Like wedding planners, tour operators get to work closely with clients, guiding them through the maze of options on offer and advising on which would best contribute to the ultimate personalised, and unforgettable experience. It's not a role for the faint-hearted, as tour operator jobs involve sourcing, booking and delivering a bespoke package which includes everything from accommodation, local transportation and food to tour guides, tours, and in some cases, flights to the destination as well. The responsibility is immense, and to survive in a competitive industry depends on consistent success, so what are the tips and tricks we can learn from those who thrive as successful tour operators?
Devote quality time to the back-end of your business
Guests are important of course, but it's easy to neglect things like marketing, goal review and setting, evaluating, creating and cementing relationships with useful industry contacts.
Identify a clear target market
Tour operator jobs involve providing a service to groups of people you know about inside out. The most successful know that young singles on a budget have different likes, dreams and expectations to early retired wealthy clients, and consequently develop a strategy which caters to a narrower target audience.
Enable customers to book directly
Generally, there is more profit to be had by ditching or bypassing travel agents and booking agencies. Direct booking means informing potential new clients about what you offer and cultivating ongoing relationships with previous customers to encourage repeat bookings. A system including organised record keeping and interesting communications via email with offers and updates to those in the company address book are both vital, as is providing a secure online portal to process payments.
Happy customers who leave reviews and share your information are the most effective and cheapest way to build a successful business.
Don't cut charges
Good tour operators provide a unique and personal service which takes time and effort. Potential and existing clients expect to pay more than they would on a cheap deal, and in return, they expect more.
Provide a platform for engagement
Facebook and other social media platforms are so popular that some kind of presence is generally useful, but don't over commit. Creating social media contact options can boost contacts, help with advertising and the like, but it does demand consistent attention. Hiring someone to manage these accounts is a good option too.
Have clear policies
This is crucial for success, but make sure they are clear, fair, and applied consistently. Late cancellations, no-shows for tours and activities on site, complaints about accommodation, all these and more are inevitable.
Always ask for feedback
Soliciting feedback of any kind is an incredibly useful way to learn about customers, and it helps tour operators evaluate the services they provide.
Tour operator jobs are not for everyone, but anyone who thrives on planning, troubleshooting, problem-solving, relationship building, delivering top class customer service, and negotiating, the chances of being successful are high.