Esoteric tours are an interesting niche in the tourism market. During the period of the coronavirus and the stresses associated with it, many people were drawn to the unknown and non-standard types of relaxation for the body and soul.
Today, more and more people are experiencing the need for a vacation in which they could relax in the full sense of the word, namely to restore their physical, psychological and emotional health and be nourished with vital energy to survive in our ever-accelerating world filled with anxiety and stress. This is especially true during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Just this type of recreation is offered by companies organizing esoteric tours. Unlike conventional hotel-food-beach travel tours, the emphasis is on a unique place, commonly referred to as a place of power.
A place of power is any unique natural or cultural-historical place where people, for various reasons, can feel a special energy. These can be places of primitive settlements, archaeological sites or unusual natural objects – lakes, waterfalls, gorges, and so on, which are attributed to healing, healing and even magical properties.
Going on an esoteric tour, a person wants not only to “touch” a unique place and get drunk on its energy, but also to learn a lot of new and unknown things, including about himself. Therefore, such tours are often accompanied by various spiritual practices and neo-pagan rituals, self-development trainings, meditations, tea ceremonies, lectures and master classes. Moreover, completely different types of practices and ways of spending time can be mixed in one bottle, since everything that goes beyond the ordinary is called esotericism. Accordingly, it is difficult to find two esoteric tours with the same content.
Pros and cons of ezotours
Ezotourism as a business has a number of advantages that distinguish it from other areas of the tourism business. However, it is not without its shortcomings.
- Growth in demand for non – standard types of recreation . More and more people are striving to make their weekend or vacation unique, and the organization of tours to places of power fits perfectly into this trend.
- Ezotourism is possible both in Russia and abroad. Esoteric tours are possible both within the framework of domestic and foreign tourism, which is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic, when the borders of many countries remain closed.
- Plenty of tour formats to choose from . When developing an esoteric tour, you can stand out from your competitors in almost any aspect. Unlike tours of the general format, there is much more scope for creativity here. You can choose not only a unique place, but also a unique time, develop a unique program that will be conducted by unique hosts.
- Low risks of competition. In connection with the foregoing, the pressure of competitors in this type of business does not pose a serious danger. Each organizer of esoteric tours can and should stand out from the competition, often such tours are copyrighted.
- Minimum investment . In this type of business, there are no high costs for the purchase of equipment, because the main investments, first of all, are intellectual – in the development of an interesting program and routes, as well as in the strategy for promoting your product.
Cons and difficulties:
- Difficulties in promotion . With all the pluses, esoteric tours are a highly specialized niche, which means that serious difficulties may arise with the promotion of services. The greatest probability of success in such a business will be for those entrepreneurs who already have a certain customer base within some other type of business with ready-made programs and methods. For example, esoteric tours can be organized at training and educational centers, yoga studios, various oriental schools, astrology circles, Tarot clubs, NLP, metaphorical card fan communities, and so on.
- specific clients. Both organizers and clients of tours to places of power are unusual people in many respects. Sometimes the organizers have to deal with individuals with oddities and psychological deviations, which suddenly appear at the most inopportune moments.
- The abundance of subtleties in creating programs . Since esoteric tours often include various practices and can be partly eventful, there are always enough difficulties in planning them. Multi-day excursions may require various arrangements with guides and organizers of various rituals (for example, shamans conducting rituals), careful planning of the cuisine, for example, devoid of meat and any food of animal origin, specific equipment and materials for tours with various biases (yoga and qigong tours). , astrology, tarot and so on).
Target audience and concept
At the start, you have to form the concept of your product, which will determine all your further actions. Let’s start with the fact that any business is selling something to people, so for the organizers of esoteric tours, you need to understand exactly what kind of people will buy tours and what will move them.
Speaking in general, one of the main motives of people visiting esoteric tours will be not only the desire to relax or just a thirst to touch the unknown and mystical, but the desire for change, the conscious or subconscious desire to change their current life, in which a person has nothing to do arranges. The experience gained during such tours is often a kind of ritual of reincarnation, changing masks and life priorities.
According to target audience segments, esoteric tours can be divided into:
- Tours for everyone . Although esotericism implies that much knowledge is available only to the elite, in fact, many people are interested in mysticism and riddles. In general tours there is no clear division by gender, age, social status, profession, hobbies and other factors. Such a general format is suitable for a wide category of clients, and the main emphasis is on the places of power themselves – without excessive attention to mysticism, shamanism and extraordinary spiritual practices.
- For women. It is no secret that most of the clients of esoteric and similar courses, for various reasons, are women over the age of 45. As a rule, at this age, women already have some kind of material stability, children have grown up and become more independent, so that partly the duty of motherhood has already been fulfilled, there is time to live for yourself. Many women understand that a new stage of search and a new self-awareness is coming in their life. Especially for them, tours are created to places of female power. Tour participants can visit women’s temples, springs that give youth, undergo training on femininity, self-development, and much more.
- For business . These types of tours are created for people aimed at changing the type of activity, as well as for entrepreneurs and departments of companies. This is a kind of energy coaching, a training journey, during which clients find new strengths and approaches to solving business problems, understand how and where to move in the new market realities, what to apply forces to, how to distribute responsibilities and energy. Such tours are close in spirit to master-mind groups. Returning from such trips, a person finds not only new strategies for developing his business, but also acquires new friends, partners and like-minded people.
- Tours for “friends” or thematic tours. This category can include any specialized tours with a focus on a narrow topic – tours for practitioners with Tarot cards, tours for astrologers, rune worshipers, lovers of yoga, qigong, Eastern spiritual practices, extrasensory perception, shamanism, healing, art therapy, seekers of traces of extraterrestrial civilizations. Such tours usually have a club character – random people almost never get into them. As a rule, groups in such tours are formed around an experienced mentor and a master in his field, who can act as an organizer, guide, guide, and speaker. To organize these types of tours, an entrepreneur needs to have a community of people united by certain interests. A huge plus of such tours is regular participants who are ready to attend their favorite gatherings and gatherings year after year in the circle of their usual company.
By the nature of the program, two types of esoteric tours are usually clearly distinguished:
- Tours with a familiarization-excursion bias. These are just those tours “for everyone”, when the emphasis of the tour is on some place with mystical properties: pyramids, burial mounds, dolmens, places of settlements of ancient civilizations. The main task of such tours is to see all these places with your own eyes.
- Tours with an emphasis on practice. Here, an important component is the various types of activities that are held in these places – rituals, seminars, intensives, sets of physical exercises, breathing practices. They focus more on gaining spiritual experience and new knowledge, topics of self-discovery, self-development and other things. Such tours can be associated with natural phenomena, such as eclipses, northern lights, moon phases, and so on.
As for the duration of the tours, everything here is standard and differs little from the usual tours.
By duration, tours can be:
- One-day . The easiest format to organize in the spirit of “touch the place of power”, find out its properties, history and features and go back. That is, as a rule, these are rather familiarization and excursion tours, albeit in a certain mystical context. The cost of such tours is usually 1.5-5 thousand rubles.
- Weekend tours. A slightly more intense option with visits to 2-3 iconic places and one or two overnight stays. Such tours can combine an excursion and study component and practical activities. The cost of such tours within Russia is usually about 5-20 thousand rubles.
- Multi-day tours. Tours with a well-developed program of activities and visits to several places of power at once. The cost can start from 15 thousand, while the upper threshold is limited only by the imagination of the organizers. The most popular multi-day tours have a duration of no more than 10 days; tours of 3 weeks are less common. As a rule, the longer the tour, the more its organizers emphasize its transformational nature.
Accommodation and meals in the esoteric tour
When organizing any tours, one of the basic issues is the accommodation of the tourist group. There are no restrictions here, you can choose a hotel, a camp site, a hotel, and a guest house. Recently, glamping have become more and more popular , for example, in the style of housing of traditional peoples for a given area.
One way or another, comfort is a priority for a modern person, so it is advisable to make sure in advance in the conditions of the accommodation facility yourself.
Hotels usually easily make contact with tour organizers, are ready to cooperate and discuss discounts and bonuses. However, keep in mind that many of them will ask for an advance payment for the reservation in the amount of 30-40%.
In this regard, in order to reduce their own investments, the organizers are trying to take prepayment from customers. Usually it is also about 30-40% of the cost of the tour itself, including accommodation.
Almost all hotels offer to include meals in the price. But do not rush to agree without properly considering this issue. You need to think over the concept of nutrition depending on your target audience. In such specific types of recreation, vegetarianism, veganism, raw food, Vedic cuisine and all kinds of diets are often common.
The concept of your tour can either prohibit certain types of food and drinks, or leave the choice to the participants themselves.
However, when purchasing any tour, people expect organized meals, so it is better if the intended menu is presented to the participants from the very beginning. A huge advantage will be the local cuisine, or at least the use of local ingredients in food, such as vegetables, fruits and berries.
The popular all-inclusive concept with three meals a day may not be suitable for your tour. For example, if the excursion day is planned to be saturated, it would be more expedient to include only breakfasts, or only breakfasts and dinners, and make lunch out. From dinner, if desired, you can make a separate program – with conversations and activities around the fire, reflection and the so-called evening candles.
Where do they go on esoteric tours in Russia
In which regions in our country are esoteric tours most often organized and what is usually shown on them?
- Caucasus and dolmens. In principle, many places in the Caucasus with its natural beauties and cultural and historical sights can become centers of attraction for pilgrims who love mysticism. However, the greatest attention is riveted to the dolmens. Dolmens are ancient burial and religious structures-megaliths, of which there are about 2 thousand in Russia. Mostly they are located in the Caucasus. The debate about the purpose for which these structures were intended gives fans of everything mysterious a huge scope for imagination. Some believe that dolmens create special vibrations and “activate fields” that help a person find a way out of difficult life situations, cure illnesses, come to harmony, and so on. Others believe that each dolmen, like a person, is individual, and everyone can be asked for something different.
- Ural and Arkaim. There are many places of power in the Urals. In particular, these are Iremel, Taganay and Zyuratkul national parks. Arkaim, an ancient fortified settlement on the territory of the modern Chelyabinsk region, dating back to the 20th-16th centuries BC, is in special demand. This place has gained immense popularity among esotericists, psychics, ufologists, neo-pagans, supporters of the ancient “Aryan” (Slavic) idea and has acquired a huge number of myths.
- Altai . Altai is another center of attraction for people in search of sacred places with strong energy. Unusual archaeological finds in these places, together with amazing nature, attract many different people with different beliefs here. The most popular places include Mount Belukha and the Katun Range, the Ukok Plateau, the Chuysky Trakt, the Karakol Valley, the village of Chemal and others.
- Baikal . Lake Baikal is in great demand among those who want to recharge with strong energy. Nature itself acts as a source of strength, which the organizers of the tours “supplement” with all sorts of healing practices.
- Crimea . There are many objects of pilgrimage in the Crimea, for example, the Temple of the Sun, the Boyka and Baba-Dag mountains, the cave cities of Chufut-Kale, Eski-Kermen, Mangup-Kale and Tepe-Kermen. There are even so-called “negatively charged” canyons, where supposedly a person can undergo an energy cleansing.
- Karelia . Popular with esotericists and Karelia. Places of power are located here throughout the republic, and they are united, as always, by inexplicable facts, mysterious phenomena and myths. Among the most popular spots are Mount Vottovara, the Paanajärvi National Park with several unusual natural monuments, the place of female energy Alder Wilderness, Cape Besov Nos with petroglyphs and other places.
- Moscow and Moscow region. The city of Moscow is a giant market and a huge number of people who want to visit places of power located directly in the capital or not far from it.
It is worth noting that even if you, as an organizer, are far from the above regions (which can be attributed to areas of mass demand for esoteric tourism), this is not an obstacle to conducting esoteric tours. In each region there are enough places for which the glory of the mysterious, mystical and even paranormal has been fixed. Sometimes, to get primary information about them, you only need to type a few words into a search engine. You will hardly feel the lack of materials about the unknown.
One of the popular questions regarding business registration concerns whether it can organize tours in a self-employed format . It must be remembered here that the self-employed person does not have the right to officially hire employees. So this format is suitable if the services are planned to be provided personally and directly, for example, by conducting excursions in your city.
Therefore, for more serious projects with the presence of employees in the state, it will be necessary to register LLC or IP . The second option is much cheaper and requires a minimum of documents. The key difference between these two organizational forms is in the measures of responsibility for debts and obligations. An individual entrepreneur is responsible for them with personal property, and an LLC with an authorized capital.
As a form of taxation, the simplified system (STS) is usually preferred. The tax can be paid either on the amount of income in the amount of 6%, or on the difference between income and expenses in the amount of 15%. You can choose the most suitable mode using the website of the Federal Tax Service .
When registering a business, it will be necessary to indicate the main and additional codes of entrepreneurial activity (OKVED). Tourism-related business areas of interest to you are found in section 79 – “Activities of travel agencies and other organizations providing services in the field of tourism”.
Changes in legislation . Please note that from July 2022, mandatory certification of guides, tour guides and guide instructors is introduced in Russia . Education, work experience, professional knowledge and skills will be checked, including knowledge of the languages in which the tour is conducted. However, how exactly this will happen in practice is not specified anywhere at the time of writing. It will be necessary to re-attest every 5 years, and as a result, an appropriate document and a chest identification card will be issued. Also, the new law, adopted by the State Duma in the third reading in April 2021, prohibits foreign citizens from engaging in this activity.
If you are not the author, organizer and guide all rolled into one, you will need employees or at least assistants.
- Guide / tour guide / instructor . One of the key figures directly accompanying the tour participants on the trip. Unlike conventional tours, in the face of a guide on an esoteric tour, clients often want to see a mentor, a teacher, a person who can share not only encyclopedic knowledge, but also personal spiritual experience. Quite often, the entire business on esoteric tours is built around some extraordinary personality with unique creative, extrasensory oratorical or other abilities and talents. Financial relations with guides and conductors are always built on individual terms, depending on the degree of their contribution to the common cause. The percentage can be much higher if the tour is author’s and developed by the guide himself.
- Leader/organizer/coordinator. This is a person or group of people who accepts incoming requests for tours, deals with payment issues, negotiates with accommodation facilities, schedules tours, coordinates tour guides and instructors, determines a business development strategy, and manages the process.
- Marketer . A person whose duties include the promotion of services on the market, active and productive maintenance of social networks, the generation of ideas of any kind, both for content on electronic platforms and (preferably) for organizational moments and chips of tours. Of course, you can hire a third-party freelance SMM specialist working from the other side of the earth, but due to the specifics of the tours, it is desirable that the person cooks in this topic. Often, with small budgets, the responsibilities of a marketer fall on the main organizer.
As temporary specialists who are rarely included in the staff, one can name photographers, drivers, instructors and leading any individual short-term activities (for example, diving, dance master classes, organizing folk rituals) and so on. For all these persons, the amount of remuneration is set separately.
Booking and payment . One way or another, despite the scale of the business, you will need some kind of platform where you can present your services and offer customers the opportunity to record and leave applications. It is best if it is a site with a detailed description and schedule of tours and with the possibility of booking them online.
Thanks to the abundance of designers, you can create your own simple website not only with a minimal budget, but also on your own without any serious theoretical knowledge. For example, on the well-known Tilda constructor, the tariff for one site with a complete collection of blocks, connecting your domain and many others will cost only 500 rubles per month.
Moreover, the process of creating a site today has become exciting and simple in many ways, resembling the assembly of a simple puzzle. And thanks to the adaptive design, your work will immediately become available in both desktop and mobile versions. Naturally, if you sell tickets and are registered as an individual entrepreneur or LLC, you will need an online ticket office. It is not needed only if you are registered as self-employed.
However, the site is not the only option for a conductor between the organizers and participants of the tour. For example, you can use agent platforms, such as the Timepad service, to book and buy tickets, or simply contact customers through social networks and instant messengers. When working with agents, you can not burden yourself with the purchase and installation of online cash registers and sending checks, transactions in this case are concluded on behalf of the agent. Naturally, for a certain commission.
Description of tours. You will save yourself from many problems and time losses if you describe in more detail the content of each tour in advance and immediately answer frequently asked questions. “And what kind of shoes should we take with us?”, “Do we need to take raincoats?”, “And where are we going near, and where will the bus be waiting for us?”, “A sauna / tasting / master class / transfer to the hotel Is it paid separately or included in the price? It is better to write these and other questions and answers to them once in a single document, and then add them as needed to one or another tour.
Equipment . To organize tours, you don’t need much: a computer with Internet access for organizational work, megaphones or loudspeakers for guides, hiking equipment (which, if desired, can be rented out), handouts. If a bus tour is planned, it may require audio preparation, purchase of microphone adapters for the bus, purchase of headphones for audio tours, and other things. By the way, we have already talked about organizing bus tours in more detail in this article .
The period with coronavirus restrictions, with all its difficulties and inconveniences, provides the organizers of such tours with excellent pretexts for repositioning their tours – as a way to relax from stress, change the environment from working remotely within four walls, and much more.
But to develop a program and draw up a tour route is not so difficult. A business idea won’t be worth anything if it doesn’t materialize and you can’t recruit a group of people to travel with. To prevent this from happening, you need to pay great attention to advertising.
- Social networks / blogs. Everything related to beautiful unusual places, travel and tours, especially esoteric ones, is great for promotion on social networks. You can fill it with anything – photo reports, text descriptions and impressions of trips, reviews of former participants, interesting thematic videos, articles, and so on. Ideally, you should form a community of like-minded customers from among regular customers. It is from social networks that many tour organizers generate most of the traffic. Do not limit yourself to the content of your group, paid posts in groups with similar interests (active recreation, trips around the region), thematic groups of cities and regions from where you recruit tourists can help a lot.
- Email marketing . For such highly specialized areas, email distribution is perfect, especially if you have your own blog and articles on esoteric topics.
- Specialized sites. The likelihood that more people will know about you will increase significantly if you publish information about the planned tours on specialized sites where people are interested in similar topics, for example, on the Self-knowledge.ru website.
- Contextual advertising. In the segment of large and medium-sized travel agencies, competition in this type of advertising is high, and the cost of clicks and impressions in this niche is high. However, due to your specifics, this competition may not touch you. However, pitfalls can be encountered. For example, Yandex.Direct moderators can block your ad for clumsy wording, considering it to be an advertisement for magical services.
- Partnership with travel agencies. A good channel for supplying customers is partner travel agencies that can earn commissions for attracting an audience to you.
- Partnership with health centers/schools/clubs. All places where there is already an established audience base with similar interests can be interesting for your business. If you establish contact with the teachers and organizers of such clubs, they, if motivated, are able to bring along a fairly large number of new interested clients.
One of the main questions for the organizers is how long before the start of the tour to start promoting it?
Typically, advertising for weekend tours starts 2 months in advance, but long tours longer than a week can be advertised as early as 4-5 months.
It is also worth considering a system for returning tickets and the amount of compensation if the cancellation of the reservation occurred shortly before the date of travel.
Starting costs . The specificity of this type of activity does not imply any serious material investments. Even if you decide to organize an office, a minimum set of office furniture, including tables, chairs and computer chairs, will suffice. Computers can be used personal. It is most expedient to invest in promotion to the maximum – to create and promote a website, launch contextual advertising, advertise on social networks and in popular city publics. In general, at the start, if you wish, you can easily meet the amount of up to 100 thousand rubles.
Calculation of the cost of the tour. Your main product will be tours for which you need to set the right price tags – that is, those that would not only cover the cost of the organization, but also bring the desired profit. To calculate the cost, you need to add up all the costs. This is:
- the cost of renting transport and transfers (to hotels, excursion sites, etc.);
- cost of living in places of accommodation;
- remuneration to the guide (negotiated individually);
- remuneration to other persons involved in the excursion (this can be yoga instructors, master classes, any invited guests)
- marketing and sales staff costs;
- photography expenses (if any);
- other expenses (payment for travel and tickets to some closed or paid places, for example, to protected areas and museums, purchase or rental of additional equipment, etc.)
Having received the final amount, you can safely add 20-30% to the result obtained, from which your profit will be added. One way or another, the only limiter of the upper bar will be the prices of competitors. If the tours are unique and are not represented by anyone else on the market, the markup can be an order of magnitude higher.
It is also advisable to set a price gradation depending on the number of customers. For groups consisting of several people, the price should be lower than for bookings of one or two.
Net profit and payback . Knowing the cost of the tour, it is not difficult to calculate the net profit. Suppose your company specializes in one-day domestic weekend tours costing 3.5 thousand rubles per person and manages to organize 8 such tours per month (just for the average number of weekends). This means that in order to receive a pre-tax profit of 150 thousand rubles, with the cost of the tour per person in the amount of 70% (2450 rubles from 3500 rubles per ticket), about 140 tickets need to be sold per month. That is, on each of the eight excursions you will have 17-18 participants. Or, to make the task easier, you can organize at least four rounds, but in which there will already be about 35 participants.
With the USN tax scheme of 6%, the amount of tax in such cases will be about 25 thousand rubles, and the net profit will be about 125 thousand rubles. It is easy to pay attention that with a successful combination of circumstances, it is possible to recoup the initial investment already in the first month of work.