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How to start Historical Tours business guide to make money for individuals want to quit their jobs and start their careers as an entrepreneur are as follows:
Description of Job
• Research historical, cultural, or entertainment history of a district or town
and design a tour.
• Write an informative and entertaining spiel.
• Promote and conduct excursions highlighting history and significant events.
The Need
Hundreds of locations in the United States and elsewhere have the magic combination
of an interesting past . . . and a steady supply of tourists.
Historical tours on foot are very easy to set up and run; tours by van or bus
require greater up-front expenditures and complexity. The tours can be lectures
about local history, or they can be attached to a theme: Haunted Graveyards of
Tarrytown; Federal Architecture in Washington, or Walking in the Steps of Herman
Melville in New Bedford.
Tourist magnets like Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C.,
are obvious markets for this sort of enterprise, although many well-established
tours already exist in those areas. (If you have an especially creative idea, you
still may be able to find a niche.)
Many other markets that draw lots of visitors remain relatively untouched,
such as Nantucket, Miami Beach, Richmond, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles,
and San Francisco.
Your audience will primarily consist of visitors, including people who have
traveled from distant corners of the United States and from other countries, but a
well-done tour can also draw local residents who want to know more about their
own backyard.
Challenges
In urban settings, the most intimate way to bring your story to life is a walking
tour. Make sure the people in your group are aware of what is expected of them
physically. Your advertising should indicate the approximate length of the tour in
time and distance, the existence of significant hills, and other details such as
uneven pavement. Can someone negotiate the entire trip in a wheelchair?
Another way to conduct a tour is to use a small van or a tour bus. Be aware
that this adds a great deal of expense and complexity to your operation; you’ll
need to buy or lease a vehicle, obtain a commercial license, and sign up for commercial
liability insurance. You’ll also need a place to park the vehicle before,
during, and after the tour. (One way to reduce the complexity is to work with an
existing bus or limousine company that can provide equipment and driver.)
Know the Territory
Any tour begins with thorough research. Consult local historical societies,
libraries, and knowledgeable old-timers for information. Seek second and third
sources for any stories or facts you might seek.
Don’t embellish stories to make them more dramatic, and make sure you have
your facts straight; you don’t want to be tripped up by a client who knows the
story better than you do. If your account includes elements that may be legends or
otherwise unprovable, say so; that might make your tour even more interesting.
Take special care to avoid plagiarizing someone else’s work; no one can own
a copyright on facts and events, but they can protect their own expression of story
in print, a movie or video, or other form of publication. You might be able to
receive permission to use material researched by others; if so, be sure to obtain
written permission.
Any good teacher also has to have some acting ability. Some tour guides
dress up as someone from the past or assume some of that person’s characteristics.
You might conduct nighttime tours by lantern. Some guides arrange for
accomplices to appear at particular locations along the way.
Look for ways to expand your offerings and times to allow you to conduct
several tours a day, or prepare a full week’s lineup. You may be able to sell packages
that include several tours.
Part of your research will include information about seasonal trends among
visitors. Is your locality most popular in the summer, with few visitors in the
winter? Does the mix of visitors change with the season? Are senior citizens
(who may be good customers, albeit with special needs) more common in the
spring and fall? Are families with young children more plentiful in the summer?
How to Get Started
Advertise your tours at convention centers, visitor’s bureaus, tourist offices, and
hotels and guesthouses. Distribute special discount cards and flyers around town,
with numeric codes for different locations, which will allow you to pay commissions
to business owners or hotel concierges who steer visitors your way.
Place ads in local newspapers aimed at tourists.
In addition, don’t forget that your tours advertise themselves; if people who
are not part of the tour seem interested in what you’re saying, give them a card
inviting them to come along another time.
Up-front Expenses
Expenses include research books and materials, costumes, and props. You might
want to purchase a small battery-operated amplifier to increase the volume of
your voice.
Other expenses include advertising.
How Much to Charge
Price tours at a fixed rate, and offer discounts for children and senior citizens. (If
the tour is not appropriate for youngsters, make sure that is clear ahead of time.)
You might offer a discount to visitors who sign up for more than one tour and a
reduced rate for organized groups that book more than 8 or 10 tickets at a time.
Decide on your policy if just a couple of people show up for a tour instead of
the usual 15 or 20; in general, it is best to go ahead with the tour rather than risk
endangering your reputation. You will also need to set refund policies regarding
cancellations or abbreviated tours due to rain, snow, or extremes of temperature.
Legal and Insurance Issues
Special notes: If you will be using a van or bus on the tour, consult an insurance
agent to make sure you are properly covered for liability. The vehicle will most
likely require commercial plates, and you may need a special driver’s license and
insurance policy to transport people in a commercial operation.
In some localities, tour guides must apply for a license.

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