Starting a walking or walking tour business can be quite simple and offers many benefits to business owners. You don’t have to live near a National Park or tourist attraction for this business to work. In fact, there may be multiple walking or hiking business location opportunities right under your nose, and there may be virtually no competition!
There are also other benefits that a walking or hiking business provides, such as exercise, weight loss, social activity, animal viewing, or simply escaping from the daily grind. If any or all of these activities interest you, this may be your ideal career.
At first glance, it may seem like a traveling business stands little chance with a small customer base. But think again. In a hiking business, you have opportunities to lead different types of day trips and even expand into week-long hiking adventures to remote locations. There is also no single target market. You can focus your business on a certain level of hiker, from beginner to advanced. Also, while some people enjoy occasional hiking trips, other hiking enthusiasts want to join a regular hiking club that meets weekly or several times a week.
Another factor to consider when starting your business is the location. The sky is almost the limit. You can choose to hike or tour an area, or you can add variety to your work schedule by exploring new areas. You can take hikes or walking tours in cities, states, or even countries. You may even want to package the treks or treks as organized group tours, with travel and accommodation included.
Unsurprisingly, the ideal person to operate a hiking or walking business enjoys the company of other people, meeting new people, spending time outdoors, and exercising routinely. When working with groups of people from different backgrounds, having patience and flexibility will make the job easier. If you like to teach, that’s an added bonus.
Don’t forget about your competition. Are there other businesses in your area that offer the same or similar service? Ideally, you want to run walking tours where you don’t have to worry about multiple other businesses competing for the same clients. Less competition makes getting clients much easier.
If there is significant competition with other nearby hiking or walking groups, consider differentiating your hikes or tours. Sometimes you can lessen or even eliminate competition simply by targeting a different market, such as seniors, families with young children, or people wanting to lose weight.
When it comes to promoting your walks or hikes, you will use different marketing strategies depending on whether your prospects are local or from out of town. Start by printing informational brochures and walking schedules. Drop some off at your city or county visitor center, chamber of commerce, or parks and recreation office. City libraries, cafes, and community colleges sometimes allow brochures and flyers to be displayed, and they usually draw many people on a regular basis. Since you’ll be spending your advertising dollars on brochures or print materials rather than ads, make sure you take the time to create something interesting and intriguing enough that someone will pick up your marketing pieces and read them.
My best advice? Get advice from an expert in the field of walking or hiking. I mean people who have had a group hiking or hiking business. It may even help to meet with someone who runs group tours or activities as a business.
You can get plenty of insider tips from seasoned professionals, and they can often save you a lot of time and effort when starting your own business. If you don’t know anyone in the field, look for start-up guides at your local library or bookstore, usually written by someone who has operated a hiking or hiking business before.