how to be a successful tour operator

For some reason, many people get confused when they visit this site and think we book travel or run tours. Quite honestly, I've considered running my own tours and we've now launched a partnership where we can sell travel too. It's not as easy, nor as glamourous as you might think though. Being a successful tour operator takes loads of time and energy as well as a bit of luck. Most of all though, as fun as it might sound to show people around your favorite places ... it is still a business. Let's take a look at some things you need to know to become a successful tour operator!

Tour operators are charged with identifying and creating tour packages for travelers. The tour operators industry has grown tremendously over the past few decades, with the introduction of digital systems leveling the playing field for all agency sizes to compete favorably. The competition now is greater than it was years ago, meaning you need a robust strategy to succeed in the industry. The following tips should help you with that:

Identify Your Target Audience

Defining your market is one of the most crucial elements of success in the tour operator space. Firstly, you need to identify your strength or area of specialization. It could be adventure parks, ziplines, tours, or rentals, just to name a few.

Next, study the industry and create customer personas to understand the business from your clients’ perspective. It can take some time to get this down to a science, but you doing so can put you miles ahead of your rivals who bypassed this stage.

Do A Good Job - Every Time!

Word of mouth matters and it is essential that you do a great job every time but this is even more important at the beginning. For instance, a few years ago I was on a tour in Mexico and the operator was showing us a new offering that they had just launched. Unfortunately, it was simply not safe and infact one of the members of our group got injured during the process. These guys might have had everything else right going on but now there were 20 influencers that were not going to write positive things about it and worse, they might share negative reviews. This is true not just for folks like me doing press tours but for a tour operator's individual customers too. 

Happy customers tell friends ... upset customers tell everyone!

Find Suitable Office Space

We may be living in the digital era, but the physical part of your business is no less important than the online aspect. People still look to offices to differentiate reputable companies from mediocre startups.

Guided selection of an office space can act as a marketing tool on its own. For example, if you are located along a high-traffic street, chances are you will grab the attention of passersby who don’t have time to search you online. Tenant representation service providers such as the ones at can help you find an ideal office based on your specifications. They will even negotiate the lease terms with the landlord on your behalf.

Avoid Engaging In Price Wars

Competition is traditionally based on two approaches: increasing product or service quality, and trimming prices. Both options work, but one eats into your profits, while the other doesn’t. What’s more, you may have noticed that the most successful operators and players in other niches are always the more expensive ones.

Generally, people don’t care for the price as much as they do quality. Instead of trying to compete with tour package pricing, consider developing a better converting marketing strategy.

Have An Online Presence

It’s virtually impossible to run a tour operation business solely from a land-based office. Most people search for travel agencies online (60%, according to this guide), and to pull closer to the market leaders, you simply have to follow suit. You need to create a website that describes exactly what you do and allows for bookings and inquiries. Pair it with a digital marketing strategy that has social media and search engine optimization (SEO) at its core, and you’ll be set.

Setting yourself up as a force to reckon with in the tour operator industry is down to how you create your business plan. Hopefully, the above tips give you useful insights into the industry and braces you for the competition you’ll face.