend wisely.
How to get started as a tour operator
Ready to start making moves into the tourism industry but you don’t know exactly how to start a tour business?
Talk to the experts! There are a number of resources that you can access online that specialize in helping you get your tour operations company off the ground. Consider something like The Online Tourism Academy, an excellent resource for those wondering how to start a tour company. This is one of a few resources that offer courses on subjects like growing your network, curating unforgettable experiences, and the steps needed to grow your tourism business. You can also look into tour operator communities, online forums and groups that are filled with people who are happy to answer questions for anyone starting their business.
So what are you waiting for? Get started on your new career path as a tour business owner today!