Tour Operator Business Model: How to Start a Tour Guide Company

Tour operation is about providing new experiences for tourists. The business involves a deep knowledge of cultures, cuisines, history and traditions.
You need to have good communication and interpersonal skills. Other requirements are good organizational skill, networking and startup funding.
You are required to have an office, vehicle, staff and office equipment's. Common office equipment’s you need are computers, printer, fax machine, scanners and modem.
How to Start a Commercial Tour Guide Business
Write a Business Plan
Write a tour operation business plan and carry out a survey. Use the survey to find ideal locations and tourist destinations.
Ideal locations are museums, natural landmarks, picturesque locations and wildlife parks. Conduct research and try to personally experience such locations.
Find a Niche
You need a clear idea of your target market. Opportunity cost leads to specialization and monopoly.
There are different categories of travelers such as business travelers, tourists and economic. Others are groups, singles, couple, educational and family tours. You should find a niche tailor to your interests and services.
  • Business travelers
  • Groups tours
  • Singles
  • Couple
  • Family tours
  • Educational tours
Network Industrial Companies
It is very important building a network of industrial players. This is because they are a valuable source of local resources to aid your business. A good network would share profit, provide discounts and offer value added deals.
The ability to offer unique destination/experience at reasonable costs would differentiate your company. It also provides many holiday destinations and locations for tourists.
Local Destination Suppliers
You will rely on local destination suppliers within your network. Common locations include museums, cultural institution, art galleries and tourist markets.
More include popular restaurants, hotels, coach operators and leisure boating companies. You could liaison with private beach operators, cultural groups and local fabric makers.
  • Museums
  • Cultural institution
  • Art galleries
  • Tourist markets
  • Popular restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Coach operators
  • Boating companies
  • Private beach operators
  • Cultural groups
  • Local fabric makers.
How to Find Local Suppliers
There are many resources both offline and online to find local destinations. You should approach destinations in your area of operation and discus with their management.
Every business is established to make profit so your proposal should show the benefits to such establishments. Make sure you do due diligence and personally experience their services before approaching any company.
Ways to find local destinations are through directories, websites reviews and yellow pages. Other sources are through travel blogs and social media.
Makes sure you properly estimate the cost of each package. Use specialty transfer providers instead of direct transfer. Always stay abreast of the local exchange rate and calculate based on the prevailing black market rates.
Safety and Security
As a tour operator the safety of your clients is paramount. Every country has peculiar challenges pertaining to safety.
You have petty thieves, kidnappers, burglars and religious fundamentalists. Provide your clients an experienced guide, plain cloths security and police protection. The sad truth is that there are many bad eggs eager to harm/rob tourists.
Join an Association
In some countries it is mandatory to join a local association. This is to avoid sharp practices and bring their members to order.
They also provide useful resources for members. Some tourists go the extra mile to find out if the tour company belongs to any association. Other benefits include health costs, safety audits and discounts.
Incorporate the business as an LLC company and get insurance. Insurance cover is very crucial to your operation.
You need public liability insurance including ATOL licensing. There is also the packaged travel operator’s regulation for liabilities and consumer protection.
Hire Staff
You need dedicated staff who key into your vision. Hire reputable tour managers, drivers and a security experts and a secretary.
They should have good interpersonal and communication skills. A qualification in travel and tourism would suffice.
Schedule Tours
The core of the business is scheduling tours. Make sure the tours fall in summer time with lots of sunshine and outdoors recreational activities. You can schedule group tours, couples retreat and family tours.
Tour Operation Business Model
The business model should include key players, partners and activities. Others include value proposition, revenue stream, costs and customer relationship.
You need to define your goals and objectives such as discovering new markets and tour expansion. Startup costs involve initial investment, profit, returns and future projections.
 Try to define your tour activities and develop a marketing strategy.
Business Model
  • Value proposition
  • Revenue stream
  • Costs
  • Customer relationship
  • Set goals
  • Objectives
  • Discovering new markets
  • Tour expansion.
A powerful resource in tour operation business is a dedicated website. The website would attract lots of visitors to your destinations.
Choose a keyword rich domain name and host plan. You could hire a web developer to build an interactive website.
Include high definition images of popular locations and description. Add an email address, phone number, company location and about us page. 
Develop a social media presence and gain lots of followers. Offer discounts, group tours, family tours and couples tours.
Drive traffic to your website through social media adverts, classified posts and directory submissions. Use traditional methods such as flyers, posters, billboards and sign boards. As the business grows and expand keep your core values.

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  1. A Tour Guide is someone who works within an area they know very well. They provide a tour of a city, park or specific attraction like Niagara Falls. Their job entails providing commentary, routing the tour and seeing that people have a good time. To know how to find a tour guide visit here.