Starting a Walking Tour Business in a Small Historic Town from scratch with Steve Chapman

Welcome to Tourpreneur, the podcast for tour operators, where travel industry veteran Shane Whaley will take you on a journey with fellow Tourpreneurs sharing their tips, ideas, insights and success stories to inspire you to make your tour business the best it can be.

In this candid and in-depth episode of Tourpreneur, I chat with Steve Chapman of Salida Walking Tours. who talks us through starting a walking tour business from scratch.

Steve Chapman was a founder of his own strategic marketing consulting company and decided to sell his business in 2018. He needed a new career and turned to his hometown of Salida, which is Colorado’s largest national historic district, to start a walking tour business.

“We have 136 buildings preserved from 1880 to 1910. It’s a tourist town. I always wondered why no one promotes the heritage and history. So after selling my company looking, I started exploring walking tours with zero background in the tour business.”

Steve Chapman, Salida Walking Tours

Steve found a gap in the tourism industry of his hometown – walking tours. He decided to take a shot and began experimenting in 2018. He wondered why no one had started a walking tour company in this historic district. “I’ve taken similar tours, and what it boiled down to was no one had thought to do such a business.” 

Even though the town has a small population of 5,200 people, Salida is a tourist Mecca. “Unlike a big city where tours are common, Salida is a relatively new tourist town about the last ten years.”

You’ll hear about the company’s start, how Steve did his “homework” when researching his new company, how he found a mentor for his walking tour company, and how he locked in his first tour. He also tells me about how he doesn’t rely on OTA’s for business anymore. You’ll want to find out why when you listen to this episode.


Contact Chris at Typically Swiss Tours

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