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Published by Lucy Fuggle | Sep 7, 2016 | | 2 MIN READ

How to start a tourism business with design thinking in mind

Editor's note: This article is a translation of the original Spanish article published by María Eugenia Coppola.

The thought of starting a project and becoming an entrepreneur continues to excite people across the globe. The tourism sector is no exception!

In fact, according to research by The Wall Street Journal, the fourth most successful startup in 2015 was Airbnb, a company well-known as purely dedicated to travel and tourism.

However, it's important to keep in mind that launching a business in this market is as exciting as it is risky. It's for this reason that we're sharing with you a tool that perhaps you have heard before: design thinking. This is a tool used by the most successful companies to put an idea to the test before taking it to market - and it can be a game-changer for you too.

Shall we begin?

1. Listen to your environment

It's crucial that you pay attention and understand people if you want to detect their unmet needs. Observe. Question. Listen. Your product is useless if it doesn't provide a solution to someone's problems, desires, or needs.

If you want to start a tourism company with students as your target audience, you should first understand what their day-to-day looks like. Delve into what worries them and what excites them. Every single detail can be revelatory.

2. What problem will you solve?

You've probably found many needs to be met. But it's difficult and counterproductive to respond to them all. Focus on a single problem. Young people who want to travel but don't have much money? Busy parents who want to enjoy a fun activity with their young children?

3. Searching for an idea

Get down to work and start brainstorming (or mind mapping). Jot down all of the ideas that come to you while concentrating on the specific problem you want to solve. Have fun and let your imagination fly, without stopping to edit or scribble things out.

Your ideas are boundless, even if they include starting an underwater hotel or camping on the moon. There will be time to discard things later. For now, it's time to get creative. 

4. Create a prototype

When you've come across what seems like a perfect idea, it's time to bring it down to earth. As Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur and evangelist, says: "Ideas are easy, implementation is hard". Create an outline of how your business will work. This can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal, as well as alternatives to improve it. 

Suppose you want to offer adventure tourism for families. Where will you be based? To whom? How will you hire a strong team?

5. Time for evaluation

Once you have your prototype, it's time to put the idea to the test. How? By sharing your project with others. Ask for opinions, accept criticism and feedback. This will be the first test of whether your business idea will fly, and it can be a very inspiring and revelatory stage of the design thinking process. For example, you might discover that your family adventure tourism idea could be even more valuable with a babysitting service included.

As you can see, when well-used, design thinking can be a great asset to the ideation stage of your business. And while tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, there are still many more ideas and opportunities to discover.

Do you want to read more about the ideation and growth of tourism companies? Here's the story of how TrekkSoft came to be.


Further reading for starting a tour and activity business:


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Lucy Fuggle
Published by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy spent three years building TrekkSoft’s content strategy and inbound marketing approach. She now helps companies to find their voice, kick-start projects, and bring in processes that actually work for them. Lucy writes and shares her solo adventures on
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