How to Start a Kayaking Tour Business

Turn your passion for kayaking into a money-making venture. A kayaking tour business is an innovative way to share your knowledge, skills and experience on the water. Look into any required training and permits, and get started by taking a kayak tour to study techniques and methods. Start slowly and advertise with local kayaking shops, waterside restaurants, local newspapers and your own blog.

Instructions

Start by calling your chamber of commerce and state taxation department about any required licenses, permits, or rules and regulations regarding your kayaking tour business. Some cities require tour guides to have certification or other licenses before offering tours.

Find out about any insurance you need to take customers out on the water in a kayak. Consider the liabilities and implications of offering tours on the water.

Team up with an established kayak business that sells suits, paddles, jackets, gear and kayaks. If they don't currently offer kayaking tours, they might be interested in hiring you as a tour guide. This could eliminate the burden of responsibility on you, and the store can assume the appropriate licenses, permits and insurance.

Decide where you want to offer kayaking tours. Learn about the area, wildlife, water currents, trivia and history of your tour. Practice by taking out friends and family for a free tour, and ask for feedback and constructive criticism.

Attend a local kayaking clinic or check out threeriversrowing.org and ckapco.com for kayaking certification and courses. You can use your new certification as a means to bolster your reputation and give potential customers peace of mind.

Sign-up for three or four kayaking tours to see a professional in action. Study their performance, speaking skills, kayaking knowledge and style. You can learn what works and what does not before venturing out and guiding your own tour.

Find out what other kayaking guides are charging and adjust your prices competitively. You can offer coupons, two-for-one specials, giveaways and group rates to entice customers.

Determine how many kayaks and supplies you need to get started. If you don't want to invest in buying a dozen kayaks of your own to store, contact a kayak rental company about teaming up. They might offer you a discount and offer to advertise your services.

Advertise your kayaking tours with resorts, hotels, kayak shops, on websites, at beach and lakeside restaurants, and on community bulletin boards. Market to couples, families, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and any person or group that might be interested in kayaking. You can also get creative and develop your own boot camp kayak tour designed to challenge athletic enthusiasts.

Approach newspapers about writing a kayaking or outdoors column to promote your business. Offer tips, advice, suggestions and profiles on local kayaking spots and tours. It's a good idea to keep a blog of your tours so potential customers can see pictures, learn more about your services and get a sense of your style and skills.

Tips

  • You can offer kayaking tours for free and suggest a voluntary donation of a specified amount. This might allow you to skirt around certain permits or licenses. Check with your state and local chamber of commerce to find out.

    Entice the media to cover your business by offering services at charity events and fundraisers.

About the Author

Catherine Irving is a travel and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York and has been professionally freelance writing since 2002. She's written for "Young Money," Kayak.com, Pokemon.com and numerous other national outlets. Irving graduated with a bachelor's degree in film with a minor in English from Georgia State University.