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13 business ideas in the hospitality industry

Every year, millions of visitors to the UK contribute to the massive £59.3 billion hospitality industry.

Our country is an island packed with a history dating back thousands of years; famous figures such as Shakespeare, Churchill and Nelson; a melting pot of diversity opens in new window and culture; and world-renowned musicians, artists, sportsmen and creators.

Anyone with an interest in helping visitors enjoy their trip, or travelling themselves, turn that interest into a business opportunity.

Does this appeal to you?

A word of warning though – many of these ideas involve entering into industries that are highly regulated.

You may need to be licensed or obtain other qualifications or approvals; you may need specialist insurance; you may need to adhere to health & safety standards or food hygiene standards and you will likely need a DBS check if your work brings you into contact with children, to name but a few considerations.

If you are thinking about setting up any of these businesses you should obtain specialist legal advice before doing so.

Here are 13 ideas for hospitality businesses that you could set up today.


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Area or tour guide

This is a competitive area – as an example, a search for London Tours on a search engine brings up more than 8.2 million results.

Therefore, you’ll probably need to find a particular niche opens in new window or find an area where fewer tour guide businesses exist.

Ghost tours are always popular, as are historical tours – another idea is a walk based on food or drink; visits to the best or most unusual restaurants and bars can be enjoyed over an hour or two, and also feed you for the day.


Travel blogger or vlogger

Writing about your own area opens in new window, or filming parts of it, is an enjoyable and creative way of making a living.

Thinking outside the box can help – while this isn’t necessarily an angle for those interested in hospitality, there’s also a market for helping those who are looking to move to your area permanently; we’ve seen ex-pats showing how to buy a home in Pattaya in Thailand, for example.

Sponsorship, local advertising opens in new window and monetisation of videos opens in new window can provide income.


Photography or videography

If you know your way around a DSLR there are a huge number of avenues to explore.

Large prints of local landmarks? Check.

Corporate photographs for a company website, menu or advertising? Check.

Creating a cinematic-style video of an activity or excursion that a company can use for promotion or social media pages opens in new window? Check.

These are just three suggestions for a qualified photographer.

Travel Agency

If you’re an experienced traveller with contacts in other countries by forming your own travel agency you might be able to create your own specific, niche tours abroad.

Perhaps they’ll visit multiple regions and countries, and enjoy the fact that it’s a local travel agent delivering their bookings.

Alternatively, perhaps you’ll create specific tours in your city, to be booked online by vistors.

There are several different types of travel agency any the licence(s) you require, as well as other legal considerations, will depend upon how you intend to operate.


Hotel or B&B

People need somewhere to sleep, and often the big hotel chains are expensive and soulless.

Meanwhile, a building with some history, a proper fried breakfast and an owner who not only knows the area but the people who live there, could be a far more enticing prospect for the visitor.

Be warned that your evenings will no longer be your own and that you’ll have to put in a lot of hard work.

You will also need to ensure that you have the right to use your property as a hotel or B&B. It may be necessary to apply for planning permission for a change of use. Building regulations may also apply.


Pub or nightclub

Owning or running a pub or club is an exciting way to earn a living.

There are also many ways to stand out from the crowd opens in new window, with the choice of ales or a menu of local specialities giving you a point of difference to attract customers to a pub.

Clubs can make a name for themselves through their live music too – with specialist DJs able to pull in the punters in big numbers.


Coffee Shop

There’s a reason that coffee shops and cafes opens in new window seem to be ubiquitous: people like them!

Create homemade opens in new window cakes, buns and breakfasts, and pair these feasts with fresh hot drinks, to entice both visitors and locals alike.

Memorabilia and a stylish décor will enhance the experience and these venues can also be used to host networking events opens in new window and live music/arts.


Adventure tourism

Think you know the area better than other tour guides?

Maybe you know a woodland area or river that’s largely quiet and perfect for outdoor pursuits, or perhaps you can team up with a local leisure company opens in new window and promote an exciting activity that remains largely un-offered – anything from rock climbing to cave exploration could be a great idea.

Alternatively, maybe you know a street or pub or show or art collective that can give visitors something memorable to tackle!


Shuttle or taxi service

For the car owner there are a huge variety of uses for their vehicle to make money.

Airport rides and luggage handling are two services which will always be in demand.

Make sure you give out your number to happy customers so that you can take them on to events and attractions in the area.

Kayak or boat tours

This depends on where you live of course but exploring a city or village by boat gives tourists a completely different view of the area.

Get to know different routes, the wildlife on display, and any famous landmarks or homes on the waterside.

Also, try to conclude or accompany the tour with a relaxing stop-off at a local, authentic pub.



Speaking French, German, Polish, Japanese or any other language, and then assisting natives of those countries, could be a lucrative little venture.

Another way of selling your services opens in new window is to translate brochures, documents, menus and even websites into other languages for local hotels, restaurants, or other businesses.



A small souvenir shop or display, perhaps supplementing one of the other ideas listed here, could bring in additional income.

If you can make something unusual but attractive that will serve as a visual reminder of a visitor’s day you’re onto a winner.

Alternatively, a quick scan of Etsy or local art/antiques shops will soon show you opens in new window how many skilful local creators live in your area – and you can sell their work as well (subject to agreeing this with them of course!).


Beach Activities

There’s a huge range of things that you can sell or games that you can promote, including selling swimwear and buckets and spades, and renting out dinghies or jet skis.

Again, this is highly dependent on your location – this probably won’t be something offered in Birmingham, for example.


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Our free  Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:

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Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or any of its subsidiaries or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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