So you want to start a business in the travel industry. Awesome! Having started several companies in this space (the Women’s Travel Fest and Damesly outside of this one), I have learned over a decade what it takes to stand out from the crowd and be successful.
If you want to jumpstart your business, become an expert in your niche, move towards public speaking and attract investors (like The Chernin Group (TCG), this article is for you. Let’s get started!
Here’s what you need to know to make your travel business stand out.
Develop your niche
First things first. If you’re not super clear on who you serve and what your business is, take out a pen and paper and start journaling. Who are you trying to reach? How do you want to reach them? What sorts of problems are they experiencing? How can your point of view make it easier for them?
This blog, for example, provides travel tips and guidebooks specific to women who are traveling the world. To do that, we focus on women’s health and safety as our two main pillars — the areas where travel differs between the genders.
Do you want to help people save money? Or are you presenting a luxury product? There are tons of spaces in the travel industry to expand. A couple of areas I think we could use more resources for are baby boomer travel and college gap-year travel.
Seriously, stop comparing yourself
I made a rule for myself early on: I was never going to compulsively stalk my competitor’s websites. I know who they are, they know who I am — but our businesses are totally different. Comparison is the devil when you’re building a business. So put on blinders, keep yourself from late-night stalking, and just focus on your unique point of view. Move in a direction that you think would be interesting or cool, or that feels organic — even if you have no point of reference on how to do it.
When we were first launching travel guidebooks for women, I had no frame of reference: we were literally the first to do it. Instead of getting caught up in all that I didn’t know, however, I used the clean slate as a way to do things in a new way. When you have the opportunity to reimagine how things work — what do they look like?
Build your social network
It’s sad, but it’s true — to reach your people you’ve first got to find them, and the best place to find them is on social media. When you’re starting a travel business, you’re going to be pulled in different directions. Understand that you don’t have to do everything at once. Instead, you’re going to need to find the resources to hire. There are plenty of companies that outsource their social media presence. If you don’t want to do it yourself, pay someone else to do it!
This is a lesson I wish I had learned earlier. Trying to do everything myself because I didn’t want to spend a few hundred dollars set me back by months if not years. You can’t do it all, because you’re not supposed to. Find your strong suit, and delegate everything else.
Find like-minded business owners
Facebook has really changed the game for business owners and entrepreneurs. We’re no longer alone! Every day in my business I come up against something I don’t know the answer to. Luckily I’m in enough business groups online that I know I can turn to for the answer.
Most of my favorite groups weren’t free to join. Which brings me to my next point:
Seek mentorship often
When I finally invested in a business coach, my revenue skyrocketed. From what was a terrifying initial investment, I was able to find returns over and over and over. Now I’m the first to shout from the rooftops: hire a coach! Invest in programs! I am a part of several business mentorship programs, and my favorites include:
Combined, these programs alone have cost me 5-figures. But last year from the tools I learned in them, my business revenue topped 6 figures. I’d say that’s money well spent!
Know what to spend money on upfront
When you’re first building a business, you should spend money on:
- Website design
- Newsletter strategy
- Website hosting
That’s it. Don’t ‘promote’ things on social media. Don’t even bother with FB ad campaigns. Those things can come later, after you’ve gotten content and your revenue streams set up.
Create multiple passive revenue streams
If you’re blogging, your revenue streams will come from traffic, affiliate revenue and any products you might start.
If you’re selling tours, your revenue stream comes from people buying tours.
If you’re starting a travel event business, your revenue stream comes from sponsorships and ticket sales.
Get clear on how you’re profiting first, and move towards that in all that you do. However, don’t get so focused on money that you miss out on what you started this business for: your community. Your people. Your community is EVERYTHING. I cherish the thousands of women I have met through my businesses with every bone in my body. They make me a better person, we support one another, and that shows up in how I serve.
Serve first. Monetize second.
I could really write an entire book on this subject, but I hope this has given you a sneak peek into how to launch a business in travel, and where to put your resources first!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at kelly at gogirlguides dot com, and I’ll help point you in the right direction.
I know that 2020 has been a terrifying time for the travel industry, but that only means that 2021 and 2022 will be booming. For as long as people have existed, we have traveled. That’s been my mantra over the last 6 months!