Starting a 4WD guided tour

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:40
ThreadID: 32783 Views:2948 Replies:14 FollowUps:7
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Hi All I was looking into starting a 4WD tour buisness.
What should I look into?
Thanks
Peter
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Reply By: Member - Omaroo (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:44

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:44
Are you certified driver/trainers? I'm looking at doing the courses and doing something like this one day too. I reckon that the touring business will need to be bolstered with driver training when it's quiet.

Good luck if you decide to go ahead! :) I wish I could do it today!
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Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:54

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 09:54
Likewise! Fed up with this office caper!
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 10:03

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 10:03
Best of luck with it. Its not all fun. I have a heap of respect for 4wd tour operators. They have to look after and take some responsibility for a bunch of inexperienced and often demanding people and their vehicles, and without respite while they are away. And of course theres the good side that you'll meet some great people and see some great places.

And I'd expect its very hard to make any sort of a profit.

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Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:54

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:54
I had some "interesting" ideas for bush touring a few years ago. The customers were what stopped me taking things further. Most would be good I rekkon but the others ? Whinging and whining that they paid too much, things aren't up to scratch, running late and a connection to catch..etc etc ...no way !
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 21:00

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 21:00
I've been on a couple of commercial 4wd trips - you can get a few laughs - especially when it comes to vehicle recovery and the "any rope and towball will do" - just duck for cover.....The leader usually knows what to do, but are too far ahead to see what fun's happening up the back.

With a club trip at least they get their moneys worth - when it costs zero, the whole trip's a bonus :-)) Now that I've quit the club stuff inviting friends and workmates is good.
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Reply By: Member - ROTORD - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:08

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:08
Hello fergus

The Royal Flying Doctor Service 'Safety and SurvivaL Handbook ' has a wealth of information under headings such as 'expedition skills and campcraft' ' safety considerations' ' 4WD ' ' radio communications ' vehicle selection , recovery kits , tool kits , offroad driving ' , survival , first aid , vehicle emergency pack .

This is the only comprehesive manual on 'outback' operations ' that I am aware of and would probably be the handy reference of choice . In this era of litigation the RFDS manual could be invaluable for a basis for safe planning .
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Reply By: signman - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:29

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:29
Insurance, Insurance & Insurance.
Also, in most states the vehicle has to be inspected frequently- and registered with special regulations. I think you will fit into the Hire Car area.
Do a LOT of homework with all the authorities involved. I think you will be surprised with the conditions involved.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:45

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:45
>I think you will be surprised with the conditions involved.

I wouldn't be.

It's impossible to do anything of interest in this country now without falling foul of a whole stack of, mostly pointless, government rules and regulations

It's stifling initiative and making it very difficult for the small business to exist and mainly so a whole heap of civil servants can justify their existence by introducing new legislation at every opportunity.

Mike Harding
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Follow Up By: Member - Bware (Tweed Valley) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 23:15

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 23:15
Bloody oath mate. How long before we get taxed for using oxygen?
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Reply By: Member - Reiner G (QLD) 4124 - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:42

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:42
I was going to do off road motorcycle tours like stay upright about 15 years ago. I thought I might work for a company who does what I want to do first and learn a bit about the Industry. I did that and did tours for a Brisbane based company Australian Motorcycle Adventures as a contractor for some years.
I learned a lot about the tourist industry and decidet there is much easier ways to make a living. Friends used to tell me I get paid for going camping and bike riding. But when you cock breakfast at 5 am in the morning at 4 degrees minus it all looks a bit different.
I would book a tour first and than try to get a job with one of the tour companies to see if that is really what you want to do.
The costs of running a business like that are much higher than you would think. We met a lot of great people and had many fantastic trips but every coin has two sides.
My 2 cents worth on that subject..........

cheers
Reiner
AnswerID: 166429

Follow Up By: Footloose - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:50

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 12:50
Reiner, that's excellent advice. I suspect that many successful 4wd tourers harbour the fantasy, but as you point out, it's a different experience when you actually have to do it.
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Reply By: traveller2 - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 13:48

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 13:48
Any notion I had of even being a paid employee in the 4wd tour business was chnaged when I did actually do it for a few trips, bugger that, drive all day, shepherd the 'herd' all day, you cop all the whinges etc etc, chuck in vehicle maintenance and the shine goes off it pretty quick.
What is enjoyed as a hobby/pastime quickly changes to a chore when you do it for a crust. Never mind that you can't share it with the rest of the family.
I 'tips me lid' to those that do as they have to be very patient.
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Follow Up By: Mike Harding - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 13:58

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 13:58
I somehow suspect I may be less than ideally suited to such a role.

Maybe I could be the Basil Fawlty of 4WD tours?

"What do you mean: crocodiles!? How many times have I told you to wade a creek before driving it - and take that irritating 8 year old with you too!"

Mike Harding
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Reply By: Scoey (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 14:44

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 14:44
I believe that if you try to make money out of something you love doing then you might find you no longer enjoy it when you have to rely on it for a living.

The hard part is finding something you can do for the money and learning to love doing it! Aye, there's the rub!

Good luck nonetheless!

Scoey!
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Follow Up By: fergus - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 15:05

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 15:05
Thanks for the great advice guys.
I will look deeper into it and as sugested will go on two or three tours as a guest and try to see it from the operators side.
Thanks again.
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Reply By: Ruth from Birdsville Caravan Park - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 15:09

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 15:09
I think I know who you are? Do I? Should I? Are we by any chance related? Hmmmm?
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Reply By: Ken - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 17:02

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 17:02
Fergus, despite what some have said so far I really enjoyed doing 4wd tours and had no problem with wingers or ferals. Not very profitable though and no longer do it. you need a permit in Vic [and probably other states] and it helps to be a member of an accredited tourism body such as VTOA [in Vic] There are a lot of rules and regs now and of course insurance. If you are talking tag alongs you need to keep getting new clients as they soon gain confidence and go off to all theplaces you took them [sometimes with their mates !] If you are talking about taking passengers it gets more involved you need to be registered as a passenger carrying vehicle and higher rego & insurance applies plus annual roadworthy checks.
Do your sums carefully it isn't easy turning a hobby into a business.
Ken
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Reply By: Member No 1- Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 18:01

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 18:01
insurance and other licences aint the real problem in being able to do it...

its the experience and knowledge of the local history of each track, site, lookout, etc etc etc that you will need to learn to become the good 4wd operator
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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 18:46

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 18:46
Peter,

I don't own a 4wd tour business, but I do work for one.

Do a business plan
Get a good accountant and form a company.
You will have to do a 4WD driver training course from a Nationally Recognised 4wd Trainer.
Start advertising, on the net, 4wd magazines, 4wd shows ect
Obtain some public liability insurance. I will give you a hint on this one. The company is in Melbourne and it is the only one that will do 4wd Tours
Obtain a licence from National Parks and State Forest in every state that you plan to travel. With National Parks in NSW you have to deal with the park individually. They will not give one licence for all the parks.
Work out where you might like to go.
Drive the route and also work out where you can go if the tracks are closed due to rain.
Find good camp sites that can cater for up to 10 vehicles and then find a camp site one days drive from the first that will also handle up to 10 vehicles. Find a alternative camp site just in case the first is used when you arrive.
Do this for trips that range from 1 to 26 days, and in every state in Australia.
Purchase a late model 4WD that is capable of carrying more that 3t, that is also cheap to run and reliable.
Find a job that will allow you to have time off to do the trips but will also be there when you get back from a trip.
I work for one if not the biggest tour company in a Australia, and Vic Widman who owns it has a day job as well as running the company. All his drivers (8 of us) all have a second job. I am lucky that I can get all the time off that I need. I will be taking 5 months from June until October.
Work out all your expenses and then work out how much you are going to charge per vehicle. The going rate is $140 per vehicle per day.
Find some good drivers that can also have time off work to do trips. They will also have to have a good vehicle, know how to drive, camp, be a bush mechanic, handle people, have a first aid cert, and be able to make a decision and stick by it.

This is only part of it. If you would like to know more give Vic a ring 02 99 1313 95 and he can give you some more info.

If all goes well sit back and watch the money roll in.

Wayne
AnswerID: 166499

Reply By: Bilbo - Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 19:26

Tuesday, Apr 11, 2006 at 19:26
Fergus,

I've actually done something similar to this, only it wasn't just 4WD adventures. Mine was taking out people on gold prospecting tours in W.A. It was an addition to my professional gold prospecting and got me throught some tight financial patches when the gold wasn't coming in. This was about 8 years ago.

Bottom Line? I wouldn't do it again. Others have said that it turns a hobby into a business and thus takes all the fun out of it. Well - it my case it did.

The regs, licences and permits are a nightmare. I didn't bother with most of 'em and "JUST DID IT", but you do leave yerself wide open to being sued if things go wrong. I actually had one guy say he was going to sue me 'cos he got himself lost fer an hour or two whilst out on foot with his metal detector!

On the whole, you do meet some great people who for some odd reason think that the amount of knowledge that you have makes you a God in their eyes. They think you're Jesus Christ's older brother! But you get the odd one that brings it all tumbling down and whines for the whole trip. You have to put up with that and it can rattle you if you're not REALLY patient.

8 years ago you could prolly get away with a lot more than you can now as far as licences etc are concerned. These days you can't. You'll need Public Liability Insurance, Sat Phone, RFDS/HF radio, UHF radio, First Aid qualifications, full first aid kits and a heap of patience.

If you're the sort of guy that likes helping people - as I used to be - then you may do alright. If you're in it for the money, forget it. Running drugs or guns is easier.

I wouldn't do it again. But then again I don't need the money or the hassel these days either.

Bilbo
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Reply By: tour boy - Wednesday, Apr 12, 2006 at 06:29

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2006 at 06:29
HI mate, done it for years in NSW but no longer do it (prefer a consistant income). However I do have a name you can purchase if you want to "TREKOZ".
Regards
Tour Boy
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