Double Decker Tours of Washington

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Sightseeing Bus Tours Business Plan

Strategy and Implementation Summary

DDTOW will focus it's efforts, initially, on tours in and around the city of Washington.  Being the nation's capital, its rich history attracts visitors from across the country and around the world.  Estimates from the Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation concludes that over 18 million visitors come to the city spending over $10 billion dollars.  Most of the money is spent on lodging and food but a considerable portion is spent for touring and sightseeing.  By tapping into 2% of the potential market or 453,000 customers,  Double Decker Tours is posed to make over $14 million dollars in sales during it's first full year of operations.  We intend to advertise heavily in the region to attract customers and hold unique events to help boost sales.

Another method we will utilize to capture sales will be a Welcome Aboard photograph.  How this works is that as our customers are boarding the bus for a tour, we will take a photograph of them and when they return, we will have a digital photo board with their picture on it.  If they would like their photo, we will print it and frame it with one of our DDTOW frames, and we will let them e-mail their photo to anyone in the world from our e-mail server.

5.1 Competitive Edge

DDTOW's competitive edge is recognizing a niche market that is unfulfilled at the moment.  That market consists of introducing to the Washington sightseeing public the other city away from the monuments and memorials of the Federal City.  Groups such as CulturalTourismDC, HeritageDC, DowntownDC and the mayor's office are spending millions of dollars to entice visitors to the scenic and entertainment sections of Washington.  DDTOW can take advantage of this promotion by introducing a fleet of London-style double-decker buses and specialized tours in the areas that are being highlighted.  Tourmobile, because of their charter with the National Park Service, cannot operate off the National Mall and Old Town Trolley, being a national service, has established their routes and at this time are not interested in exploring areas that may not be profitable to them.  We, on the other hand, with aggressive marketing and promotion in conjunction with the above groups can capitalize on that new and emerging market as well as provide regular tour around the monument and memorial that most tourist want to see.

5.2 Marketing Strategy

Double Decker Tours adheres to the theory that the goal of business is to create and keep customers happy.  Our marketing strategy will reflect this goal as we build our reputation in the Washington sightseeing/tour market.  Many of DDTOW's potential customers spend over 55 weeks per year in a work setting and when they come to Washington, they have between 3 to 7 days to experience our fair city.  Many take sightseeing tours to get an informative layout of the monuments and other points of interest. 

DDTOW will promote the capital city of monuments, memorial and historical sites plus we will provide them with a view of the other city.  Our tours will take them to the neighborhoods that they might have seen in the movies, our entertainment districts, and other prominent sites that will pique their interest.  At the end of the tour, our goal is have each and every customer leave the bus with an ear-to-ear grin.  That way when the customer goes home, they will tell their friends about our service and the beauty of Washington.  We will also follow up our tours with survey forms so that we can get feedback from our customers so that we may improve.

5.2.1 Pricing Scheme

Much of Double Decker Tours' pricing is determined by our competition.  The price of sightseeing in Washington ranges from $15 to $40.  By setting our price at the level of $30, we will appeal to the budget conscious traveler as well as those that price is not an option.  With a potential market of over 22 million people per year, we are basing our first year figures on servicing 453,000 or 2% of the potential visitors.

5.2.2 Promotion Scheme

The overall concept and design of Double Decker Tours of Washington sets the stage for its promotion.  Marketing and promotion will stress the unique buses, the fun you can have with us and quality of tours that will set it apart from the rest.  Strong public relations combined with well-placed, well-designed, distinctive advertising appealing directly to people who are our prospective customers will help get the word out.

5.2.3 Marketing Scheme

Customers will be reached through traditional marketing communication methods.  Research suggests that our target market customers, and travelers in general, are Internet savvy, so before traveling to Washington, many will access the Web for sightseeing information and may make reservations or purchases via that medium.  Besides, the Internet will serve as an effective means of communication and distribution of information about our services.  DDTOW will target our customers initially at our kiosks and bus stops as we board our passengers, giving them brochures and other literature that they may share with their family and friends, but we will also look at cable television, radio and other inexpensive media to get our message out.

5.2.3.1 Marketing Effort

The marketing effort will employ a mix of vehicles to convey our message and presence.

  • Print media -- local newspapers, free weeklies
  • Broadcast media -- local programming and special interest shows
  • Hotel guides -- concierge relations, Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade, Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation brochures
  • Misc. -- Yellow Pages, charity events

The marketing effort will be split into three phases using the media vehicle described above:

1) Opening -- An advanced notice (press packet) sent out to all media and printed announcement ads in key places, rack brochures, direct mail/giveaways.  Budget - $80,000

2) Ongoing -- A flexible campaign (using above media), assessed regularly for effectiveness.  Budget - $12,000 per month in the first year

3) Point of sale -- A well trained staff can enhance the customer's overall experience.  Word-of-mouth referral is very important in building a customer base.

5.2.4 Futuristic Plans and Strategic Opportunities

DDTOW, upon successful operation of two years, will begin to develop strategies and plans geared towards opening new offices and sightseeing services in Baltimore, Annapolis, Miami and eventually Atlanta, expanding as the need and resources allow.

5.3 Sales Strategy

Double Decker Tours will aggressively sell the benefits of touring with us by implementing the following action items:

In our first months of operations we will:

  • Begin a major advertisement campaign to let the Washington area sightseeing public know that there is a new tour in town.
  • We will host a party for the concierges of all the major hotels in Washington and present them with an incentives offer for referrals to DDTOW.
  • We will join the DC Chamber of Commerce, Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation and Washington Board of Trade and cohost a meet and greet party for the local business, media and government officials and invite decision makers from the area.
  • We will buy inexpensive media time throughout the year on local radio, in the print media, on television and cable television outlets to promote our tours and the fun that you can have traveling with Double Decker Tours.

In the future we will:

  • During the school year we will offer discount tours to area schools and during the summer we will offer discount tours to area colleges and universities for their incoming freshmen and their families.
  • Develop special tours such as 'Lovers Only' tours at Valentine Day.
  • Host Fraternity and Sorority night tours.
  • Develop 'Movie Scene' tours.
  • Host Family Reunion special tours.
  • Develop Veterans tour specials.
  • Host a once a year Stone Cold Family Picnic tour.
  • Add to our product line a picture-taking ability so that before customers go on one of our tours, we will take pictures of the group and have a framed portrait waiting for their return, as well as the ability to send the picture via e-mail to anywhere in the world.

Our commitment is to maximize the pleasure of our customers so that their time with us will be one of the most memorable parts of their trip to Washington.  As we grow and profit, Double Decker Tours intends to spend from 5% to 10% of gross revenues on advertising thereby raising DDTOW's image in the regional tour and sightseeing market.

5.3.1 Sales Forecast

The sales forecast is based on DDTOW capturing a 2% share of the over 18 million visitors that visit Washington along with the approximately 4 million people that live in the metro area.  That means that DDTOW would have to service 453,000 customers during the 2004-2005 year, 543,600 during the 2005-2006 year and 652,300 during the 2006-2007 year.  These figures are based on running an average of 24 tours per day divided between 12 buses during the summer and  8 to 18 tour per day during the winter months.  During the summer months in Washington, with the amount of advertising  and aggressive marketing that we plan to do, DDTOW will be able to meet the goals that we have set for ourselves. 

Another service that DDTOW will offer our customers will be a digital photograph of their group.  As the groups prepare to board our buses, we will take photographs of them.  After they finish the tour and return to the MCI Center, we will have a framed photo of them already mounted along with a digital copy that they can e-mail through our Internet station to anyone in the world.  We will charge only $10 dollars for this and we forecast only about 1 in 15 will take advantage of this option.  This is an option that none of our competitors are using at the moment.

The table below summarizes our sales forecast.  We have chosen to treat only fuel and photo processing and Internet connections as our direct costs of sales, while some of our other projected expenses related to the service delivery, such as drivers' salaries, are reflected in our Profit & Loss projections later in this document.

Sales Forecast
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Sales
Sightseeing $14,368,000 $17,241,600 $20,689,920
Photographs $322,366 $354,603 $390,063
Charters $75,500 $83,050 $91,355
Total Sales $14,765,866 $17,679,253 $21,171,338
Direct Cost of Sales Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
Photo processing & Internet connection $46,631 $48,962 $51,410
Fuel $96,000 $115,000 $140,000
Subtotal Direct Cost of Sales $142,631 $163,962 $191,410

5.4 Milestones

Double Decker Tours of Washington's important milestones are detailed in the following table.  DDTOW believes that it is important for a company to set goals because this helps determine the company's strategy and tactics, and maintain company focus.  The milestones are seen as progress points and will be used to measure DDTOW's success in reaching it's goals.

What the table doesn't show is the commitment behind it. Our business plan includes complete provisions for plan-vs.-actual analysis, and we will hold monthly follow-up meetings to discuss the variance and course corrections.

Milestones
Milestone Start Date End Date Budget Manager Department
Business Plan 1/1/2003 4/1/2003 $5,000 Coleman Admin
Get Financing 4/16/2003 4/15/2004 $15,000 Coleman-Williams Admin
Hire Staff 4/16/2004 4/30/2004 $5,000 Coleman Admin
Grand Opening 6/1/2004 6/1/2004 $80,000 Coleman Admin
World Wide Web Presence 4/1/2004 4/15/2004 $3,000 Coleman Admin
Break-even 12/1/2004 12/1/2004 $0 Coleman Admin
Develop Special Tours 11/1/2003 4/1/2004 $8,000 Staff Operations
Order Buses 4/1/2004 4/30/2004 $225,000 Coleman Operations
Training 4/15/2004 5/30/2004 $20,000 Coleman Operations
Set-up Offices 11/16/2003 5/30/2004 $10,000 Coleman Admin
Totals $371,000