How To Start A Tour Company

Start A Tour Company

article

When it comes to starting a tour company, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.

You may be asking yourself:

  • What's the first step in establishing my business?
  • How much will it cost to start my tour company?
  • How do I price my tour company?
  • How do I market my tour company?
  • ... so much more!

We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your business.

The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!

market size
$540B
avg revenue (monthly)
$5.84M
starting costs
$22.5K
gross margin
90%
time to build
9 months
growth channels
SEO
business model
Software
best tools
Canva, Twitter, Square
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
40 Pros & Cons
tips
10 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Tour Company

Is Starting A Tour Company Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a tour company.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a tour company

• Little startup costs required

The cost to start a tour company costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 3,091 to 41,723.

• Rewarding work

Starting a tour company can be really rewarding work. After all, you are solving an immediate issue for your customer and you're working on something you truly care about.

• High customer retention rates

Once a customer invests in your product, they've invested their time and energy to utilize your product/service which is highly valuable to them. Typically, your product or service becomes indispensable to your customer.

• Pick & choose the clients you work with

Tour Companyes have the ability to choose the clients they work with. You have the freedom to work with only a few loyal clients or with hundreds of clients!

• Control of workload

With starting a tour company, you have the unique ability to choose how little or how much you want to work. You also have the freedom to decide which projects you want to work on, and can turn down the ones that do not interest you.

• Gain exposure and experience

This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!

• Unlimited income potential

With starting a tour company there is no cap as to how much income you can make. The stronger your business skills and the more energy/time you put into your career, the more you'll make.

• Daily physical activity

Tour Company's typically involve a much greater degree of movement than other lines of work. Most days, you will spend your day walking, running errands for your business, and performing a multitude of tasks. This can have a positive impact on energy levels and your overall health.

• You are your own boss!

With starting a tour company, you are the one to make decisions for almost all of the operations. Calling the shots can be empowering and liberating!

• Local Community

One of the best parts of starting a tour company is that you can develop a local following by selling your products at craft shows, farmers' markets, or even local storefront businesses! This gives you access to additional revenue streams and loyal customers.

• Predictable income stream

Your businesses income stream tends to be predictable based on the number of customers you have signed up. This makes financial planning and outlooks much more seamless!

• Higher likelihood of getting referrals

This business is all about referrals, which can be a a very impactful way to attract and retain customers. It's critical that you have a great referral program in place that incentivizes your customers to tell their friends about your product.

• Face to face interaction

If you are the type of individual that thrives on human interaction, then this is the business for you! With a tour company, you will be hands-on with customers and or employees every day.

• Simple business model

A tour company has the advantage of a simple business model, which makes launching and building the business more seamless.

• Greater Income Potential

With this business, the sky is the limit in regards to your income potential.

• You get to do something you truly love

With starting a tour company, you get to put your energy into something you are truly passionate about! You'll find yourself devoting as much time and energy as possible into the business to make it successful.

• You can decide who you work with

Gone are the days of working in a toxic work environment with employees that you may not vibe with. As a small business owner, you get to decide who you work and surround yourself with.

• Strong Demand & Relatively Recession Proof

The demand for tour company is increasing year over year and the business is known to be relatively recession proof.

• High Hourly Pay Rates

On average, the hourly pay rates are high for your tour company - which means quality of clients is often superior to quantity of clients.

• You establish yourself as an expert

With starting a tour company, you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, which builds your credibility. In return, customers are more likely to trust you and refer you to other friends and family.

• Can build solid foundation of clients

It's unlikely you will have one-off customers as a tour company. Typically, you have a solid foundation of clients that use your product and services regularly.

Cons of starting a tour company

• Motivation of employees

If you plan to have a sales/content team on board, finding creative ways to motivate them can be a challenge. It's important that you're able to offer great incentives and a good work environment for your employees.

• Longer Sales Process

A tour company can be a big time and money investment for your customer, so it's important you plan and predict a longer conversion funnel and stay in communication with potential customers.

• Work can be inconsistent

As a tour company, the amount of work assigned to you and schedule tends to be more inconsistent, which may make your income less stable. It's important to set boundaries and budget accordingly based on the amount of work you plan to have.

• Lack of benefits

With a tour company, you are typically self-employed and responsible for finding your own insurance, which can be quite costly and time-consuming.

• Taxes

As a tour company, you typically pay self-employment taxes which can be quite high. It's important to understand what you will be paying in taxes each year so you can determine if the work you're taking on is worth it.

• No safety net

Typically, as a tour company, you do not receive a consistent pay-check and instead earn money based on your transactions each month. During the slow periods, you typically take away less since the job is based on commission. It's important to budget accordingly for the slow times.

• Stressful work

This line of work can be stressful for both you and your clients. This type of transaction is a significant financial decision for your client, so expectations are very high for you. Although this career path can be very rewarding, it also comes with its challenges and stressful moments.

• Work can be repetitive

You may find creating the same product over and over repetitive and tiresome. One way of avoiding this is to diversify product lines and revenue streams - this will keep things interesting!

• Time commitment

With starting a tour company, all responsibilities and decisions are in your hands. Although this is not necessarily a negative thing, work life can take over at times. This can place a strain on friends and family and add to the pressure of launching a new business.

• Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone!

Although this is exciting for some entrepreneurs, it can be a big challenge for others! You may find yourself in uncomfortable social and business situations, jumping into tasks and responsibilities you aren't familiar with, and pushing yourself as far as you can go!

• More of a challenge to run your business from home!

Running your business from the comfort of your own home is a big appeal for many entrepreneurs. With a tour company, you are more likely to run your business out of your office or storefront space.

• Work is not always glamorous

With starting a tour company, you may need to get your hands a little dirty. Although it may seem glamorous from the outside to start this business, the work can require a lot of physical activity and repetition.

• The job can be demanding

This is one of the major disadvantages starting a tour company. It's important to understand that you may need to make yourself available on a 24/7 basis.

• High liability

Running a tour company involves a lot of liability, which means the cost for insurance premiums may also be high.

• Equipment Breakdowns

Over the years, your equipment can get damaged, break down, and may need repairs which can be expensive. It's important you prepare for these expenses and try to avoid damages/wear & tear as much as possible.

• Answering Phones

The tour company is still considered a traditional business, which means answering phones is a big part of the job. If you or your team miss phone calls, you could be missing out on potential revenue opportunities. If you are unable to attend to your phone throughout the day, it would be in your best interest to hire a call center or an employee dedicated to this.

• You'll spend a lot of time in the car

Many tour company offer their services outside of their office or home, which means you'll be spending quite a bit of time behind the wheel. You will also need to consider traffic and delays, which can be time consuming and take each job longer than expected.

• The job can be dangerous

Your tour company can have its dangerous moments, which puts you and your employees at risk. It's important to consider all liability and put processes and procedures in place that will prepare you and your team.

• More challenging to earn passive income

It can be more of a challenge to make passive income in this business. Often times, the amount of revenue you bring in is limited by the amount of time you have in the day.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for tour service over the last year:

How To Name Your Tour Company

It's important to find a catchy name for your tour company so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your tour company

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your tour company so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your tour company.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your tour company:

  • Bar Tour check availability
  • The Ocean Trips check availability
  • Remarkable Go check availability
  • Turn Group check availability
  • The Extensive Circuit check availability
  • Spell Trading Co check availability
  • City Trip Trading Co check availability
  • Leisurely Spell Spot check availability
  • Royal Enlistment Co check availability
  • Hear Tour check availability
  • Go Collective check availability
  • Famous Tour Of Duty Trading Co check availability
  • Trip Group check availability
  • The Italian Tour Of Duty check availability
  • MileTour check availability
  • Prolonged Trip Place check availability
  • Temptations Vacation check availability
  • Northern Enlistment Place check availability
  • Rapid Tour Of Duty check availability
  • The Stop check availability
  • Circuit Group check availability
  • Pedestrian Tour Of Duty Spot check availability
  • The Less Travelers check availability
  • LastTour check availability
  • The Interesting check availability
  • Time check availability
  • Spare Tour check availability
  • Far Tour check availability
  • SouthernTour check availability
  • Triumphal Hitch check availability
  • Third Duty Tour check availability
  • Last Turn Spot check availability
  • Walking Circuit Collective check availability
  • Professional check availability
  • Triumphal Travel check availability
  • The Educational Spell check availability
  • Extensive Duty Tour Place check availability
  • Nationwide Term Of Enlistment Co check availability
  • The National check availability
  • WesternTour check availability
  • GrandTour check availability
  • Occur Tour check availability
  • WeeksVacation check availability
  • The Western check availability
  • Leisurely Turn Co check availability
  • Confer Tour check availability
  • Jaunt Place check availability
  • Pedestrian Trip Co check availability
  • The Virtual Term Of Enlistment check availability
  • The Extensive Turn check availability
  • Circuit Pro check availability
  • Overseas Journey Group check availability
  • Month Go Group check availability
  • The Stop Circuit check availability
  • The Astral Journeys check availability
  • Finding Go Group check availability
  • Day Circuit Group check availability
  • The Stop Spell check availability
  • The Minute Tour Of Duty check availability
  • Invasion Vacation check availability
  • National check availability
  • The Domestic check availability
  • Interesting Spell Place check availability
  • The Brief check availability
  • InterestingTour check availability
  • Spell Collective check availability
  • Car Tour check availability
  • Royal check availability
  • Lengthy Term Of Enlistment check availability
  • Transatlantic Trek check availability
  • Hitch Pro check availability
  • Day Circuit Trading Co check availability
  • Northern check availability
  • The Continental check availability
  • Long check availability
  • War Tour check availability
  • Stop Turn Place check availability
  • Hazan Vacation check availability
  • Recent Trip Collective check availability
  • Concur Tour check availability
  • Continental Term Of Enlistment Group check availability
  • Triumphant Term Of Enlistment Trading Co check availability
  • Triumphal Travels check availability
  • QuickTour check availability
  • YearTour check availability
  • The Hard Journey check availability
  • Usual Enlistment Pro check availability
  • IdealVacation check availability
  • Promotional Turn check availability
  • Official Enlistment check availability
  • The Month check availability
  • The World check availability
  • South Circuit check availability
  • The Second check availability
  • Usual check availability
  • Circular Go Pro check availability
  • Itinerary Spot check availability
  • Pleasant Spell Group check availability
  • Per Tour check availability
  • Circular Enlistment Place check availability
  • The Educational Term Of Enlistment check availability
  • The Light check availability
  • Nationwide Tour Of Duty check availability
  • Prolonged Turn Spot check availability
  • Triumphant Travelling check availability
  • The Provincial Turn check availability
  • Extended Itinerary Group check availability
  • Remarkable Duty Tour Spot check availability
  • Virtual Term Of Enlistment Trading Co check availability
  • Usual Term Of Enlistment Collective check availability
  • Virtual Trip Collective check availability
  • Brief Tour Of Duty Pro check availability
  • First Summer Pro check availability
  • Triumphal Term Of Enlistment Co check availability
  • Long Recess Spot check availability
  • Transatlantic Tourist check availability
  • The Provincial Spell check availability
  • Hour Spell check availability
  • Subsequent Term Of Enlistment Pro check availability
  • Second Spell Trading Co check availability
  • The Italian check availability
  • Turn Pro check availability
  • Recent check availability

Read our full guide on naming your tour company ➜

How To Create A Slogan For Your Tour Company:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your tour company:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your tour company:

  • Second And Deadened
  • From Tall To Brusque
  • Flight Is What We Do
  • What Can Tour Do For You?
  • Work Hard, Inspect Harder
  • Tours With Work
  • Tour For A Brighter Shine.
  • Last Tour, Redefined
  • Next To The Breast, Tour's The Best.
  • Work Hard, Stay Harder
  • Brief Tour, Redefined
  • Why Can't Everything Orange Be Tour?
  • First Excursion, Day Go
  • Journey Is What We Do
  • Extensive Tour, Let's Start Today!
  • Package Is What We Do
  • Tours With Order
  • Shift Is What We Do
  • Tour, Not That Other Crap.
  • Too Orangey For Tour.
  • Paseo Is What We Do
  • Second Tour, We Are Here
  • Short Spins Are What We Do
  • The Tour Look.
  • That's Handy, Harry! Stick It In The Tour.
  • Designed For Tour, Engineered To Last.
  • Tour To Play It Safe.
  • Monsieur, With This Tour You Are Really Spoiling Us.
  • Tours With Care
  • Presentation Is What We Do
  • Whatever You're Into, Get Into Tour.
  • Put Of The Spell
  • Takes A Tour But It Keeps On Tickin'.
  • Made To Make Your Tour Water.
  • Schhh... You Know Tour.
  • Stop! This Tour Is Not Ready Yet!
  • Long Postings Are What We Do
  • Tour One Size Fits All.
  • Takes A Tour But It Keeps On Tickin'.
  • Next Is What We Do
  • Refresher Is What We Do
  • Tours With While
  • Tour For The Masses.
  • From Second To Offset
  • From First To Instant
  • Extensive Itinerary, Last Trips
  • Work Hard, Visits Harder
  • Tour, One For All.
  • Endless Possibilities With Tour.
  • I'm Lovin' Tour.
  • Tour Will Live On Forever.
  • Long Curfews Are What We Do
  • Tour Reaching For The Stars.
  • Spot Of The Itinerary
  • Ho Ho Ho, Green Tour.
  • You Wouldn't Want To Miss Tour.
  • From Night To Sidereal Day
  • Tour Can Do.
  • Work Hard, Guided Harder
  • Go To Work On A Tour.
  • Second And Leaden
  • Roadshow Is What We Do

🎬 How To Start A Tour Company

article

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Tour Company

If you are planning to start a tour company, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of starting a tour company and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $3,091
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $41,723
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a tour company. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll Costs & Fees: Payroll cost means the expense of paying your employees, which includes salaries, wages, and other benefits. This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $150 $250
Employee Hiring Expenses: Apart from payroll and benefits, there are other hiring employees costs. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any other turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $1 $2
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $151 (min) $252 (max)
Equipment & Supply Expenses
Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time. $500 $5,000
Total Equipment & Supply Expenses $500 (min) $5,000 (max)
Website Costs
Website Builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $10 $500
Web Design: Web design includes several different aspects, including webpage layout, content creation, and design elements.If you have the skills and knowledge to design your website on your own, then outsourcing this to an expert may not be necessary. There are plenty of other ways you can design a beautiful website using design tools and software. $200 $6,000
A Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website. $12 $200
Business Email Hosting Service: An email hosting runs a dedicated email server. Once you have your domain name, you can set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are G Suite and Microsoft 365 Suite. The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $1 $15
Website Hosting Costs: Server hosting is an IT service typically offered by a cloud service provider that hosts the website information and allows remote access through the internet. A hosted server can help you scale up and increase your business’s efficacy, relieving you from the hassles of on-premise operations. $80 $300
Total Website Costs $303 (min) $7,015 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your tour company. $50 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Total Business Formation Fees $600 (min) $4,700 (max)
Vehicle Expenses
Mode of Transporation: For your tour company you'll need to rent or purchase an operating vehicle such as a van, vessel, RV, or enclosed trailer. $0 $10,000
Total Vehicle Expenses $0 (min) $10,000 (max)
Retail Business Expenses
Utilities (storefront business): This refers to the cost of monthly utilities for your storefront location, which is typically based on a per-square-footage rate. $0 $1,000
Building improvements and remodeling: If you plan to operate a physical location, you may find yourself dealing with building improvements and remodeling costs. Even if these costs are minimal, this is something to consider when renting/buying a physical location. $0 $950
Storefront Property Rent: This refers to the storefront space you rent or buy for your business. The cost depends largely on the city and the size of the space. Keep in mind that other costs may be involved with your base rent and your lease will define additional expenses you are responsible for. $1,250 $3,500
POS System: Gone are the days of cash registers! Many businesses now use point-of-sale systems for their checkout needs and to track sales and inventory. Here is a list of the best POS systems for small businesses! $0 $1,200
Total Retail Business Expenses $1,250 (min) $6,650 (max)
Advertising & Marketing Costs
Business Cards: A tour company involves quite a bit of customer interaction, whether that is attending tradeshows, sales calls or simply having face to face interaction with prospective clients. Business cards are a great way to stay front of mind with your clients. $0 $50
Business Signage: Business signs let people know they're in the right place and are one of the first impressions your customer will have of your business.The cost for signage depends on a variety of elements:- material- size- number of colors- durability- installation and laborThere are plenty of design tools and software to create your own signs, or you can hire a sign business to do this for you. $75 $2,486
Direct Campaigns, Printing and Mailing: Although it may sound old-school, traditional marketing methods can be a cost-effective way to drive awareness for your brand. This includes flyers, postcards, sales letters, coupons, special offers, catalogs and brochures. $0 $300
Press: If your business and story is unique enough, press and media attention may come to you, but odds are, you may need to do your own outreach and budget for this. We put together a guide here that discusses different press opportunities (both free and paid). $0 $500
Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns. $0 $300
Facebook & Instagram Ads: With Facebook and Instagram ads, you set your budget and pay for the actions you want (whether that be impressions, conversions, etc).You can learn more about pricing based on your impressions here. $0 $350
Total Advertising & Marketing Costs $75 (min) $3,986 (max)
Software Expenses
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here $0 $100
IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals. $150 $2,000
Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software system is used to track and analyze your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your business, implementing this, in the beginning, may set your business up for success and save you valuable time. $12 $300
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your tour company, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses! $0 $200
Total Software Expenses $162 (min) $2,720 (max)
Other Expenses
Credit Card Processing Fees: If you process credit cards then you will need to deal with interchange fees - which is usually around 3% of total charges. These fees are often forgotten about and can hurt cash flow if not taken into account. $0 $300
Time!: Time is money! When starting a business, think about how much time you are spending on certain tasks that could be delegated to another team member or automated. Additionally, spending too much time on tasks that aren't associated with revenue is a hidden cost of running a business. $0 $500
Total Other Expenses $0 (min) $800 (max)
Office Space Expenses
WiFi & Internet: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is essential. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $50 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $50 (min) $100 (max)
Specific Industry Expenses
Handyman Tools: To start your tour company, you will need to have the essential tools to bring to each job. Here's a list of tools to get you started - you may find that you already have these in your tool-kit or garage! $0 $500
Total Specific Industry Expenses $0 (min) $500 (max)
Total Starting Costs $3,091 (min) $41,723 (max)

Raising Money For Your Tour Company

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your tour company:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your tour company.

In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.

So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?

This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**

Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business

Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:

  • Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
  • Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
  • Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
  • Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
  • Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!

Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article

Crowdfunding

For your tour company, a common way to raise money is through crowdfunding.

So, what does it mean to crowdfund your small business?

Crowdfunding refers to funding a project through many individual investors.

Here are some items to keep in mind when planning your campaign:

  • Sell more than just your product. Sell your passion, your vision, and your story.
  • Be real. Give your community honest details about your product.
  • Treat your audience as your friends (not just potential customers)
  • Put together a great presentation - it will attract people quicker.

To launch a successful crowdfunding campaign, you first need to select the type of crowdfunding platform to host your campaign.

Here are the most popular crowdfunding platforms to raise money on:

Kickstarter

Funding platform for creative projects.

Businesses using Kickstarter:

56 successful businesses are using Kickstarter ➜

Get Kickstarter ➜

Indiegogo

Crowdfunding platform for innovations in tech and design.

Businesses using Indiegogo:

20 successful businesses are using Indiegogo ➜

Get Indiegogo ➜

StartEngine

Crowdfunding platform that has helped more than 350 companies raise $175M+ from a community of over 250,000 prospective investors.

Businesses using StartEngine:

1 successful business is using StartEngine ➜

Get StartEngine ➜

We connected with one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns, Photobooth Supply Co, and asked founder, Brandon Wong to give us some insight on his strategy:

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Product first, campaign second

So with all of those positive benefits of the platform figured out, we wanted to make sure we had the product itself in the right place before we launched.

We’ve been working on Salsa for a long time now and wouldn’t have felt comfortable revealing the ability to pay for it until we hit a very important milestone. We had a final prototype.

Doing all of the sourcing and actual production is secondary—there was absolutely no way we could have gone public without people being able to see real photos (and touch in person) a functioning prototype.

This meant that we had to do all of the development before we ever saw a cent.

Finding backers in the real world

We launched the product at our annual Booth Summit, which is a convention for photobooth owners to get together and learn from experts in the field. Launching a product in a receptive environment is generally considered to be a good idea. The same was definitely true for us!

We had a crowd of people who had just told us they were dedicated to growing their business… and we had the chance to offer them a way to do just that. I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make products that matter for people who will care about them.

This opportunity to see the product in real life was an essential component for our launch, but it might not be the same for you. I think it just shows how essential having a great prototype is. People love to touch and feel what they’re buying, if you’re talking about something physical… you should be able to show a prototype before you ask for money.

Building excitement with even the smallest backers.

We knew that we wanted to have a ton of incentives for early backers so that they’d be rewarded for taking a leap of faith on a new photobooth.

We’re obviously not making a whole lot of money on that first $1999 tier. But it enabled people to be part of something fun.

Every $1999 backer is always going to be able to say, not just that they got a great deal, but that they were one of the first to get on board. It means a lot more than a discount code expiring—just look at how frustrated people are on Twitter when a limited stock of rewards is secretly gobbled up.

Kickstarter doesn’t reveal the names of backers, but it humanizes them. And it just adds to the fun of getting your own spot! Even for someone backing now, they’re able to say that they were an early adopter.

Delivering on our promise

One of the most common critiques of Kickstarter items is that they either never show up or that they take years. I wanted to make sure that our timeline was easy to deliver and also reasonable.

Nobody deserves to wait two years for your product after they pay for it. I felt like we needed to offer a much quicker turnaround than that. We launched on Black Friday 2018 with an estimated delivery of April 2019.

That’s under 6 months and much lower than the average Kickstarter! The most important thing is that we will be able to meet that timeline. You can’t go around promising delivery dates and missing them, this isn’t a consumer product.

Anytime you’re working with the events industry you have to be very transparent and up front about timelines. A bride who books a photobooth needs it to show up on her wedding day. It’s non-negotiable!

-  
Brandon Wong, on starting Photobooth Supply Co. ($300,000/month) full story ➜

VC Funding

VC funding is a traditional and long process, but an effective way to raise money for your business.

The term "VC funding" refers to venture capital firms investing in businesses in exchange for equity.

The VC's (venture capitalists) are an individual or small group investing in your business and typically require substantial ownership of the business, with the hope of seeing a return on their investment.

VC's are typically the best approach for businesses with high startup costs - where it would be very difficult to raise the money on your own or through a loan.

When deciding whether to take this approach, it's important that you have a few things in place first, and know what you're getting yourself into:

Determine if your business is ready

Having an idea is not enough to get VC funding.

Typically, VC's will check to make sure you have these things in place prior to closing any deal:

  • An MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
  • A founding team with all proper documents in place (articles of organization, business formation)
  • A validated idea with actual customers buying your product/service

Get everything in place and build a pitch deck

A VC individual or firm will be expecting a fine-tuned presentation that gives an overview of your business.

Here's what you should consider including in your pitch deck:

  • Management team, their previous experience + current roles in the business
  • Market challenge and solution
  • Company financials - including a P&L statement, cash flow statement, and projections
  • Company progress
  • Investment amount - how much do you need and why?

Research the right VC to fund your business

Research the types of VC investors out there and what niche they focus on.

Then, put together a list of target VC's you want to approach and your strategy around setting up meetings.

Be sure you have everything in place (as discussed above) before setting up any meeting!

Make sure the terms and expectations are right for your business

Committing to VC funding is a big deal and a decision that should not be made lightly.

Although the money and experience from VC's can help your business quickly grow, you are also giving away a stake in the company, and the money comes with strings attached.

Be sure you do your due diligence in finding the right investor - one that truly believes in the growth and success of your business.

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Starting A Tour Company?

As a tour company, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Business Savvy Skills

When starting a tour company, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:

  • Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
  • Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
  • Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
  • Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.

These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when starting a tour company.

For a full list, check out this article here.

Customer Service Skills

Friendly communication with customers and the ability to address service issues is a critical part of the job.

Here are some customer service skills you may want to consider prior to starting a tour company:

  • Professionalism: The way you act, present yourself, and respond to situations all leave an impression on your customer. It's important to stay professional at all times when handling customer requests or issues.
  • Problem-solving: When issues arise, it's important that you are able to think quick on your feet and address the situation with a calm and clear solution
  • Friendly-manner: This is an obvious one, but customers truly appreciate someone that can respond in a quick, efficient, and friendly manner.
  • Proficient in writing: These skills include the ability to write well-crafted emails, service tickets, and any other programs used by the business (ie. chat functions, SMS texting)

Self Motivation Skills

Self motivation and discipline skills are critical in order to become successful in this field.

It's likely that you will find yourself starting and running your tour company from home, which could mean there are more distractions for you.

Here are the basic skills needed for self motivation & discipline:

  • Becoming a self starter: It's important that you are capable of independently completing a task without the help or direction of anyone else
  • Listening and following directions: When you are given direction by others, it's critical that you are able to follow directions and ask the right questions in order to get your job done
  • Taking the initiative in problem solving: Instead of taking the easy route, you'll need to learn to troubleshoot issues on your own as much as possible.

*Negotiation Skills

The ability to negotiate on behalf of your client will be an essential part of your every day job.

This is one of the most important qualities you can have when starting a tour company, so it's important you practice and perfect these skills.

Here's what this looks like:

  • Ability to analyze all parts of the deal: your biggest power is to understand and analyze all parts of the deal for your client, choose when to walk away, and know to what lengths you can negotiate a deal.
  • Building rapport: This is key in the tour company. You are much likely to reach an agreement and favorable terms if you spend just a few moments getting to know each other before talking about the deal at stake.
  • Be diplomatic: Being in control of any situation presented and showing intention with your words are key qualities for someone in this line of work. This includes asking good questions and listening actively.

Becoming a good negotiator does not happen overnight, but as long as you are persistent with practicing these skills and putting them into action, you will see growth day by day!

Advice For Starting A Tour Company

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a tour company:

Manoj Tulsani, founder of Rayna Tours ($35M/month):

Don’t let people discourage or doubt your capabilities. Believe in yourself and always be willing to listen to the unique demands of your customers.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Claire Robinson, founder of StructurInfo (ZigZag Road Trips) ($9K/month):

I did not scatter and try doing all the social media platforms. I made choices. This is really important. You can’t do everything well. And depending on your strategy, not all the options are pertinent.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Mark E. Johnson, founder of Hobnail Trekking Co. ($1.8K/month):

Be open to opportunity. I’m convinced that God put me into that Lyft vehicle with Dawa for a reason.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Alexandra Kenin, founder of Urban Hiker SF ($3.75K/month):

Take actionable steps toward your goals every day and you’ll make progress. Also, once you get started, you’ll meet people along your way to help you. You won’t necessarily find those people if you’re only doing research and not actually launching.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Tom Shott, founder of Front Desk USA ($10K/month):

If you believe in your idea and yourself, go for it. Figure out how to make it work. Start as a side hustle and grow your idea. It has never been a better time to start your own business or build a billion dollar brand.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your tour company.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

Setting Up Your Tour Company (Formation and Legal)

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeLTRncS90ptpfi/giphy.gif

To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Tour Service

One of the most challenging aspects to starting a tour company is determining how much to charge for your tour service.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your tour service, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your tour service so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your tour service may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your tour service, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your tour company to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your tour service is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your tour service fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your tour service, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Gross Margin Calculator: How to Calculate The Gross Margin For Your Tour Service

Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.

The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand what is considered a healthy gross margin for your tour company.

Calculate your gross margin and profit margin here.

Design A Prototype

Turning your idea into a reality can feel like a daunting task - but it's critical that you have an idea of what your product will look like (even if it's just a sketch) prior to finding a manufacturer.

Here are some common ways you can design your prototype:

  • Draw Your Initial Design on Paper
  • Form pieces of fabric together
  • Consider Taking A Generic Product And Putting Your Own Brand On It
  • Try Making the Product Yourself
  • Consider Building A Prototype With A 3D Printer

To learn more about how to design and prototype a product, check out our latest guide here.

Alexandra Kenin, founder of Urban Hiker SF dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

To appear like I was a more established business, I wanted to launch my tour business with three tours, but I knew I had to start with one—and I wanted that tour to be perfect.

First I needed to settle on a distance. I figured 5 miles could work as many people could hike that distance. I also wanted the tour to be 2.5-3 hours so that people could fit a hike in between meals and so they wouldn’t be too tired afterward.

I try to start my day by writing down three things I want to accomplish for my business. These can be small things like making sure to email a potential client, updating something on my website, or writing a part of my new book.

Twin Peaks is a scenic overlook in San Francisco and a major tourist area, so I knew I wanted the hike to go there. And I figured the Castro neighborhood (SF’s gay neighborhood and an appealing tourist attraction) would be a central place to start the hike. Then I decided to find the most interesting way to get from the Castro to Twin Peaks and back.

I found two other panoramic hilltops, a eucalyptus forest, and a bunch of stairways to make the hike interesting. I beta tested my initial route with friends and family and got feedback. One person suggested I should do the tour in the reverse order (clockwise vs. counterclockwise) and that was a great suggestion.

I then added 10 history stops along the tour so that people could learn while they were hiking. After all of this work, I had to memorize the route and the history. None of this cost any money, but it did take a bunch of my time—about a month in all.

I then repeated the process to create two other tours. I identified good, central start points, a few “anchor points” (key scenic points along the way), and history notes, and was able to launch three tours.

In terms of regulation, I spoke with a lawyer to see if I should do a sole proprietorship or LLC and I decided to go with a sole proprietorship and get insurance to cover potential legal issues. I officially registered my business with the city of San Francisco and bought tour insurance.

-  
Alexandra Kenin, on starting Urban Hiker SF ($3,750/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Tour Company

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Traditional Launch Strategies For Your Tour Company:

There are various different ways you can launch your tour company successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your tour company:

  • Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
  • Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
  • Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
  • Live sales to get customers excited
  • Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.

Mark E. Johnson, founder of Hobnail Trekking Co. dives deep into the process of launching the business:

Since we don’t sell a physical product, our goal was to create marketing that was appealing to Westerners who expect a certain standard in how they research, register, and pay for things.

Be open to opportunity. I’m convinced that God put me into that Lyft vehicle with Dawa for a reason.

Holly and I spent several months working out an online booking process and building our website. We also created branded materials that we would provide as part of our package, including caps, shirts, and a custom duffel bag built to the specifications of the Sherpas. (Having a background in graphic design has served me well in this respect.)

We started by creating a website and booking a local venue to have an informational meeting about trekking in Nepal. This could only work if Dawa was a part of it. Even better, Dawa’s entire family, including his wife, new baby, and parents attended and cooked authentic Nepali food for the participants.

Almost 30 people attended the meeting!

This got the ball rolling. The plan was for Holly and me to handle marketing and all the logistics on the American side. We take care of booking, processing payments, organizing social events and training hikes for each group, and generally putting people at ease about their decision. Dawa is essentially a subcontractor who we hire as our Nepali-side representative. He organizes a team of guides and porters, book hotels and tea houses, and handles other logistics in Nepal. With his experience in the trekking industry, mine in marketing, and Holly’s in administration, we knew we could make it work, and it has. Dawa also has a business partner in Kathmandu who helps him book hotels, flights, and tea houses, and keeps their financials.

After the initial informational meeting, we began conducting a series of events in outdoor retail stores across the Southeast U.S., which we still do today. We were featured in several newspapers and on a regional TV show and had developed strategic partnerships with other like-minded businesses.

By October, we had booked a full trek of 15 people, including ourselves, that would depart in March 2018. Almost all of these trekkers had come from the meetings we had created.

After returning from the trek (unbelievable), we were able to book another group for the Fall 2018 trekking season and began plans for 2019.

Since launching, the company has grossed close to $60K, most of which has gone back into the business to cover start-up costs, etc.

We have done all this while Holly kept her job as a nonprofit administrator and I also built websites and worked as a freelance writer. We hope that, within five years, Holly will be able to work with Hobnail full time and that we may be able to also employ our kids.

-  
Mark E. Johnson, on starting Hobnail Trekking Co. ($1,800/month) full story ➜

Get Press Coverage For Your Tour Company

The more buzz around your brand - the more the phones ring, the more traffic to your website, and the more customers as a result.

Here are a few ways you can get press for your business:

Press releases:

Press releases are a great way to share big announcements or news, but in order to get any traction, you'll need to find a way to make your press release stand out amongst others.

Try to convey a story that really matters, not just to you, but to the reporter and to their audience.

Here are some things to consider when submitting a press release:

  • Craft a catchy subject (keep it short and sweet).
  • Acknowledge the journalist's past work and interests - this is key!
  • Include the main point of the story in the first paragraph, heck, even the first sentence. Reporters want to hear the juice first and foremost.
  • Focus on the facts and try to limit the amount of jargon used.
  • Pitch yourself! Help them put a face to the story.
  • Make sure your topic is newsworthy. If it's not, find a way to!
  • Try not to include any attachments of your release!

Email is one of the most effective and preferred way to send your press release, so as long as you keep your pitch brief, interesting and personalized (no cold emails), you should stand a chance!

Get Press Using HARO

HARO, otherwise known as "Help a Reporter Out" is an outlet for journalists to source upcoming stories and opportunities for media coverage.

The best part is, HARO is free to use! There are, of course, premium versions you can purchase, but the free version is still an accessible way to get press.

Once you set up an account, HARO essentially will email you based on stories (that are relevant to you) that need to be covered where you will then have a chance to essentially "bid on the story."

Here are some tips when crafting your pitch:

  • Discuss your experience and expertise in the space. Make sure it's obvious why you're relevant to this story.
  • Answer the question in 3-4 sentences. Try and be as direct as possible
  • Offer to provide the reporter with more information and make sure to give them your contact info

Plan a Publicity Stunt

Planning a publicity stunt is an effective and quick way to raise awareness for your brand and gain some traction from the press.

If you're looking to plan a stunt, the objective should be to be bold and create something memorable

However, being bold has a fine line - it's important that you consider the timing of your stunt to ensure you don't come off insensitive or unethical. For example, timing may not be in your favor if you plan something during the general election, or in most recent cases, a global pandemic.

In order to measure the success of your stunt, it's important that you first determine your end goal, for example:

  • Is the stunt aimed to raise money for your business or a particular organization?
  • Is the stunt aimed to drive more traffic to your website?
  • Is the stunt aimed to get more followers and engagement on Instagram?

Here are a few tips for creating a great publicity stunt:

  • Research to ensure that there haven't been similar stunts done in the past by other businesses - this could easily turn off journalists and your audience.
  • Make sure you can explain the stunt in one headline - this will help grab the media's attention. In other words, simplify!
  • The stunt should be related to the product you are promoting. Even if the stunt is a success in terms of viewers, but it doesn't tie back to your original goal, then it's not useful.
  • Keep the stunt visual with videos/images.
  • Leverage the internet and social media platforms for your stunt by sharing your message across a variety of audiences. This will help with word of mouth and the overall success of your event.

To learn other strategies on how to get press, check out our full guide here.

🌱 How To Grow Your Tour Company

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Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to tour company.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

Experiment With Pay Per Click Ads (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) is a performance-based marketing method that allows you to show specific ads for services or products oriented to a very defined target, with the goal that the user visits your website or landing page.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Consider connecting the ad to your corresponding landing page so that the audience receives the necessary information after clicking on the ad.
  • Conversion Tracking: When running PPC campaigns, be sure to run the ads with conversion tracking.
  • Focus on quality keywords, even if there are few as this will save you time and money. When assessing the performance of a keyword, it's important to track the expense, conversion, and cost per conversion, as well as the ROI.

PPC advertising can be a very important lead generator as long as it's done properly. Your PPC campaign is intended to drive traffic to your website and help the business scale.

Additionally, if the campaign is not having the desired results, you can make the necessary changes immediately to improve them.

Ryan Schortmann, founder of Display Pros talks about their investment in PPC Ads:

My name is Ryan Schortmann and I’m the founder of Display Pros. We are a custom trade show display booth company offering easy to use portable display “kits” for small and medium businesses wanting to get into the trade show game.

It did not take long to come to the realization that to compete at any reasonable level, we were going to need to take the plunge and invest in Pay Per Click ads and display.

From experience, I know that it is important to give Google’s hivemind some time to settle in before each campaign starts seeing consistent results (this is largely dependent on budget).

A certain amount of PPC budget must be viewed as a “marketing research” expense and then you can look at the analytics data and make informed decisions on where to refine, tweak or plain scrap an idea.

Google Shopping was an entirely new concept for me. You can’t assign keywords to products so at first, I was asking myself “How the hell do you refine these?”. Then I found some good reading material and courses and learned of some advanced methods that the pros are using. It turns out you can utilize negative keyword lists combined with the priority setting on each shopping campaign to “shape” the keywords that are coming in and how much you are spending on them.

To learn more about PPC Ads and Google Shopping, check out this video to learn everything you need to know!

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Ryan Schortmann, on starting Display Pros ($30,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.

We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Abandonded Cart Flow

The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.

Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.

Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."

Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.

Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.

Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:

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Things they do well:

  • Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
  • Offer a small discount + free shipping
  • Great design + clear call to actions!

Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your tour company.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here and check out Neil Patel's 3 Powerful SEO Tips below

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Tour Company

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How To Retain Customers For Your Tour Company

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your tour company.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your tour company:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Alexandra Kenin, founder of Urban Hiker SF dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

For getting clients, as mentioned above, my main customer acquisition channels are my own website and partner sites like TripAdvisor and Viator.

To attract customers to my website, I do a regular Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit using free resources like this Google SEO Guide and Wix SEO Guide. A few example SEO exercises I do are:

  1. Use the Google Search Console to understand my search performance and see if Google encountered are any errors crawling my site.
  2. Make sure that my page titles will display properly in search and that my meta descriptions make for good search result snippets.
  3. Use Google Analytics to see which keywords drew people to my site and try to place those keywords on my site (when natural, not forced).

I’m still far from an expert, so I may use an SEO expert in the future to further optimize my site.

Additionally, I regularly ask customers for TripAdvisor review, so I can continue to rank highly on that site.

Another big revenue channel (also mentioned above) for me is Destination Management Companies. These DMCs may only have one client for me a month, but I can earn $1,000 or more in a few hours each time I work with them.

For bigger groups like those that come from DMCs, I team up with a partner company Tam Hiking Tours. Together, Debra, Tam Hiking Tours’ founder, and I can handle groups of 40+ people. We add up all the profits and split them. We come to each other with requests for big groups—we’ve found it’s a great way to share business and still do well financially.

A few times a year, I do dating hikes with Match.com. On these hikes, 10-20 people show up and go on a hike and group date. That’s been fun and adds to my quarterly revenue.

For PR, I found the most effective way to get press was through San Francisco’s visitors bureau, San Francisco Travel. I pay $350 for an annual membership with them and they occasionally send journalists my way. When I take a journalist on a tour for free or for a discounted media rate, they often write about my business on their blog or in a magazine or newspaper article.

I do social media just to have a presence—it doesn’t often result in tours. I think I’ve booked 1-2 tours ever from social media. Still, I maintain profiles on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

In terms of email, I send out a quarterly newsletter to my hikers. I have about 1,500 people on my email list. I don’t have many repeat customers since people are often out-of-town guests and don’t live in San Francisco. Still, these folks can always refer me to their friends or colleagues who are visiting San Francisco. I can also refer them to other non-location-specific items I sell like t-shirts. My book, Urban Trails San Francisco, can be a popular gift, so I use the newsletter to promote the book, and people buy the book and give it to friends.

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Alexandra Kenin, on starting Urban Hiker SF ($3,750/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a tour company is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

How To Crush The Sales Process For Your Tour Company

You may find yourself in a spot where you're ready to hire a few (or many) salespeople to support the sales conversion process.

Regardless if you have one or thirty salespeople, it's critical that you assign them specific roles and responsibilities to nurture the client and provide excellent support.

Mike Korba, co-founder of User.Com walks us through the entire sales process and which teams are responsible for what:

User.com Sales Process

Each user and account is qualified with a specialist. For business leads, they are handled by the sales team, and if they are qualified we give them a demo, more than often at the end of their fourteen-day trial. If they’re happy they’ll add a payment, and get an account manager, so a customer support and success team who will help implement the solution and to use the technology.

Sometimes, users will convert naturally on their own, after using the freemium product and finding it to be something that they will find beneficial.

After they convert, we help with onboarding, give them some personalized tips for their specific business or industry to grow plus all kinds of support, for whatever they need - something we take huge pride in.

The team is right now more than 30 people, with more than half working on the IT and product side, and the rest are in three teams: Support, Marketing, and Sales who all work together very closely.

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Mike Korba, on starting User.com ($100,000/month) full story ➜

Build a Referral Program

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.

A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.

A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.

Authenticity

As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.

Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.

Be Authentic

If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.

There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.

Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.

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Valentin Ozich, on starting I Love Ugly ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your tour company.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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