What is running a regional tourism business really like?

If you’ve seen White Lotus TV series on Binge you may be wondering is this what is running a regional tourism business is really like? Can I expect my manager to be taking drugs and hitting on staff, criminal under bellies operating behind the scenes and guest marriages falling apart? Writing as a seasoned ‘seasonnaire’ in French Ski fields and the Greek Islands I can tell you these things do happen in resorts, but for the most part in Australian regions, starting out small you are probably not going to encounter the mafia.   But you will see all sorts of human weirdness and behaviours, it just comes with the turf. So what is running a tourism business really like? 

Here are two common misconceptions about establishing and operating a regional tourism business:

1. We can use the property ourselves and then just rent it out the rest of the time

This one is my favourite – the new holiday house owner. This is normally what happens.

You start saying to mates at a BBQ, “When we aren’t using it we have it on Airbnb” and that is true, at first. You get a few sniffs and low ratings because you are not open when the market wants it, and the house is set up with your grandad’s furniture and not the funky kind. Then you get enquiries for next year where you haven't even thought about your own plans yet with family. And then the market demand increases in the season when you want to be there yourself, so you can’t make the money when you think. Your kids want to holiday somewhere else. You now have a second mortgage and another lot of bills, rates and mortgages to pay. Your discretionary income is lower and maybe the economy is taking a turn, your retirement fund is low. Your relatives say they’ll visit but don't want to pay you, because, well, they're family. You start feeling the pinch and the pressure. This hobby sucks! You buy this book. 

Congratulations, you have overcome the first expectation and myth of being in tourism. It is not a holiday! But when you can start making real money from it, you can certainly fund your next holiday somewhere else.

2. There’s plenty of grants out there to pay for our ideas 

Grants are plentiful from the government, not for profits and foundations. They often seem more attractive than they are, the devil is in the detail. If you are not established with at least a brand, an ABN and 12 months of trading income, you have little chance of a look-in. As with any serious capital fundraising you really need a business plan to show how the idea stacks up and a return on investment to funders. The thing about free money, is it’s a myth, too. Be smart about where you spend your time and energy. Grants are fiercely competitive - consider the opportunity cost of applying for one, can you use your time better elsewhere and impact the things within your control? 

Visit my website Resources - Clear Vision Consulting to determine your likelihood of success before you consider any grant as the best way to fund your idea. 

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