A group of seven friends sit on an orange picnic blanket outside, with a scenic valley in the background and trees strung with lights overhead. In front of the group are glasses of wine, a couple of lanterns, a charcuterie board, and mason jars filled with a golden beverage. Each member of the group holds up a lit sparkler.
Glamping is rising in popularity as travelers seek out the fun of camping without the rough days and nights that the great outdoors sometimes bring. — Getty Images/FilippoBacci

With barriers easing, both literally and figuratively, many travelers are in the planning stages of long-awaited reunions, getaways and adventures. For some pleasure-seekers, their post-pandemic plans look very different than they did before. Travel is an industry that has been significantly reshaped, with experiences and expectations now looking vastly different.

With comfort and confidence levels rising anew, all signs point to opportunity for those looking to start a small, travel-related business and parlay their savvy of the tourism scene with a side of next-level hospitality. The sky’s the limit, and these 10 ideas are great starting points for entrepreneurs of various interests and levels of expertise.

Bed-and-breakfast owner

In the current climate, many travelers are road-tripping it to smaller, more quaint destinations, seeking accommodations with a certain charm, character and personal approach to hospitality...and safety. The $3.4 billion bed-and-breakfast industry checks all the boxes and presents a great opportunity for those looking for a way into the tourism landscape without leaving home. Once you’ve established that you are someone who loves hosting and spending time with others, you will need a residence with enough space to create private accommodations for guests, ideally each with their own bathrooms. The more rooms you have to offer, the greater the income potential. B&B ownership also means a significant upfront investment, from securing permits to building out guest rooms, buying furnishings and essentials and accounting for kitchen upgrades and food needs. Sustainability, farm-to-table or plant-based menus and local cooking classes are some of the ways some bed-and-breakfast hosts are creating a point of difference in their market.

Glamping host

Perhaps you don’t have the indoor square footage and blueprints to create bed-and-breakfast accommodations, but you do possess the gift of great hospitality, live in a desirable destination and have an enviable backyard or are near a special natural setting. You could have the makings of a glamping business. Glamping is elevated camping, with upgraded accommodations, from luxurious tents to more unique structures, and an emphasis on comfort and amenities like access to bathrooms, fire pits, cookware to facilitate meal prep...and maybe even an outdoor pizza oven. Glamping is a form of travel gaining in appeal among couples, groups of friends and families, with market forecasts expecting that it will reach $1.88 billion in revenue this year. Before you jump in, make sure to secure all necessary permits for your location. Once you’re ready for visitors, post swoon-worthy photos on social media and all the details on booking sites like Airbnb, Glamping Hub, Cool Camping and Hip Camp.

Private tour guide

If you live in or near a sought-after town or city and love to share everything there is to know (including its best-kept secrets) with others, offering up your knowledge and passion as a private tour guide could be rewarding and profitable. You can essentially set your own schedule, create an experience that is unlike any other in your area and customize tours based on traveler preferences and interests. Building relationships with cool local businesses can be a great way to give tourists an insider’s perspective and support the community. Get your feet wet with the built-in audience and fulfillment support of platforms like ToursByLocals, which connects travelers with private local guides for a percentage of each booking. Build your business by posting tour details on local Facebook groups as well as groups targeted to visitors to your area.

Travel blogger

Travel bloggers have become a trusted source for inspiration, advice and recommendations for those dreaming about or planning trips. These bloggers document their research and experiences, often in great detail, through captivating writing and images that command the attention of travelers—and the advertisers and content providers who want to reach them. Having a niche (like sustainable travel, solo travel or last-minute getaways), a unique voice and great insider tips on local hot spots or ways to save time and money are key. Building a profitable business out of your passion means a lot of relationship building and marketing to integrate affiliate links, content sponsorships and advertising, plus becoming part of the select few that are offered paid travel to write about a locale or hotel. You can also generate income by charging a fee for travel photographers to curate your site with their images, crediting them and linking back to their online galleries. As a starting point, it’s a good idea to spend time on the leading travel blogs to gain insight and best practices.

A background in tourism or hospitality can be a plus, as is niche expertise in a particular city or region.

Tourism and hospitality translator

If you’re fluent in multiple languages, able to not only speak, but write, with creativity, proficiency and ease, there are tour operators, hotels, restaurants and many other travel-related businesses that may be in need of your skills. From websites to brochures to menus, inclusivity is key to welcoming travelers who want to understand the food, art, attractions and culture of their chosen destination without language being a major barrier. As a translator, you can help businesses of all sizes create dynamic digital and traditional communications that assist their foreign customers and create lasting, positive experiences. You can also offer in-person services as a translator for hotel guests in need of an interpreter for tours, business meetings or social engagements.

Photographer

Photographers in the travel space are skilled at capturing the best or most interesting attributes of a destination, its people and its culture. Photography is an exciting profession for those who have mastered the makings of a great shot from angles to lighting and have the equipment, flexibility and adventurous spirit to deliver wonder and a sense of the world through images. Travel photography is not limited to one style or category. It is a field with many different specialties. The key is aligning your passion and talent with opportunities in the marketplace, such as photography for marketing materials, web content or selling your images as prints. An attention-worthy digital portfolio, a social media presence and positive reviews are all key drivers of photography business success.

Local cooking classes

Love to cook and get rave reviews for your culinary skills? Know some recipes that capture the flavors of your hometown, city or region? Why not consider hosting cooking classes marketed to travelers and visitors looking for something special and authentic to do during their adventure? Culinary tourism is on the rise as more and more people crave travel that exposes them to exciting food and drink experiences. An off-the-beaten-track invitation to participate in preparing local flavors in the comfort of a home kitchen is a very intimate, special and unique opportunity. Offer a menu of local favorites while sharing stories and anecdotes that captivate. Make sure to know and fulfill any licensing requirements that exist in your town.

Vehicle rental

The current automotive shortage has trickled down to rental cars, with lack of availability amid increased demand driving up prices considerably. With no sign of the shortage abating, those with a spare set of wheels can be of great value to out-of-town travelers in need of a way to get around. You can establish your own rental business, adding the vehicles of nearby friends and neighbors to your fleet, but you’ll want to first test-drive the idea through one of the popular peer-to-peer platforms already up and running, like Turo and Getaround. These apps have the ability to pre-screen applicants to weed out those with a record of past major accidents or frequent violations and also protect car owners with a $1 million insurance policy—all important elements to consider and have in place.

Souvenir shop

Travelers rarely return home without bearing gifts for others and something for themselves to remember their travels. In fact, the souvenir and novelty market is expected to grow by nearly $12 billion between 2021 and 2025. Sadly, the reality is that touristy gift shops are a dime a dozen, turning out factory-made T-shirts and trinkets and lacking the authenticity that many travelers seek. If you live in an area rich in history and culture and have experience in sales, explore the possibility of opening up a gift shop featuring and supporting local artisans. Sourcing items can be a challenge; however, Etsy is a great platform for identifying creators who live in your area and may have crafts and wares with a wow factor. Local restaurants with their own lines of bottled or packaged foods are another good area to explore.

Travel concierge service

If you are well-traveled, highly resourceful, well-connected and hyper-focused on life’s little details, you can put your knowledge and skills to good use as a personal or corporate travel concierge. A travel concierge attends to every aspect of their clients’ travels, from arranging transportation and dining reservations to accessing premium event tickets and booking tours, attractions and unique experiences. A background in tourism or hospitality can be a plus, as is niche expertise in a particular city or region. For instance, establishing yourself as an expert in all things Paris or focusing on tours for wine enthusiasts can help make you more marketable and focus your marketing efforts accordingly. The key to success is to make travel smooth, safe, memorable and authentic for your clients and elicit positive reviews through word-of-mouth and on well-trafficked travel sites and social media groups.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 03, 2021