My Entrepreneurial Journey with Exploring Tourism from $0 to $300,000 Sales

August 15, 2021

Read about my Entrepreneurial Journey.

Do you know about www.exploringtourism.com, if not then please visit first?

Under this brand, we have now 110+ countries’ websites that target inbound tourism. This means every country has one website.

Travel is my hobby, so as an entrepreneur after many travel project failures in travel projects, I started Exploring Tourism.

Around 2004, my idea was not a business. It was just to start a website and earn from Adsense (Google Advertising). At that time AdSense was paying good money on each click almost $0.25

Because in another travel project, I was getting around $500 USD every month. So I thought, let’s start 100 websites, even one website can generate $1 per day, I will get $100 per day and $3000 USD per month.

I will book a domain, start a website, and then choose one local partner in each country and tell them my plan. So they can help to key-in data to become my exclusive partner to work with me on a commission basis to generate leads plus I will earn from Adsense as per plan. Win-Win Situation. But it doesn’t work like that


Process :

Process 1 – Then I start collecting tour operators’ and travel agents’ databases via many sources and emailing them every day about my plan. This I was doing with consistency every morning. Maybe I was shooting up to 1000 emails per day.

Process 2 – It was sure, that many companies were interested in my plan and discuss it further. Once you are sending so many emails every day, then you can’t manage the reply in outlook. So I subscribe online email management system. Which you can call it “Support System”. Under that support system, all emails land into status such as “New”, and then I made some further status example “Pending”, “Application”, “Contract” and “Partners” and Not interested” because was going to be email flow. With this idea, I could manage hundred of emails without missing anything every day. Plus I prepare some readymade answers to save time.

Process 3 – If the company shows interest, then my next process was to let them fill the form. I call it “Partnership Form” where I collect all the information from the company and the eligibility to become our partner.

Process 4: After collecting lots of forms as well as communication with every company, analyzing and, checking reviews, website, and their quick response to my question. I offer a partnership to one company and send a contract.

Process 5: I wait for the contract signed, if they do not reply to my contract within few days, then I offer it to another company. Because I need to make sure who is more interested in my offer and communicating with me quickly.

Process 6: Once the contract is signed, the next process is to prepare the website on the local domain and hand over the website with no data, so the partner can start data entry within the given time period.

Process 7: To start data entry, I support them with a user manual and some guidelines, so they should follow the standard partners, even I verify the first data by myself.

Process 8: After data verification, they keep constitute the data entry, until they reach our target. In between, we take updates many times from them. Once the data entry is finished, the website is pending a final check by us.

Process 9: After the website is checked and it’s ready to connect with our network. So the final layout of the website looks like these websites. www.exploringtourism.com


Challenges :

I remember around 2013, we built the network in approx 20 countries and the website was live with our old theme. But nothing was moving. Because I was sending the inquiry direct to my local partner and requesting them to send us a monthly report about each inquiry status. But no partner was sending us any report.

This means I have no sales in the year 2013. As per my data we received around 165 inquiries in the whole year without any marketing.

Till now I was taking this as my hobby and did not worry about any sales. I just want to build the site, so I can earn money via Adsense. Another side AdSense was also not working due to changes in google strategies.

The Year 2014:
our network has grown to 30 websites, and 400 inquiries in a year. Again no partner was giving us an update on the closed deal, I was still not serious. But I was sending them personal reminders.

On another side, my website was keeps growing. It was difficult to manage 30+ websites with my own full-time IT business. All the websites were on the VPS server, but I was not updating anything in terms of code.

The Year 2015:
The network website has grown to 40, but still no sale. This was 3rd year. We received around 700+ inquiries without any SEO or marketing. Adsense was also not giving any money. Looks like I bought an elephant and difficult to take care of with no sale.

The year 2016:
Then in the year 2016, I decided this can’t go like this, and I just need to update the status on each inquiry from my partners.

I took one bold decision to create a simple program which calls “Enquiry Management System”. It means if any website generates any inquiry, that will redirect to my partner via our centralized system. But partners and customers must communicate on my platform.

Even I have many if and but’s in my mind, will the partner use that program? Will customers come on my platform and reply? Will this work or not. But I didn’t have any option except this. My program was very simple with easy UI. Finally, I launched the first version around April 2016.

So I keep checking the program every day, resolving some bugs (if any) it was just a simple communication screen by inquiry number. I was very happy when my partner starts using and moreover customer replying back. We improved the program till the end of the year.

Finally, I found we received 1200 Enquiries in 2016 & my some partners closed $15,700 USD deals 🙂

The year 2017:
This was a good year, we kept upgrading our “Enquiry Management System” and our partner was getting used to that. Slowly – 2 we were making this more automated but keeping in mind that it’s very easy to use.

Another side we launched almost 50 country’s websites. Our inquiry rate increase to 2000 in 2017, which means a 100% jump from 2016

And our partner closed almost $160,000 USD in deals in the year 2017. This means a 1000% jump from 2016.

The year 2018:
Our network was grown to 70+ websites and sales jump to $200,000

The year 2019:
Our network was grown to 100+ websites and sales was approx $300,000

The year 2020:
Our network was grown to 110+ websites and sales become  ZERO due to Covid

The year 2021:
Our network was grown to 115+ websites and sales are now business coming back!

exploringtourism network 1024x1021 1


Take away from this story :

  1. I never had a huge team except me and 1 guy to support development. It’s still my part-time and hobby project to learn something every day.
  2. I never spend any budget on marketing.
  3. Do not expect the result so quickly in online business.
  4. Keep patience, build a brand and work hard.
  5. You do need so much money, or a huge team to build something. But you must be honest with yourself and be professional.
  6. I still give few hours to this project every day even in a COVID situation.
  7. I am still finding new ways to market this project by learning.
  8. So keep learning

By Ajay Kumar (Director & e-Business Consultant)