So You Think You Want To Start a Food Tour?

on September 8, 2016

After 19 years of building a career in child welfare, one food tour experience in Chicago changed my life. I left a financially comfortable position as a Supervisor for the County to start a food tour company. Initially, I wanted to be a part-time tour guide on my off days. There were no food tours when I wanted to be a tour guide so that left me with two options, keep doing my day-to-day job or start a food tour business myself. So I went for it starting Vegas Valley Food Tours in December of 2013.
Being a tour guide is absolutely wonderful and everything I thought it would be! I meet interesting people from all over the world, walk around in wonderful downtown Las Vegas, and eat from some of the best restaurants, specialty and ethnic shops in Las Vegas as part of my job. Sounds great and it is, but before you leave your day job to start a food tour, here’s the honest truth about running the business. It’s not all cookies and ice cream!  There are many aspects of running the business such as keeping up with the business licensure, insurance, bookkeeping, learning about SEO (search engine optimization), creating and maintain the website, hiring and training employees and the list goes on that is not exactly a day at Disney.
Despite popular belief, I (and many other business owners) don’t take off whenever I want, and while it is true that I work for myself, I also work for my guests. Without guests, I don’t have a business so I can easily work 50 hours and get paid 40% of my previous pay. I traded working 40 hours a week with employer paid health benefits to sometimes working 50+ hours a week and paying out of pocket for my health benefits and this is the reality of many business owners who transition from a regular 40-hour a week job to working for themselves.
All that said, I have absolutely not one regrets! As a small business, I have hosted over 3,000 guests and supported small businesses in the downtown community with over $100,000 dollars in sales. Yes, I do pay for all of my tastings and offer a gratuity for all of the servers at each tasting location.
So you still think you want to run a food tour? If so, do your research and think about your strengths and what support you may need to be a success.
Food tours are a growing industry and many others have decided to open food tours all over the world. When you have the opportunity to take a tour in each of these wonderful cities, you will see why owners love the work we do and why new owners are popping up all over the world.

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