This is a series of 5 articles to help tours and activity entrepreneurs start a new business. I’ll post one new article each week here at T4.
Tip #1: Introduce yourself and your company’s services to the established travel business owners and tour/activity operators in the destination you plan on starting your business.
A simple way to build a new client base is to reach out and build relations with the established travel businesses that operate in the destination or local area where you are launching. Small business owners in the tours and activity business have a tendency to be territorial and many don’t see the value in building complimentary business relationships with their peers. It’s a huge mistake new business owner’s make. You can implement this strategy to the extreme by reaching out to your fellow tour and activity competitors as well.
Introducing your new tour & activity business is as easy as visiting the established travel owner’s place of business. Tell the business owner what your new business will do and give them a few brochures or your business card. If an established travel business compliments your new start up in any way you can ask the owner if they would be interested in establishing a referral relationship. This can be as simple as referring one another’s business by exchanging phone #, email address and or website.
In my early 20’s my wife and I got started in the travel industry by building a fly-fishing guide service near the famed limestone trout streams in Pennsylvania. We introduced ourselves to two of the fly-shops in our area and told the shops we would bring in our clients to buy flies and equipment before heading to the trout streams. One shop eventually paid us a commission or % of all the business we brought to the shop. In return, whenever the fly shop referred fly-fishing guides they were for sure to mention our new guiding business.
We started a Fly-fishing lodge, Bed & Breakfast shortly after our guiding business got established and again we reached out to not only complimentary lodging businesses and hotels in the area but we built a referral network with other B&Bs. One B&B operated on a higher professional level than the other B&B’s and eventually we just started referring our overflow business to one other. The referral business was taken one step further and we actually sent each other 10% of the bookings. So if we sold a $200 room that was referred by the other B&B we cut a check for $20 and sent it in the mail. When you start sending out checks as referral fees your referral relationships will change and you’ll soon see an uptick in the amount of business you receive. This tip works like magic! Don’t under estimate the power of paying for referral business.
As part of your overall start up strategy to build new business, start reaching out to the local travel business owners in your destination or area and start building peer-to-peer referral relationships.
Matt Zito is a veteran travel industry entrepreneur, consultant and founder of the world’s first ever, Travel Business Academy, a professional member-based, home-study program that teaches entrepreneurs globally, how to start and run a travel business. To learn more visit the Travel Business Academy or email firstname.lastname@example.org