You never know what’s going to happen. If recent events have taught us anything, it’s that we can never be prepared enough. Having a plan in place for every situation you can imagine (no matter how big or small) is essential. With the current expanse of spare time that the travel industry has been left with, now is the perfect moment to capitalize on this and make these plans. So here are some ideas to give you some inspiration!
Let’s start with the obvious one. The outbreak of COVID-19 has been an unfortunate wake-up call for all of us around the world. It is also a timely reminder that we need to try to be prepared for the more extreme scenarios we don’t always expect. What’s more, with increasingly dense populations and global travel becoming the new norm, the chance of another global pandemic occurring at some point is not unlikely. Use the experiences that you’re presently going through, reflect on your current response, in addition to how you would like to be prepared if a pandemic were to occur again. How have you dealt with your staff when there has been no incoming work? How have you shifted your business towards local travellers? Are you making the most of your website(opens in a new tab) and social media presence(opens in a new tab)? Have you started a blog(opens in a new tab)? Are there dream projects that you can develop or work towards during these times? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself, as we’re sure you already are. The harsh reality remains that this is potentially one of the most difficult periods that your business will face, so remember that overcoming this obstacle will make you stronger and better prepared for whatever comes next.
Moving to the opposite end of the disaster spectrum, let’s consider what to do if you’re having issues with your vehicle. For tour and transportation companies this is a worst-case scenario. Ensuring your rides are properly maintained is the first thing you should be doing to avoid any potential problems, but we all know that accidents happen. There are a few things you could be doing before you find yourself stuck somewhere with a few worried tour guests. Create a partnership or even just have the contact details of a repair company handy so that you can easily reach out if you need to. Make yourself known to them ahead of time so that they are aware of who you are and your business. If the fix isn’t so quick, be prepared with a backup car hire company that you can call and rescue you from the scene.
It’s crucial that you communicate everything with your guests. Everyone knows that these things happen and if you appear prepared it will add trust and authority to your brand. If the delay is too long, provide a refund or offer a rescheduled tour, and maybe even add-on another free bonus for good measure. On the other hand, if there is a lot of traffic then you should always take this into account in your scheduling. It might mean allowing an additional 15 minutes or an hour, but being early is always better than being late!
Having a sick guide is every tour operator’s bad day. Statistics suggest that the average worker will take 2.5 sick days per year(opens in a new tab), so if you have four guides, then you need to account for ten days where one of them will be absent each year. While some larger businesses might be able to find a fill-in fairly easily, this is not the case for those self-employed companies or outbound, international tours. There are a few bits of advice that these groups can follow. If you’re providing international tours, having a second local guide is an easy way to have a back-up if things go awry. They will already know the tour group and should easily be able to cover for a day, week, or for the rest of the tour as needed. The added benefit of this is that your company will be supporting and contributing to the local community. Another option is using the International Association of Tour Directors and Guides(opens in a new tab). This is an industry association that can provide back-up or fill-in guides, even at short notice, and they are located throughout the world. If you haven’t checked them out already, we definitely recommend you do so!
Natural disasters are unfortunately also becoming more and more commonplace. If you’re providing tours within your local area then there is a likely chance that you’ll have already experienced whatever threat is present. And if you’re providing international tours, then you should be prepared for whatever risk there might be. Insurance is the first and obvious solution. Do your research and speak to operators providing similar experiences in the area to see what they are doing. You should also have a plan in place whether it be an emergency meeting point, an emergency procedure, or a safety briefing at the beginning of the tour. Keep your guests informed and aware of their own risks. Make sure you have a record of all of your guests, and if necessary, an emergency contact that you can reach out to. Your liability policies are also important here. While there is no way to know when a natural disaster might occur, we can at least be aware of where they are likely to strike and plan accordingly.
Whether we like it or not, guests have a mind of their own. You won’t anticipate the one aggressive customer that gets too drunk on the first night and assaults a police officer but you can certainly be prepared for it! Having a behaviour policy or clause within your terms and conditions allows your guides (and you) to have something to fall back on in times of distress or uncertainty. Remember that you have the power to kick them out of the tour and should be willing to use that as a threat if necessary. Dealing with difficult customers(opens in a new tab) is a whole other topic, and you bet that we’ve written about it. For tours that are risky by nature, you should already have a liability waiver process set up. If you’re starting out or looking to simplify, check out Wherewolf(opens in a new tab) who offers a digital waiver application system.
You’ll never be prepared for everything that will happen but there are loads of things that you can do now to be better placed for whatever may occur. Whether you like it or not, in one way or another disaster will strike.
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