Understanding how to open a tour company consists of learning about starting a business in general and how to mold that business so you can use it to accomplish your goals. Starting your own tour company is a great way to share your excitement about a particular area with visitors. If you're passionate about where you live, why not spread that passion to others? Depending on your business goals, this could be a business endeavor or a fun hobby. You'll want to start by forming a business plan, and then market and grow the company from there.

Deciding on Your Tourism Business

There isn't just one way to start a tourism business. Here are a few common businesses in the tourism category:

  • Travel agencies
  • Hotels or rental houses
  • Guided tours
  • Transportation services.

These are all great ideas for a business, but you must decide what fits your goals and personality or personal preferences.

Start by looking at the tourism businesses already in your area. Maybe even interview tourism company owners. Find out what hoops you may need to jump through, what struggles you might face, and what the tourists and residents in your area of choice might be open to.

If you're hoping to be a tour guide, you'll want to make sure you have the necessary knowledge. Tourists expect their guides to know the area well. You'll need to know the area's:

  • History
  • Food culture
  • Shopping options
  • Entertainment
  • Other features of interest.

Maybe you'd rather just provide hospitality to tourists. In that case, you'll need to figure out what kinds of refreshments or accommodations you want to offer.

Focusing Your Tourism Business

Figure out what your niche is. What will make you stand out from other tourism businesses? If your business is just like five others in the same area, chances are, you'll have a tough time building a client base. Start a list of the unique aspects you can bring to your business.

If you decide to start your tourism business in your hometown or a place you've lived in for a long time, you'll be ahead of the game. Having personal experience in an area makes you a great guide to other tourists. Whether you're helping them plan their itineraries, shuttling them around to different attractions, or giving them a tour yourself, your love for the area will be apparent and will earn their trust. Tourists are more likely to listen to someone with firsthand experience of an area than someone without.

Once you've chosen the ideal geographic region for your business, you can really focus on what exactly you want to do there and how. Know the needs of the area. If the region is full of wineries that are several miles apart, a guided wine tour with transportation between wineries would be ideal. If the area is rich with history and landmarks that are within walking distance of one another, a guided tour would make sense.

Creating a Business Plan for a Tour Company

One of the first and most important steps to creating any business is writing out a business plan. This gets your ideas down on paper and can help you work through different potential issues or see issues you may not have seen before. Find out what licenses or certifications you might need to be able to conduct business the way you want.

Providing accommodations or transportation is going to require more licensure than giving walking tours. Know what you're getting into before jumping right in. Obtaining certain licenses and certifications takes time, so knowing what you need will help you stay ahead of the game.

Research the different types of business structures to be sure you choose the best fit for your goals. An experienced business attorney can point you in the right direction and help you understand your options. Depending on the size of your company and your plans for future expansion, if you have any, you might choose an LLC or a sole proprietorship.

You'll also want to make sure you have proper insurance. Your business should have good coverage before you start providing any services or selling any goods because there are several potential legal issues that can arise when starting a business. Without business insurance protection, a tourism company could become bankrupt in weeks if a lawsuit or other issue arises.

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