How to make money on excursions: basic business formats

The active development of domestic tourism provides entrepreneurs with the opportunity to open a profitable business on excursions. This requires a minimum of financial investment and a maximum of personal abilities.

In recent years, the Russian tourism market has been undergoing changes. The unstable situation in the world, the growth of the exchange rate and the economic crisis have led to the fact that the number of trips abroad has decreased. Many Russians began to travel within the country or even stay at home. Interest in the historical and natural sights of Russia is growing rapidly, and tourists are increasingly turning to the services of tour agencies and guides. 

In recent years, domestic tourism has been actively supported by the state and is developing. Thanks to this, people began to travel around Russia more often, visiting interesting places. In such conditions, opening your own excursion business is a good idea. Firstly, competition in this area is insignificant (with the exception of million-plus cities and resort areas). Each city of our country is interesting in its own way. If you love your city and know everything about it, and there are many interesting places with history and unusual sights in the area, then starting an excursion business is a promising option. Secondly, with proper work, the project pays off in a matter of months, and thanks to the popularity of such social networks, such services are easy to promote.

You need to understand that the business on excursions is not suitable for everyone. This idea is for those who like to work with people, travel, talk a lot; who is interested in history, has organizational, oratorical and creative abilities. Only in this case it is worth considering the idea seriously. 

Work on a project in the field of excursions should begin with an assessment of the tourism opportunities of a city or region. Learn what historical and cultural monuments are nearby, what natural places and interesting objects can attract the attention of tourists. Analyze the demand for various tours and excursions. Study the offers of competitors to create your own unique offer at a bargain price. Choose the format of excursions and tourist attractions that you will work with. There may be many options. 

City tours

If you live in a city that has a story to tell and you know its history, you can make money on individual excursions for tourists. It is not necessary to live in a million-plus city, where tourists from all over the world come. You can organize an interesting excursion for visitors in a small town. And if you offer an unusual form of excursions, then you can attract residents of the city. 

The success of the business depends entirely on your abilities. It is important here the ability to keep the listener’s attention, to speak correctly, to create a mood. After all, people go on a tour not so much for some knowledge, but for emotions. For them, it is a cultural form of entertainment. Therefore, a mournful enumeration of historical facts is unlikely to pass for an interesting excursion.

But if you think over the route, add elements of the quest, turn the tour into a game, take you to unusual places in the city, show the most photogenic places, tell urban legends and, most importantly, evoke positive emotions, you will get a good service that people will be willing to pay for. 

Recently, city tours with a specific theme are gaining popularity, for example: gastronomic tours, crime history tours, romantic walks, ecological trails, bike taxi tours , individual walks for families, etc. A great way to stand out from the competition is to create excursions with elements of a play or performance along the route. Calculations for such a project can be found in this business plan .

The cost of city tours is 2-4 thousand rubles. The duration of the walking tour is 2 hours, but the bus tour can last up to 5 hours. The organization of the latter is the most time-consuming and requires large financial costs, since one cannot do without a bus. It will either have to be rented or purchased when it comes to organizing a large tour desk. Detailed information about the organization of such a business in numbers can be found here .

Jeeping 

Jeeping is one of the profitable options to make money on your car , which is an off-road trip by a group of people in jeeps along a predetermined route. This business idea is ideal for those who live in cities and towns that attract a large number of tourists. Ideally, this is the coast or mountainous areas.

What is the essence of the idea? Everything is very simple. If you know the forests, fields, mountains of the places where you live well, and you are the owner of a good jeep, then you can organize a business on off-road tours .

To organize a jeeping you will need:

  • SUV. Even a domestic UAZ is suitable, which is perfectly suited for off-road trips. The used option will cost about 100,000 rubles. If desired, you can decorate the car beautifully. For example, some paint it in some exotic color (zebra, leopard, or some bright color) to immediately attract the attention of potential customers.
  • Routes. You need to come up with several routes to interesting places. Each route should be at least 10-20 km long and pass through local points of interest. It will not be superfluous to ride those who wish through the most impenetrable forests and swamps, adding an element of extreme sports, but here it all depends on your driving skills.

You can read more about starting this business.

Ecotourism

In recent years, the ecotourism business has been gaining popularity. City residents get tired of the hustle and bustle, seek to get out into the fresh air and enjoy nature. This is how entrepreneurs appear who can provide comfortable housing for rent and organize leisure activities for tourists. 

Ecotourism involves the immersion of urban residents in an atmosphere that is fundamentally different from their usual life. What is commonplace for the villagers is entertainment and exotic for the city dweller. 

The idea is profitable and promising, but it also has certain difficulties. 

  • Firstly, not every village can establish such a business. One comfortable housing will not attract tourists. It is good if the village has a clean lake, a beautiful forest or other interesting places. 
  • Secondly, this idea suits the owners of several houses with amenities, a beautiful large plot of land. 
  • Thirdly, it is necessary to think over how to organize the leisure of tourists (excursions, fishing, entertainment, etc.). Therefore, it is better to start such a business when there are already appropriate resources. If you start from scratch, you will need a lot of money and time. Detailed calculations for the opening of an agro-estate, which organizes the leisure of visitors.

And yet the main thing is entrepreneurship. You can even open a business in this area with minimal capital. For example, offer fishing , picking mushrooms and berries, boating , cycling and tours , survival courses , photo tours, etc. You can also consider a corporate niche by combining ecotourism with business training .

Author’s tours

Whatever your direction in excursions, it is desirable that the project be author’s. Author’s tours are a very fashionable and popular direction these days.

What is important to consider when creating author’s tours:

  1. Place. First you need to decide on the place where you will organize the tour. Usually this is a popular place, promoted among tourists, geographically convenient for you, although the opposite is also in trend today, namely excursions to the so-called “non-tourist” places.
  2. Housing. The next step is to choose the format of housing, if it is provided for by the project. Depending on the area and the nature of the tour, it can be: a hotel, a camp site, a chalet, a cottage, a camping site, and so on. It is advisable to work with regular partners, so you can count on agency fees. It is better to have 2-3 partners for safety net. 
  3. Transfer. The most rational option is to find a transport company and cooperate with it on an ongoing basis. Choose those who have a large bus fleet, consisting of comfortable buses that are equipped with everything necessary for passenger transportation (seat belts, air conditioning, luggage compartment, etc.). 
  4. Route. Think over the route of the trip and all your movements, including stops with toilets, cafes for lunch, souvenir shops and more. Many institutions are ready to cooperate, as you can offer them a crowd of potential buyers. 
  5. Tour program. Work through the program carefully. Try to make it balanced and comfortable for passing. It is very important to test it on friends and acquaintances, as well as correctly allocate time and workload for different people (the elderly, children, etc.) so as not to spoil the impression for tourists. 
  6. Nutrition. This item depends on the tour schedule and where you live. For example, hotels usually offer three meals a day, and the cottage has a kitchen block where tourists can cook for themselves. If you are on field trips all day, three meals a day at the hotel is not suitable – and then you will have to plan lunch in some other place. In general, the organizer of the tour must cover a lot of little things, from which the impression of the tour will be formed. 
  7. Calculation of the cost of the ticket. This is a very important step! It is necessary to take into account all the costs: the cost of accommodation, one seat on the bus (considered as the cost of renting a transport divided by the number of tourists), transfer to the place of excursions, remuneration for the guide, tickets to various tourist sites, etc. Adding up all the costs, you get the cost of the tour. Add a markup of 30-50% to this price – this is your profit. Additional profit is made up of agency interest that you receive from the hotel, transport company and other partners. Always be prepared for unexpected expenses in the process. And factor in that risk. 
  8. Cooperation. Sign an agreement with partner hotels and transport companies, where all the conditions and nuances will be clearly reflected. It is better to look for a guide among the locals so as not to pay for the trip. 
  9. Advertising. Be sure to include advertising costs. To put together a tour, you need to place advertisements. This can be: your social media accounts, your website, if you have one, email newsletter with the tour program, etc. It is worth laying a budget of at least 10 thousand rubles for advertising. It is recommended to start the tour advertising campaign 4-5 months in advance for long tours and 2 months in advance for weekend tours. 
  10. How to interact with partners and clients. Hotel and bus reservations are usually made in advance with an advance payment of 30-50%. Keep in mind that many tour operators offer some discounts for early bookings. 

You can read more about starting a business in the format of bus excursions and weekend tours here.

Where to look for clients

This question is relevant for any business. To answer it, you need to imagine your target audience and think about where it is located, how it seeks information and how it makes a decision. 

Customer search channels:

  • Internet and social networks. Most people look for information about excursions through the Internet. To do this, there are ad sites, specialized services for finding a guide, social networks, business card sites, etc.
  • Travel agencies. If these resources are not enough for you, you can offer cooperation to travel agencies.
  • Printable advertisement. Also take care of the design of advertising material. An enthusiastic description of the tour is good, but the picture is also important for a person. Nothing says more about your tour than vivid photos of the places you visit. Add to that the emotional testimonials from previous customers and you have an attractive advertisement. Create posters with the tour program. These ads can be pasted around the city in crowded places (airports, train stations, squares). 
  • Advertising from a car. Another option is to drive around in a car with a megaphone and let people know about your service. This method is often used on the Black Sea coast. And, as practice shows, it works.

We are planning to open a tour business

The success of the excursion business is based on oratorical skills, organizational skills and knowledge. However, this is not enough to start a business. We need creative work, a lot of negotiations and the search for the right partners, an advertising campaign, a well-planned program, an accurately calculated estimate for excursions, as well as readiness for force majeure.

Important nuances that will help reduce the risks:

  • One of the frequent problems of sightseeing tours is the shortage of the group. This can lead to the fact that you do not make a profit at all or even work in the red. To prevent this from happening, be sure to monitor the market, set attractive prices for the tour, launch advertising in advance. If we are talking about bus tours, do not immediately collect large buses of 40-50 people. For starters, a minibus for 15 people will suffice. First, learn how to interact with a small group of tourists. 
  • Develop 3-5 excursion routes. This will be enough to cover a different target audience. Try to make the programs of each tour different: according to interests, price, duration, nature of the tour itself. “Hit” at different targets – and analyze which one gives the best result. Unprofitable routes that have repeatedly failed in sales should be replaced with new offers. 
  • You can search for interesting places for a tour on social networks, city publics, the local history museum, on travel forums with reviews, on blogs of travelers who post notes about their trips. 
  • Evaluate the offers of competitors and the cost of their services, the demand for various places and tours. Identify what the consumer lacks, offer a more profitable tour. 
  • If you are planning to seriously engage in the excursion business, and you do not have special education and experience, take a guide course. The cost of training will be 10-30 thousand rubles, but this experience and knowledge will bring you much more profit in the future. 

Documents for opening a business on excursions

Registering a tour business is not difficult. This does not require a special license or permit. It is enough to go through the standard registration procedure, registering as an individual entrepreneur or LLC. Activity codes according to OKVED: 

  • 79.12 – Activities of tour operators
  • 79.9 – Other booking services and related activities
  • 79.90.2 Activities for the provision of excursion tourism services

After you register a business, you need to conclude agreements with partners (hotels, transport company, museums, etc.). 

Shopping for excursions

If you are planning to personally conduct tours, then to work with a group you will need radio equipment for the guide – the set includes a receiver, transmitter, headphones, microphone, chargers and more. Cost – 100-150 thousand rubles. Equipment can be rented. If you have an excursion planned in the form of a quest, you may need props. Don’t forget to include its cost in your overall spending plan.

Staff for organizing excursions

At the initial stage, it is better to save money and do it on your own. And when the business starts to develop, you can attract regular help. You may need a marketer, a ticket seller at a rented point, an administrator, an accountant, a manager, etc. The staff will depend on the size of your business and what functions you decide to delegate. Maybe you would prefer to be engaged in sales, and transfer the excursion activities to a professional guide. Or, on the contrary, free yourself from all organizational issues and do creative work. It all depends on the specific case. As practice shows, the more diverse the routes of excursions and the more directions, the greater the need to attract additional employees. 

Financial part

How much does it cost to open a tour business? The amount may vary depending on the size of the business. The initial investment starts from 0 rubles: for example, to organize walking city tours, you do not need money – only your skills, knowledge and experience. To organize a jeeping or sightseeing route with transportation, investments will be required. 200 thousand rubles will be enough to start. With this money you can purchase the necessary equipment, advertise your services and cover organizational costs.