In my many conversations with you, all those that are just starting or have recently started often ask me the same question.
Pete: What do you think of my tour or niche?
Now obviously, they expect me to give them a detailed breakdown of the positives and negatives of what I see with their tour and the niche it is operating in.
Unfortunately for them, what they thought would be a short and concise reply instantly becomes a long list of questions.
A short selection :
- Who are your guests?
- Why will they buy this experience?
- What issue do they have that this experience addresses?
- Is this experience your passion, or did you design for the market?
- How did you test it, and with who?
- How did you decide on the pricing of this experience?
- What is your destination's LOCAL market size for this experience
- Is this experience heavily seasonal?
- Are other tour operators doing this in your destination?
- If there are other operators, why are your experiences different from theirs?
- Is this tour going to be the core driver of your business?
- If it is, how many guests per year need to take it to deliver you a good living and business profit?
- What are the next three critical things you need to do to prove that this tour/experience will deliver what you think it will?
I tend not to ask about how good your tour is as that is very subjective. I also tend never to say that this tour/experience will definitely work for you as, again there is a very long list of stuff that impacts how successful you will be that I do not know at this stage.
What makes me come out in a sweat and get all old and grumpy?
When I hear that no market testing had been done pre-building the experience.
When questions about margin are answered in vague terms.
When day operators tell me several hundred guests a year are a success.
When pricing has been based on competitors' pricing.
When the owner is the guide and has no plan not to be the guide. This is a valid lifestyle choice but do not try to build an operator business just be the best guide out there.
When I hear funding is required, but you have no traction.
When I hear that online OTA’s are the majority of your bookings.
When I hear there is no plan to develop multiple channels to market.
When I hear the owner is doing everything from guiding to social to digital to accounts.
When I hear no video is being done or considered.
When I hear I have not raised my prices in the last X months or X years for the more established operators. ( 3 times this week !)
When I hear the words, I hate technology.
(Okay, I better shut up with this list, or you will think I am grumpier than I actually am.)
Building a resilient, growing, profitable tour operating business is not easy. It is difficult. I would argue it is more difficult now than it was all those years ago when I started. It is a long journey you have signed up for, but one that can reward you in a combination of financially, lifestyle and emotionally like a few others.
Folks like myself, Chris and Mitch, plus lots of other Tourpreneur members who have been around for years, can make the journey a bit less painful and shorten the learning curve and reduce the wasted money spend.
However, the ultimate judge of what you are building is not us. It is paying guests at a level that lets you make a decent profit and grow the business and have a great life doing so. They are your true north.