There really are no
shortages of interesting ways to
turn an interest in a viable income stream.
As any good "Opportunity Analyst™" knows, you never know where a great idea
will come from.
For example, in advance
of an upcoming speaking engagement in Lexington, Kentucky, my client sent me
a link to my hotel. In addition to the usual list of hotel amenities, the
Marriott Griffin Gate Resort also featured a link to Area Attractions.
I’ve never been to
Lexington. But I also only have a few hours to sightsee. Generally I prefer to
explore on my own. But there are times (like when I had a mere four hours to see Frankfurt, Germany) when
it’s a lot more convenient to have a local tour guide pick you up at my hotel
and show you the sites. This is especially true for older people or for
anyone who may have difficulty getting around on their own or who don’t like
driving in unfamiliar places.
So I decided to follow a
link called "Hotel Recommended Tour Services" which led me to
The Opportunity Analyst in me was fascinated to see how some local people
managed to turn their knowledge of this world-renowned "horse country" into
a viable small business.
Adults plunk down $30 to
be taken "inside the plank fences and down the shady lanes of Central
Kentucky" and onto working farms – something the average person could not do
on their own. Tourists get a "behind the scenes look at horses after their
racing careers are over, in-foal broodmares, weanlings, yearlings and,
depending upon the time of year, newborn foals."
The tours run twice a
day, seven days a week. If the photos at the Website are any indication, it
looks like they can handle at least a dozen people. You do the math. I’m
sure, like a lot of businesses, there are slower and busier months and days.
But, all and all, it’s not a bad way to make a living sharing your passion
What strikes me is that
a lot more people could be partnering with local hotels to run walking and
other kinds of tours. For example, anyone who has attended the annual Work
at What You Love workshop in Northampton, Massachusetts knows what a special
area this is. And yet, I could not find a single small tour company
operating in the entire Pioneer Valley. Sounds like opportunity knocking to
If you think you’d get
bored running the same tour over and over, then think outside the box and
create a series of tours. Tours could be based on themes, demographic niche
(children, garden lovers, etc.), or season.
For example, a theme
tour in my area could include a historical tour of Emily Dickenson's house
and grave site, a drive by former Northampton mayor and United States
President Calvin Coolidge’s home, and a visit to Old Deerfield Village just
to name a very few.
The next day could be
the craft- or art-lovers tour. Tourists could be guided through one of
many local art galleries, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, the
Smith College Museum of Art, or the Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA)
in the nearby Berkshires. Certain tours could coincide with date-specific
events like the upcoming
Valley Pottery Trail where ten potters in the Amherst, Northampton and
Greenfield, Massachusetts areas open their homes and studios to visitors.
But that's just the
beginning. I could see tours emphasizing kid- or even teen-focused
activities, guiding small groups of flora and fauna lovers on local nature
leading canoe trips up the Connecticut River, even taking fans of the
paranormal on tours of local haunted houses or cemeteries.
Once you’ve been running
your touring business for a while you can do what
Crete-Walks.com did. In addition to
running walking tours themselves, they also train out-of-town tour operators
how to lead their own walking tours in the area. Now that’s thinking like an
You don’t need to live
in a well-known tourist destination to find people eager to pay a
knowledgeable local to show them around. As travel writer and former
contributing editor to International Living magazine Jen Stevens points out,
"Where ever you live is a destination for someone else." (Listen to my complete interview with Jen
Case in point was a
full-page feature in The Boston Globe’s Sunday Travel Section about a small,
used bookstore and café located a mile from my home called The Montague Book
Proving once again that just about any deficit can be turned into an
opportunity, the owners of this off-the-beaten-path location sell T-shirts,
coffee mugs, and bumpers stickers featuring the logo: "Books you don’t need
at a place you can’t find."
Don’t want to start a
tour company? The fact that lots of people would love to make money running
tours tells me that opportunity is still knocking… just at a different door.
For example you could start the Association of Walking Tour Operators of
Canada. Or you could interview small – and ideally, unique – tour operators
and then produce some kind of a "how to start a tour business" handbook or
If you don’t want to
start your own Website you may be able to work with an established
information products distributor like
Dream Jobs to
Go or Fab Jobs.
Both sites feature "how to" guides on a range of businesses like How to
Become a Food Critic, Movie Reviewer, Jewelry Designer, Professional Golfer,
Spa Owner and many, many more. If your guide is accepted, you earn a
commission on all books sold. Plus you can still sell them at your own site
and elsewhere as well.
The possibilities are
limited only by your imagination. Opportunity is knocking. So what are you