With Jessica Baumgart, Food Tour Specialist
Jessica Baumgart is a Denver based foodie who has quit her job to run her Food Tour business full-time!
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69 – Jessica Baumgart from Delicious Denver Food Tours
Jessica Baumgart does walking food and drink tours in Downtown Denver! Jessica is passionate about food and travel and found a way to combine her passions to create a lucrative side hustle.
She’s participated in food tours in many different countries of the world and has even spent time teaching cooking classes.
How has COVID impacted your side hustle?
A huge impact! They were hit double as bad because they are both food and travel-related. They’ve since re-opened with safety measures. Since re-opening, a pent-up demand has created a spike in sales for Jessica Baumgart.
How did Delicious Denver Food Tours come to be?
The idea came from traveling. In 2016, Jessica spent a year traveling around the world. Jessica and her husband quit their jobs, sold everything they owned, and went backpacking through 25 countries.
Through all the countries, they went on food tours and loved them. When they came back to Denver, they knew they wanted to be in the food industry.
What was your business that you first launched?
Delicious Denver Food Tours was actually a side hustle! For her day job business, she was teaching private cooking in people’s homes.
How did you ramp up?
People loved the food tours and quickly it overtook the private cooking business that she was running. Jessica Baumgart eventually quit her day business to make her side hustle full-time!
How can you scale a food tour business?
Currently, the business is employing 5 part-time tour guides that allow her to create more revenue for the business. Jessica and her husband are also employed full-time with the business, focusing on growth.
What was your MVP to launch?
Jessica Baumgart bootstrapped the build. She built the website with Squarespace, got an event ticket system and that was really all she needed to get started!
Jessica started marketing on free websites that do the marketing for you, such as Airbnb Experiences, TripAdvisor, and other online travel agencies.
In the beginning, Jessica Baumgart was doing the tours herself. This allowed her to develop relationships with restaurants that proved to help down the road.
What is the business model?
They only take money from the customer. Jessica Baumgart is not receiving any kickbacks from the restaurants.
This creates a win-win-win situation for all the parties involved.
How did you get your first client?
Jessica actually remembers her very first booking! It came 3 days after her website went life!
Jessica focused her effort at the beginning on the SEO of her website. She wanted to make sure that her website would rank #1 when people would search for Denver Food experiences. That is actually how her first lead came through.
At first thought, Jessica believed it was a friend playing a trick on her. Turns out, it was a real client!
Did you do anything else when you launched?
Spreading the word with friends and family, as well as claiming all the social media pages for her business were important. Claiming social media pages are important for your SEO as well.
Where do you spend your marketing efforts now?
Jessica Baumgart has two different sides to the business now and markets them differently. One side is visitors (tourists) and the locals. They both want different things and you need to adjust to that.
In the travel niche, people live and die by reviews. You need to focus on getting Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other online reviews for your service. This is a sure-fire way to attract more clients to your business.
What are you doing to keep customer retention high?
Jessica started building more services that complemented the flagship tour. Many clients would contact Jessica and say they had a lot of fun on the tour and would love to do a tour when they come back to Denver again.
What makes a city a good opportunity for someone to start this side hustle?
You need to decide if you want to do a walking or driving tour. That decision will change your business model drastically.
The best places for food tours typically have a great downtown area with a lot of local restaurants.
Some great cities Jessica mentioned:
What are the costs to start a food tour business?
You need a website, which runs about $10/year for the domain and $80/year for the hosting.
You will also need a ticketing system, Jessica uses Fair Harbor.
You do need liability and alcohol insurance if you are planning on including alcohol in the tours.
Your biggest costs will come from the actual food expenses as well the staffing, but you incur those costs until you sign clients.
How are you pricing your food tours?
Everything is on the website, there is no custom pricing for the public tour. If someone wants to book a private tour or corporate tours, they can be customized to the details.
What’s next for you?
With COVID impacting Delicious Denver Food Tours so hard, recovery is the word of the year! Jessica is staffing up for what she expects to be a busy summer.
What would be your #1 tip for side hustlers?
The devil is in the details. Be sure that you are keeping those in mind!
To be a successful tour operator, you need to love digital marketing and SEO, as that will be the driving factor of the business. If you don’t like that, you need to be okay with hiring that out early on.
Where to connect with Jessica?
All social media platforms as well!
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