Starting a Walking Tour Business
Starting a Walking Tour Business from scratch.


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.


Listen in to find out how Steve learned to engage, how to pace, and how to present walking tours to his clients. Steve’s opinion on taking improv lessons to improve his presentation and why adopting electronic waivers has been a game-changer for his business.

Learn what Steve looks for when he hires guides and what’s moved the needle most for him in his new business venture! Find Salida Walking Tours here.

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Show Resources

Salida Walking Tours on the Web

The Wild West Podcast on Spotify

Book: It’s All About Guest Expectations

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Come and join us and like-minded tour operators and tour professionals over at our Tourpreneur listeners group.

Links and Resources Mentioned on this Episode of Tourpreneur – a podcast for tour operators.

Links Mentioned in this Episode and additional information about Stephen Oddo and Walks.

Walks Tour Company

The Walks Philosophy

Walks Tour Company on Twitter

Walks Tour Company on Instagram

Stephen Oddo

GFTA – Global Food Tourism Association.


Reach Out and Connect with Us!

Visit Tourpreneur on the Web

Read the Daily Brief

Connect with me on LinkedIn!

Tourpreneur Page on Facebook

Tourpreneur Group on Facebook

Tourpreneur on Twitter

Contact Tourpreneur


Shane Whaley is the Producer and Host of the Tourpreneur Podcast. He is also the curator in chief for the Tourpreneur Daily Brief. Shane has worked in the travel industry for almost twenty years.