It should come as no surprise that the #1 barrier to a tour company expanding is money. Your potential customers are ready to get out and make memories—but do you feel restricted due to a lack of resources?
While there are seemingly endless ways to grow your resources if your budget is unlimited, there are often less expensive or no-cost alternatives. Having limited resources as a tour operator isn’t always a bad thing—in some ways it can be a necessary rite of passage. And while it’s true that resources can be expensive, that’s not always the case. With some creativity and elbow grease, you’ll discover that many don’t require additional finances to execute. When planned and executed properly, you can expand your limited resources to grow your business without breaking the bank.
How to make the most of your resources and your budget
Making sure your business has access to great resources—and enough of them—is of critical importance. Keep in mind that resources are not only physical items, such as a fleet of kayaks or bikes—they can also include digital collateral, intellectual assets and more. These things may not cost a lot to expand, but they can be of great benefit to your business, so take stock of everything you have to work with..
From managing your inventory with precision to ensuring offerings reflect current travel trends, let’s explore 10 creative ways to expand your business without breaking the bank.
1 – Time is Money
As a tourism operator, you only have a finite number of hours each day. Your scheduling strategy can have a major impact on your company’s success. Too much time on your hands and you’ve got a problem. Not enough time and you might not be able to handle matters as you’d like.
Look for creative ways to cut down on the time repetitive tasks take without sacrificing the quality of your guest experience. For example, washing a fleet of kayaks after a tour, which might take 30 minutes per staff member, can be included as an educational piece on the tour. Customers can do it themselves with assistance, learning about kayak care in the process. Your customers will be thankful to learn a new skill and you’ll have saved time.
Audit your time and ensure you’re spending it in the right places on the things you need to be taking care of.
For tour operators, adapting to changing markets and trends is always a top priority. In the ever-changing travel landscape, it’s important to stay current on the latest trends. Are your tours relevant in today’s market? For example, recent research indicates that Millennials and Baby Boomers are prime potential candidates for your tours. 67% anticipate doing so in 2022—taking an average of at least four trips this year. Their ideal trip length is 4 days (think weekend getaway). Another emerging market is sustainable tours. These are two examples of trends you don’t want to ignore.
You can cater to similar potential markets by ensuring your offerings are most relevant to today’s trends. To do this effectively, consider modifying your offerings and marketing strategies to communicate how your offerings meet your customers’ needs. Staying on top of these new trends will help you stay relevant.
3- Alternative Offerings
A creative way to increase your tour capacity without spending on resources is considering alternative offerings. Get more value out of the resources you already have by adding alternative departure times. Adding early bird and/or later evening departure times can help increase capacity without the need to acquire additional resources. Incentivizing non-peak departures can also help offset peak times.
4- Be a Digital Ninja
In the last few decades, technology has helped travel and tourism operators increase their reach through travel booking websites, videos, blogs and travel photography. Now more than ever, digital tools are vital for potential customers planning their next holiday.
The great news is that many of the services we need as tour operators are now located in the cloud. In exchange for a monthly or annual fee, you can use these programs without having to invest in any technology. From adding a chat function to your website, automating follow up emails, automating payments and more, convenience is available at a fraction of the cost it might have been even a few years back.
Rezgo’s cloud-based reservation system does just that, and can help automate other repetitive tasks. Its subscription-free model means there are no monthly or annual fees, which means there are no extra costs to account for during the off season or low season.
Taking advantage of the latest digital technologies will increase your business’ bottom line. While automation is not something that immediately comes to mind when we think of tourism, automating procedures can preserve your most precious resources—your time and your staff—for more important tasks.
5- Virtual Tours
Virtual tours are delivered by video or audio and don’t require the customer to physically travel to your location. Virtual tours are a rapidly growing segment that offer a safe and exciting way to experience travel. While these types of tours have historically been a futuristic concept, the world is now ready to accept this alternative segment of travel.
In the long run, customers who enjoy virtual tours may become real world customers as well, and in the short term, it’s a great way to capture a large market of people who are eager to explore from the safety of their homes. Now is a great time to evaluate whether any of your tours can be adapted into virtual tours. There are many resources available to set up and launch digital tours online.
Research how others in the industry are offering virtual tours, and look into any hard costs associated with setting up a virtual tour, such as specialized video equipment. To offset the cost of such equipment, consider whether there is an opportunity to rent, hire out, or team up with local vendors. Alternatively, once you’re confident using the equipment, consider offering your services to help others in order to recoup some of the costs associated with the purchase.
6- Consider Acquisition Alternatives
Not ready for an influx of customers with your current resources? If your tour business is currently in a state of expansion, leasing vs owning may be a solution worthy of exploring. Leasing equipment can be a quicker way to respond to rising consumer demands while retaining cash flow.
When considering any kind of lease or purchase for your business, research is key. Buying items outright can quickly drain your bank account. Leasing can be used as a temporary solution to maintain your cash flow, but as always, do your homework.
7- Ramp up Your Inventory Management
Every company requires resources to operate, and those resources must be managed. Understand which resources are in short supply and focus on them. It’s important to realize that resource management is an ongoing process that gets fine tuned over time. Managing your businesses’ physical resources with precision will ensure you’re maximizing the use of all your equipment and staff.
Using an online resource management tool (like Rezgo’s) can help keep a much better handle on your inventory. With Rezgo’s resource management feature, you can manage your physical assets with care, ensuring that resources are allocated to the right tours. Managing your resources can help avoid overbookings, too. If your current inventory management system includes daily chores with pen and paper, it might be a great time to evolve that process.
8- Offer Self-Guided Options
Today’s travelers are increasingly seeking to choose their own adventures. There is a generous segment of travelers who enjoy this type of experience, allowing the freedom and autonomy to enjoy the surroundings in their own way. For this reason, self-guided tours may be a worthwhile option to explore.
Additionally, self-guided or DIY tours may attract a type of tourist that you might not usually expect to host. Independent, travel-savvy adventure junkies, for example, may not be able to travel with the specialized equipment required to enjoy their hobby abroad, so you can provide that equipment while they handle the adventure.
Consider offering these services during slow periods of the day or season, so as not to strain current resources.
9- Consider Contract and Freelance Experts
No matter how much experience or energy you bring to the table, you simply can’t do it all. Hiring freelancers is an excellent way for new and growing businesses to gain traction when there are not enough hands on deck. There is always something to be learned from a mentor or those in a contractual role.
Freelancers can save you time on the tasks you’re not super keen on and fill labor shortages during a short peak season. Freelancers also offer flexibility in upsizing or downsizing when it needs to be done quickly. For example, if writing isn’t your thing and your website needs content, consider finding a freelance writer who has experience writing on these subjects. Proper management of a freelance team could allow your business to do more while keeping costs down.
10- Reward Low-Touchpoint Actions
Your customers’ overall experience begins well before they decide to spend their hard-earned dollars at your establishment. One of the first impressions you make on a potential customer are with your company’s digital touchpoints. Your website, online booking platform and social media accounts all provide a great opportunity to connect with your customers and expand your business.
Find compelling ways to engage your customers in the booking process. For example, offer guests a promotion code incentive to create their own reservation online. Pair this with automated pre- and post-trip notifications, digital waivers and more.
Useful content delivered at the right time is key to adding value to the customer experience. Revising or deploying a low-touchpoint process will reduce the time and resources reservations agents need to process bookings over the phone. You might also find that arming your customers with education before their arrival will ensure they not only arrive prepared, but will also save your staff time on answering additional questions.
Growing a tourism business in today’s market takes money, but there are always creative ways you can expand your resources without breaking the bank. With these tips in mind, you can allocate your financial resources towards the most effective growth tactics, and expand your business in an efficient and financially responsible way.
Here at Rezgo, we thrive on delivering technology that helps automate as many business processes as possible—so you can spend more time focused on what you love.