So you’ve been kicking around ideas of what you’d like to do for your Second Act Career. You’re not ready to retire but you’re done with your old job life and want to do something you can invest yourself in and will enjoy doing.
Your strong points are a friendly personality, you enjoy people, know a lot about your local history, love adventure and discovering out of the way places.
Guess what? You might have the makings for a successful tour guide business! But before you file for your DBA (doing business as name), hang out your shingle and paint your van like the Magic Bus, here are a few things you need to consider first:
1. Location, Location. Even if you know your local history pretty well, you’ll want to hone in on a special aspect of it that people will want to take a tour to learn more about. Combine both your interest with what’s available in your area. For example, if you know a lot about natural caves, and you live in an area where there are many, this might make a good tour subject.
Do you like ghosts and have a lot of haunted houses, old cemeteries, and historical buildings? You might want to create a scary ghost tour. Do you live in a prominent wine making area or around historic battle sites, former Native American settlements? You could offer tours to these places as well.
2. Your Tourists. Who will your tours be aimed at? General ages or specific age groups? War veterans? Wine lovers? Art and Architecture lovers? Will your tours be kid friendly? Find out what kind of tours are available already in your area to learn which ones are popular. How much will your tours cost?
3. Your Spiel. What will you teach your tourists as their tour guide? You’ll want to devise an entertaining, interesting, fun set of facts that you’re comfortable delivering. If you’re not good at speaking in front of a group you might want to work on this first. Practice with your friends or family – take them on some mock tours and let them give you some constructive criticism.
4. Advertise. You’ll want to let people know about your tour. To start, you can make flyers and place them where people come through while traveling – airport restaurants, bars, cafes, train stations, gas stations. You can place an ad in a local newspaper or traveler’s magazine as well.
5. Schedule. Will your tours go once a day or a few times a week? Figure out what days and times your schedule will be and stick to one that won’t interfere with the rest of your life. Weekend tours often get the most business but you might want to offer tours during the week as well.