Considering how to set up a tour operator business in your area? You could be about to launch into one of the most exciting industries around and give people amazing lifelong memories – but the nitty gritty of getting started can still be a little daunting! We’ve covered some of the essential steps that will help you steer and launch your business idea successfully. Here’s 6 steps on how to start your tour and travel company the right way.

1. Find your market niche

It can be incredibly important that you find and operate within a specific part of the market, otherwise you could find yourself competing with other businesses very similar to your own in the future. Will you offer a more luxurious experience than others in the area? Will you be geared towards providing awesome family-friendly experiences, or will you take your tours to unique and hard-to-reach places that others can’t? Knowing and promoting your unique selling proposition, or USP, will help you establish your own distinctive space in the tourism market. 

2. Build your business plan

Once you have your business concept in mind, it’s time to start planning. Is there a local market for your offering, or will you be targeting a wider customer base? What do you need to start your travel business? Which permits and licences will you need to apply for, and will you need to apply for a loan to cover staffing, branding, marketing and operational costs? Your tour operator business plan will set out your roadmap for success, and minimise wasted time and resources as you build your business. 

how to start a tour and travel company

3. Develop your brand name and story

Your brand image can make all the difference to whether and how your customers book with you. First, check out our guide to creating the right name for your tourism business. Consider how you want to come across to your customers. Are you a warm and welcoming family company, or would you like to exude a sense of exclusivity and luxury? These decisions will shape how you design your visual branding, tell your brand story, come up with tour package name ideas and build your online presence over web, social media and reseller websites. 

4. Master your booking and marketing channels

Once you have your tours or activities ready to go, you’ll want to make it easy for guests to find and book with you. An online tour reservation system such as Rezdy can help you to manage and grow your bookings in real time, turning your website into a 24/7 sales channel. Rezdy’s Marketplace feature also makes it breathtakingly simple to list your live availability via large online travel agents (known OTAs) such as Expedia, GetYourGuide and TripAdvisor, as well as local visitor centres and travel agents. 

5. Nurture your network

Networking can be a large part of how tour operators work and thrive as distribution and referral channels are key. Are there local hotels that could benefit by recommending your tours or activities to guests? Could you offer delectable treats from a local food producer in the middle of your tours to enhance your customer experience? It may be worth connecting with your local chamber of commerce or business network, and almost certainly reaching out on Rezdy Marketplace to see which resellers you can connect with in the area. The platform makes it easy to set custom commission rates for each travel agent.

travel agency business

6. Build on feedback

Feedback will help you to really understand and refine your offerings both before and after you launch your tourism business. Take your friends and family on your tours and activity before you launch and gauge their responses. Consider offering local concierges or travel agents a free version of the experience, then gather their feedback and ask for recommendations. And most importantly, request and respond to customer feedback and analytics once you launch. Success all comes down to your customer experience!  

When learning how to start an activity business, the right support and resources can be key. Book a personalised product demo of Rezdy today, or get started with a free 21-day trial of our powerful booking software.

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