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Ways To Make Money From: Travel


SETTING UP A travel business is one of the best ways of mixing business with pleasure. Not just a lucrative – and growing – market, you get to be your own boss with the freedom of travelling wherever you wish. There are all sorts of additional perks on offer to you, not least the fact that you can write off things like luxury hotel bills, gourmet five course restaurant meals and air fares as business expenses, or even get them for free!

The kind of opportunities offered by travel and tourism are immense, as sector is so diverse. There are all kinds of niche opportunities in areas such as adventure travel, eco-tours, working holidays, travel for people with disabilities, families and over-60s – or practically any interest and age group. As a result, there are plenty of low cost and easy to start business opportunities for lone operators.

If you want to make travel your business, here are five popular and profitable independent travel-related services that could be your ticket to ride:

  1. Cycle and walking tours

The problem with package holidays and coach tours are that with the former, holidaymakers tend to be stuck in one place, and with the latter, tend to pass through too quickly without sampling much of the local atmosphere.

Cycle and walking tours are commonly thought of as the best and most popular way to get a flavor for a place, as well as being healthy exercise too.

For these reasons, many entrepreneurs have set up as cycle and walking tour operators close to where they live. Britain, like many other countries, has an abundance of beautiful countryside that is perfect for exploring on foot or bicycle. If you live close to attractive countryside that is reasonably popular with tourists then this business is an obvious money maker, and very easy to start.

The cheapest way to set up is as a walking tour guide, which requires little in the way of prior investment other than marketing. You would basically lead the tours, guide your guests and highlight area of interest. Your tours may be easy going or fairly strenuous, and could last anything from half an hour, to days or weeks, although you may have to consider booking accommodation if your tours are any longer than one day.

Although setting up as a cycle tour guide requires purchasing some rugged, good quality mountain bikes (unless racing bikes are more appropriate), maintenance will be minimal, and you can charge much more than for walking, making it more profitable.

It is commonly held that the way to get the most out of seeing an area is to be guided around by someone who knows the area well. Your knowledge of the local area, as well as the sights, experiences and places of interest featured as part of the tour, should be a big feature of your marketing.

If you don’t want to get out and about yourself there are other options available. Many firms simply act as cycle hire centres and point customers in the right direction. Alternatively, you could publish cycle and walking guides, forming part of the tour cost, and / or set up a trail base camp, selling provisions, tea and food, and cycle / walking apparatus, along with tour guides.

It is a good idea to get sign or chalkboard placed where the tour begins, to advertise your tour and give details of prices and starting times. It is well worth getting some leaflets printed, and possibly posters too. These should be left in places frequented by tourists. Tourist information offices, cafes, libraries, shops and museums are ideal, as well as train, bus and coach stations.

Obviously these business will be most popular in the summer months, so your marketing efforts should particularly concentrate on this period, and your prices and profits should be enough to cover the year as a whole. However, if you can give your tour a unique angle – good examples are Poets’ tours of the Lake District and Ghost Walks around York – you will get customers practically all year round.

  1. Travel newsletters

A superb way to make living, as well as travel and see places for free, is to set up a travel newsletter. In return for writing about places, resorts, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, places of interest and so on you should be able to get free entry to all kinds of places, to say nothing for free meals, hotels, flights and much more.

Ideally your newsletter should cater for a particular area, interest, age group or niche market. One example of niche marketing is Out and About, a mail order newsletter focusing on the gay and lesbian travel market. It contain articles on gay-friendly destinations, tours and travel, hotel ratings, travel book reviews, and interviews, and although it carries no advertising, the newsletter publishes an annual calendar of events which serves as an advertising supplement.

Whatever your particular speciality travel subject or market you can make big money from following this example. If you decide to sell by mail order you could advertise your publication through ads in related publications, although mailshots to people with similar interests is perhaps the best option. Names and addresses of suitable potential customers can be obtained from a mailing list broker. Expect an average 2.1 percent response to this, but it should be possible to build on this so that before long your newsletter will earn healthy profits.

There is also the advertising option. Other newsletters rely entirely on generating profits from advertising, so you could take this approach. In fact, many such magazines are distributed for free, which has advantage  in that because so many people will pick up and read a free publication, the ads are seen by a large amount of people and hence prove very effective, so the advertising fees charged by the magazine can be fairly high.

Whatever method you choose to adopt, if you select your market effectively and write about your subject in an authoritative and interesting way you can reap the benefits of free travel and profit.

  1. Coach tours

Bus and coach tours are one of the simplest and most profitable travel businesses to start. All you need to do is select a destination, a date, hire the coach and sell the tickets. Once the coach and marketing expenses are paid for the profits are yours.

There are various destinations to choose from, appealing to several different types of customer. The most ‘tourist-oriented’ destinations are seaside resorts, museums, amusement parks, gardens and stately homes, beauty spots and  other places of interest, which can be very profitable in the summer months. Another option is to organize a holiday tour taking in several destinations, including accommodation in the overall price.

Concerts and special events are popular all year round, as are trips to shopping centres and markets you should consider these to maximize your year round income. Make sure you stick with whatever is successful and drop whatever makes a loss or is relatively unprofitable. This way your profit will grow over time.

Rather than simply selling tickets for a bus or coach trip, you could act as a guide. For example, you could lead tourists around your home town or local area if there is enough there to interest people.

Tailoring your service to appeal to a certain market sector may be profitable. For example, you could target young people, running tours to places like Blackpool, Alton Towers, concerts and raves. On the other hand, you could target the over-60s, taking in quiet seaside resorts, gardens and beauty spots. The more you can tailor your marketing to your customers, the more effective your service will be.

How you sell your tours depends on your potential customers, but you should be able to get travel agents, bus and coach companies, and tourist information offices to promote your tours and possibly sell tickets too. You could also advertise in suitable newspapers and magazines, put up posters, and even contact community groups like OAP clubs, churches and gardening circles.

  1. Event and meeting planning

Corporate meetings and event organization form a big chunk of the travel market, and could make a lucrative business for someone with a methodical and businesslike manner.

Practically all businesses hold meetings, and will often call on the services of a professional event planner to organize their AGM for example, particularly if the company and meeting is to be a fairly large event. Thus the meeting planner needs to hold information on as many meeting venues as possible, such as tables and chairs, visual apparatus, catering, car parking on so on, as well as their size and cost.

Organizing business meetings is potentially very lucrative, especially if you land a contact from a large organization who wants you to organize an annual business event. However, this is just scratching the surface of the overall market. You might be called upon to organize a party, conference, dinner, or an award presentation, and you could be called upon to book the venue, organize catering  and travel, hire staff and entertainments, and then deal with anything from sound and microphones, do decorations, staging and tickets.

This is why you need to be methodical, and should assess all the requirements of the event, costing them out to the company’s budget and hiring them accordingly. You also need to be there on the day to ensure everything goes smoothly.

This is a business that relies on your organizational capabilities. As long as you have these then you don’t need much else in the way of equipment, investment is a phone, and a computer is useful for logging information on venues and other suppliers, but you could certainly save money by operating from home.

Once you have a couple of satisfied clients, you can use referrals to help generate more business.

  1. Travel sales representation

Are you the kind of person that over the years has amassed of a great deal of travel knowledge and experience? Or perhaps you are the sort of person that is good at doing deals with travel operators all over the world.

If you have one or both of these qualities, you should consider becoming and independent sales rep. One women did exactly that. Through her holiday travel experiences she collected so much information on holiday destination, booking flights and booking hotels, that she gradually became an ‘unofficial travel agent’ for her friends. In the end, she organized so many holidays for them that she took the logical step and went into business.

What the independent travel agent does is to act as a broker for various agencies and suppliers, selling package tours, flights, hotel and ferry bookings and similar on behalf of a third party, taking a commission from the sales. It requires gathering together a whole host of holiday-related information and being able to do deals with suppliers over the phone.

For those that do have the talent this represents a simple and inexpensive business to start. All you need is a desk and telephone, so you should tailor your services to fit your skills or interests, say if you know one country / language or activity very well, thus creating a unique selling point. On the other hand, you can benefit from offering a general travel agency service if you are in area where there are few others about.

Like all business, marketing is the key to making it work. You could consider advertising in suitable newspapers and other publications, or using more creative means like sending out newsletters or going online on the Internet. To keep clients happy, and get them to recommend your services to their friends, it is good idea to hand them gifts such as disposable cameras or baskets of flowers.

The more you can please your customers and make your service stand out, the more successful you will be.

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