Getting Started in Tourism

weighing up your human experience and knowing where to Get advice can help to answer two of the most common questions i'm asked as a business ADVISER. 

Working in regions across Australia, two of the many questions I am often asked by new business owners are ‘how can I afford to transition from my job into a business owner?’ and ‘how do I market my business to get bookings, or sales, fast?’ I work in the tourism sector, and also in agricuture, arts,  health and professional services industries. But the questions are the same no matter the industry and that's becasue what matters early is not the technical information, but the human experience.

At this point, there is little room for technical information. I focus mostly on the human experience of people transitioning from one point in thier life to another. It's like they are leaping lilypads and weighing up the risks of falling in the lake.  Generally, I find that if and when people are intently focused on what it takes to start and grow something from scratch…it’s a good sign! The adrenaline is normally pumping, and it can be thrilling, but also terrifing as they contemplate bringing  something new to life.

In tourism, perception is that starting and marketing a regional tourism business is easy, just like starting any business but it’s tourism and regional, right? Maybe easier because hey, it’s a region - everyone knows one another, and anyway, doesn't the Tourism Commission do the marketing for you? Isn't there a grant?

A-hem. Ok, let's put that aside for now. Let me just say that for tourism, this simply isn’t the case. Building a regional tourism business is way more than just marketing and sales, which are fundamental and critical.  Regional tourism success is complicated by a myriad of other factors such as:

  • your day job
  • family commitments
  • your budget and what you need to live as you transition out of your day job into a business owner, or balance the two
  • travel plans
  • language barriers
  • registrations and licenses required
  • disability requirements – yours or your customers’
  • cultural differences, and any cultural obligations you may have if you are Indigenous, or actively committed to your community
  • the region or town you are in and how functional or attractive it is
  • how close to airports/cities you are
  • seasonality
  • availability of workers
  • other local tourism offerings and 
  • the list goes on.

Of course this list is true for ANY regional business starting up not just tourism, but my point is, it’s the human experience that matters in this stage of the entrepreneur’s journey, and much of the available support falls short for start-ups. 

In the course of writing my book for regional tourism start–ups, my early research showed there are a lot of ‘how to get rich quick under 30’ books already available, and given most of us aren’t under 30 and rich, that tells you something about their insights. Author Toni Morrison said: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it’. And this is what I’ve done with Booked Out!

I’ve coached hundreds of people starting up in tourism and business owners diversifying by using a tourism marketing strategy to promote their service. I’ve seen first-hand how people get quickly overwhelmed with advice - often conflicting and from many perspectives – given by people who have zero experience in business, regional visitor experiences and no skin in the game.

So, what do new tourism entrepreneurs need starting out? 

To become informed, direct your research and shine a light on the key things that will give you the most bang for your buck. And there probably aren’t many bucks in the startup stages, so this REALLY matters!

Developing a value-for-money mindset is healthy in any business, as is keeping costs down so you can invest in what matters.

Another thing that helps is getting your own personal business coach.  Even if this is working with them for one hour a month, it is money well invested (and tax deductable) if you are starting up something more complicated than a ‘one customer, one night’ model, like an Airbnb. When you encounter bumps on the road you can kick issues around with your mentor and get some advice and insights on how to deal with them. Issues you face early on are probably more common than you think for business owners new to tourism, and there’s ways to navigate them. 

And the answers to the two most common questions? If you are embarking on a new business journey and you are transitioning, do it slowly and with good support around you to make sure you are managing your risks, especially financial risks. And how to get bookings? Buy my new book, and learn from hundreds of ideas and tactics that have worked for others.

You’re not alone.

Buy your copy of Booked Out! How to Start and Grow a Successful Regional Tourism Business here.

Contact us, call Susan Lee

0466 090 600