The holidays are fast approaching. Shoppers are scrambling to find last-minute gifts. Travelers are packing their bags to jet off to warmer destinations. And families are jamming presents and baked goods into the car to visit loved ones across the country.
But that’s not necessarily you.
On top of managing an influx of bookings, you might be busy closing out the year with reports, looking for the perfect tour guide gifts, and planning a holiday party for your team. Might as well ho ho ho at the idea of unplugging during the festive season.
But before you pull in 80 hour work weeks and put all of your energy into decorating the ticket office like it’s Santa’s workshop, here’s something to consider:
It’s okay for tour operators to enjoy the holidays, too
You shouldn’t have to feel like the success of your business rests squarely on your shoulders. If you take time off during the holidays, it’s unlikely everything will crumble like a poorly constructed gingerbread house. Besides, allowing yourself to rest and relax can do your business some good — especially in preparation for the New Year.
For starters, recharging can give you a much-needed productivity boost. Peak season is not that far away. By taking a little time off now, you’ll feel refreshed and eager to put your best foot forward for the busiest time of year.
New Year’s is also just around the corner, so it’s a good time to reflect and set new goals. But that’s sometimes challenging to do in the confines of the office. If you’re running low on inspiration, you can use the holidays as an excuse for a change in environment. With the extra free time, you might be surprised at how easy it is to overcome mental blocks.
Finally, when you step away, you give your team the chance to step up. You’ve trained them well, and now it’s their turn to prove to you how capable they are. Designating responsibilities shows that you trust leaving your team in charge, giving them the confidence and motivation to go above and beyond moving forward.
Now that you know the benefits, it’s time to get ready for your time away.
How to prepare for your holiday time off
1. Notify your team
Whether you’re looking to take off for one week, two weeks, or just a few days, you’ll have to give your team a heads up. Just as you expect them to request time off, it’s best that you notify them in advance. That way, they can ask questions before you go, and you’ll have more time to show them the ropes.
But your team members aren’t the only ones you should tell. While you can set up an out of office reply, there might be a few people on your contact list that deserve more notice. For instance, if you communicate with your partners regularly, sending them a quick message will show that your partnership is important to you.
2. Delegate certain tasks
As I mentioned, you’ll have to assign some extra tasks to different members of your team. Just remember to give some guidance before you leave — so they’re not left in the dust.
With specified directions and next steps, they’ll be on track to complete their new assignments and tackle anything else that comes their way. Meanwhile, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday knowing you left your tour business in capable hands.
3. Automate other tasks
You shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off during the holidays. But you might want to be careful not to overwhelm your team with too many responsibilities. Thanks to technology today, there are lots of options for automating your tour business.
As an example, Checkfront automates the booking process by allowing guests to self-book on your website while getting an instant confirmation and scheduled reminder. That way, your guides don’t have to be tied to the front desk all holiday long.
4. Get work done beforehand
As you start counting down to your time off, you might find yourself losing motivation for current tasks. Perhaps you even tell yourself that future you can handle anything that you don’t get done. But you’ll have a stress-free holiday if you finish everything ahead of time.
As a business owner, it’s tempting to keep working while away. It might start with checking your inbox, then suddenly, you’re knee deep in Google Analytics. By getting organized now, you can get more quality time and less screen time during the holidays.
Alright, so now that we’ve covered the execution of your time off, here are some ways to unwind, and have fun during the holidays:
Best ways to kick back and enjoy the holidays
1. Book a family activity
As you know from running a tour business, it’s the sharing of experiences that bring people together. While you can do something special at home — like watch holiday movies or bake hundreds of icing cookies — going on an adventure with your family is a great way to have a memorable time together.
So check out the local listings and see what other activities are in the area. Maybe your family will love doing something outdoorsy like cross-country skiing. Or perhaps everyone will want to learn a new skill, such as wreath making or leather working. Whatever you end up choosing, your family will look forward to the quality time with you.
2. Enjoy the merriment of the city
There’s usually lots happening at this time of year. Depending on where you are, and your city’s vibe, there might be plenty of festivities to experience. Whether it’s attending a holiday parade, drinking mulled wine at the Christmas market or voting at a gingerbread showcase, you can get to know your city, and the locals, better by taking part.
3. Get outside and explore
Of course, if you’re an adventure enthusiast, this comes naturally. With some extra free time, you might be itching to hike, bike, kayak, and dive. So whatever fuels your fire, make sure to prioritize that during the holidays.
After all, the holidays can be a stressful time — sometimes even more than running your tour business. Before returning to work, give a little time to yourself. You might even discover new passions to incorporate into your business niche someday.
Plus, you’re going to need a way to burn off the holiday meals and treats.
4. Do something kind
Since the holidays can be a difficult or lonely time for some, why not do something extra meaningful beyond the charity work you do year-round? It’s the season of giving, after all.
Visit a nursing home and play games with the residents. Bake some pies for the local fire station. Or hand out hot cocoa and packaged roast dinners to those with nowhere to go.
5. Start a new holiday tradition
The holidays are a time of traditions. Depending on your background, you might have a repertoire of customs you do with your family and friends at this time of year. But, there’s nothing wrong with adding something new.
You could have new people in your life this year — like a new partner, family member, friend, co-worker and even pet. By creating a new holiday tradition with them, you’ll deepen your bond and have something to look forward to next year.
6. Travel to a new destination
If you don’t have any prior commitments, the holidays can be an excellent time to get away. Yes, airfare isn’t cheap at this time of year, but you might be able to find a reasonable vacation package.
Pro tip: if you’re up for a little adventure, enter the destination as Everywhere into Skyscanner, choose the cheapest flight and jet off to somewhere random and unexpected. That would make a holiday to remember.
Once you arrive, make sure to leave the hotel room. Maybe try a recreational activity that’s popular in the area. Or get a proper introduction to the city with a walking, biking, or bus tour. That should be right up your alley as a tour operator.
7. Learn something new
Since you don’t have to rush to the tour office, your mornings are free to do whatever you want during the holidays. If everyone in your family chooses to sleep in, use the quiet time to learn something new.
Listen to the Tourpreneur podcast and hear from other operators about how they got started, their obstacles along the way, and what they’ve learned. Take an online course and update your knowledge in an area you’ve been neglecting. Or download an ebook that gives you relevant information on running your tour business.
If you want a break from thinking about work altogether, perhaps you can brush up on your cocktail knowledge instead. After all, New Year’s is coming up, too.
8. See where the holidays take you
Sometimes, the best holiday plan is to have no plan at all. Kick back and enjoy your holidays in whichever way you want — have a spa day, cafe hop with friends, decorate cookies, binge holiday movies, master a 1000 piece puzzle, snuggle your pets.
Just embrace the holidays and be open to opportunities that come your way. The holidays only come round once a year, so make the most of it.