How To Start A Tourism Business: Actionable Insights For 2021 & Beyond

August 25, 2021
Lucas Ennis
6 min read

Are you researching how to start a tourism business?

Since COVID, there are considerations that didn’t exist previously for travel businesses looking to enter the market. For example, you will have to put careful thought into how you approach safety, insurance, branding, and marketing for your company.

To take some of the unknown out of the process, we have gathered some helpful insights for you. As with any start-up, there are many moving parts to bring together before you reach the point of lift-off.

Overall, you need to have a clear strategy, a good business idea, and be willing to put in the work.

How To Start A Tourism Business: Step-By-Step Instructions

1. Formulate A Plan For Your Business

First, you need to develop a clear business plan.

Before setting the entity up, you’ll need a concise vision and understanding of what the business will look like and the direction it is going in. Here are some important aspects to cover:

Consider Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Why will people sign-up with your company? What makes you great and stands you out from the competition? Is there something that you are going to do differently that travelers should know about?

Consider the answers to these questions and proudly claim them in your marketing materials to attract your ideal customers.

Mull Over Your Target Audience

You have a passion that is driving you to start a travel business.

It’s this passion that is going to shine through and attract your ideal clients. Walk in knowing precisely who these clients are and what drives them to you, in particular.

From there, you can work on creating marketing messaging to reach them and draw them to your company.

Design Your Tours For Post COVID-19 Travel

How To Start A Travel Business In 2021

As we emerge from the pandemic, safety while traveling will be top of mind for your clients.

Reconnection is going to be another aspect that travelers will be chasing. After months apart, there is lost time with family and friends to make up for.

When designing your tours, keep these two factors top of mind. Travelers will want reassurance that they can travel with peace of mind while having a great experience with their loved ones. As a travel company or tour operator, they will be looking to your expertise to guide them through the unknown terrain of traveling post-COVID.

Work Out Details For The Day-To-Day Operations

It’s essential to figure out the small print around how you will operate day-to-day.

Establish things like your operating hours, who you need to appoint to your team, and where you will work from. Also, consider your asset and equipment requirements and when and how you plan to go to market.

Estimate Your Costs

Naturally, you want your operation to be viable so that you can make a living off doing what you love. To get an idea of where you will be money-wise, you need to draw up a financial plan.

Steps To Start A Travel Company

Work out exactly what your business costs will be. Keep in mind that you might have start-up and day-to-day running expenses, as well as costs related to suppliers and vendors once you’re operating.

With this information, you can establish how much you need to charge clients for your service or offering.

Take a minute to check whether this is relative to what your competitors charge and suited to the market you are targeting?

As you will likely have start-up costs initially, you may not make a profit right away. See if you can put a number on how many tours or how much revenue it will take to get you to this point. Make a note of this and allow a little wiggle room for the unexpected.

2. Sort Out The Legal Stuff

The next big step in how to start a tourism business is to set up your operation to trade legally.

Register Your Business

First, you need to pin down a name and register your company.

Some of the different legal business structures include sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLC), and corporations. Select a suitable one based on your expected annual turnover, whether you are operating alone or with a partner, and whether you wish to carry liability personally.

Open A Bank Account

What Do You Need To Start A Business

Open up a dedicated company bank account so that you can keep your personal and business finances separate.

Complete Your Tax Registration

The next step is to register your business for state and federal tax.

The type of taxes and date you’re liable to pay will depend on what legal entity you operate as. Business tax returns can get pretty complicated. So, it’s a good idea to appoint a professional tax practitioner who can ensure that you are registered correctly and prepare your returns.

Get Liability Insurance

All companies face unknown risks. To operate legally, lawfully, and safely, you need to get liability insurance at a minimum. This will protect you in the case a guest or employee has an accident.

Other insurance types to look into include Workman’s Compensation, Accounts Receivable, Property, and Errors and Omissions insurance.

Apply For Your Local Permits and Licenses

Depending on what kind of company you are starting, you may need local permits or licenses to operate, for example, a tour operator license.

Check in with your local tourism body or nearest government office to see what the requirements are.

Note that these can differ from state to state, so if you work in a state other than the one you are registered in, you may need to factor this into the equation too.

Permits and licenses required for travel businesses

3. Develop Your Branding and Marketing

When researching how to start a tourism business, you’ll hear how critical it is to establish a brand image. It should represent who you are and speak to your audience.

On top of that, you need a clear marketing strategy to grow your customer base and get your brand online. Some of the first things to focus on are to:

  • Put up a website
  • Sign up to a bookings and payment platform provider, like WeTravel
  • Design a company logo
  • Start an online blog
  • Set up social media accounts
  • Claim your Google My Business profile
  • Create profiles on review platforms
  • Sign up with OTAs, travel agents, or vendor partners
  • List on local directories

From there, it helps to know how to really sell your tours. Also, take a look at how your competitors market and sell their products. You can use the information to do even better.

4. Get The Right Tools, Technology, Team, and Equipment

Before you launch your business, be fully prepared with everything you need on the ground and to make things happen behind the scenes.

How To Put Together A Business Team

We’ve just mentioned some of the most important digital and technological considerations, including having a website, payment platform, social media accounts, and more.

Of course, you need computers, phones, and to furnish an office. You’ll need software and apps, like social media management or remote working tools.

You might also require equipment to host your tours or carry out your service, such as vehicles, radios, bicycles, and so on.

The last thing here is to hire a top-notch team. The people who work for you make or break your client experience, so choose them wisely.

5. Square Up Your Accounting

Finally, put your accounting systems in place. Keeping track of finances is vital to your business’s success, so having a formal process from the get-go is a must.

You’re Now Ready To Launch

From your research on how to start a tourism business, you’ll know that it’s no easy feat. But, after running through the points above, you’re now ready to launch and set up for success. Congratulations and good luck; let the real work begin.

Are you interested in finding out more about WeTravel’s booking and payment platform for your business? Watch the short clip below, or get in touch with us for a demo.