For entrepreneurs with a heart for adventure, the travel and lodging industry is well-worth exploring. As travel restrictions lift, more and more people are searching for ways to satisfy their wanderlust. While it’s very true that the industry has been significantly reshaped by the pandemic, America’s comfort and confidence levels are on the rise, and small, boutique getaways are more attractive now than ever before. To help you imagine ways you can break into this exciting industry, read on for four unique travel startup ideas.
Remember, if any of these opportunities capture your interest, keep these options at your fingertips and dive deeper into the industry with our free Small Business Startup app—available for both Apple and Android.
If you are an aspiring innkeeper, the bed and breakfast industry is here to welcome you with some promising statistics! According to the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, the bed and breakfast industry has an estimated worth of $3.4 billion. Following COVID-19 travel restrictions, small bed and breakfast hotels have become increasingly popular due to their size. With smaller crowds, many travelers feel safer in a boutique atmosphere. Additionally, these quaint destinations offer personality and charm that a big-box hotel simply can’t match.
To make the most of this business venture, it helps to differentiate yourself as much as possible from name-brand hotels. You can do so by featuring special amenities that are centered around the travel experience in your own city or town. For example, if you live in an area that is famous for biscuits and gravy, then make it a staple on your breakfast menu! Additional sources of revenue may include opening your dining room to nearby locals for dinner, hosting cooking classes, or renting out space for private parties and events.
Boutique Tour Business
When measured by revenue, the “tour operators” industry in the United States reached a market size of $8 billion! If you live in a sought-after destination and have a love for history and storytelling, this may be the perfect opportunity for you. The charm of a boutique tour business is the same type of charm that travelers seek in a bed and breakfast hotel: Authenticity is your greatest money maker.
In addition to having charm and getting a few laughs, obviously, you’ll need a deep knowledge of everything there is to know about your location—from restaurants to beaches, parks, and everything in between.
The key to success in this industry is distinguishing yourself from the competition with a niche experience. Instead of a bus, you may consider something more adventurous like a kayaking or boating tour. Or, if your location is known for its food, you may decide to partner with local restaurants to create a food tour through the city!
Unless vacationers are staying in a very walkable destination, out-of-town travelers often need a way to get around. By the end of 2022, revenue in the car rentals segment is projected to reach $81.32 billion. Additionally, by 2026, the number of users in this segment is expected to amount to 602.2 million. On average, profit margins in the car rental segment are about 6% for most businesses. However, if you can operate your business more closely to how Uber works, your profits could very well be higher—this includes finding the right location and negotiating well with fleet insurance companies and credit card companies.
In 2022, when measured by revenue, the market size of the gift shops and card stores industry reached $22.0 billion. To make the most of this business opportunity, you must stock your retail store with offerings that match the needs of vacationers at an affordable price point. For example, a gift shop in a beach destination for young families might offer children’s swimwear, beach toys, and maybe even a cold snack—like Slushies! Remember, the key is providing retail items that reflect the demographic and socioeconomic strata of travelers in your area.
Explore the Travel & Lodging Industry Today
We hope this guide inspires you with ideas on how to break into the travel and lodging industry! Launching your own business is an exciting opportunity, and we know you’re probably eager to get started. But remember, take your time to explore all your options. Yes, you always have the “opportunity” to start a small business, but sometimes, it makes more sense to invest in an opportunity that already exists and doesn’t require you to do all the heavy lifting alone. These are called “Franchise Opportunities.”
To learn more, explore a few franchise opportunities in the travel and lodging industry, below! Remember to download the free Small Business Startup app to keep all these opportunities at your fingertips—available for both Apple and Android.