Burnout is everywhere, but it’s especially prevalent in the travel industry. Think back to when you started your tour company. It was an exciting time, but as your ideas came to fruition and your business grew, it likely became harder to manage your work-life balance. As a tourism operator, it’s natural to become preoccupied designing, selling and fulfilling trips for your customers, sometimes at the expense of your work/life balance. It’s not surprising that wearing as many hats as you do makes you susceptible to experiencing burnout.
What Is Burnout?
The World Health Organization defines burnout as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Burnout makes it hard to work up the energy to be productive, and that can harm your creativity and leave you increasingly overwhelmed. When you’re burned out, it’s not uncommon to feel hopeless, frustrated, resentful or cynical about your work, which will inevitably sap the joy out of running your business.
You don’t have to be in the travel industry for very long during a busy peak season to understand how much energy you need as an operator. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to tour operator burnout. Not only must you deal with complex logistics, your enthusiasm and compassion levels need to stay high too. It’s hard to bring that to the table when you’re emotionally drained and feel like you can’t function.
What Causes Burnout?
Long hours and demanding seasonal schedules are just a couple of factors that can contribute to burnout. Burnout can occur for a variety of reasons and can present in many ways. Here are some of the top causes of burnout you should be on the lookout for:
- Lack of growth: You’re putting your time and energy into your business, however growth is at a standstill. When you can’t see the fruits of your labor, burnout can arise from feeling stagnant.
- Unclear job expectations: Do you and your staff have clearly defined roles and expectations, or do you often find yourself picking up the slack here, there and everywhere? If so, it might be worthwhile to take some time to define employee expectations. When everyone on the team clearly knows their role, you will be able to focus on your strengths and wellbeing.
- Unclear growth plan: If you’re running your tourism business with no long-term plan or end goal, you may find that this lack of clarity regarding the future can impact your motivation and contribute to burnout.
- Work-life imbalance: Tourism is a profession that keeps on running 24/7, but that doesn’t mean you should be working 24/7. If you’re putting in long hours at your tourism business and then coming home to another full-time job of caring for family and running a household, your mind and body won’t get the downtime they need.
- Neglecting your body’s needs: Not taking care of yourself can lead to burnout. If you’re struggling with things like fatigue and getting sick more often, these can be signs that you’re well on your way to burning out.
- Too many irons in the fire: Are you running the company’s marketing strategy, being the bookkeeper, shuttle driver and cook as well? Burnout can certainly be caused by simply taking on too much and being stretched too thin.
How To Avoid Burnout
Stress is a part of life. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, especially while running a successful tourism operation. Learning how to manage the stress your business throws at you on a daily basis is important. Once you recognize the early signs of burnout, it’s definitely time to start working on burnout prevention – but you can also start on the path to a healthy, sustainable work life while you’re still feeling great.
Here are 11 steps you can take to minimize stress and avoid burning out:
Remember your why: Think back to why you got into this line of work in the first place. Was it for your love of travel, or helping others experience beautiful places? Taking a step back to put things in perspective may just be what you need.
Struggling to remember what motivates you to get out of bed every morning? Learn how to build motivation that lasts for you and your employees.
Switch it up: While your tourism business may look exciting to the onlooker, things might be quite mundane for you behind the scenes. If you’re in the office everyday, schedule yourself to move locations periodically. Switching up your tasks and the location which they’re performed can help avoid burnout.
Set customer expectations: As a tour operator, you’ll experience less stress if your customers’ expectations of their upcoming tour are clearly communicated ahead of time. A resourceful website and timely pre-trip notifications can help.
Managing customer expectations can be challenging. Watch out video to learn more about this critical technique.
Focus on your health: Working long hours can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health. It can lead to anxiety, stress, and eventually burnout. Usually, your body will start giving you signs in the form of increased fatigue and illness. It’s important to pay attention to the signs your body is giving you and adjust your workload accordingly. Identify parts of your job that are contributing to less than ideal health. Late nights? Calorie-laden meals with clients? Consider alternatives that foster good health.
Take breaks: Taking breaks during your workday will allow you to recover from work stress more easily and reduce your chances of burnout. One of the best ways to take breaks is to actually schedule them in your calendar just as you would a meeting. Even if you’re working long hours, remember to sprinkle some joy into each day.
Delegate: It’s your business, and while you care passionately about it, you simply can’t do it all. This can be tricky, as you’re likely quite proficient at working in all areas of your business. However, by recognizing your own limitations – and delegating tasks to the right people – you’ll be able to focus on what you excel at.
If you’re struggling to find staff who can take on your tasks, check out our article on hiring and retention strategies.
Get moving: While prioritizing a workout may seem counterintuitive when all you want to do is rest, it’s imperative to get moving. Exercise will help replenish your physical and emotional energy, along with your capacity to focus. There are countless benefits to staying active, for both yourself and your business.
Keep organized: Just as you need to take care of your body and mind, workplace hygiene is also important when it comes to preventing burnout. A messy workplace can contribute to anxiety, and it makes the mental load of managing your day-to-day that much heavier.
Automate: Using automation can eliminate those repetitive tasks that may be contributing to burnout. Automating pre- and post-trip notifications can free up time to allocate to more important and creative tasks. Spending your precious time and attention on tasks that challenge you is far more fulfilling–and much less likely to burn you out–than wasting time on rote tasks that your booking software ought to handle.
Rest: Not all rest is created equal. It’s important to recognize that the activities that will help you recover from burnout are ones that nourish you, not just ones that pass time. Fulfillment is more important than just pure rest, because simply passing time while doing less won’t necessarily help you recover from burnout on its own.
Strategize Pricing: Busier isn’t always better, especially when you know you can guarantee more revenue for less work. Increasing your price points during peak season demand is a smart strategy to not only increase revenue but also reduce the stress of overbooking your tours. Examples include raising your prices during the weekends or at times when there is a lot of demand for your tours (like Christmas or summer holidays). Rezgo users can use price sheets to easily adjust seasonal or weekend pricing without manually having to change prices.
You Can Avoid Burnout, and Rezgo Can Help
Working at your tour business can demand a lot out of you. As dynamic and exciting as the tourism industry can be, tourism operators are very susceptible to burnout. Take some time to recognize signs of burnout in yourself and put strategies into place to prevent it. Then you can put your best foot forward and keep running your tourism business in a way that’s sustainable for your health and happiness.
Here at Rezgo, we thrive on delivering technology that helps make your life as a tour operator easier, so you can spend more time achieving the work/life balance you deserve.