start a tour company

Start a Walking, Biking, Segway, or Bus Touring Business

Being a Tour Guide is Super Flexible and Fun

Love talking to new people, sharing your local knowledge, and getting a bit of exercise to boot? You might be a great candidate for giving tours and running a local tour company. There are so many types of tours and methods of transporting your tour participants. Check out our list of ideas and see if you might find one a good fit for your town, your interests, and your income needs. Some are have very low start up cost, like a well-planned informative walking tour of a town’s historic district. Others can be be capital or startup cost intensive such as segway or hot air balloon tours. Skim the following and see if you think being a tour guide is an option for your side income or retirement business.

What Kind of Tour Company Sounds Fun and Profitable?

Becoming a tour guide usually means that you specialize in providing details and facts, while providing an interesting and engaging experience about your tour topic of choice.  Tour guides typically share insights and knowledge that someone might miss if they toured by themselves, and provide additional value by grouping attractions with a common theme so visitors don’t have to do all the planning and research themselves. The best tour guide companies provide a way for groups of all sizes to learn and have fun, in an organized and meaningful way, with access to things an unchaperoned visitor might not get to see.

Potential Tour Topics and Opportunities

Historic Bldgs and Places
Cities, Towns, Villages
Homes and Residences
Wildlife and Habitat
Literature and Authors
Culinary and Foodie
Volcanoes, Glaciers
Parks and Reserves
Celebrity and Infamy
Ghost or Haunted
Mystical or Mythical
Fine Arts and Artisans
Performance Arts
What’s Your Idea or Area of Expertise?

start a food tour companyCraft Food Tours visits Miami foodie hotspots

Most Popular Transportation Options for Tours

Walking and Hiking
Biking and Triking
Surreys or Pedal Carts
Horse and Carriage
Motorcycles and Scooters
Stand Up Paddle Boards
Kayaks or Rafts
Wave Runners or Jet Skis
Boats of all Sizes
Large Vans or Buses
Hot Air Balloons
Metros and Subways

start a tour companyCity Segway operates in DC and Low Country Walking Tours is in Charleston, SC

Tips and Insights

Gap in Availability Creates Opportunity

Are there tours in your area or the area you are investigating that are a big hit and therefore frequently sold out, or not offered on enough days? Or is there a tour you wished was available but couldn’t find? How about an existing tour with a good following in spite of poor reviews showing that there is a chance you’ll be rewarded for providing a better product? Is there an opportunity for a more high-end or accessible version of an existing tour topic?

Know Your Personality

Sometimes a side gig sounds fun until you imagine yourself doing it day in and day out. Tour operators should be friendly and informative consistently. Bad days might happen, but can’t be visible to your audience of participants. Reviews can make or break your business, so you’ll need to be prepared, and have a tough skin.


It’s always better to have a few pleasant surprises in store for your tours, instead of sharing every little thing on the general agenda. The best reviews usually come from people who loved that the tour guide was funny, had special stories they hadn’t heard, or wowed them with a surprise visit or insider treat.

How to Become a Tour Operator

Good luck while you figure out if starting a tour business and/or becoming a tour guide would be your cup of tea. There are lots of ways to gain additional insight. Here are two guides we thought were pretty good.

how to be a tour guide         how to be a tour guide 
How to be a Tour Guide: The Essential Training Manual for Tour Managers and Tour Guides
How to be an Award-Winning Tour Guide
Start a BIKE TOUR Company with Great Gear Delivered Bikes

Image at top courtesy of SavannahGhostShow

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