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How to Start a Tour Company in Less Than 30 Days

Affiliate Marketing Disclosure

Millions of Americans live in cities and don't think twice about the tourist sites practically in their backyard. But for those within proximity of historical cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, or Los Angeles, the number of tourists flocking to these cities provides a giant opportunity.

Since these cities have a number of tourist destinations, you may be able to make money showing them off to those from outside of town.

Here's everything you need to know about how to start a tour company as a side hustle. The best part? You can get started in less than 30 days.

What are tour companies?

Tour companies are businesses that specialize in arranging accommodations, meals, and/or sightseeing for tourists visiting a given area. These companies typically offer packages based on tourist desires in order to help them make the most of their trip and see sites important to them.

Depending on location, tour companies may offer adventures to:

  • Popular tourist sites

  • Natural landmarks or parks

  • Famous restaurants

  • Other areas of interest

Many companies also offer local cultural experiences.

Why do people hire tour companies?

People hire tour companies for a number of different reasons. Depending on the services you offer, your customers may be able to take advantage of:

  • Skip the line services

  • Cost efficiencies

  • Convenience

  • Being able to relax and not worry about planning an itinerary

Before you get started

To assure that you're able to launch your side hustle within 30 days, here are a number of preliminary steps you'll want to take before you officially launch your tour company.

1. Estimate your costs

This is a side hustle that will come with upfront costs, though they will be dependent on exactly what types of tours or experiences that you offer. For example, if you plan on offering a pasta making class, you'll need:

  • A space to offer classes

  • Ingredients

  • Plate and dish wear

But if you're predominantly focused on guided walking tours, on the other hand, your costs will be much less.

2. Decide what services to offer

Your area likely has way more interesting places than you even imagine. I live outside of Hartford, CT for instance, and while I don't have a ton of interest in the city itself, there is likely an opportunity to put together a package by partnering with Connecticut River boat cruises, downtown lodging accommodations, and dinner reservations at one of the city's great restaurants.

The power in offering travel and tour guide services is packaging your offerings in a streamlined, convenient, and cost-effective way.

You may also opt to offer more hands-on services where you actually offer tours. This will require more overhead and long-term financial investment, but it could be more lucrative over time.

Ideas that would fit into this category include:

  • Walking tours in/around historic parts of cities

  • Bus tours

  • Third party guided tours of museums, galleries, or other areas

Walking tours would be where I'd start initially (if I wasn't bundling services together), since the risks are lower, and your insurance requirements will likely be much lower as well.

3. Establish a business bank account

You'll want to establish a business bank account to collect customer payments and pay any vendors of other businesses you build relationships with.

It is important to keep your side hustle finances separate from your personal finances for a number of reasons, including tax reporting purposes. I've used Bluevine for my business banking for years, and I've had a good experience, complete with no ongoing or monthly maintenance fees.

At the same time, it can be a good idea to think through how you plan to process vender payments. If you market your services through sites like Airbnb Experiences or Viator, they'll have this functionality for you, but if you plan on also offering your experiences directly to customers, Stripe or PayPal can be a great way to help you do this.


While market research does take some time to complete, but these other preliminary steps are things that you should be able to complete within a couple of days.

How to start your own travel tour company

Getting your company off the ground can be done in these 5 stages.

1. Determine any licensing and insurance requirements

Speaking of insurance, you'll need it. Generally, I recommend that all side hustles and businesses working directly with other individuals has coverage, but it is especially true if your business is going to be transport customers across an area.

If you decide to bundle packages, like that example in Hartford I mentioned a minute ago, it may be less critical, though you'll need to be clear that your vendor's insurance policies are active, sufficient, and will be in effect.

The good news is that, even if you need to purchase a policy, you'll probably be able to do so with low monthly premiums!

Additionally, you'll need to make sure you're fully licensed with your state's Department of Business. To do so, you'll likely need to register as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability corporation (LLC), or corporation.

Plenty of companies and services can help with this, including:

Give yourself some time to research and become compliant with any and all of these requirements. A week or so, including researching and getting insurance quotes, should be sufficient. However, depending on the state, it could take a number of weeks for your

2. Pick a name and logo

With an idea in mind, you'll want to pivot to pick a name and logo for your business. As far as names go, there are a number of tips to help you:

  • Use alliteration: Alliterative names are easy to remember and recognize, which can help your business earn word of mouth and other referrals.

  • Include keywords: If you're planning on building a website in the future, using high volume/low difficulty keywords will help provide an immediate search engine optimization (SEO) boost.

  • Elicit emotion: Purposely use words or terms that you think will help elicit positive emotions from your target customers. They just may help you close deals.

As far as logos go, I recommend that you hire a freelancer on Fiverr to design a professional looking one. There are dozens of qualified freelancers on there that can do it for as little as $10.

Even with waiting for your logo design, this process shouldn't take you more than three days in total. Plus, you can work on other aspects of your business at the same time.

3. Market your tours

Ultimately, you don't have a side hustle or business until you've paying customers. The easiest way to get them is to market your services effectively.

There is no shortage of marketing strategies, but since you're trying to get travelers to book experiences through you, I recommend:

  • Airbnb Experiences

  • Viator

  • Social media

Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb actually has a secondary offering beyond booking accommodations for your upcoming stay. The Experiences part of the platform allows individuals and groups in an area to create listings for services they'd like to offer visitors to an area.

This can be an excellent spot to offer your walking tours, guided tours, and any local culture type activities you may want to offer.

For context, I browsed offerings in Boston and found a whole host of offerings, such as:

  • Freedom Trail guided tours

  • Little Italy food tour

  • Photoshoots around the city

Really, the opportunities are endless.


Viator, owned by TripAdvisor, is another experience-based platform commonly used by travelers to book experiences and cultural experiences to enjoy while traveling. Tour companies and freelancing individuals post similar types of offerings to what is offered on Airbnb Experiences.

Bookings on your listings are subject to a 20% commission to Viator, so you'll want to account for that in your pricing.

Social media

Social media is another great way to spread word about your tours and experiences. Depending on your exact offerings, a combination of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are likely to be a good fit for you.

For culinary classes or food tours, in particular, Instagram may be a strong fit due to the visual nature of the platform.

For more traditional experiences, Facebook can be great, given their advertising platform and the presence of Facebook Groups. Collectively, this makes it easier to reach your target customers at the very time they're planning out their vacations and trips.


If you're serious about getting your tour company off the ground in less than 30 days, you will want to begin your marketing efforts as soon as possible, since marketing efforts tend to take some time to pay off.

4. Impress on your tours

With time and effort, you will attract customers.

And this is reason for excitement! But as soon as you do, the real work begins. You'll need to do whatever you can to impress each and every one of these customers. To maximize your chances of doing so, you'll want to:

  • Check in over the course of the tour of experience

  • Ask if they have any questions/want any guidance

  • Do anything else you may find appropriate

Especially if you feel like a certain experience went well, do not hesitate to ask customers to leave you reviews on Viator, Airbnb Experiences,

5. Offer ancillary services

In time, offering other ancillary services may be a great way to increase your revenue and scale your side hustle into a full-time business. For example, if you're currently offering two hour guided tours of Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market in Boston, you may in the future offer a longer offering including tastings from restaurants and bakeries in the Little Italy section of the North End.

Ancillary services, along with upselling and cross selling, has the potential to greatly boost your business.

Pros of running a tour company

Starting a tour company can be a really exciting endeavor, but you should be aware of the various pros and cons of doing so.

1. Low barriers to entry

Creating experiences for others to enjoy can be fun, but it is also desirable given the low barriers to entry. You can get started for hardly any financial investment at all, and you can begin to make money pretty soon thereafter. And while these low barriers to entry can promote competition, the ease in which you can get started is absolutely a pro.

2. Flexibility and creative expression

Starting a tour company comes with a lot of potential for creative expression. You'll be able to craft packages that you think your customers will enjoy, while also building relationships with local businesses, hotels, restaurants, and attractions.

If you like the idea of truly being in control of a business's artistic vision, this is for you.

3. Ability to learn new skills

Many businesses require founders to learn new skills, but starting a tour company comes with even more skills to learn, including marketing, customer service, negotiation, problem solving, and more.


Starting a tour company comes with a fair number of logistics, but if you're interested in showing others around your town or city, it can be an excellent way for you to make money while working on something that truly excites you.

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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and worked for one of the world's largest asset management firms before starting his own consulting practice.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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