Investment, Steps & more
The vast expanses of the endless blue umbrella-like sky, designed with pearl-like, silver-lined clouds have been enchanting to mankind since time immemorial. Glancing at the blue sky and wandering to fly like a free bird is a dream that most of us see during our childhood. This very dream gave birth to endless possibilities of flying in the last centuries.
As per historical records, the very seedling of flying was sown as early as 220–280 BCE when the Chinese military used sky lanterns as signalling means. Since this inception, many innovations were made, and hot-air balloons were first used to commute from one place to the other by humans in the late 1700s.
Technology developed in leaps and bounds in this domain, and hot-air ballooning has become a cakewalk in many countries today. Well, does this information excite you? Do you want to spend some leisure time on weekends with your loved ones sailing over the clouds? Yes, you can do this now without purchasing a hot-air balloon and without having to go through a tiresome training schedule at an affordable price.
In FY 2020, 39 million jobs were created in the tourism sector in India. With the massive boom in the tourism industry, it is projected that the hot-air balloon business will grow faster than any other industry in the world in the next decade. Therefore, tourism-related businesses do appear lucrative and so it is.
Mechanism of Working of the Balloon Ride Business
The spike in the balloon ride business resulted from human being’s insatiable appetite for adventure and the romanticism over flying. As per tourism studies, it's often seen that people nowadays also choose to fly hot-air balloons on special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and dates, apart from adventure tourism.
It's often observed that in all of those the first fights experienced by people are usually the most memorable ones and they usually cherish those and linger onto the nostalgic corners of their first flight for the entire lifetime.
This, therefore, makes it a great possibility for businesses to generate revenues with minimum investment. To ensure that the investments can swirl and reciprocate multiple times as profit, a few basic steps must be followed before starting any such business.
Well, the business may differ in many aspects from country to country; however, the fundamentals of it remain the same across the globe. The first criteria of the balloon ride business are to have a qualified pilot who can ferry passengers around and also give them the subtle punch of adventure. Although the ride looks very romantic and relaxing, the preparations for it and the safety checklist are usually stringent to avoid mishaps.
How To Start With a Balloon Ride Business?
The most important criteria that an investor has to explore before starting such a business is the location from where he is catering the service. This forms the basic pillars of the long-term success of the business. Many criteria play a part while choosing a suitable location for catering balloon ride services. Some investors may want to start their services from a location that usually has many tourists.
Numerous criteria play a part while choosing a suitable location for starting balloon ride services. Some investors may want to start their services from a location that usually has a lot of tourist influx, some may also want to collaborate with tour agencies to provide services in already identifiable tourist hotspots.
Apart from these things other aspects like open space, air traffic also matters because the balloons are usually large flying objects that don’t have specific landing zones, unlike fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Therefore, congested places and places with high air traffic may pose serious threats to the conduction of streamlined operations.
The next important thing that matters for an investor is whether the location has picturesque scenery for the tourists to enjoy. It may, therefore, require the investor to conduct comprehensive research before choosing a location to provide his services. Lastly, it is of no use to have a heavy influx of tourists and the latest technology if the weather is too windy to fly most of the time!
This is the most important aspect of the balloon ride business, since purchasing expensive equipment and identifying the most suitable place will be of no help if there is no one to fly those balloons. Hence, the investor has to appoint qualified and certified pilots to offer a hassle-free ride experience to his clients.
Proper training and certifications are also essential since hot-air ballooning is completely different from fixed-wing planes and helicopters. Their manoeuvrability in the air is totally and completely dependent on thermals and wind factors. Hence, the person in command of the balloon must ensure that he has a proper understanding of the dynamics of the flight before taking off. He must be trained to handle emergencies mid-air that may arise all of a sudden.
Licensing is another aspect that must be thought about and researched well before starting a balloon ride service. Every country has a different regulatory body that takes care of and handles aviation-related stuff. The investor must properly research the licensing-related stuff and check with the local regulatory body to ensure his business is legally streamlined.
2. Drawing Out a Business Plan
This step, though, may sound subtle, but in reality, it forms the backbone of the business because without a proper plan a businessman is like a captain of a ship with no rudder. Certain aspects that need to be managed are:
- The price of the balloon and related equipment should be carefully decided based on the type of services the investor wants to render, the number of people that he wishes to ferry in one go. Location of the area also plays an important role since bigger balloons may require larger open spaces for their operations.
- The number of rides that the investor wishes to give in a month or during festivities and special occasions must be respected and decided to avoid excessive crowding and waiting for tourists. This decision will also help the investor in deciding the number of balloons that he should purchase.
3. Resources Required to Operationalise Balloon Rides
There are two types of resources that are quintessential to start a balloon ride business. The first includes equipment and the second, human resources.
As regards equipment, the basics needed to start a balloon ride business apart from the balloon itself are:
- Chaser/trailer truck
- An adequate supply of fuel
- Inflation fan
- Safety equipment
Human resources include trained and certified pilots along with multiple ground staff because proper assembling and disassembling of the balloon along with towing are required every time before or after a successful operation. Proper timely maintenance of all the equipment is required to prevent any mid-air untoward incident, which also helps in reducing the amount of wire and tear that happens on a timely basis.
4. Proper Insurance
The policy of assuring all aspects of the business again varies from country to country. It is, therefore, advised to the investors to do in-depth research before approaching the appropriate body for licensing or clearances. It is noticed in many countries that insurance policies are followed and enforced very strictly before the actual start of operations.
5. Safety Measures
Just learning to fly a balloon and getting the proper certificates isn’t enough; therefore, companies must be well aware of the safety precautions. The passengers should also be briefed about the same before the commencement of a flight to ensure a safe and hassle-free flight.
Thus, it is observed that the increasing boom in the tourism industry has made it lucrative for many to start a hot-air balloon ride business. However, many aspects must be taken care of before implementing the decision on the ground. These include facilitating an uncomplicated portal to manage the transactions, which can be easily done through apps like OkCredit.
OkCredit provides a hassle-free platform for small business owners to manage their transaction database effectively. The well-trained OkStaff makes grievance addresses and resolving problems very user-friendly. Apart from these, proper resource acquisition and allocation also play a pivotal role. As there is a saying that the more time one spends with drawing boards in planning, the better success one achieves in business.
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Q. How safe is hot-air ballooning?
Ans. Hot-air ballooning is one of the safest air transport means and because of this, the business is growing rapidly across the globe. Safety inspections are being implemented routinely to maintain standards of operations.
Q. Is it possible for a normal person to start a hot-air balloon ride service?
Ans. Yes, any person with basic research and resources can start a hot-air balloon ride service.
Q. What is the cost of a hot-air balloon?
Ans. A hot air balloon can cost somewhere between $20,000 up to $80,000. Although, the costing is largely size-dependent, where the larger one may cost up to $80,000.
Q. What makes hot-air balloon rides so expensive?
Ans. Due to the huge expenditures involved in the maintenance of a hot-air balloon business, the cost of these rides is expensive. These expenditures are all driven by the cost of hot-air balls, fuel, servicing, and freight.
Q. How much money can be out of the hot-air balloon business?
Ans. The handful of passengers carried on each trip can have a substantial influence on revenues if the tickets charged per passenger varies from $100 to $400 for each ride.