A snapshot of business ideas you can venture in the hospitality industry

By Josephine Wawira

The roaring rate of unemployment in Africa, with South Africa alone recording a stubborn increase from 24.5% to 26.7% in the first quarter of 2016, is raising an alarm over the future of the influx of graduates entering the job market every year. Companies are increasingly laying off employees due to seasonal economic fluctuations, a factor experts highly attribute to the unemployment menace in the continent.

Yet, as Africa continues to lure more visitors into its ever magnificent tourist destinations, the travel and tourism industry remains one of the most lucrative sectors requiring more workers; to meet the high demand set by the inflow of itinerants. Here are some business ideas that those intending to venture into the hospitality industry may consider.

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 Tour Guide

Tourists visiting new places will more often require tour guides to show them around their local hoods and major places of interest. During the just concluded UNCTAD 14 conference in Nairobi Kenya, two of my foreign friends happened to be in the country for their first time. As the host, I was more than glad to take them to various destinations of interest; and while this was only an informal guide to friends, I realized that it was easier for them to navigate their new environs with a local. Besides indulging in some Nyama Choma (Kenya’s barbecued meat), I too learned something I previously had no knowledge of.

At a local artifacts (City) market in Nairobi, a lady vendor approached me with an enticing offer. For every piece of art purchased by my guest to the curio, I would get a certain percentage depending on the purchase price. Thinking about it now, these pennies in addition to your charges for tour guiding could go a long way in making a source of income. While professional guides require training to acquaint themselves with the cultural heritage, be familiar with as many destinations as possible and speak at least one foreign language; simple guides, like I was, only require a friendly attitude to freely make their guests feel at home wherever they may be visiting. To start this business idea, whether full or part time, requires little to no startup capital.

Taxi Business

Anyone in the taxi business will agree with me that the deal is great during big time events and conferences as well as in the tourism peak seasons. While some would enjoy trying out the public transport experience, most tourists prefer private means for security reasons and the taxis or shuttles work perfectly well. These are also convenient while trying to maneuver various destinations, some of which are located in remote areas. The taxis are also used in airport transfers of guests to their respective hotels, a business that is sure to reward you greatly. In the event that you do not currently own a car (to use as a taxi), you can rent one at a minimal amount at the initial stages of the business. With a proper savings plan, you will sooner or later grow your business into a fleet of taxis such as Jumia Car.

Start a Travel Blog

It is a business that has proven lucrative for travel lovers and for those with even just a little thrill into writing. Before beginning a journey, it is only expected that a traveler will search for information about the destination of choice as well as prior experiences of people who have been there. With the rise on the use of technology and availability of information at the click of a button, an entrepreneur can easily – with minimal capital – start blogging about different destinations, travel tips, top charts and experiences for travelers to access. With valuable and relevant content, the blog should manage to attract lots of traffic which should then earn you advertising opportunities. This will also increase the relevance of the blog. Good thing about this business is that once the blog has anchored, you can easily chose to travel the world while blogging and living the life of your dreams.

What About a Travel Agency

A young and ambitious Estelle Verdier is a living witness that just identifying a market niche and providing a solution to satisfy the market needs, could land you into a profitable business in the travel industry. From having to bear with frustrations in getting accommodation during one of her trips to Kenya in 2006, to co-founding Africa’s largest online booking company, Jumia Travel, she is proof enough that starting a travel agency is a tried and tested business that anyone with determination can thrive in. Travel agencies, whether online or offline, provide services ranging from hotel booking, flight ticketing, providing cab or shuttle services among others. With enough research, a little start-up capital and most importantly willpower, get set and take off.

Professional Photography

It takes a few lessons to become a professional photographer, especially with the use of technologically advanced cameras/equipment. While most tourists prefer to carry along their cameras, not to mention the availability of smartphones that have cameras with the ability to capture crystal clear images; others, especially the honeymooners, do not hesitate to have each of their special moments captured professionally. All you need is a professional camera plus other crucial accompaniments such as a reflector. Strategically position yourself in places likely to attract your clientèle like in hotels offering special accommodation for newlyweds and let your business lead you to success.

Open a Curio shop

While these are quite common in tourist destinations, it is also true that variety is always key for those seeking to purchase a memorable souvenir from their trip. In this business, you need to provide your customers a variety of artifacts to choose from as well as making sure not to charge exorbitant prices that are likely to drive them away to your competitors. Every piece of art has a story and if you make known to your customers the cultural value of each one of them, with a friendly smile, it will be difficult for them to resist buying from you and thus, boosting your curio business.

Language Interpretation Services

Most foreign tourists do not speak nor understand the local languages and will in most cases require someone to interpret to the language they understand. This is also very common during multi-lingual conferences which require either the consecutive or simultaneous interpretation from one language to another. This business, while seasonal, it is quite rewarding especially because most multinational companies require the services.

What you need is knowledge in one or two languages outside your native, which could be French, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, German, Portuguese among others. If considering this business and you lack familiarity with any other language, you can opt to partner with a multilingual person or source for interpreters whenever opportunities arise.

Any business idea, however simple or out of reach it may seem, only requires a person’s will power to conquer the initial fear of risk taking. And in the words of Paulo Coelho, Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.

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