23 Tour Company Success Stories

Updated: November 19th, 2023
Start A Tour Company

Starting a tour company is a great way to bring your love of travel to life. You can share your passion with others and help make their dream vacations come true!

There are many types of tour businesses, so choosing something you are passionate about and knowledgeable about is best. Here are a few of the most popular tour companies to start:

  • Food & Drink Tours
  • Adventure & Sporting Tours
  • Sightseeing & Historical Tours
  • Shopping Tours
  • and many more!

It’s also essential to determine what mode of transportation you want for your tour company, as this will determine the initial startup costs needed for your company.

To get started, find out if you need a license to operate in your state. Some states require tour companies to be licensed, while others do not. If you are required to be licensed, talk with the licensing agency to find out what steps must be taken before you can apply for that license.

Let's take a look at the success stories of some tour companies on how they started from zero to where they are now.

1. Urban Hiker SF ($45K/year)

After leaving her job at Google, Alexandra Kenin took time off to explore San Francisco and realized that others might want to experience the city's hidden gems. With inspiration from local hiking groups, Airbnb experiences, and coupon promotions, she started Urban Hiker SF, offering urban hiking tours that have attracted thousands of tourists and corporate clients, generating up to $8,000 per month in revenue during the peak tourist season. Alexandra also established herself as an expert on hiking in San Francisco by writing a book and partnering with travel marketplaces and DMCs.

How much they make: $45K/year
Current team size: 0

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Leaving Google And Starting A Hiking Tour Business

Alexandra Kenin started Urban Hiker SF in 2012, offering urban hiking tours around San Francisco and making $40,000 to $45,000 every year, with corporate tours being the biggest money maker, and has also written a book, Urban Trails San Francisco, which has sold over 8,000 copies since its launch in 2016.

About
Alexandra started Urban Hiker SF over 11 years ago
Revenue
Alexandra grew the business to $3.75K/month
Read by 8,610 founders

2. StructurInfo (ZigZag Road Trips) ($108K/year)

Claire Robinson, founder of StructurInfo, came up with the idea for her travel blogging business after realizing the frustrations travelers had with traditional travel guides. She launched her own collection of curated road trip guides, offering practical information and stunning visuals to make trip planning easier. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Claire's business was thriving, with an average monthly revenue of $9,000 pre-quarantine.

How much they make: $108K/year
Current team size: 1

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How I Started A $9K/Month Blog With Curated Road Trip Travel Guides

French founder Claire Robinson generates an average monthly revenue of $9,000 from her travel blogging business, StructurInfo, which focuses on road trip planning; Robinson offers her own authored travel guides and has developed her business through search engine optimisation and dedicated customer focus.

About
Claire started StructurInfo (ZigZag Road Trips) over 8 years ago
Revenue
Claire grew the business to $9K/month
Read by 6,976 founders

So... can you actually make money with a tour company?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now

3. Rayna Tours ($6M/year)

Manoj Tulsani and Kamlesh Ramchandani, founders of Rayna Tours and Travels, started their business a decade ago with no experience in the travel industry. Despite the challenges, they grew their venture into one of the UAE's leading destination management companies, earning over $40 million per year. Their success is attributed to their focus on exceptional customer experience, strategic investments in their own infrastructure, and the use of advanced technology to provide convenient travel services.

How much they make: $6M/year
Current team size: 670

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How We Started The $35M/Year Dubai's Leading Tour Operator

Rayna Tours and Travels, founded by Kamlesh Ramchandani and Manoj Tulsani, began its journey as a small travel counter inside a Dubai hotel, and has now grown into one of the UAE’s leading destination management companies with earnings exceeding $40 million per year.

About
Manoj started Rayna Tours about 18 years ago
Revenue
Manoj grew the business to $500K/month
Read by 6,411 founders

4. Hobnail Trekking Co. ($60K/year)

Mark Johnson, the least qualified person to start an adventure travel company, got the idea for Hobnail Trekking after meeting a Nepalese man in a Lyft ride who happened to be an Everest Region Sherpa. Realizing there were no regional trekking companies offering treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp, Johnson, along with his wife and the Nepalese man, decided to create their own company with Johnson handling the marketing and web development, his wife managing finances, and the man handling the trekking logistics in Nepal.

How much they make: $60K/year
Current team size: 1

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How We Are Building A Side Hustle Facilitating Treks In The Himalayas

Hobnail Trekking Co. is a side-hustle adventure travel company that offers treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp and has sent 23 Americans on this journey, while grossing close to $60k since launch.

About
Mark started Hobnail Trekking Co. about 7 years ago
Revenue
Mark grew the business to $5K/month
Read by 5,533 founders

So... can you actually make money with a tour company?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now

5. Arara Tour ($132K/year)

Nune Tatunts, the founder of Arara Tour, started her travel company in Armenia in 2014. Through hard work and dedication, Arara Tour has become one of the leading tour operators in Armenia, with branch offices in Georgia and Uzbekistan. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 in 2020, the company was on track to double its revenue from the previous year, showcasing their success in the tourism industry.

How much they make: $132K/year
How much did it cost to start: $7K
Current team size: 8

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How We Started A $22K/Month Travel Company Selling Tours Around Armenia, Caucasus And Central Asia

Araratour, led by Nune Tatunts, experienced impressive revenue growth, doubling its 2018 revenue to bring in $13,000 a month in 2019, offering combined tours around the Caucasus and Central Asia, and now has an office in three countries.

About
Tatev started Arara Tour almost 10 years ago
Revenue
Tatev grew the business to $11K/month
Costs
It cost Tatev $7000 to start the business
Read by 5,444 founders

6. Front Desk USA ($120K/year)

Tom Shott came up with the idea for Front Desk USA after realizing there was a demand for a product that hotels could provide to their guests with local information. He saw an opportunity to improve the existing map publication and purchased Front Desk USA in 2001, expanding it to over 100 maps nationwide. The success of the business has led to the development of a digital model and plans for further expansion in the future.

How much they make: $120K/year
Current team size: 9

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How I Built A $10K/Month Visitor Guide Map Business

Front Desk USA, a visitor map publication that offers full color customized maps to the hospitality industry, has expanded from Texas to over 100 maps nationwide, catering to over 1,000 hotels, tens of thousands of hotel guests and has created over $10,000 in earnings per map for publishers.

About
Tom started Front Desk USA about 25 years ago
Revenue
Tom grew the business to $10K/month
Read by 4,379 founders

So... can you actually make money with a tour company?

Of course. There are millions to be made in this industry.

But how?

  1. Research real, profitable businesses and see exactly how much money they make.
  2. Study exactly what works, and what doesn’t.
  3. Take action, because now you have the roadmap.

Join Starter Story and build your next big thing:

Start Now

7. Delicious Denver Food Tours ($900K/year)

Jessica Baumgart, the founder of Delicious Denver Food Tours, came up with the idea for her business after realizing her passion for food and travel while backpacking through 25 countries on a year-long trip around the world. With a background in marketing and communications, she began teaching cooking classes and eventually launched a food tour in Denver, which quickly gained popularity and now generates $20,000/month in revenue. Through relationship building with local restaurants and positive reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor, Baumgart has been able to attract and retain customers for her successful food tour business.

How much they make: $900K/year
How much did it cost to start: $2K
Current team size: 3

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How I Started A Wildly Successful Food Tour Business

How Jessica Baumgart founded a successful food tour business in Denver, which broke even and started making a profit after just three months, generating $20,000/month in revenue from offering different food tour experiences.

About
Jessica started Delicious Denver Food Tours about 6 years ago
Revenue
Jessica grew the business to $75K/month
Costs
It cost Jessica $2000 to start the business
Read by 19,062 founders

8. Envi Adventures ($456K/year)

Corey Rust, founder of Envi Adventures, came up with the idea for his air tour business after realizing the potential in offering scenic flights over Multnomah Falls in Oregon, a highly visited tourist spot with heavy traffic. Despite facing initial skepticism, Rust started the business with minimal funds, creating a basic website and social media presence to generate interest. After a long search for an airplane, he finally found one and obtained the necessary approvals to launch his business, which has since experienced significant growth, reaching a revenue of over $30,000 per month in its second year.

How much they make: $456K/year
How much did it cost to start: $300
Current team size: 3

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How Corey Rust Started A Profitable Flight Tours Business

Envi Adventures, a Troutdale, Oregon-based air tour business, grew from making $7,000 in a month in its first year to over $30,000 a month in its second year, using Instagram and influencer marketing to create an interactive, personalized experience for guests.

About
Corey started Envi Adventures almost 7 years ago
Revenue
Corey grew the business to $38K/month
Costs
It cost Corey $300 to start the business
Read by 9,095 founders

9. Wander New Mexico Food Tours ($120K/year)

Joe Griffith, founder of Wander New Mexico Food Tours, came up with the idea for his business when he and his wife decided to leave their corporate jobs and move to Santa Fe. Recognizing the potential in the tourism market, Griffith initially planned to start a bike tour company but ultimately decided on a walking food tour due to its higher demand, lower risk, and his passion for finding and eating at great restaurants. Since launching in 2016, the business has experienced impressive growth, with over $30K/mo in sales during peak months and a 70% year-over-year growth rate.

How much they make: $120K/year
Current team size: 1

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How I Started A Walking Food Tour Business Growing 70% Year Over Year

Wander New Mexico Food Tours, founded by Joe Griffith, has grown 70% year over year since launching its first walking food tour in 2016; in peak months this past summer, the company did over $30K/mo in sales, and has gained the #1 tour ranking in Santa Fe on TripAdvisor as well as being named by USAToday as one of the “10 Must-Try Food Tours in North America.”

About
Joe started Wander New Mexico Food Tours about 8 years ago
Revenue
Joe grew the business to $10K/month
Read by 9,894 founders

13. Free Walking Tour Italia ($118K/year)

Alessandro Ferrari (from Modena) started Free Walking Tour Italia over 5 years ago.

Revenue
$9.81K / month
Team
3 founders / 3 employees

Case Study

We are 3 young Italian travelers in love with eagerness to explore the world and their country who think that traveling should be allowed to everybody, despite how big the pocket is.

how-three-friends-started-a-10k-month-free-walking-tours-business-in-italy

11. Under30Experiences ($3.6M/year)

Matt Wilson, co-founder of Under30Experiences, came up with the travel company idea after going on a life-changing trip to Iceland. He saw the opportunity to bring his community of young entrepreneurs on similar retreats, and after organizing a successful trip to Iceland, the idea caught on and the business took off.

How much they make: $3.6M/year
How much did it cost to start: $5K
Current team size: 5

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How We Started A $300K/Month Business Organizing Trips For Young People

Under30Experiences is a travel company for people aged 21-35 that runs small group trips around the world, with over 800 five-star reviews on Facebook, Google, and Yelp combined, and nearly hitting $5M in revenue before the COVID-19 pandemic.

About
Matt started Under30Experiences almost 12 years ago
Revenue
Matt grew the business to $300K/month
Costs
It cost Matt $5000 to start the business
Read by 9,874 founders

12. Secret Food Tours ($120K/year)

Nico Jacquart and Oliver Levene, founders of Secret Food Tours, came up with the idea when they realized that many of their friends traveling to Paris or London would ask them for recommendations on where to eat. After testing the market with a quickly created website and selling their first ticket within hours, they knew they had a winning concept. Now, Secret Food Tours has launched over 80 tours in more than 50 cities worldwide and continues to experience 100% year-on-year growth.

How much they make: $120K/year
How much did it cost to start: $3K
Current team size: 4

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How We Started A $10K/Month Food Tour Business

Serial entrepreneur Nico Jacquart shares how he and his partner validated and grew a global food tour company with tours in more than 50 cities worldwide, experiencing year on year growth of 100%.

About
Nico started Secret Food Tours about 11 years ago
Revenue
Nico grew the business to $10K/month
Costs
It cost Nico $3000 to start the business
Read by 6,021 founders

13. ToursByLocals ($97.3M/year)

How much they make: $97.3M/year
Current team size: 290

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Paul Melhus of ToursByLocals On How To Create A Travel Experience That Keeps People Coming Back For More

ToursByLocals offers customized private tours in over 190 countries with 1700 handpicked tour guides, serving more than 220,000 customers worldwide.

About
They started ToursByLocals over 15 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $8.11M/month
Read by 718 founders

14. Intrepid Travel ($520M/year)

How much they make: $520M/year
Current team size: 1260

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Responsible And Resilient: Intrepid Travel Shows Doing Good Is Also Good For Business

Intrepid Travel is the biggest adventure tour operator that generates $43 million in annual revenue, offering more than 1,150 sustainable and experience-rich trips worldwide and, since 2002, raising over AUD 12 million for 135 charities worldwide through The Intrepid Foundation.

About
They started Intrepid Travel about 35 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $43.3M/month
Read by 774 founders

15. Kiwi.com ($432M/year)

How much they make: $432M/year
Current team size: 1500

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Sky is the limit with Oliver Dlouhy (CEO & Co-Founder, Kiwi.com)

Kiwi.com uses its cutting-edge Virtual Interlining algorithm to combine flights on legacy and low-cost airlines into a single itinerary, helping customers find better route options and prices with 2 billion daily price checks, 100 million daily searches, and over 50,000 daily seat sales.

About
They started Kiwi.com about 12 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $36M/month
Read by 571 founders

16. RoundAbout Travel ($6M/year)

How much they make: $6M/year
Current team size: 1

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How a 23-year-old Quit his Job to Build a $6M Online Travel Agency

This case study features Australia's first round-the-world airfare specialist, which generated $900,000 in revenue during its first year and has since expanded to five brands, accumulating over $50 million in annual revenue, all started by a 23-year-old who quit his job as a travel agent.

About
They started RoundAbout Travel over 15 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $500K/month
Read by 852 founders

17. Gifted Travel Network ($500K/year)

How much they make: $500K/year
How much did it cost to start: $100K
Current team size: 22

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How Meredith Hill brought the travel agency back to relevancy

Gifted Travel Network generated $30 million in sales from travel reservations made using their credentials in 2019, promoting travel entrepreneurship through offering professional development programs, exemplary service and a supportive community.

About
They started Gifted Travel Network about 11 years ago
Revenue
They grew the business to $41.7K/month
Costs
It cost $100000 to start the business
Read by 757 founders

18. Spread Your Wings Travel Agency ($84K/year)

Marissa Daniels, the founder of Spread Your Wings Travel, came up with the idea for her millennial travel agency while scrolling on Facebook and seeing vacation deals posted by her sponsor. Realizing that she could get paid for something she already loved doing, she started her travel agency and hit $100,000 in travel sales within a year. With plans to reach $200,000 in sales by the end of the year, Marissa offers all-inclusive vacations, cruises, luxury villas, and more, with a payment plan option to make travel accessible for all.

How much they make: $84K/year
How much did it cost to start: $200
Current team size: 1

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How I Started A $2K/Month Side Hustle Selling Vacations

Marissa Daniels runs a successful travel agency, Spread Your Wings Travel, that hit $100,000 in sales within a year of launch and provides payment plan options for its all-inclusive vacations, and she hopes to help 100 families supplement their income through the business.

About
Marissa started Spread Your Wings Travel Agency about 5 years ago
Revenue
Marissa grew the business to $7K/month
Costs
It cost Marissa $200 to start the business
Read by 16,819 founders

19. Augustine Tours ($648K/year)

Augustin Ndikuriyo, the founder of Augustine Tours, came up with the idea for his business when a client at the hotel where he worked asked for recommendations on travel companies in Burundi. Unable to find any options, Augustin saw the opportunity to fill the gap in the market and launched Augustine Tours in 2010. Since then, the company has grown to generate an impressive monthly average of €50K, offering unique safari experiences in East Africa that go beyond traditional tourism.

How much they make: $648K/year
How much did it cost to start: $1.5K
Current team size: 3

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How I Bootstrapped My Cultural Tour And Travels Business To $54K/Month

Augustin Ndikuriyo founded Augustine Tours, a travel company that offers wildlife safari and cultural tour experiences around East Africa, which makes a monthly average of €50K/Month and focuses on transformative tourism that benefits visitors and the local communities.

About
Augustin started Augustine Tours almost 14 years ago
Revenue
Augustin grew the business to $54K/month
Costs
It cost Augustin $1500 to start the business
Read by 1,209 founders