Managing Your Finances, Grants and Business Support Tools
If you want to access funding to set up a business or expand your existing operation, Visit England have pulled together an overview of finance organisations aimed specifically at helping small businesses.
You can also find guidance on taking card payments and information on what charges you can pass on to your customers, as well as your legal obligations.
If you need help on setting your prices, read our tips on what you should consider and learn how other operators price their offer during major events. If you’re a charitable attraction operator, download The Visit England guide to rules on Gift Aid (PDF, 144KB) to ensure you maximise its potential for your business.
If you’re unable to gain funding from your bank or building society, there are other organisations that may be willing to help your business.
RDPE Growth Programme
The RDPE Growth Programme, funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), provides grants for projects to develop and grow tourism in rural England.
The programme is provided in collaboration with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). Grant amounts vary by each LEP area and projects will be assessed against local priorities. Grants are generally available for the creation and/or extension of visitor attractions, improving access infrastructure e.g. cycleways and upgrading the quality of the local tourism offer (sometimes this includes creating or upgrading accommodation).
- Commercial, profit-making projects (e.g. visitor attractions, accommodation, retail outlets and food and drink outlets): New businesses, farmers looking to diversify and small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees and an annual turnover of €10m or less) are eligible to apply for funding up to 40% of the total project cost.
- Projects that generate some income to offset costs, but not intended to make a profit (e.g. small buildings for tourist information): Rural business, farmers, land-owners, groups representing rural communities, charities and public bodies are eligible to apply for up to 80% of the total project cost.
- Projects that generate no income (e.g. free tourist attractions such as local landmarks): Rural businesses, farmers, land-owners, groups representing rural communities, charities and public bodies are eligible to apply for up to 100% of the total project cost.
The deadline for sending expressions of interest is 31st January 2018. All projects should aim to be completed by 31st March 2019.
For more information, including whether your proposed project is in an eligible rural area and how to apply, read the guidance booklet ‘RDPE Growth Programme: Rural Tourism Infrastructure Handbook’ (PDF, 2.9MB) or search ‘RDPE Growth Programme’ on Gov.uk(link is external).
Other tourism-specific funding opportunities under the EAFRD Growth Programme will be published on the Gov.uk website(link is external)as they become available.
LEADER grants for rural businesses
Rural businesses can apply for LEADER funding for projects that help their businesses to grow.
Applications are made to Local Action Groups (LAG), who determine which projects to fund in their area. These projects must support at least one of six LEADER priorities, including boosting rural tourism and providing cultural and heritage activities. More information on LEADER funding.(link is external)
My Business Support Tool
This Government support tool(link is external) helps businesses to identify their needs and can direct you to the most appropriate public and private sector support, including grants and finance, start-up advice and local and national helplines.
The Business Finance Guide
This Government guide for SMEs(link is external) sets out the full range of debt and equity finance options for start-ups and businesses looking to grow. GREAT Business also offers further guidance(link is external), including start-up loans and how to find private sector support.
Better Business Finance
Better Business Finance(link is external) provides impartial information and support to businesses and entrepreneurs looking to develop and grow. Its website contains a wealth of information and support, including an appeals process if you’ve been turned down by your bank, tips for a successful finance application and advice on writing a business plan.
Supported by funding from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Funding Circle(link is external) is an online lending community where you can borrow from individuals and access loans of between £5,000 and £1 million to help grow your business. Once you’ve applied for funding, investors compete to lend you money in an online auction style system and the lowest bids win, so you receive the lowest rates possible for your loan. To be eligible for funding, your business must have at least two years’ trading history, a good credit rating and a minimum turnover of £100,000.
Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs)
Supported by trade body Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), CDFIs(link is external) are local, community-based lenders who provide both finance and mentoring to new and existing businesses. There are currently about 60 CDFIs around the country.
The benefits of accepting card payments
Customers are increasingly paying by card and many consumers automatically expect a card payment facility when they stay at a hotel or visit an attraction.
Other benefits of accepting card payments include:
- Reducing the risk of ‘no shows’ and late cancellations
- Money in your bank account typically within four days of the transaction
- Improved cash flow
- Quick and easy payment options for your customers, particularly from overseas visitors
- Potential to up-sell additional services and products – customers may not have enough cash on them to pay for a room upgrade or merchandise
Setting up card facilities may be easier than you think – the UK Cards Association(link is external) has advice on its website for businesses on how to get started.
Charging a guest’s card for damage
Your legal rights if a guest causes damage to your property.
Your statutory obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Deposits and cancellations
Your – and your customers’ – rights in the event of a cancellation.
Setting your prices
There are several things you can do to gain an idea of what you should charge your customers.
1. Research your competition
Find out how other businesses compare with your offering. Do they offer the same facilities? Are they aiming for the same target market as you? Are they attracting enough customers at their current prices? Do they charge different rates at different times of year? This will give you an idea of the local market and what visitors to your area are willing to pay.
2. Consider your location
If your business is in a honeypot area or close to a major tourist attraction it’s likely you’ll be able to charge more than if you’re in an area which receives few tourists.
3. Contact your local tourism organisations
Visit England’s Tourist Information Centres (TIC) and Destination Organisations (DO) should be able to provide you with information on the local market, such as peak periods and the level of demand.
4. Establish what your prices will include
If you run a B&B, will you include a full cooked breakfast in your basic price, or charge extra for this? If you’re an attraction, will your visitors be prepared to pay extra for things like tractor rides or special exhibitions? Ensure you make it clear to customers what the price includes before they purchase.
5. Look beyond covering your day-to-day running costs
Although these can give you a good idea of what your business will cost you, you may need to think about more infrequent or annual costs on top of your monthly outgoings. Have you thought about insurance? What’s your marketing budget? Will you have enough to cover your costs in the low season?
Read Visit England’s Pink Book Online to find what you need to do when advertising prices to your customers.