If you’ve never toured before, the idea can be anxiety-inducing. How do you know where to go? What to charge? How long to stay? Whether you should take deposits? How can you make sure you make a profit? What if no one books? What if you lose money?
Today I want to give you some tips to make your first tour run more smoothly. But before we start, I want to remind you that there is no way to guarantee you’ll have a successful tour.
Any touring veteran (or industry veteran in general) will tell you that sometimes things just go wrong. You’ll book a crappy hotel or your ad will get posted in the wrong city or every client will cancel with the flu or you’ll get the worst bout of thrush you’ve ever had or your relationship will break down while you’re halfway across the country.
Things are going to happen, and you’re going to have to accept that running a business sometimes means taking risks. And you can’t always guarantee that you’re going to make bank.
But, you can do a few things to give yourself a leg up. Here are my top tips for a successful tour:
This is a business, so treat it like one.
Write down all your expected costs (e.g., flights, accommodation, food, etc). How many bookings do you need to do to cover those expenses, on top of your usual expenses (e.g., rent, utility bills, etc)? How much profit do you want to make? How many bookings do you need to do each day to hit that goal? Is that realistic? Are you allowing yourself enough time to cover the overheads as well as hit your profit goal? What would happen if you didn’t hit your goal? What would be the consequences? What would you usually make at home over the same period? Are the increased overheads worth the extra profit? Could you make that extra profit in a different way, that doesn’t involve the same overheads (e.g., pushing yourself to take more bookings or increasing your availability at home)?
There are a lot of things to think about, and it can be confronting to answer these questions. But the best time to think about these questions is before you tour, rather than during a tour when you’ve got no bookings, and your bank account is in the red.
If possible, try to get your expected overheads and usual expenses covered by deposits, so that all the money you make while on tour is profit. I also don’t book accommodation and flights until I have enough bookings to ensure I will cover the costs.
You also need to think about how you are going to select an appropriate incall location, what to pack, and how to manage your bookings with clients (e.g., will you take deposits? How much time will you give yourself between each booking? When will you text clients to confirm? etc).
And, for the love of god, don’t miss your flight.
It can be fun to book a 5-star hotel suite, order room service and live the high life for a few days. But, remember that every dollar you spend on expenses for your tour is a dollar that doesn’t go towards to building your dream life.
Do you want to live to work or work to live?
Quick tips to keep costs low:
Look for clients who might like to sponsor your trip, instead of going on a ‘tour’. These might be clients who have visited you from interstate or prospective clients who have messaged you to enquire. Each time you meet a client who you think could be a potential sponsor, ask if you can contact them next time you’re visiting their city.
When you have a few of these prospective clients lined up, split the cost of going between them and add it onto your rates. This way you can advertise it privately to them as an exclusive visit, rather than a tour, and you have your costs covered up-front.