Hospitality · Tourism

How do I do Market Research for Social Enterprise Tourism Startup?

Zack Tu Nan Zing Hang Founder of Beyond Boundaries Yoga Myanmar and Festival Event Organizer.

Last updated on June 9th, 2019

I have an idea to open a social enterprise travel and tour company in Asia especially to remote and non-touristic places to help the locals eliminate poverty by tourism. My potential customers will be mostly the westerners and people from developed nations. I don't know where to start.

1. How do I conduct a market research and validate the market?

2. What questions are mandatory in survey form?

3.Where and how should I distribute it?

Thank you.

Alex Dubro Integrating How Businesses Can Save Money and Generate Less Trash

June 9th, 2019


Unless your idea is a novel, contemporary, sustainable and community-oriented approach to helping the locals, avoid this enterprise at all costs. You will be doing more harm to the locals than good and be giving the tourists a false sense of "I did something good today!"

Preliminary articles:


--Inaccuracy of "eliminating poverty":




Some research:


(Do some of your own, please!)

The point is this: Not only do the tourists offer very little to the people on-the-ground who actually know what their needs are, it's also an extremely--and I hate to say it--racist approach to volunteering. It's the typical case of "the Westerners and developed countries" have to help us because we can't help ourselves. You are much better off looking into things like Kiva Microloaning and expanding their work.

For example, how can you connect someone who's getting a microloan to get contract support from someone in a different country who works for a big consulting company or construction company and can offer advising on things that the locals may not know? How can you even get the locals more knowledgeable about what they are working on? What supplies do you need?

Intention is great; rethink it.


Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

June 9th, 2019

There are several distinct assumptions you're making and it'd be good to test each one of them separately. First, I would like to ask you who your "customer" is. Is your customer the poor locals whose lives you are intending to change or is it the tourist who you want to introduce to exotic experiences? It makes a huge difference because the need/want is very different from those two perspectives. Alex is correct that if you focus on the tourist, the locals may not like the result. If you focus on the locals, the tourist might not be the solution.

Dane is also correct in that the purpose needs to be much clearer. You have made an assumption that the locals want change, will accept change, or prefer tourism as a method of change. It's also a challenge to deal in absolutes. Reducing poverty is an achievable goal. Eliminating poverty isn't. It's so important that you are specific with your words.

Similarly, a survey may not be the right way to get the answers you seek. People who answer surveys are not the same as people who don't like to answer surveys. But the people you want to be your customers might be the ones who don't like surveys. So if you only get responses from survey takers, you may have eliminated your target customer simply by choosing the wrong way to ask.

There are tons of eco-tourism companies, which sounds a bit like the kind of company you want to start. My suggestion is to go on an eco-tour or three, and talk to the locals, talk to the guides, talk to the organizers. Find out what mistakes they've made and since corrected. Find out their methods. There are so many places to go, you won't be in direct competition. You could even try working for an eco-tourism company for a year to figure out how it really works and what kinds of things go wrong (and right) behind the scenes, and what customers are really like once they've spent money.

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

June 9th, 2019

This is simple: Go to the target end-user and ask them if it is valuable. Disruption is not about your tech, it is about what users want and need. The critical issue is what people will need, not what tour people want. "Eliminate poverty by tourism" is a big task and will fail.

Mr. Kelly Johnson Looking for Co-founder

June 11th, 2019

People will see it as the rich westerners exploiting the poor for profit and plundering their culture for their own entertainment. Where is the Starbucks going will be the running joke.....

If you partnered with a non profit on the other hand and the point was that they weren't tourists but were there specifically to help build a school or something. Then maybe at least the logistics of it doesn't sounds so bad on the face of it.