You can learn a lot about how to start a bus tour business by reading this helpful article.
It explains some of the ways, tips and steps to successfully starting a tour bus business.
Visiting a city or an area for the first time as a tourist can be an exciting adventure.
There are places to go, people to see, and things to do.
First, this company has paid $25+ million to members:
To get around the city or the area when visiting, there are several ways that this can be accomplished.
- You can go on a walking tour
- Grab a tourist map and proceed
- Or you can venture out on your own and explore
Another option is to take advantage of a bus tour.
A bus tour utilizes a large passenger bus in which people make reservations, leave at a particular time of the day, and go on an adventure of sitting back and relaxing but still taking in the various landmarks, tours of exciting places nearby, or even going on a day’s outing to a nearby entertainment venue.
There are many benefits associated with utilizing a bus, with those benefits being not having to worry about renting a car, driving in an area that is unknown to you, no restrictions if you choose to drink alcohol, and so forth.
Utilizing the services of a tour bus also provides you the benefit of being entertained by a driver who will often crack jokes, point out certain areas, give background stories on certain areas, and so forth.
If looking to start a bus tour company, let us get on board and see what some of the strategic steps to take to drive forward with this possibility are.
25 Best Ways & Tips to Help You Start a Tour Bus Business
1. Determine the Need
When thinking about starting a tour bus business, the first important and obvious consideration is the area in which you live and whether there are quality attractions that customers will want to be at their destination by using a tour bus.
Quality attractions can include:
- Tour of a vineyard
- Entertainment venue
- Famous landmarks in the city where you live
- Nearby sports activities
- And so forth
When you have identified certain areas or a combination of attractions that would be appealing to tourists, you can approach these areas and work out a business deal in which prices can be negotiated, and various tours can be set up.
2. Business Plan
A business map or a plan of action sets the roadmap for the success of the business enterprise.
The business plan contains a number of elements that help the business owner to be focused on what is needed, the direction that will be taken, how the business will succeed, the marketing plan, the use of employees, finances, and so forth.
A business plan is critical because it not only provides direction and puts the actions needed in a document for reference but also is useful when it comes to trying to obtain financing so that potential investors know how the enterprise will unfold and succeed.
3. Name of Business
An important consideration as you move forward on creating your business is to come up with a business name.
The business name can be something straightforward or can be creative and utilize travel terms, vacation or touring names.
Also, it is important to make sure that the company name is not utilized elsewhere.
A way that you can determine whether a business name is available is by clicking here.
4. Business Model
An important step that should be taken under consideration is the business model or legal model that you will be formulating your business touring company under.
The importance of selecting the appropriate legal model for your business can determine your tax rates, paperwork requirements, management, fundraising abilities, and more.
Some of the legal models include:
- LLC or Limited Liability Company
- Sole proprietorship
5. Legal Issues
When starting a business, there are other associated legal issues that need to be addressed.
Typically, these additional actions include the filing of paperwork with the city or county that you live in, along with the state.
There are also fees that will be associated with the filing of these forms.
Some of those permits and licenses that need to be applied for could include:
- Business License
- Tour operator license
- Possible purchase of proof of bond
- Commercial driver licensing
- Other requirements as per your state of operation
There are a variety of ways that you can obtain the needed financing to start your exciting venture.
You could approach family members, utilize your assets and resources, finance through a bank, etc.
When approaching a banking institution for a loan, this is where the importance of your business plan is evident.
The financial institution is concerned about being repaid and would want to know how the business will run and if the business operations have been thought through.
Also, there is the possibility of obtaining a small business loan which may have more stringent details or requirements required.
To learn more about a small business loan, visit www.sba.gov/loans.
7. Business Banking Account
To segregate or keep your finances separate from your business finances, you would need to open a different business banking account.
To do this, the banking institution you select will require personal and business documentation.
Information that will be required would include your Social Security number, personal identification number, business license, formal business plan, ownership agreement, and more.
When considering a banking institution to handle your business affairs, it is essential to understand any fees or costs associated with the account.
A critical action that needs to take place is the securing of insurance.
You can have the safest of drivers, but adding in the mix of other drivers not being as attentive as the drivers that you hire can always create a potential risk of accidents occurring.
Typical types of insurance that should be considered would include:
- General liability insurance
- Liquor liability insurance if alcohol will be served
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
To succeed as a touring bus company also requires that you hire staffing that is conducive to the tour service that you are providing and enhance the experience for the customers.
In addition to hiring the most qualified drivers with significant charisma, you would need to:
- Apply for an employer identification number
- Have a state or local tax ID
- Decide if the drivers or employees will be independent contractors or employees.
- Payroll tax requirements
- How payroll will be managed (in-house or outsourced)
- And so forth
Your options for managing HR and staffing could be that you handle all of this yourself, hire an HR and payroll manager or outsource these components of your company to another individual or service.
One such company that you can outsource your payroll to is www.bambee.com.
As it relates to finances, another important component of setting up your bus touring business is the choice of an accounting system.
The accounting system deals with properly recording income and expenses, generation of management reports, invoicing, accounts receivable, etc.
Your accounting can be done within your place of business, or you can outsource your accounting needs to an outside firm or individual.
To maximize your potential earnings and for potential customers to understand what you provide, a key element is marketing.
Most likely, within your budget, you have a marketing expense line item and a plan for marketing your company that is reflected in your business plan.
Potential marketing opportunities could include the use of social media, having a website, partnering with other companies such as Sam’s Club or Costco, and so forth.
To get your bus tour company rolling, you could also offer, initially, discounts to first-time users of your bus touring services.
12. Work With Travel Agents
Another great way of getting the word out about the services that you offer is to work with travel agents.
When travel agents book various vacation packages for their customers, as part of the package, the travel agent can include discounted tours that your bus tour company offers to the travel agent that they can pass along to their customers.
13. Target Market
When starting your bus touring business, an important component or action that should be taken is to think through the business unveiling process, and as part of that process, you should have identified your target audience or market.
This process involves thinking through what your ideal customer will look like.
For example, if your target audience is senior citizens, you may wish to focus on a bus tour that is entertaining and travels within a few hours to an entertainment venue.
A type of venue that a senior may be interested in could include a casino, a bingo excursion complete with a meal at a restaurant along the way, an entertainment show, etc.
Another possible targeted customer base could include a wine country tour where the targeted audience may be those individuals who do enjoy a fine glass of wine, and that is part of their lifestyle.
Once your target audience or audiences have been established, then you can begin to work around that focus of your business model.
14. Research Competitors
As part of your business plan, there should be a process involved with the acronym of SWAT.
Again, this company has paid $25+ million to members:
This acronym stands for Strength, Weakness, Assets, Threats.
As part of this analysis, the word threat relates to your competitors.
Although your competitors can be an asset in that competition can be a good thing in any business industry, your competitors can also be a threat.
Specifically, if they provide a unique service, different perks within their tourism industry, have better rates, etc., this can be a threat to your success.
Therefore, it is important to research your competitors so that you know what you are competing against.
Questions that may come to mind in evaluating their services are what they are doing well, what particular areas they are not fulfilling, how you can set yourself apart from your competitors, etc.
An important component of offering any service or product is determining what the pricing will be.
Your pricing will be influenced by your budget and what it takes for an individual unit at how many units are sold that will match your budgeting needs on the expense side of the ledger.
In addition, you want to add a percentage that represents profitability and, therefore, covers your expenses; plus, having a profit margin will give you a close approximation of what you need to charge.
Also, as part of the pricing process, you will need to determine what customers are willing to pay.
Added to the mix will be the various times of the year when tourism may not be as high in the fall or winter months and considerably increased during the spring or summer.
Also, a consideration in pricing could be the possibility of offering different packages for customers who are of different ages (seniors, children) as well as offering any group discounts.
16. Brand Story
An important part of engaging potential customers to take advantage of your bus tours, it is a good idea to create a story of what an individual can expect or has experienced when they take advantage of your service.
The story can begin with a family or an individual who wants to do something different that would be relaxing and fun.
Perhaps the story unfolds with the individual or family booking a tour through your business and ultimately having the time of their life.
When creating a brand story, make sure that it has a beginning and captures the reader’s attention, brings the reader along with the story through the actual enjoyment of the tour, and ultimately their overall reaction.
One of the important aspects of starting a business is having a logo or a brand that will resonate with people, and when they are thinking about utilizing a tour bus, your brand or logo will resonate with them and reflect what the tour bus experience is all about.
A marketing firm can help in this process, or you could hire a graphic designer through a freelance website such as www.upwork.com.
18. Travel Website
In conjunction with the website that you have created, you want to maximize search engine optimization strategy, which means that you use certain words that you anticipate potential customers will utilize when looking for a bus tour business to engage.
The words should match the content on your website so that when those words are used by the Internet browser, your site will populate the screen of the individual.
This can be accomplished by writing articles and having them posted on your website, as well as describing your business, what your business is about, where the tour bus will take people, etc.
19. Active in Tourism Industry
To be a successful business operator of a tour bus company, you need to take an active part in the local tourism community.
The best way to do this is to research any tourist information offices that are available in your community, check with the hotel, Airbnb facilities, etc.
Also, a good way to be involved in the community is to be a member of a service organization.
Examples of a service organization could include:
By being involved with these service organizations, you get a chance to interact with other business leaders and are able to begin, in a subtle and sometimes direct manner, the promotion of your tour bus business.
20. Test Run
A good idea before you actually roll out or inaugurate your business to the community is to do a test run.
You could invite family and friends to be part of the inaugural run or also invite business leaders in the community as a way to promote your business and obtain their feedback.
After having one of these runs, you can gather feedback, make any adjustments needed and then, incorporating any adjustments as required, inaugurate your business to the community.
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21. Attend Seminars
It is also important to remember that in the tourism business, especially as it relates to the bus tour industry that there are constant changes and new caveats being presented.
Therefore, as much as possible, be on the lookout for any of these seminars that you can attend that relate to travel and tourism.
In addition to learning, you can expand your “Rolodex” or list of contacts and utilize that sphere of influence to keep in constant touch and learn new things.
22. Online Booking System
Also, once you get customers to your website, you want to give them the opportunity to purchase their tour at the moment.
This is accomplished by having embedded in your website an online booking system.
The system can be used to accommodate the reservation needs of the customer or can also be provided by contacting a reservation desk through the phone.
A great way to promote your business as well as help out your community is to donate a tour package to a charity for any fundraising events that they may have.
Often, charities will have silent auctions or bid on donated items, with the highest bidder receiving the package.
This would be a great way to promote your business as well as indicate to other business leaders in the community your philanthropic effort in wanting to support the need of a charity that is doing good in the community.
Also, as it relates to a charity, you could also be part of their board which would give you an opportunity to interact with other leaders from the community, which would help to promote your business.
Another added dimension that you want to create and implement is the development of a uniqueness that will define your bus tour company.
In order to attract customers and distinguish yourself from the competition, you should develop a uniqueness or a quality of your service that separates your tour bus business from the others.
The uniqueness could be represented by the tours that you provide, a different experience while on the bus and traveling, a particular restaurant or stop on the way to the tourist destination, etc.
Another possibility of providing uniqueness is, in concert with your targeted audience, the tour, if family-oriented, could have a children’s entertainer on board the bus or if a wine tour, there could be an individual who plays the violin or something to that effect.
Of course, safety is of the utmost importance, and any uniqueness that you bring on the bus should not be a distraction to the driver.
25. Register as a Tour Guide
There may be some minor licensing that may be required due to your specific business of operating a tour bus enterprise.
One of those possibilities to be registered may require that you be licensed as a tour guide.
It is important that you check with your local tourism board to see if this is a requirement that, upon certification and licensing, will allow you to conduct tours and take tourists around various areas within the community.
I have always been one to do things myself.
Being a “lone wolf” was not only demonstrated in the workplace, as I would often be found working alone on a project, but also in times of leisure.
I was not a team player.
When it came to vacations, I would make plans, look for lodgings, plan itineraries, etc.
One particular weekend my wife and I decided to get away to the city of San Francisco, and she talked me into using a travel agent.
The travel agent was able to get us a travel package booking.
The package included airfare, lodging, and a variety of tours that we could take utilizing a tour bus.
The experience was so rewarding and enjoyable because everything was planned out.
I didn’t have to worry about anything and touring the city utilizing a professional touring bus company proved to be enjoyable.
Tour Bus Business FAQs
How Many Tour Bus Companies Are in America?
According to an article in the Washington Post, there are 3,000 bus companies in America.
What is the Value of the Tour Bus Industry?
It is predicted that the bus market will be worth $61.41 billion by the year 2028.
This, according to the Global News Wire.
You Can Do It
Your idea of starting a bus touring business before it begins its travels requires some significant work in the garage before you begin to roll.
Just as you conduct a safety check before traveling, there are ideas and tips that you can incorporate to be successful in this service industry.
As travel restrictions are lifting, families and individuals are excited to be able to explore once again by taking travel vacations.
The bus tour business is an excellent way for travelers to sit back, relax and be chauffeured to places of interest.
Again, this company has paid $25+ million to members: