Drones & Tourism – Making Money in The Tourism Industry!

The use of professional drones for creating promotional video and intros for tourism is going to be big business, and things are only getting started!

With the introduction of low-cost professional drones, more and more creative people will be able to enter the field of professional productions – and more businesses will be able to afford their services!

If you think you have what it takes to produce exciting and professional video for companies in the tourism industry, the opportunities are endless and demand will only increase as tourism operators realize the potential and benefits. Here are but a few to consider…

  • Resorts of all kinds
  • Adventure Tourism – Including unusual, exotic, remote, or wilderness destinations
  • Government promotional footage
  • Amusement Parks
  • Golf Courses
  • Parachute & Paragliding Tourism
  • Yacht & Fishing Charters
  • River Rafting Adventures
  • & Many more…

You only have to start looking around in your own state or province to see how many potential clients you could approach. With a little research, we wager you should come up with at least a 100 prospects within a few days time frame.


How much money can you make?

This will depend on a number of factors. How talented are you? Do you have an eye for capturing and creating amazing footage? Can you take what might appear a little bland and make it look exciting and fun? Are you good at post-editing and creating promotional videos (don’t reinvent the wheel here, if you’re not, hire or partner with someone that is – and make sure they are VERY GOOD AT IT!).

All these factors will have a bearing on what you can charge. If you can create promotional video that the finest resorts in the world would be proud to use, chances are you could name your price. But if your skills and available talent is good, but not out of this world, you’ll have to test the waters. Maybe it will be $100, $200 or even $300 an hour – it will all depend on how good you are and what you can produce in a given amount of time.

Do your homework and find out what the better resorts in your area pay for promotional material such brochures, magazine or newspaper ads, internet ads, radio ads and so on. This will give you an idea of what they might be willing to pay for an amazing promotional video they can place at the top of their website homepage, use for banner ads and so on!

And remember, some companies may have advertising agencies they work with, or in-house staff. Maybe you can’t sell them on the full package promotional video, but they may want the aerial footage you can create!


Where To Start?

Before you can even think about charging real money in this business, you will have to create your own promotional videos for your own website, YouTube channel and so on. This means finding a few potential clients and producing their promotional videos for free – or if you’re lucky, at cost.

You will want to find prospects that are somewhat well know in your area, but not so big that you would lose the opportunity to approach them for paid work later – or so well known, they wouldn’t even give you the time of day until you have an exceptional reputation in the industry.

When starting out, approach these companies and try the straight up and honest approach first. Tell them what your plans are, what you envision for their business and why you want to do their promotional video (be receptive to what they envision for their company, and do not come across as knowing what they want – you don’t, exploring ideas with them will leave them feeling in control – very important until you are are so good, they want your ideas and vision over theirs).

Make sure they are agreeable and willing to sign a release allowing you to use any footage you create for your own promotions, to be used as you wish (you may have to be specific in regards to where and how you will use the video and footage), your website, on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and so on.

Before you rush out to secure your first clients for your promotional videos, you will need to make sure you have the right equipment –  and all your T’s are crossed and I’s dotted.


What You Will Need Before Stepping Out The Door

#1 – Business Liability Insurance – Don’t Leave Home Without it!

It is important to remember the minute you start a business, you liability level increases 10 fold. You now become fully responsible for anything that goes sideways. The difference between flying your drone(s) for recreation versus business is like night and day. If people know you are operating a business, and you cause damage or injury in the process of filming, you can be fairly sure you will end up in court – or at the very least, paying for damages or explaining to local authorities what went wrong and facing fines!

You will need insurance and it will not be cheap. If you own a Phantom 4 Pro, expect your insurance premiums to be about the same as what this unit cost you – each and every year!

There are other options for insurance, Verifly (in the USA) charges by the hour and can be purchased via your cell phone at any time, instantly! They now have 1, 4 and 8 hour policies too. This can be a good alternative to annual premiums when you are just starting out and testing the waters. Verifly offers coverage up to $2.5 million which should be ample for most people. Check them out, they offer some very cool features and apps can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play. Verifly Terms of Use page tells you everything you need to know about them and their underwriters etc.

#2 – Business Documents & Registrations

Although you may not need all of these when you start out, if your business takes off, and you are serious about it, you will need them. Below are the basic things to consider. Others may apply subject to where you live, if you have employees and so on.

  • Business License
  • Additional business insurance beyond liability e.g. Fire, theft and vandalism to your place of operation, vehicle, equipment and so on.
  • Upgraded vehicle insurance – if you use it for business, you will need to make this change to your insurance
  • Tax numbers and registration
  • Worker’s Compensation

As noted previously, there may be other requirements to consider subject to the scale of your business and location. Play it safe and make sure you have all the required documentation in order for your business.

#3 – Buying The Right Equipment

This one is really a no braining. If you want to produce good footage, you will need good equipment.

At the very least, you will need the following…

  • One Quadcopter or Hexacopter (ideally 2 – downtime can be expensive) capable of extremely stable 4K footage with a minimum 25 minutes flight time
  • Extra batteries and storage devices
  • Handheld Gimbal for ground footage – at the very minimum a product like the OSMO Mobile (very cool)
  • Computer capable of editing 4K video with ease
  • Adobe Premiere and After Affects – or Final Cut Pro X and addons as required
  • Reliable, respectable looking vehicle

DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X5S CameraTo keep costs to minimum when starting out, we recommend the Phantom 4 Pro (around $1500 at the time this article was written). However, the DJI Inspire 2  outfitted with a Zenmuse X5S camera (about $4900 total) will provide the maximum resolution and most options if you are really serious!

Where you may need the Inspire 2 and X5S camera is in situations where you need footage in C-DNG RAW and/or Apple ProRes in 5.2 K with high bitrates. If you will be doing all your own post-editing and are limited to 4K, the Phantom 4 Pro footage should suffice.

A last note on the Inspire 2 vs the Phantom 4 Pro  – The Inspire 2 offers full 360 footage without the risk of the propellers getting into the footage (the arms lift up after take-off). With the Phantom 4 Pro, this can happen subject to the speed of travel and weather condition (primarily wind).

Our Recommendation: If you are really serious about this and have the budget, go for the Inspire 2 (actually a better deal than the Inspire 1 – read our article on this here).


Ignorance of The Law Is No Excuse

You don’t ever want to hear a judge saying these words to you, it means he or she is not looking at your case favorably – and it is true, you need to know the law!

Regardless of your intended use, business or recreation, you have to know the laws regarding drone flights and use, including no fly zones, height restrictions and so on. In some case you may need special permission to fly drones in certain areas – make sure you get these.

As a business owner, ignorance of the law will not be an excuse. You are expected to know the rules and play by them. Judges and authorities are less forgiving with business owners than the average person. In their minds, if you are going to pursue a career in Drone Filming (or anything for that matter), you should be doing the research and know your stuff!


Professionalism Is Half The Battle

Without a professional attitude and work ethic, your business won’t go anywhere. I am not talking about how you live or your particular style or creative slant. This is about how you present yourself to clients, employees, suppliers and so on. It is really basic and mainly includes these points…

  • Be polite and avoid swearing
  • Be on time – all the time
  • Dress well for your chosen style
  • Personal Hygiene – Bad smells and bad breathe are never acceptable!
  • Keep your vehicle clean and tidy, same for equipment
  • Projects should be well organized with all equipment and supplies on hand
  • Manage crew and others with tactfulness and respect, not by barking orders or cursing
  • IMPORTANT: Deliver on time, and on budget – no excuses (well maybe weather, but that is it)

In most cases, looking professional is simply minding your P’s & Q’s, being on time, and doing what you say you will when you will.


Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that there is much much more to running your own business, especially when you enter a new field like drone film making, promotion and marketing. Somethings can only be learned along the way and a few hard knocks. But if you pay attention, stay on top of things and conduct yourself professionally, you should be able to do well and avoid the pitfalls many wannabe Entrepreneurs fall into.

With more and more advancements in drone technology, super high video resolutions and software, the future is going to be very exciting in this industry.

If you get excited thinking about this, maybe a career in the drone filming industry would the right choice.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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Professional Quadcopters & Drones
Professional Quadcopters & Drones