Best practice in managing your Tourism business in peak season.

This summer looks like delivering the surge of tourists we were hoping for, all eager to explore our diverse landscapes, pristine beaches, vibrant cities and relaxed country towns.

Whether you run an accommodation or activity business, summer holiday season presents both opportunities and challenges.

Managing the influx of guests, while at the same time ensuring great customer experiences, and optimising operations efficiency and profit require strategic planning and adaptability.

To effectively balance those potentially competing pressures, you need to be Einstein and Houdini rolled into one. Here’s how you can do it.

Prepare early and with meticulous detailed planning. Review your forward bookings and historical booking data for evident market trends, last year and pre-COVD. Use it to have a crack at forecasting this summer’s demand. Identify peak dates and allocate your resources accordingly, including staff, inventory/assets, and marketing efforts. You need to start, and stay, ahead of the curve to make informed decisions to meet demand.

These days, you’ll pay a heavy price if you don’t have a strong and vibrant online presence. Optimise your website for mobile users, with easy navigation and a seamless booking and secure payment experience. Leverage Put effort into creating appealing images and video content, testimonials, and tactical IG and Facebook ad campaigns to capture the eyeballs of travellers.

Also, spend some time thinking creating a ‘summer collection’ of added value offerings that highlight the best of your product and local or associated tourism products. This could extend to special ‘limited’ promotions or discounts for early bookings, group bookings, or package deals. The aim is to encourages travellers to commit to their plans ahead of time and spend more than on just say a room or tour.

Now to logistics. Increased bookings demand attention to customer service. If needed, hire or have easy access to additional staff, and ensure they are thoroughly trained. Equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to provide exceptional customer experiences. A positive encounter can turn a one-time visitor into a loyal customer and an advocate for your business. Remember, there is a 10x multiplier for positive and negative word of mouth!

Look to create partnerships with local businesses. If you’re accommodation, look to tours, attractions, wineries, restaurants, and transportation. If you’re an activity, add accommodation to this list. Create summer ‘packages’ that offer visitors an easily accessed, seamless and immersive experience. Establishing these ‘add-ons’ will expand your reach and provide guests with a holistic travel experience.

If you have optimised your website, your online booking and payment process must be efficient. An online booking system will minimise your workload and reduce the risk of errors. An efficient online booking system will improve customer satisfaction and enhance your overall operational efficiency.

It is critical to prepare weather contingency plans, especially if you are an activity, event, or attraction. As we’ve seen over the last decade, summer is increasingly coupled with ‘unusual’ weather. Develop contingency plans to address unexpected weather events, so that guests can still have enjoyable experiences despite unforeseen circumstances. And communicate, communicate, communicate! Let them know of any changes or alternatives quickly and transparently to manage expectations and maintain customer satisfaction.

I also think it’s important, with increased environmental awareness, building and communicating sustainable practices into your offering can set you apart. Embrace eco-friendly initiatives, let them know about your commitment to sustainability in your marketing materials, which will appeal to the growing segment of environmentally conscious travellers. They may choose you, over a nearby equivalent competitor based on this often-ignored benefit.

We are now going through our 8th wave of COVID. It reminds us to be aware of updates to local and national regulations affecting the tourism industry. Be aware of any changes in travel restrictions, safety guidelines, or health protocols.

Be on top of customer experiences and feedback by encouraging guests to provide feedback through surveys or online reviews. Analyse this information to identify areas for improvement and address any issues quickly. Be nimble and flexible. Listening to customer feedback demonstrates a commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

With forward planning, excellent service, and adaptability, you can ride the surge rather than be swamped by it. Embrace the opportunities, to set your business on the pathway to a healthy bottom line in 2024.