Tourist Information Center Business

Overview Of Business Model
A tourist information center is a Web Site that provides prospective travelers with information about popular tourist locations. It provides the user with common weather conditions, sites to see, places to go, things to do, or anything else someone might want to know about their travel destination.

Your site should be designed so that the average user can easily access accurate information about a travel destination. Accuracy is of the utmost importance as people will be relying on your information to plan their vacation. It is suggested that you choose a niche, a small area, or a single travel topic to cover. You will need to cover a lot of information even when covering a small area.

Your main source of income will be generated by banner ads or commercial listings with links to Web sites that are related to tourism in the area you cover. Thus, if you cover the state of New York, for example, you can offer your service to New York’s bed and breakfasts, amusement parks, restaurants, hotels, RV parks, car rental agencies, and other related sites.

Skills Needed
Since you are an information service, it is of the utmost importance that the information you provide be highly accurate since people will be depending on you. Another skill that may prove to be helpful is a familiarity with Web site design and maintenance. If you are not familiar with this, you will need to hire someone who is, or outsource this activity to someone who can perform changes to your Web site regularly.

Cost To Start This Business
The costs associated with setting up this business have been divided into three categories: hardware and software purchases, accumulating information for your business, and setting up your Web site.

You will need a computer, administrative and database software, a printer, a scanner, a digital camera, and graphics software. You will need to pay to have your Web site designed, developed, and hosted unless you are capable of doing this yourself. Most importantly, you will need to do a lot of research and information gathering. The amount of money you spend on this will depend on your familiarity with the area or travel topics you are covering.

The final cost to set up and run this type of business will range from $5,000 to $40,000 depending on what you believe you need to run it most efficiently. The Web site and database will usually account for at least half of your initial expenses. Once you are set up, you should expect additional costs that are associated with promoting your business online and offline.

Number Of Employees Needed To Start
The number of employees needed to start your tourist center depends on how much information you will be managing. This type of business can be started with one person.

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International Potential
Although your site visitors will be international, it is likely that your clientele will be local or national depending on the niche you choose to develop.

Important Business Issues To Be Addressed
The key to your success in this business is high-quality information and a well laid out Web site.

Since you need to provide a lot of detailed information on various travel destinations, it is necessary that you choose a niche, an area, or a type of travel to cover. Unless you have a huge staff, you won’t be able to provide enough upto-date, quality information for worldwide or even nationwide coverage. By limiting your information coverage, you also gain the advantage of avoiding competing with the larger tourist Web sites.

You might consider giving the tourism locations in your database access to their record for updating purposes. You would provide them with passwordcontrolled access to their record only. This will require additional programming on the front end but will shift some of the maintenance of the records outside your organization.

Online Marketing Techniques
Some of the online marketing techniques that would be most effective for promoting this type of business include:

  • Develop a comprehensive link strategy. Linking to a wide variety of tourism sites and especially tourism service sites will be a definite benefit for your business. You will also want to generate links to your site from tourism cybermalls directories, meta-indexes, and Web rings.
  • Participate in news and discussion groups related to tourism. Remember to include your signature file and a great tagline.
  • Providing a section of your site for coupons and discounts for various travel services such as car rentals or hotels could also increase repeat traffic and customer loyalty. You might ask your visitors if they’d like to receive your coupons and discount information as the site is updated.
  • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines.
  • Another good idea to increase customer loyalty is to develop an advice column, travel articles, pictures, or video. High-quality information is guaranteed to draw customers back to your site.

Additional Income
If your Web site is dedicated to a specific type of travel such as adventure tours or hunting, you could sell items related to that type of tourism. For example, you could sell mountain gear for adventure tours or hunting gear for hunting trips. It is important to note that the cost to develop your Web site will increase slightly since you will need to incorporate an e-commerce service.

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