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 on the other side of the country.
But that’s not necessarily you.
Everyone else seems to have holiday plans, and you might be hard at work running your tour operation instead. That’s because the holiday season is a hectic time for businesses in the tourism industry. Most people that do take time off during the holidays look to spend it in special ways with family and friends — like booking fun activities either somewhere new, or at home.
On top of managing an influx of bookings, you’re busy closing out the year with reports, making decisions on bonuses, and planning a holiday party for your team. With all that going on, you might ho ho ho at the idea of unplugging during the festive season.
However, before you pull in 70 hour work weeks and put all your energy into your tour business over Christmas tree decorating, 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 tour 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 gives 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. Sometimes, that’s challenging to do in the confines of the office. If you’re running low on inspiration, then the holidays is your opportunity for a change in environment. With the extra free time, you might be surprised at how quickly you overcome creative blocks for brainstorming new ideas.
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. By designating responsibilities to one or more team members, you show that you trust leaving them in charge — which can do wonders for their confidence in running a tour operation. And when you come back, if everything’s in great shape, then you may realize that you can delegate these tasks on a continuing basis.
Now that you know the benefits, it’s time to get ready for your time away.
Preparing for your holiday time off
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 head’s up. In the same way that they request time off, it’s best to notify them in advance. That way, if they have any questions, they can ask before you go. And if they take on new tasks in your absence, they can get trained up and feeling confident in time.
But you’re team members aren’t the only ones you should tell. While you can set up an out of office reply for emails, there might be certain people on your contact list that should have more notice. For instance, if you communicate with your partners regularly, then giving them a personal notification over an auto-responder will show that your working relationship with them is important to you.
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.
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. Today with technology, there are lots of options for automating your tour business.
As an example, Checkfront allows guests to book themselves — whenever, wherever. And for every booking that comes in, you can automate booking notification, reminder, and thank you emails. That way, your guides don’t have to be tied to the front desk all holiday long.
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 what you might not realize is that you’ll have a stress-free holiday if you finish everything ahead of time.
That’s because, as a business owner, it’s often tempting to keep working while away. It might start with checking your email inbox once. Then, all of a sudden, you’re knee deep in analytics. And while that’s okay in some circumstances, the holidays are about spending time with your family. So by getting organized now, you can close your laptop and turn off your notifications until the New Year.
Alright, so now that we’ve covered the execution of your time off, what are some unique ways to unwind, and have some fun during the holidays?
Best ways to kick back and enjoy the holidays
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.
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, you could have a surplus 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.
Get outside and explore
Of course, if you’re an adventure enthusiast, this might come naturally. With some extra free time, you may 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. To combat that stress, especially before returning to work, it’s best to give a little time to yourself. In doing so, 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.
Do something kind
Of course, it’s the season of giving. While you may donate to charities or volunteer year round, considering that the holidays can be a difficult or lonely time for some, it’s the perfect time to do something extra meaningful.
There are lots of ways you can make someone’s holidays special. You can visit a nursing home and play games with the residents. You can bake a couple of pies for the local fire station. Or you can pass around hot cocoa and packaged holiday meals to those with nowhere to go.
Start a new holiday tradition
The holidays are a time of traditions — big, small, old or new. Depending on your background, or what you value now, you may have a repertoire of things you do with your family and friends at this time of year. However, there’s nothing wrong with adding something new.
I’m not suggesting you give up your current traditions; I’m merely encouraging you to keep it fresh. Besides, 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 will deepen your bond and have something to look forward to next year.
Travel to a new destination
If you don’t have any prior commitments, the holidays are an excellent time to get away. Yes, airfare isn’t cheap this time of year, but you might be able to find an agreeable vacation package. Or, if you don’t mind a little adventure, you can use a metasearch engine like Skyscanner and enter the destination as Everywhere, choose the cheapest flight and jet off to somewhere random and unexpected — that would make for a holiday to remember.
Of course, once you’ve arrived, make sure to fully embrace the new environment and culture by leaving 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 — as a tour operator, that should be right up your alley.
Brush up on knowledge
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, then use the quiet time to learn something new, something that can help you out in some way.
You can listen to a podcast that interviews other entrepreneurs — how they got started, their obstacles along the way, and what they’ve learned. You can take an online course and update your knowledge in an area you’ve been neglecting. Or you can download an ebook that gives you relevant information on running your tour business.
If none of that sounds appealing, and you want a break from thinking about business altogether, this could be when you brush up on your champagne knowledge. After all, New Year’s is coming up, too.
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 — spa day relaxing, cafe hopping, cookie decorating, Netflix binging, group cycling, boxing day shopping, mastering 1000 piece puzzles, pet snuggling — I could go on and on. Just take in the holidays and be open to opportunities that come your way.