Israel has always been a popular destination for historians, the spiritual, and anyone looking for a unique travel experience. However, if this is something that you or your company have not done in the past, there are a few things that you should consider before you get started.
Building or Updating a Website
A good first thing to consider is whether your website is up to the challenge. If you don’t yet have a website, this will likely be your first introduction to your potential customers.
If you do already have a website that’s a good start. You’ll need to update the website to include the new service. You may also want to reconsider your advertising, especially if Israel is a little far afield from your other destinations.
Registration and Booking Software
This is also a good time to consider or reconsider your registration technique. Smaller tour businesses can get by using the paper route but online registration software can save a lot of hassle. By putting all of your forms, questionnaires, information and reports in one place integrated with services like messaging and payment, these tools can turn an administrative nightmare into a few simple clicks.
Going with a registration software doesn’t make things more complicated for your clients either. Good software options will embed in your website so that your customers won’t even notice that they’re using a new platform.
Decide the Kind of Tours that You Want to Provide
Another early step is to decide whether you want your trips to Israel to be public or private. Public tours are posted online and anyone can sign up. Private tours are given to specific groups like churches or schools.
The good thing about a public group is that you have a much larger potential customer pool. The downside is that it is often more difficult to effectively market.
The benefit of private groups is that you don’t need to worry about filling individual seats. The downside is that going with private tours means that you sort of put all of your eggs in one basket. You may also have bigger problems dealing with things like off-seasons than you would giving public tours.
Of course, you can offer both at once, or change focus based on the time of year. This might keep you too busy and it may be best to pick one or the other, at least until you’ve got the hang of it.
Decide the Price of Tours You Want to Provide
Deciding the kinds of tours that you want to provide isn’t as simple a question as private or public. There’s also the matter of inclusivity.
Some travelers like the idea of all-inclusive tour experiences that include full itineraries, food, lodgings, &c. These tours make things simple for the travelers but also make for more expensive packages.
Other travelers prefer less-inclusive packages. The less that is included in the tour, the more freedom they will have to create their own unique experiences. Less-inclusive packages can also make things easier on your end because they minimize the number of partner agencies and companies you may need to work with (We’ll get into that later).
Of course, there’s always a middle-of-the-road option. Including air-fare, lodging, and a couple of key activities and leaving the rest up to the traveler can make things easy on the traveler while still leaving them the ability to make some of their own decisions.
You should also be aware that how tightly you watch your travelers may impact your liability. Let’s talk about that.
Consider Legal Obligations
No matter what the scale of your business is, you should pay attention to waivers and release forms for your company. They can protect you and your company from legal repercussions should something go wrong. Between insurance and waivers, you should be ready for anything.
Insurance covers a similar need. If this is your first tour business venture, you should definitely get insurance. If you already have a tour business, you should rethink your insurance plan if Israel is drastically different from your other tour destinations.
Don’t just cover your own bases though, think about your customers. There are legal obligations that they should consider before going abroad as well. Consider having a page on your website or an area in your office where your customers can get information like how to acquire a passport, what kinds of things they can and can’t bring on an airplane, what kinds of vaccinations they may need, &c. This can mean a lot of research on your end but it also means that you don’t lose revenue because one of your travelers finds out at the last minute that they can’t go.
Think About Partners
You should also decide whether or not you or your company will want to partner with travel agents. Travel agents help to spread the word of your services and get you good deals on things like airfare and hotels. They do often take a commission, however, which can drive up your prices.
Some airlines, hotels, and restaurants will also partner with tour companies independently. In these situations, companies may offer you reduced prices in exchange for your bringing people to their establishments and services.
You’ll also need to identify who is going to be running your tour and events. If you are a small enough company, maybe you will give all of the tours yourself. In order to work with more people and make more money, you’ll need to have a few tour guides. If you don’t know of anyone in your area or already in your company that could give a quality tour for your new Israel program, it may be worth partnering with a tour company in Israel. Local guides will know their way around and be able to provide additional services like recommending food and lodging.
There are a lot of things to consider when you begin offering trips to Israel. None of these concerns are big enough that you should shy away from the venture.