How I Went from Zero to a 7-Figure Tour Business Owner
In 2007 my wife and I started a day tour company in Melbourne, Australia.
We started from scratch with less than $5000 capital…
You see, we had NO experience in tourism, NO business experience, NO networks or support and almost NO funds. My IT skills were appalling too – I’m a little embarrassed to admit I was basically clueless.
Now, I don’t say this lightly. But it took serious grit and determination to get through these early stages – because even after two exhausting years of 60+hour weeks, we were taking home $20,000 a year profit from a $65k revenue.
In fact, we came very close to throwing the towel in, several times…
Chances are, you might be doing better than that already in the early years of your own business?
Anyhow, fast forward seven years and slow, steady growth eventually shone through…
Our efforts had paid off. And our goal had been achieved….
We’d actually built that original home-grown business to $2 million+ in annual revenue and created a really GREAT LIFE in the process.
The company was sold in June of 2017 for over seven figures. This just shows you what’s possible. And I want to help you achieve YOUR goals and targets as a unique tour business owner.
However, it was persistence, assembling an elite team around us and a strong desire to transform both this business and create a dream life which brought us results…
So I set about creating the resources, systems and processes to enable us to build a world-class, scalable tour business that didn’t require me to be ‘in it’ as it grew.
Burnout for may tour business owners is REAL. And I don’t want you to “suffer” as you build a business you’re passionate about. Running a business is hard work – no doubt. But it should be manageable and super-rewarding too.
After Successfully Selling My Business And Building a Dream Life, I’m Now Ready to ‘Uncover’ Everything –
You’re About Discover All My Systems, Processes & Tactics…
A proven toolkit including 27 resources of done-for-you documents and templates – everything you could need from A-Z, and in between – to build and scale a profitable tour business…without the steep learning curve, and no guesswork.
For years, students and our tour business community have been asking me “how we did it.” Now, after years of building a successful business, extensive development and testing, I’m finally ready to offer it to you.
In ‘Inside the Tour Business’ you’re going to get an unprecedented ‘look behind the curtain’ at the EXACT resources – documents, templates, workbooks, email scripts, reporting, checklists, marketing collateral and more.
Basically, everything we created in our tour business (Melbourne Private Tours), to enable us to get started. These resources helped us find our feet and get established.
You’ll then to go through the gears and uncover how to scale up so much quicker and easier – and in our case, to a tour business generating close to $2.5 million in annual tour sales.
Plus, not only will you get the templates, but you’ll also get many of THE working documents from INSIDE my business. You’ll see exactly what they looked like when put into action.
These business resources are literally a step-by-step, “do this…then do that” stack of time-saving systems. The same ones enabled us to create enough value in Melbourne Private Tours to execute a 7-figure sale in 2017…
You’re going to find dozens of templates, workbooks, email scripts, marketing tools and more. I’ve carefully designed these so you can literally ‘drag and drop’ into your tour or activity…
…but you’re also going to get rare ‘look under the hood’.
First, let’s look at what you’re getting…and how you’re going to put them to work:
RESOURCE 1 SAMPLE TOUR DESCRIPTIONS FOR A 7-FIGURE BUSINESS
Here’s an insider’s look at our collection of tour descriptions circulated to our distribution partners. The format for all descriptions is the same for all – and you’ll notice that on page 4 and 5 (Melbourne After Dark) I have outlined some of the key features of an effective tour description – plus some areas in which, on reflection, they could have been better.
RESOURCE 2 SAMPLE ‘EXPERIENCE ENHANCERS’
Here’s what our Experience Enhancers looked like. They were an important additional revenue stream. Every confirmed tour booking was given an opportunity to ‘enhance their experience’ 7 days prior to the tour. Our Experience Enhancers were commissionable and also distributed to our travel partners to offer to their clients at the time of booking. Sometimes simple things like offering upsells can boost your bottom line much faster than developing more tours, or exploring new markets -which can be costly, time-consuming and a drain on resources.
RESOURCE 3 SAMPLE TERMS AND CONDITIONS TO ACCOMPANY RATES FOR DISTRIBUTION PARTNERS
These terms and conditions accompanied or tour descriptions and rates and were distributed annually to our agents (travel partners). You can compare these with your own, or use them as a guide to what we felt should be included by way of terms and conditions if you are yet to formalise yours
RESOURCE 4 SAMPLE COVER EMAIL FOR RATE AND ITINERARY DISTRIBUTIONA simple template you can use when mailing out your rates and tour descriptions to distribution partners. Rate distribution is always a great opportunity to promote something new and exciting – and to keep your product in front of a very busy product manager’s mind. Note how we did this.
RESOURCE 5 ‘ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES’ TEMPLATE
Critical to any tour business with an ambition to grow. It’s so important that everybody knows exactly what they are responsible for across all areas of the business – and, most importantly, what the people around them are responsible for. It needs to be clear and visible for all to see. As with any small business, roles and responsibilities will often be ‘fluid’ and more than one person may be responsible for a task. It’s important however that one person ultimately ‘owns’ a task (denoted by an *asterisk*)
RESOURCE 6 SAMPLE ‘ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES’ DOCUMENT FOR A 7-FIGURE BUSINESS
If you want to see what a Roles and Responsibilities document actually looks like inside a multi 7-Figure tour business with 5 full-time office staff, 6 outsourced solutions and 20 tour guides, then here it is!
RESOURCE 7 SAMPLE OPERATIONS MANUAL
We built out our Operations Manual at around the 4-year, $400,000 mark and it was still our ‘systems and processes bible’ right up to the 10-year, $2 million + annual revenue mark – when I sold the business. You’ll be able to literally drop this template into your tour business, drag in the processes you’ve already built out…and create new ones based on the example ones you’ll see in the manual. It’s a comprehensive resource that’ll help you scale up fast
RESOURCE 8 DRAG AND DROP TOUR GUIDE TRAINING AGREEMENT
A comprehensive, ‘nothing to chance’ template that should slot right into any tour business with a few adjustments and additions to suit. Ensures there is nothing a tour guide doesn’t know relating to your expectations of them, the way in which your tours are delivered and the way that your business operates. It ensures tour guides are representing you and your company, rather than themselves – and that they are living and breathing your company values and brand promises
RESOURCE 9 STAFF PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
A highly effective way of motivating and incentivising your staff, getting everyone ‘on board’ and feeling like they are a part of something special.
RESOURCE 10 SAMPLE TOUR GUIDE INFORMATION AND AVAILABILITY
If somebody gets injected into your tour business in an operations capacity and needs to start allocating tours asap, there’s a lot of key information that will help them perform the task efficiently and effectively. How far away live from the office/pick up location, current availability calendar, particular tours they excel in. specific interests, passions and hobbies, foreign languages, other important information. This worksheet allows anybody to hit the ground running with everything they need to start allocating tours to tour guides
RESOURCE 11 SIMPLE SALES ACTION PLAN
The key to implementing an effective sales strategy is to document it, keep it uncomplicated, ensure everybody ‘buys in’ and understands the agreed milestones and accountability. It’s then critical that you review the action plan regularly and chart your progress.
RESOURCE 12 SIMPLE TOUR GUIDE ASSIGNMENT BRIEF
If you run tours of a private, customised nature, this template is one that you might consider adapting to fit your tour or activity
RESOURCE 13 ‘DONE FOR YOU’ OUTREACH EMAIL SCRIPT TO TRAVEL PARTNERS
How do you get a busy product manager to sit up, take notice and get curious about your tours when there are just so many tours and activities for them to remember. This email script is the way to start. Everything they’ll want to know about you, they’ll find here.
RESOURCE 14 SAMPLE POSITION DESCRIPTION – MY FIRST MANAGER
This position description was a highly effective one for us. We tested plenty of PD’s and this one had all the ingredients to draw out the right pool of candidates.
RESOURCE 15 PRODUCTIVE 20-MINUTE TEAM MEETING TEMPLATE
This template was awesome in our business. For any small tour business that understands how critical communication is…but wants to avoid ‘meetings for the sake of ‘meetings’. We found this short, sharp, meeting agenda to be a highly effective communication tool – and left everyone with the time to get on with their job.
RESOURCE 16 ‘DONE FOR YOU’ OUTREACH EMAIL SCRIPT FOR CUSTOMER RESEARCH
A really important email script for a tour business looking to find support from their regional tourism organisations and other industry bodies in identifying potential markets and customers for their tours.
RESOURCE 17 SAMPLE ENQUIRY RESPONSE FOR CUSTOMISED TOUR
A short, effective script to pump out tour enquiry responses lightning-fast – and give you every chance of converting them.
RESOURCE 18 SIMPLE BUSINESS BUDGET TEMPLATE –ACTUAL AND PROJECTED
An uncomplicated budgeting worksheet that allows you to record your actual revenue, cost of tour sale, gross profit, business operating expenses and net profit. It then allows you to look ahead to the coming year, make a decision month by month on what revenue targets you’re going to set (20% increase per month? 30% increase per month?). You can then increase the cost of sale and business by the same % to arrive at a forecast monthly and yearly net profit. The key then is to review your forecast budget each month, line by line to see if you’re on track. If you’re not on track, why not? It enables you to take action right there and then, instead of identifying issues at the year’s end and working out what went wrong.
RESOURCE 19 SAMPLE SALES REPORT FOR A 2-YEAR BUSINESS
The key to success from the day you open the doors of your tour business: know your numbers. At a minimum, you need to be generating a monthly report that tells you how much revenue you are generating, whether it is increasing or decreasing month to month – and the source of this revenue. This sample sales report is from an 18-month established tour business. Every young tour or activity should aim to report in this fashion as a minimum.
RESOURCE 20 – CHOOSING A BOOKING SOFTWARE – CHECKLIST OF QUESTIONS TO GET IT RIGHT
If you haven’t implemented booking software into your tour or activity, it can be a daunting task. There are an overwhelming number of booking software solutions in the market place so…how do you choose the right one for you? Here’s a comprehensive checklist of all of the features and functionality you should be looking for if your tours are of a customised nature. If they’re not it’ll still help to give you a sense of the type of questions you should be asking.
RESOURCE 21 SIMPLE COSTINGS WORKSHEET FOR TAILORED TOURS
We used a super-simple costings worksheet so that our tour designers could spit out customised quotes in lightning quick time
RESOURCE 22 SAMPLE INTERNAL RATE CARD FOR DIRECT ENQUIRIES
This internal rate card was vital for our tour designers to manage phone and email enquiries in lightening quick time, offering dynamic tour prices that reflected our peak, mid and low seasons and gave them the best possible chance of converting.
RESOURCE 23 SAMPLE – CORPORATE EXPERIENCES TO COMPLIMENT OUR LEISURE DAY TOURS
Our menu of corporate event experiences is a good example of how to diversify successfully and implement an extra revenue stream. We identified an opportunity, we did the requisite research to almost ‘guarantee’ there was a market for what we planned to offer, and we grew that division of the business quickly.
RESOURCE 24 TOUR BUSINESS ‘INFORMATION MEMORANDUM’ FOR A DREAM BUSINESS SALE
Ever dreamed of cashing in on all the blood, sweat and tears and selling your tour business in 3, 5 or even 10 years?
Well if you dream of ‘set you up for life’ kind of money for your business then this IM shows you exactly what you need to do to present your tour or activity to potential buyers. It’s a fascinating insight into a 7-figure tour business and the level of detail required to take a tour business to market… and get a dream result.
RESOURCE 25 SAMPLE – SETTING AND DISTRIBUTING RATES OF PAY FOR YOUR TOUR GUIDES
Setting tour rates for contract tour guides can be a tricky business. You need your rates to be fair and appealing…but you also need to protect yourself as there are so many considerations and scenarios that you need to take into account – particularly when running many different
types of private, customised tours where tours rarely go 100% to script. This is how we went about it.
RESOURCE 26 SAMPLE POSITION DESCRIPTION – TOUR GUIDE
We tested many different tour guide job descriptions over many years and this one by far got the best results and the best pool of candidates time after time.
RESOURCE 27 SAMPLE LETTER OF OFFER
Once you’ve found your Mr or Mrs ‘right’…what next? Well you need to look like the professional business you’re striving to be…and you need to cover all basis and protect yourself. A thorough, ‘nothing to chance’ Letter of Offer is crucial. Here’s a sample one for our ‘General Manager’ position. You might prefer to call it an Employment Contract.