My guide to its nuts and bolts and success

Like me you may have enjoyed a long road trip in a bus. Or traveled on a tour aboard with a bunch of people sight seeing in a coach with a smart looking driver and a guide with a mic explaining the history and legends of a European city or an English countryside. Have you ever wondered how cool it would be to ferry passengers who never get tired on these endless trips and at the end of the day offer tips? Well, that is the extra income which adds to the satisfaction of the running a cool bus tour business like this.

Disclaimer:

Okay, I am just a content enabler, but I do understand the fun part that goes along on a bus tour. While travelling across Europe, I just got hooked on to the breezy coach, comfy recliner seats and huge windows. We all loved to hop on this bus every morning to see a different city. I made a friendly bond with the driver and the guide asking where they came from. Why? To know how this bus tour business works. Maybe if you are looking for a side hustle or trying to supplement your income, it could work for you.

Here’s what I learnt from them. 

What is a bus tour business?

It provides travel access to tourists and locals for exploring sights and sounds, historical places, iconic landmarks of a city. A business like this also connects people of different cultures and offers interesting experiences. If you are sociable this could be the right idea to develop for self-employment.

Why would you be interested in this business? 

  1. Are you ready to work for long hours?
  2. Agree to spend hours waiting in the parking lot while everyone takes a tour of the breweries and wineries or perhaps museums?
  3. Can you deal with people who are not on their best behavior (that is merely being kind), because they are on a vacation?
  4. Will you be patient enough to breakeven in two years’ time?

Well, if you are okay with at least the last one then look for a bus for sale. That’s would be the first step.

PS: I’ll explain the fun part a little later.

Consider options 

When you need to start this exciting business consider two major things:

Will you just be the bus tour operator who leases the buses or will you go into ownership and do it yourself?

You will need at least one bus to begin with. There are several types of buses, vans and coaches available in the market. Just to let you know, that you can get a brand new bus for sale even via an online search.

Check out Nationsbus.com to know the which brands of buses available for sale.

You will have to consider ongoing expenses when tours are active. They relate to maintenance and support, fuel costs and auto insurances required. Licenses to operate in districts or across cities will also add to the expenses.

Bus features and other dynamics

  • A tour bus will definitely require a well-equipped intercom system with speakers and good lighting.
  • A used vehicle will cost around 5000 to 10,000 USD.
  • A new vehicle with all modern amenities will cost around 100,000 USD. It could also cost more if a bigger bus is chosen. A mid sized brand will come between 30,000 to 60,000 USD.
  • Rental ones cost 1000 USD per day and that is an expensive proposition. It is not viable in the long run. It is better to buy a good bus for sale instead.

Who are your potential customers?

Tourist groups, travel companies and corporates. You can offer your bus on lease to a travel company for ferrying their visitors. When the tourist season is over, the same bus can be used by educational institutes for student trips to various places. Families can use it for picnics during weekends outside the city. The flow of income is quite steady if you are resourceful and have a way to get a bang for the buck.

Profitability factors 

You can charge fees for the hiring, from passengers for guided tours with tickets. If you target the right areas where tour buses operate, the profits start coming in early. Some bus owners also add income by selling souvenirs, food & drink and other items. When the competition is tough, the demand goes up and surge pricing helps. Boarding and exit, seat preferences all add up to extra profitability. You can connect with local travel companies to get more tours.

Does it seem exciting to you?

Think about the name for the bus tour business for brand visibility and register it quickly. If it is a legal entity, it is more valued. Find out the tax structure and make provision for it. Federal and state rules differ. Certain monuments and tourist areas require special permits. Apply for them and renew when ever required. Failure to do so may shut your business.

 This is one thing that the driver and the guide endorsed specifically when we were visiting and discussing its viability on the steps of Montmartre monument in a village outside Paris.

 NOW THE FUN PART, FOLKS!

A bus tour business need not be boring and just about ferrying people around in comfy recliner seats. The bus in which I travelled was full of fun things. The driver who was also the owner, added quirky things to attract more passengers. He added amenities like extra water bottles, pillows for comfort and leg rests to stretch. People who bought knick knacks and required extra bags had space to put them up. The guide was funny, he made up stories, spoke in different languages and ensured everyone laughed at his silly jokes. Day trips to wineries and breweries were full of little surprise samples to take away. And, on the last evening, the dancing and partying ended the tour. As each one of us entered the bus for the last time, envelopes in different currencies made it to the box near the driver’s seat.

You can start a bus tour business in the city you live in. Once it kickstarts, you may add other cities like NY, Washington, Orlando or Seattle where the business could grow.