Updated September 2022 – So you’ve decided that you want to start running tours. But now, you’re stuck on exactly how to approach your tour operator business and the types of tours to offer.

There are a lot of moving parts in any tour operation management. When it comes to understanding how tour operators work, you need to know:

What market you’re working with? What are their demographics, and where do they do their research before they decide what to do at your destination?
How much capital do you need? You may require a significant amount, as it can take up to 5 years to establish a recognized presence in your destination.

The answer to these questions will rely heavily on the structure you choose for your tour operation.

Types of tour packages

With a vast variety of different types of tours, it can be an overwhelming task to narrow down your options into a detailed tour plan.

Here are some of the different types of tour package options to consider:

Full and half-day tours

These tours are run within a day or less. Tourists typically love them because they can experience a destination easily and without much hassle.

Target market

Types of tour package

Your exact target market will depend on the location and activities included in your tour. Some common target markets for full and half-day tours include:

  • Tourists for business or leisure
  • Families, backpackers, or single travelers
  • People who share a specific interest
  • International or local travelers

Typical size

Full and half-day tours typically tend to include anywhere from 2 to 50 individuals.

Typical costs

Costs that may have to be accounted for when organizing full and half-day tours include:

Example activities

  • City walking tours
  • Bus tour
  • Surfing, snorkeling, cruises, or any other water-based activities
  • Wine tasting

Extended or multi-day tours

Also known as multi-day tours, these tours cover 2 or more days linked together with overnight accommodation stops. They generally use coaches for transport, with included accommodation at a hotel or motel.

They have regular departure dates that can be pre-sold to individual customers well in advance of the date of travel.

You shouldn’t confuse these tours with safari tours that use four-wheel drive vehicles and camping or budget accommodations. Those are slightly different in nature (more on that later).

Target market

  • Adventure tourists
  • International tourists

Typical size

Extended or multi-day tours tend to be smaller than half or full-day tours.

Typical cost

Due to their prolonged duration, there are comparatively more things that must be addressed when organizing multi-day tours:

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Insurance

Example activities

  • Hiking or cycling tours
  • Cross-country/ multi-city tours
  • Cruises

Group package tours

Types of tours

Specialized groups will jump on organized one-off itineraries that are aimed at their demographic.

Target market

  • Overseas/interstate tourist groups
  • Pensioners groups
  • Schools
  • Sporting clubs

Typical size

Group package tours can be both large and small.

Typical cost

There are numerous different costs that may have to be considered when organizing a group package tour. This includes:

  • Accommodation
  • Admission costs
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Insurance

Example activities

  • Touring historic and cultural sites
  • Adventure experiences
  • Educational experiences

Safari camping tours

These are extended tours that are aimed at small groups of people with similar interests. Using a four-wheel drive or coach, those interested in adventure or eco-tourism experience will camp outdoors or use budget accommodations. There is often a communal approach to preparing campsites and meals.

Target market

  • Adventurists and hikers
  • Individual travelers or small groups
  • Younger travelers in their 20s and 30s

Typical size

While there is no fixed number, safari camping tours tend to comprise somewhere between 10 – 20 individuals. The recommended number will depend on the location of the tour and the level of expertise of the tour guides.

Typical cost

Factors that influence the cost of safari camping tours include:

  • Camping goods (i.e. tents, portable cooking utensils, camp chairs, lanterns)
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Insurance

Example activities

  • Mountain hikes
  • Wildlife observation
  • Adventure activities

Passenger charter

Unlike the previous tours we mentioned, this type of tour operation provides vehicles for general hire by individuals, sporting clubs, social groups, and school groups.

Target market

Organizations that are running specific events or activities for a larger number of individuals.

Typical size

Passenger charters can be of any size. Unless multiple vehicles are hired, they will require vehicles that accommodate for their tour size.

Typical cost

The typical cost to run a passenger charter service is mostly determined by the mode of transportation you choose. To ensure an efficient service, it’s also important to invest in an all-in-one vehicle or boat charter software to schedule your drop-offs and pickups.

Example activities

  • School excursions
  • Hotel transfers
  • Commuting

Small charter vehicles

Tour operation management

These are vehicles used to provide limousine services and personal tours. You may have to obtain a license to do so.

Target market

  • Families, couples, and small groups
  • Individual travelers
  • Luxury travelers

Typical size

Small charter vehicles will typically be between 2 to 6 individuals.

Typical cost

The cost of running a small charter vehicle service will depend on the activity you are providing. Costs that may be associated with this type of service include:

  • Transportation
  • Admission fees

Example activities

  • Personalized tours
  • Hot air balloon or helicopter rides
  • Winery tours

How to market your tour operations and ensure streamlined tour operation management

Once you have decided on the type of tour you are planning to provide customers, it’s time to finally get started on solidifying your plans by setting up and marketing your business.

Here are 9 stages that must be considered when marketing different types of tours and reaching valuable customers:

1. Research the destination

What kind of travelers are most likely to visit your destination? Is there anything specific that they are looking to experience?

Understanding the demographics that your destination attracts is vital to creating a strong marketing plan that takes into account your target audience. By researching the location of your tour business, you will gain a better understanding of how to refine your marketing strategy and advertise your business in a way that resonates with your target market.

2. Understand your target market

Who is your target market? What channels do they typically use for booking? Is there a specific type of marketing that they will respond to more strongly (i.e. social media)?

After you’ve pinpointed your target market, a key part of effective tour operation management is creating a strong marketing plan that responds to the behavior of your ideal customer. If a majority of your target customer base is staying in a specific location or visiting similar businesses, think of creative ways to lean into this in your marketing. Could you form partnerships with specific hotels? Or, if you are aiming to target your tour services to a younger demographic, can you start an Instagram campaign for your business?

Conducting target market research will also allow you to tailor your tour operation management and structure to better respond to the wants of your customers.

3. Prepare an itinerary of your tour

How long will your tour take? Will you require different itineraries if your tour is dependent on the weather or the interests of your customers?

Create several different itineraries and carefully analyze each one to determine the itinerary that makes the best use of its time. Research how your competitors are structuring their itineraries and invent creative ways to enhance their itinerary by providing a more fulfilling experience.

Sample different routes and consider trying out the tour in person to better assess the time you’ll need to complete it from beginning to end.

4. Find and negotiate with suppliers

different types of tours

Can you partner with local hotels, businesses, or travel agencies? Will you consider partnering with online travel agencies to reach your target market?

Now that you’ve determined your target audience, it’s time to find suppliers that will enhance your access to them. Possible partnerships with suppliers may include:

  • Car rental agencies
  • OTAs
  • Visitor information centers and tourism bureaus
  • Airlines
  • Hotels
  • Local businesses
  • Other tour businesses

Before approaching suppliers, ensure that you collect the necessary information to convince them of the mutual benefits of partnering with your business. Discover tips on how to develop local strategic partnerships with businesses here.

5. Set a price for your tour package

What are competitors targeting for their tours? How can you balance what customers are willing to pay with the cost of organizing your tour?

Pricing is incredibly important for a tour operator business plan. The price of your tour package will influence your ability to compete with the different types of tour businesses within your local market. To ensure that your pricing both attracts customers and generates a profit, you will need to create a solid tour pricing strategy that takes into account the different types of tours your business will offer.

There are two main strategies when it comes to pricing your tour business: marking-up and marking-down. Both are pretty self-explanatory: with a markup strategy, you will set your prices to a higher amount in order to generate a decent profit. Meanwhile, a mark-down strategy offers lower prices and generates a smaller profit.

Each strategy has its advantages and drawbacks. Learn more about selecting the right price for your tour package here.

6. Create a brochure for your tour

How can you best represent your tour using eye-catching pictures and short, engaging content? If you are offering various different types of tour packages, how will you communicate their differences in a visual format?

Brochures may sound outdated, but they play an important role in attracting tourists who rely on physical handouts to plan out their daily schedules while traveling. Hotels also often use brochures to provide information to their visitors about local attractions. But when your brochure is set amidst a sea of similarly-themed pamphlets in a hotel lobby, it can be difficult to stand out.

Creating a tour brochure relies on creativity and a touch of graphic design skills. Luckily, there are numerous free software packages on the web (including Microsoft Word) that can be used to create stunning, unique brochures.

Try creating several different brochures and researching which one appeals best to your target audience through A/B testing.

7. Get a tour booking system

handle different types of tours with an online booking system

How will you manage bookings? Does your system offer real-time booking that takes into account the various channels of booking and different types of tour packages?

Your tour booking system will form the foundation of your tour operation management. It’s crucial that you find the right kind of online booking system that supports your business and streamlines the tedious processes related to booking management including:

  • Guest communication
  • Sales activity analysis
  • Inventory management
  • Price management
  • Billing

Rezdy is a leading booking software that allows you to manage your business on the go. No matter where or how you’re receiving bookings, Rezdy provides you with an all-in-one tour and activity booking system that’s simple to use and updated in real-time. Start a 21-day free trial of Rezdy to enjoy more bookings with less stress.

8. Start promoting your tour package

How will you promote your tour package? Are you reaching the right places to communicate with your target audience?

Once you’ve addressed the nitty-gritty details of your tour or activity, you’ll finally be able to start promoting your business and the different types of tours you are offering. Some key ideas to consider in your marketing include:

  • Start establishing a steady presence on social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube
  • Optimize your website and ensure it’s mobile friendly
  • Harness the power of online reviews by encouraging customers to leave positive reviews
  • List your business on Google
  • Consider starting a blog on your website
  • Reach out to local businesses to develop partnerships

9. Deliver an unforgettable tour experience

One of the best ways to attract new opportunities is to deliver a unique and enjoyable experience that will transform customers into advocates for your business. After all, each customer has access to a broader network of friends and family, who may one day be interested in signing up for your tour.

Of course, the way you go about organizing an unforgettable tour experience will depend on the nature of your tour itself. But having an organized system set in place that encourages efficient resource management and guest communication is key to providing customers with an incredible experience.

If you want to enhance your tour operation management, begin a FREE 21-day trial of Rezdy to experience how automating your booking management can transform your business. Alternatively, book a demo session with our team to see how Rezdy can fit within your business.

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