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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Zipline Business? (Sales Forecast and Breakeven Analysis Included)

How to Start a Zipline Business

You will need around $50,000 to $150,000 or more to start a small-scale or basic zipline business with a few zip lines, platforms, and safety equipment, as well as initial promotional efforts.

However, if you intend to start a bigger zipline business that has more zip lines, more extensive courses, themed experiences, or well-advanced equipment, then you should budget around $500,000 to several million dollars.

Nevertheless, be sure to take your time to carry out well-detailed research, come up with a comprehensive business plan, and take into account the ongoing operational expenses that come with running this business.

Estimated Cost Breakdown for Opening a Zipline Business

Here’s a simplified list of the cost breakdown for opening a zipline business with an initial investment of $150,000:

  1. Zipline Design and engineering fees: $15,000
  2. Materials (cables, harnesses, platforms, etc.): $50,000
  3. Labor costs (construction, assembly): $25,000
  4. Business permits and licenses: $5,000
  5. Liability insurance (first-year premium): $10,000
  6. Safety gear (helmets, harnesses, etc.): $5,000
  7. Emergency and first-aid equipment: $2,000
  8. Website development: $3,000
  9. Online and local marketing campaigns: $5,000
  10. Staff recruitment and onboarding: $3,000
  11. Training and certification: $2,500
  12. Rent or land lease (first 6 months): $10,000
  13. Utilities (electricity, water, etc.): $1,500
  14. Administrative expenses (office supplies, software, etc.): $2,500
  15. Contingency Fund (to cover unexpected expenses): $15,000
  16. Legal fees: $2,000
  17. Professional consulting fees: $5,000

Total Estimated Cost – $150,000

3-Year Sales Forecast and Breakeven Analysis

If your zipline business charges an average ticket price of $40 per ride and accommodate 50 rides per day; while operating only operates 200 days per year due to seasonal fluctuations and weather conditions.

With a projected 10% annual increase in the number of rides due to marketing efforts and growing popularity. If fixed cost is estimated at $75,000 annually and variable cost is estimated at 20% of annual revenue.

Year 1:

  • Daily Revenue: 50 rides × $40 = $2,000
  • Annual Revenue: $2,000 × 200 days = $400,000
  • Variable Costs: 20% of $400,000 = $80,000
  • Total Costs: $80,000 (variable) + $75,000 (fixed) = $155,000
  • Profit: $400,000 – $155,000 = $245,000

Year 2:

  • Daily Rides: Increase by 10% to 55 rides per day.
  • Daily Revenue: 55 rides × $40 = $2,200
  • Annual Revenue: $2,200 × 200 days = $440,000
  • Variable Costs: 20% of $440,000 = $88,000
  • Total Costs: $88,000 (variable) + $75,000 (fixed) = $163,000
  • Profit: $440,000 – $163,000 = $277,000

Year 3:

  • Daily Rides: Increase by another 10% to 61 rides per day.
  • Daily Revenue: 61 rides × $40 = $2,440
  • Annual Revenue: $2,440 × 200 days = $488,000
  • Variable Costs: 20% of $488,000 = $97,600
  • Total Costs: $97,600 (variable) + $75,000 (fixed) = $172,600
  • Profit: $488,000 – $172,600 = $315,400

Break-Even Point

Contribution Margin per Dollar of Revenue = 1 – Variable Cost Ratio

: 1 – 0.20 = 0.80 (80%).

Fixed Cost: $75,000 per year.

Break-Even Revenue = Fixed Cost ÷ Contribution Margin

: 75,000 ÷ 0.80

Break-Even Revenue ​= $93,750

Break-Even Daily Revenue = $93,750 ÷ 200 operating days

: = $468.75

Break-Even Rides per Day = 468.75 ÷ 40

: = 12 Rides

Based on the above figures, your zipline business needs to conduct approximately 12 rides per day at $40 per ride to break even. Given the forecast for 50 rides per day initially, the business should comfortably exceed the break-even point from the outset.

Factors That Determine the Cost of Opening a Zipline Business

  1. Location and Terrain

Choosing to start this business in a remote area with limited accessibility will warrant certain investments in things like infrastructure development, road construction, or transportation of materials and equipment.

In the same way, if you intend to start this business near urban centers or popular tourist destinations, then you need to take into account the cost of higher land acquisition or lease.

However, note that your business will benefit from greater foot traffic and customer interest. Do not also forget to consider the terrain.

Starting such business in mountainous regions or over water bodies will warrant more intricate engineering, safety considerations, and potentially higher insurance premiums compared to flat terrains.

  1. Number and Length of Zip Lines

Keep in mind that the number and length of zip lines will directly determine the cost of construction, material requirements, as well as labor costs.

You need to understand that longer zip lines will necessitate more solid cables, and stronger support structures (like towers or platforms), in addition to advanced braking systems to guarantee safe and exciting rides.

Aside from that, multiple zip lines will work to boost the general course footprint, doubling the need for more land or tree canopy access rights.

Coming up with a varied course that infuses various types of zip lines (e.g., standard, racing, tandem) will indeed bolster customer experience but come with added expenses.

  1. Quality of Equipment and Safety Measures

While top-grade equipment is paramount to guarantee safety and customer satisfaction, you must note that it doesn’t come cheap and will take up a good portion of your startup capital. Most often, to start this business you will need certified harnesses, pulleys, carabiners, helmets, gloves, as well as trolleys.

However, it is pertinent to note that the exact cost of these items will depend on variables like the manufacturer, materials used, or even its safety standards compliance (e.g., UIAA, ASTM).

Nevertheless, be sure to take into account the expenses that come with regular maintenance, inspections, and replacements to guarantee the equipment will remain in perfect condition.

  1. Regulatory Compliance and Permits

There are regulations and legal requirements zipline businesses are expected to comply with. While they will vary depending on your location, keep in mind that it will most often include adhering to regulations from federal agencies like the:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace safety standards, state departments of labor, environmental protection agencies for land use as well as impact assessments, in addition to local zoning boards for construction permits coupled with the requisite business licenses.

However, based on your location and the composition of your course, you might be mandated to obtain additional permits for noise mitigation, wildlife protection, water use, and ADA accessibility.

It is also necessary you obtain the right liability insurance coverage to safeguard both you and your business against potential accidents and legal claims. 

  1. Marketing and Staffing

From the very beginning of your business, you must put in place properly tailored marketing strategies to ensure you can get your message to the right audience as well as guarantee substantial business income. Most often, this will necessitate investing in an alluring website that features online booking capabilities.

You will also need to put in place search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, efficiently utilize social media platforms, align with local tourism agencies or hotels, as well as invest in targeted advertising campaigns. Howbeit, be sure to invest in the right signage, brochures, promotional events, as well as customer referral programs.

Aside from that, you will also have to recruit and train your staff, including certified guides, instructors that boast of first aid/CPR training, customer service representatives, as well administrative personnel.

While all of these will ensure you provide your customers with top-of-the-class, safe, and memorable experiences, keep in mind that will all take up a good portion of your initial investment.