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How to start an excursions business

By Steve Mbego | Published Wed, August 22nd 2018 at 10:29, Updated August 22nd 2018 at 10:42 GMT +3
Wildlife safari at the Masai Mara. (Courtesy)

Kevin Owino runs Keitan Safaris, which organises group tours, hikes, getaways and excursions to various destinations across the country. The company has also branched into organising team building activities. He shares with Hustle what it takes to set up an outdoor excursions firm.

What you’ll need

1. Capital

You’ll need about Sh80,000 to comply with business registration and necessary licensing requirements. Kevin says the amount will, however, vary depending on how big or small you want your business to be.

You can cut down on start-up costs by hiring a van or matatu as opposed to buying your own vehicle to transport your clients. It’s best to have office space –it boosts your credibility – but if you find you can’t afford it just yet, start out online, but be sure to encourage past clients to post reviews, and respond to queries as quickly as possible.

2. Business registration

You can start operations with just a registered business name rather than setting up a company.

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“However, failing to operate as a company can limit you to serving just friends and family – people who know and trust you. It can take you a lot longer to reach a wider clientele. If you’re targeting corporates or big groups, you’ll need to register a company, which costs about Sh18,000,” Kevin says.

3. Licences

You’ll need a business permit from your county, whose costs vary, as well as a professional licence from the Tourism Regulatory Authority, which costs Sh8,000 and is renewed annually.

4. Service providers

You’ll be required to work with other people to provide services that you’re not able to offer your clients directly, such as food, camping gear or transport. Pursue quality partnerships as your service providers will be a reflection on you.

What you don’t need

“You don’t need to have a degree in tourism to get started in this business. You just need a spirit of adventure and an idea of interesting places in this country. The more you can offer you clients that’s different from what everyone else in the market has, the better off you’ll be,” says Kevin.

 Kevin’s top tips for finding success:

1. Know the product

Where are you taking your clients? Do you have all the information they would like to know about the place – any spots of historical importance, for instance? If possible, carry out a pre-visit so that you experience the place before selling it.

2. Time and weather

Be up-to-date with seasonal changes and weather patterns to know the best times to organise excursions to various places. Don’t take your clients hiking when it’s raining – you’ll all have a miserable time. You also don’t want them to do physically demanding activities when it’s very hot. Plan your trips around the weather.

3. Pay attention to the details

Be sure to provide whatever is needed for a trip. Carry extras where possible, and make arrangements for food, transport, accommodation and guides well before time.

4. Make the trip worth it

Ensure the package you put together gives your clients time to enjoy the sights and sounds. Don’t rush through things. Remember, the better the experience they have, the more likely they are to recommend you.

 Your Social Strategy

On Facebook and Instagram:

Kevin markets his events through his Facebook page, which has 16,000 followers. He also shares posters of upcoming excursions and pictures of past events on both his business and personal pages. You can extend this to Instagram to rope in a wider client base. Get your costing right and find interesting places to take people to stand out.

 On WhatsApp and Telegram:

Spread the word on what you do through WhatsApp and Telegram groups. Share photos of past events and communicate any upcoming excursions. Encourage early bookings so you can plan appropriately. Package as much as possible into the bookings – such as food or camping gear – to ease the strain on your clients.

Word of mouth:

Start with low-hanging fruit – encourage your friends and family to sign up for your trips. Deliver on your promise, meet expectations, keep standards high and they’ll do the marketing for you. Encourage your clients to post comments online to further support your business, and be sure to respond to them.


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