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How To Start A Tour Company Step-By-Step [Ep. 39]

Wondering how to start a tour company?

Then you’re in the right place, as that is exactly what we’ll be covering in this episode of The Profitable Travel Blogger Podcast!

Whether you’re a travel blogger or simply someone who is passionate about tourism, selling tours offers an excellent opportunity to monetize your passion.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to create an incredible tour itinerary
  • Important considerations before launching your tour
  • My favorite tour booking software
  • How to sell tours to your audience and beyond
  • Ways to increase your tour company income
  • And more!

Basically, if you’re interested in successfully starting a tour company, you won’t want to miss this episode!

How To Start A Tour Company As A Travel Blogger – Podcast Episode Audio

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Free How To Start A Tour Company Cheat Sheet

To help you better implement what you learn in this episode, here is my free how to start a tour company cheat sheet.

Once you grab the cheat sheet, you’ll also receive a series of emails sharing strategies and tips for successfully starting your own tour company and maximizing profits.

How To Start A Tour Company

Selling Tours As A Travel Blogger – Podcast Episode Transcript

One of the top ways to monetize your travel blog is to create and sell tours.

This is actually one of the top ways I earn an income through my blog Jessie on a Journey.

I’ll share my story of how I got into doing this as I provide a step-by-step strategy for how you can do it, too. In fact, you’ll be able to use these tips to create your own tour operator business plan PDF.

But, first, I want to direct your attention to the show wheres where I’ve shared a link to my free Tour Company Creation Cheat Sheet.

This printable is meant to help you take what you learn in this video to create and sell profitable tours faster and easier.

Feel free to even pause this episode to go grab the free cheat sheet.

You back?

Then let’s kick things off with…

Step #1: Pinpoint the general theme of your tours

When it comes to how to start a tour guide business, the first thing you’ll want to do is consider the mission and branding of your blog and let your tours be an extension of that.

For instance, if your blog aims to help people discover local cuisine, you might create a food tour that supports local businesses and shares the story of the destination through food with guests.

Or, if your blog is focused on active adventure, you might put together hiking or cycling tours.

Step #2: Flesh out the tour itinerary

I recommend starting with one tour. This way, you can really put your all into the itinerary of your first tour and spend time creating the perfect experience.

Really think about what you want the experience to be. Is it a bunch of stops tied together by a theme? Is there a larger story you’ll be weaving into the itinerary?

What I mean by this is, are you creating more of a “Local eateries in the West Village” or “Telling the story of Italian immigrant history through food in the West Village.”

As you map out the stops and script, make sure that the route makes logistical sense.

There may be two stops that are both perfect for your tour, but if to get to them then guests will need to sit on a bus for 30 minutes or take three different trains, it’ll likely be frustrating for most people.

Finally, consider how you can add in some VIP experiences.

This doesn’t need to be anything flashy or over-the-top but should be something that they couldn’t do on their own.

One example would be going behind the counter of a coffee shop to learn how they make a special drink or getting to go into the kitchen to meet the chef of a local restaurant to learn more about the food.

Step #3: Gauge interest in your tour

When it comes to how to start a tour business, one important thing to realize is that you might have the best tour idea in the world, but that doesn’t mean your audience will book it.

For me, I was lucky that I regularly had readers emailing me and asking me if I could show them around New York. This made it much easier to launch a successful tour operation.

That is actually how I got the idea to get licensed as an NYC tour guide, work for other tour operators to gain experience, learn from other seasoned tour guides, and then start creating and selling my own tours.

If you don’t necessarily have people asking you to be their guide, another idea is to survey your audience.

You could share your idea with your community and ask if they’d be interested, and potentially even get their input on what they’d find valuable.

Moreover, if you find there is interest, you might consider holding a launch event where you promote a tour at a specific date and time

Just keep in mind here that:

a) having people tell you they’re interested doesn’t guarantee they’ll pay money, but

b) even if your audience doesn’t fill up all of the slots and sell out your tours you can always promote and reach your target market elsewhere, too.

Step #4: Set up your tour pricing

As you continue creating the tour experience, one important consideration is what you’ll charge.

A good starting point is to look at what other tour operators are charging for similar tours — though keep in mind you don’t need to charge the same.

It’s really about value.

For instance, you might have more VIP moments on your tour, which adds value.

Or, maybe you’re a historian leading a historic tour or you have a fine arts degree and you’re leading an art gallery crawl. These are things that can allow your price to go up.

Step #5: Set up your sales page and software

Of course, you need a way for people to book your tour.

I personally have a sales page on my blog, as well as a dedicated tour website at (under the business name NYC Photo Journeys).

Both connect with my booking system software, PeekPro.

PeekPro handles the calendar, online bookings, secure payments, and even liability waivers.

There is a fee to get set up with them, but if you send me an email to jessie (at) jessieonajourney (dot) com I can get you a discount of $100 off since I’m a PeekPro user myself — which I believe will cover the cost of the setup.

Step #6: Launch your tour company

Now it’s up to you whether you want to have a soft launch and just sort of promote the tours without any big event tied to the opening or a larger event, which can be a great way to build excitement.

There are many ways to do this, but one idea is to host a discounted launch tour on a set date and time and put effort into promoting this one event.

You might even consider inviting bloggers, journalists, and influencers to the event to get some early press.

Step #7: Take steps to increase tour profits

Along with promoting the heck out of your tour and regularly getting the word out about it, I recommend offering add-ons and upsells.

Add-ons are extra products and services that pair with your tour to enhance the experience or make things easier for the guest.

For instance, if your experience ends with yoga in the park you might have the yoga mat rental be an upsell.

Another popular one is cancellation insurance.

Personally, since I offer NYC photo tours, one of my add-ons is a bonus folder of black and white photographs.

In terms of upsells, once you create other tours and experiences you can either bundle them together or pitch other products at checkout for additional sales.

PeekPro makes this super easy to set up in just a few clicks, too.

Step #8: Pinpoint legal considerations when it comes to selling tours

This is one of the most important aspects of how to start a walking tour business!

I do recommend that you consult with a lawyer before leading tours to make sure you’re set up for success.

Here in NYC, there are actually free legal services for small business owners through the Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project, so it may be worth checking in your area if there is anything similar.

At a minimum, you’ll definitely want to have liability insurance as well as a liability waiver that guests sign.

Step #9: Scale your tour business

One of the best ways to increase your bookings is to list your tours on tour aggregators like Viator, Expedia, and Get Your Guide.

Sure, you’ll need to give them a cut of your profits — typically 20%-30% — but it’ll bring in customers you wouldn’t have had in the first place.

Make sure you’re also growing visibility by building reviews.

After every tour, I personally reach out to guests and ask for a review, letting them know I’m donating $3 per review to a local charity as a little incentive. This is also a nice way to give back through tourism.

Now I hope you enjoyed this episode on how to start a tour and travel business.

I hope you feel inspired and empowered to create and sell profitable tours through your blog. Yes, it’s hard work, but it can absolutely pay off. Plus, being a tourist guide can be a lot of fun!

Don’t forget to grab access to my free Tour Company Creation Cheat Sheet.

This printable is meant to help you take what you learn in this video to create and sell profitable tours faster and easier.

And of course, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes sharing these bite-sized strategies for bloggers who want to turn their blogs into profitable full-time businesses.

Happy blogging!

Create A Tour Company With These Helpful Past Episodes:

Create Your Travel Blog Business Plan

How To Map Out & Crush Your Blogging Goals

How To Make Money Travel Blogging With Online Courses

Create A Challenge That Grows Your Email List & Income

Blogger Brand Collaborations: 3 Ways To Get Paid When There Isn’t A Budget

How To Create A Profitable Affiliate Strategy For Your Blog


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