The holidays are notorious for being a potentially stressful time of the year. Airlines are overbooked, hotels are completely full, restaurants can’t fit in any more reservations, and you as a tour operator are working around the clock. If you run a tourism company in a popular holiday destination, this time of year may incur a good amount of stress, but try to see it this way: it can be exceptionally profitable if you play your cards right. In this post, we are going to help you keep your cool and come out on top of the holiday rush.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
If your holiday season has the potential to be one of the most profitable moments in your fiscal year, you should be preparing for it at least 8 months out. That may seem excessive, but consider that most people start to book their holiday vacation at least 6 months prior to their expected travel date. First, they decide on the destination (of course), then come the flight and accommodations. As the time approaches, many guests look into what sort of activities they can enjoy on their vacation. Here are three main ways to prepare:
Get booking software (or make sure yours is up to date and accurate).
As a tour operator, you’re in an ideal position to take advantage of some key components here. If your website lacks a booking software, this is the perfect time to decide on one and get it incorporated. Booking software allows for much easier client conversion since potential guests can view your availability right away with no back-and-forth discussions. Guests can easily see if you offer something they are interested in, and if it’s easily bookable, your sales will skyrocket.
Make sure your staff is ready for the busy holidays.
This time of year can be quite trying; it’s either sink or swim. Give your guides extra prep time or work so that they are ready for the overtime and excessive amounts of people. Remember: if you’re busy, so is everyone around you. Lines are out the door, restaurants run out of food, and traffic jams are increasingly common. You want your staff to be on the same page so that they can act as a team when it really counts. Being on top of your game is key since people are most likely paying a premium and are less patient, making them more likely to leave a scathing review if things don’t go as expected.
Get together after the rush to process.
An extremely valuable tool to implement this season, if you haven’t already, is a post-season review with your entire staff. Discussing what worked and what didn’t can be one of the best ways to prepare for the upcoming season. You can also use this review to generate ideas on how to improve next year. Your notes on this meeting may be some of the most crucial prep work that you do all year.
As a tour operator, I’m sure you know that getting repeat business can be challenging since not everyone goes to the same destination year after year. During the holiday season, however, the possibility of repeat business grows. Families tend to celebrate traditions around this time of year; in many mountain towns, for example, guests tend to return for skiing holidays. For this very reason, altering your tours even slightly can benefit you. Not only is it good to keep your material fresh or find new ways to showcase your product, but it could be the ideal time to try out a new tour that’s been in the works. By offering a tour you may not offer the rest of the year, you’re more likely to capture a client twice in a row. If that’s the case, you’ve mastered one of the most important marketing tools in your belt: word of mouth.
Word-of-mouth marketing is some of the strongest promotion you can get. People trust other people that they perceive to be like them. If your potential guests hear from their friends that every year they take your Caribbean sunset boat cruise, and it’s worth it to see that magical moment when the sun sinks behind the horizon as dolphins leap from the blue ocean, they are more likely to look into doing one (or more) of your tours when they get to town.
Make your online presence full of holiday cheer.
For people that travel over the holidays, this may very well be one of their favorite times of the year. Ride that wave and incorporate some of the festivities into your online presence. You could add some cute themed graphics to your website or use social media to promote your special holiday tours. This may also be an ideal time to introduce your staff on social media or your website, promote volunteer work that your team participates in, or devise a plan to give back to your community. Let your imagination run wild! All of these things will not only increase your value in the eyes of potential clientele but also in your community. After all, that’s what the season’s all about, right?
Whatever holiday you celebrate, we here at Tourism Tiger wish you a very happy holiday season!
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