Walking tours can be a great business idea that requires very little startup costs.
And if you enjoy meeting new people, sharing knowledge and touring places, then this may be even more enjoyable for you.
To start a walking tour business that will meet the needs of your target customers, you need to factor in all the necessary steps and processes. That’s why we’ve created this guide to direct you.
Here you’ll learn all the steps, from the initial phases of researching and designing your business to finally launching your walking tour company. We’ve also covered the legal aspects involved in starting your company.
Let’s dive in.
1. Do your research
The more information you have about walking tour businesses and how to begin one, the easier it’ll be to start and grow your own. For this reason, you need to do your research beforehand.
Know who your target clients/ customers are and the market situation around starting your walking tour businesses.
For example, people who require the services of a walking tour company are mostly tourists interested in learning more about a town or a certain region. Travelers who want to discover hidden gems also look for walking tours to help them explore.
Apart from knowing your target customer, there are other areas concerning your market you need to research on.
Here are questions that can help you gather the necessary information:
- Who are my potential customers and what is their persona?
- What problems does this business/service solve?
- How big is the demand for walking tours?
- What is the competition like?
- What sets me apart from my competitors?
For a more detailed guide on market research, check out this article on how to conduct market research.
Know the requirements
After gathering information about your market, it’s important to know what requirements you need to start a walking tour business.
What are your state’s regulations concerning operating a walking tour? Are there specific requirements for opening and running a business in general? Do you need to meet certain health and safety regulations?
If you realize that some of the requirements may take time to fulfill, we suggest that you head over to the section on registering your business. Begin the process at this point so you have all the documentation ready by the time you are done setting up your business design.
Estimate the cost
Next, do your research on the amount of capital you’ll need to start and run your walking tour business up until you break even.
This will prevent getting stuck along the way due to a lack of finances.
The good thing is that walking tour businesses don’t require too much capital upfront. And if you do the tours yourself, you’ll cut the cost of hiring people at the beginning which will save you some money.
The major costs will probably go towards marketing your business – you’ll be doing a lot of this, especially at the beginning.
2. Design your tour
Now that you know what you need to start a walking tour business, it’s time to design your tour.
How exactly will you run your tours? What will differentiate you from your competitors? How much will you charge for tours?
Writing down detailed answers to these questions will assist you in designing your walking tour business.
Create an itinerary
Part of designing your walking tour involves creating a clear plan of where you will go/ which places you’ll visit, at what time and on which days of the week.
Your itinerary may be informed by the niche you choose for your tour. For example, you may focus on historic sites or local cuisines of a region. This will determine what places you will take your customers to tour.
Apart from the activities involving your clients, also have a breakdown of what you will be doing each day in terms of running your business.
With time, your activities will change as your business grows and you get more clients.
Differentiate your tour from competitors
It’s not enough to offer walking tours to tourists and travelers in your region, you need to stand out and make them choose you over your competitors.
Identify what makes your tour unique, design your business around this and communicate it to your potential clients.
Decide how much to charge
Setting the price for your tours is a key step when starting your walking tour business.
You can operate free walking tours and make money from gratuities. But you can also decide to charge for the tours. It’s all up to you.
Find out what other companies are charging and what they offer at those price points. Then, use that as a reference to decide on your price.
Whatever you charge, make sure you offer value and if possible go above and beyond the clients’ expectations so that they can come back for more and refer their friends.
3. Test your walking tour business
At this stage, you are theoretically ready to begin your walking tour business. You have all the information you need and a great tour design.
But is your business really ready to take off? Not quite.
All that you’ve come up with, so far, is more of a hypothesis about your ideal walking tour business. So the one thing missing is a confirmation of whether what you’re offering is what your target clients want.
This is why testing the waters is so necessary.
Try selling the tour to your target customers
Get in touch with a number of your target customers and try selling your tour concept to them. Give as many details concerning the tour to see what areas attract them the most. Also, note the things that triggered little to no positive reaction from the customers.
Adjust based on feedback
Using the feedback you get here, modify your tour design to meet the needs of your target customers better.
Adjust your assumptions and base your decisions on the facts you get from this test run.
4. Define marketing channels
Once you’ve validated your tour business, the next step is to choose your marketing channels.
Decide how your services/products will reach your customers. Check on the channels your target customers mostly use to get information on tours.
Here are some channels you can select to sell your walking tours (you can click on each one to get more info):
- Your website
- Social media e.g Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
- Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
- Review sites e.g TripAdvisor
- Destination Management Organizations (DMOs)
Focus on two to three of these so you don’t spread your attention too thin.
5. Prepare marketing collateral and establish an online presence
To promote your brand and make your sales efforts more effective, prepare your marketing materials in advance. This includes any brochures, handouts, business cards and a full description of your walking tour.
Your online presence can easily be established on a website and/or on social media.
Create a website
When you’re just starting out, a business website is one of the best ways customers can learn about your company. You can personalize your website exactly how you want it and bring out your brand’s voice
Having your website beats depending on other online channels. You don’t pay commissions to anyone. You have full control over your site. You can collect your customers’ emails and keep in touch with them for any updates concerning your business.
Just remember to keep things simple and focus on creating a functioning website. Adding all the bells and whistles can come at a later point when you’ve established a solid experience for your customers.
Open social media accounts
The best thing about social media is that it’s free and it gives you access to so many people who are already on the platforms to acquire information.
Regiondo customers can even accept bookings directly on their Facebook page using the Facebook integration feature.
6. Handle the legal stuff
This is the not-so-fancy part of starting a walking tour business – the legal aspect.
To be allowed to trade legally you need to meet the legal requirements. It may seem quite complicated and time-consuming. For this reason, it’s best to handle these processes early.
Register your business name
Your business name will be the legal representation of your business but does not have to be the same name as your tour company. When you choose your business name, confirm that it’s not trademarked or already in use.
Register your name at the local business registrar’s office.
Register for taxes
There are certain local, regional or federal taxes that businesses have to pay as they trade. Ensure you register for these taxes before you start your tours.
Open a business bank account
It’s best to separate your personal finances from your business finances for the sake of order and personal asset protection. To create this separation, open a business bank account where you’ll deposit payments from your tours.
Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Research if there are any permits or licenses you need before giving walking tours in your country or region. Apply for and obtain these documents to avoid fines or even being shut down.
7. Launch your walking tour business
Congratulations on coming this far. You’ve transformed a great idea into an actual business and you are ready for takeoff.
Through the website and social media accounts you created, you probably already landed some bookings for your launch. Use this opportunity to create a memorable first impression.
Don’t worry if things don’t work exactly as you’ve planned them, this is just the beginning. But ensure you do your best to wow your customers.
8. Grow your business
Now that you’re in business, aim to grow.
Never stop listening to your customers. They’ll teach you what you need to know to make your walking tours better and more relevant as you go on. This is part of what will bring about great growth.
Continue promoting your tours in order to create more awareness about your brand and attract more customers.
There you have it. Your guide to starting a walking tour business.
From beginning with in-depth research, designing your tours then testing out what you come up with. Then, after establishing that you’re on the right track, setting up your marketing channels and handling the legal aspects of your business (if you hadn’t already done so).
The final step is launching and growing your walking tour business.
We hope you’ll draw inspiration from this article to start your own walking tour company.
You might also like:
- How to Start a Tour Company with (Almost) No Money
- How to Conduct Market Research for Tour and Activity Companies
- 4 Questions to Help You Design the Perfect Tour