As countries around the world try to reach their net-zero targets in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, train travel remains one of the most environmentally friendly transport methods.
Rail use is increasing faster than any other mode of transport and staycations are well and truly here to stay. So, if you're looking to capitalise on consumers' desire to 'go green', starting a rail tour business could not only be a planet-friendly move but a lucrative one too.
To help get your rail tour underway, here are some things you'll need to consider to make it a successful venture.
Think of an angle
Whether you operate a rail company locally or a national TOC, you should think of a unique angle for your tour. From local cuisine to murder mysteries, family fun to vintage train experiences, there's no shortage of niches for you to choose from.
Check out the market
Once you have a rough idea of the type of tour you want to create, you can start checking out the competition. Look at what's already available, what they do well, who their audience is and, crucially, how much they charge. Once you have all that information, you can start to put your business plan together.
A crucial aspect of any business is ensuring it's safe. It’s essential that both your staff and customers feel safe for the duration. You should ensure you have a robust safety procedure in place, staff that are fully trained, and clear and adequate signage for customers throughout.
You should also make sure you have the right sort of railway insurance. This will help protect you against any litigation that may occur if a member of the public or one of your employees has an accident while on your rail tour.
Once you're up and running, you should continue to carry out health and safety inspections, as well as undertake regular staff training.
Make it accessible
People from all walks of life will likely be interested in your rail tour, from families with young babies to the elderly, so keeping your tour accessible will help people feel valued and increase your customer base.
Under the Equality Act 2010, you must ensure that people are not discriminated against. That includes making sure people with disabilities can enjoy the services you offer. So, installing ramps, disabled toilets and hearing loops can help make your rail tour more appealing.
Consider the seasons
Depending on where your rail business operates, you may find that it's seasonal. With many seaside towns turning into ghost towns in the winter months, you may struggle to find customers.
When creating your business, you should consider how you will attract customers year-round or if you'll only operate in the summer months, for example.
Ultimately, like any business, you should remember that it takes time for success to be achieved. But, if you're passionate about what you do, customers will come.