Off The Map

The Beat Goes On

Company: World Beat Tours
Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Owner: Christine Johnson, 31
Date started: November 1997
Start-up cost: $25,000
Sales: Aiming for $300,000 in first year

A happy confluence of Christine Johnson's love of music, her experience as a travel agent, and a fiancé who's a concert promoter with access to tickets gave rise to World Beat Tours, a travel company that coordinates tickets, travel accommodations and related activities for music aficionados planning vacations around music festivals.

World Beat makes arrangements for clients attending everything from the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the London Beatles Tour to the Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica. Because each concert attracts a very different type of client, Johnson targets her direct mailings accordingly. Focusing only on residents of Boston, Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, she buys appropriate mailing lists in those cities, then markets only to people she perceives as potential customers. For an upscale event, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, Johnson sells to a middle-aged, upper-middle-income customer; for the Reggae Sunsplash, she focuses on a younger crowd. Despite the success of direct mail, her Web site has given the best return on investment.

Still in the start-up phase, Johnson is learning about details such as accurately estimating the number of tickets she can sell per event. But those are snags that will work themselves out. Doing what she loves is what her business and her life are about.

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Off The Map.

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