‌Starting a tour guide business is an exciting endeavor. You make a fun living showing newcomers your little corner of the globe. At the same time, there are important steps to take to get your business off the ground. If you don’t follow the process properly, you risk losing money, resources, and time. 

‌Fortunately, following a set of specific steps in the right order will get your business where it needs to be. Even better, you don’t need to be a financial, legal, or technical whiz to get your business going. With just a little bit of background knowledge and the right motivation, you’ll learn how to start a tour guide business and succeed. 

Get repeat business and find new customers with expert marketing advice and all the tools you need, all in one place.

1. Turn those dreams into plans 

You probably have an idea of what a tour guide business will look like, but you may not be sure just yet where you’ll be touring. To overcome this initial hurdle, you can take the following steps:

  • Evaluate your city: What’s happening in your city that you’d love to show visitors? Are there any hidden gems that aren’t being explored by other tours? What sorts of activities are tourists interested in doing in your city that you can focus on? 
  • Consider your passions: While it’s important to have your future tour participants in mind, you should also consider what you are passionate about. What will continue to inspire you on every tour? 
  • Seek out advice: Luckily, you don’t have to choose where to tour on your own. Visit your local tourism board and ask about any market trends for your city. The tourism board can also let you know about any new attractions coming to your city that might interest new tourists. 
  • Decide on your target market: What does your ideal tour participant look like? What will excite them and, more importantly, what would bore them? Having a certain type of customer in mind will help you narrow down your tour focus. 

Also, keep in mind that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can affect which kinds of tour participants will join your tour. At the same time, COVID-19 has forced individuals worldwide to get creative and look for new opportunities and reevaluate their business goals, plans, and marketing strategies. Being able to be adaptable and flexible will influence how you start your tour guide business and succeed.

2. Check off the logistics 

Once you have settled on a tour guide business idea, it’s time to complete all necessary legalities as listed below. 

Name your business

Before completing all paperwork, you will need to officially decide on a name for your tour guide business. When coming up with the right name, double-check online or in a local directory to see if other businesses in the area have the same title to avoid any potential confusion. ‌

Register your business

This will require a trip to your local business registrar’s office, where you’ll also explore whether to open as a sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation. 

Obtain a tour operator license and other permits 

Getting a tour operator license works differently by location, so you will need to contact your local municipality to see all of the requirements and ensure you are following all the local guidelines. 

Buy liability insurance

Liability insurance is imperative for ensuring that both you and your business are protected from any accidents that may occur during a tour. 

Open a business bank account

To keep your personal expenses and assets separate from your business finances, you’ll need to open a business bank account. It also makes all the eventual financial steps much easier. 

3. Reap the benefits of marketing

First things first 

You’ve turned your dream tour guide business into a plan and taken care of all of the legalities and financial obligations. Now is the time to fine-tune your marketing game plan, but first, make sure you’ve got the following down:

Your tour’s cost

Factor in the competitor’s price, what you believe customers will be willing to pay, and what you need to earn to generate revenue. Also, consider discounts for families, seniors, or military service members to attract bigger crowds. 

Your tour’s logo

Having a good logo can make a difference in someone giving your company a second look or not when seeing the company online. You can create a design yourself by using a tool like Constant Contact’s LogoMaker, which uses an AI-powered LogoMaker to create a custom logo that fits the style of your brand. 

Get to marketing

How do you start a tour guide business and succeed with marketing? Don’t worry. Marketing doesn’t have to be a huge, scary task full of confusing computer language and code. It’s all about showing what makes your tour so exciting! Let’s break it all down:

Create your website 

This is the first step in getting digital, and it’s also a step that many people dread. There’s no need to, though: creating a website has never been easier in the modern age. If you have some knowledge about website creation, such as making a blog, you’ll know that there are plenty of free, easy tools to make a basic website.

‌If your knowledge of website-building is nonexistent, there are plenty of sources to turn to. Get a custom-designed site in just minutes with our intelligent Website Builder that looks great on any device. 

Explore the socials

There’s a good chance you have at least one personal social media account, but these days, there are plenty of other options to consider. Currently, the most popular social media avenues include;

  • Facebook
  • ‌Instagram
  • Twitter
  • ‌Youtube
  • Tik Tok‌

Don’t feel overwhelmed and feel like you have to start using all of these social media sites all at once. In fact, starting out by focusing on one social before expanding to others will help build your confidence with using these mediums. 

Fortunately, Constant Contact offers plenty of social media tips for leveraging your brand, including which social media site to focus on and how to use it well. Use these tips with the first social media app you pick, and then transfer your skills over to the next social media platform when ready. Remember, social media is more important than ever in growing brand awareness (and customers!) in today’s modern world. 

Make use of email

Email marketing: it’s probably the most effective business strategy. Why? Because your emails can offer plenty to your customers, including announcements on company developments, discount offerings, reminders, and welcome messages. Sending out a weekly or monthly email newsletter to subscribers can go a long way in securing returning customers. Knowing what to avoid in creating email campaigns can help in understanding what works. 

How to start a tour guide business - use emails like this one to connect with your subscribers
An email that contains a leading image, bold text, and a succinct paragraph works best in marketing.

For more information on how to market your tour guide business, check out The Download, a free marketing guide to help you succeed with your tour guide business.

Ready to launch?

Now that you’ve narrowed down your tour guide business dreams into plans, taken care of all legalities and financial necessities, created a website and relevant socials, and understood the importance of email marketing, you may be ready to go off and launch.

Don’t forget the power of networking to increase awareness of your business, and the power of networking overall: “people do business with people they know, like, and trust.” Network with other tour guide operators and look into local tour guide seminars to advertise your business. 

After all this, you’re now ready to watch your business bloom!