How to Start a Walking Business
Starting a hiking or walking tour business can be fairly simple, and it offers many benefits to business owners. You do not have to live near a National Park or tourist attraction to make this business work. In fact, there may be multiple hiking or walking business location opportunities right under your nose – and there may be virtually no competition!
There are also other benefits that a walking or hiking business provide, such as exercise, weight loss, social activity, animal watching or simply getting an escape from a daily routine. If any or all of these activities interest you, this may be your ideal career.
At first glance, a walking business might appear to have little opportunity with a small customer base. But think again. In a hiking business, you have opportunities to lead different types of one-day trips and even expand to week-long hiking adventures to remote locations. There is not just one target market, either. You can center your business around a certain level of hiker – from beginner to advanced. In addition, whiles some people enjoy occasional hiking trips, other hiking enthusiasts want to join a regular hiking club that meets weekly or several times a week.
Another factor to think about when you start your business is location. The sky is almost the limit. You can opt to conduct hikes or tours in one area, or you can add variety to your work schedule by exploring new areas. You can lead hiking or walking tours in cities, states or even countries. You may even want to package the hikes or walks as organized group trips – with travel and accommodations included.
As expected, the ideal person to operate a hiking or walking business enjoys the company of other people, meeting new people, spending time outdoors and exercising on a routine basis. When working with groups of people from different backgrounds, having patience and flexibility will make the job easier. If you like teaching, that is an added bonus.
Do not forget your competition. Are there other businesses in your area offering the same or similar service? Ideally, you want to lead hiking or walking tours where you do not have to worry about several other companies competing for the same customers. Less competition makes getting customers much easier.
If there is substantial competition with other hiking or walking groups nearby, consider differentiating your hikes or tours. Sometimes you can lessen or even eliminate competition simply by focusing on a different market like seniors, families with small children or people who want to lose weight.
When it comes to promoting your walks or hikes, you will use different marketing strategies depending upon whether your prospects are local or from out-of-town. Start by printing informational brochures and hiking schedules. Leave some at your city or county visitor center, chamber of commerce or parks and recreation office. City libraries, cafes and community colleges sometimes allow brochures and flyers to be displayed, and they usually attract lots of people on a regular basis. Since you will be spending your advertising dollars in the brochures or printed materials rather than ads, make sure you take time to create something interesting and intriguing enough that someone will pick up your marketing pieces and read them.
My top tip? Get advice from an expert in the walking or hiking field. I am referring to people who have owned a group hiking or walking businesses. Even meeting with someone who leads tours or group activities as a business can be helpful.
You can get lots of insider tips from experienced professionals – and they can often save you a lot of time and effort in starting your own business. If you do not know of anyone in the field, browse your local library or bookstore for start-up guides, usually written by someone who has operated a hiking or walking business before.