The landscape of software available to tour operators is continually evolving.
There are three general areas you can invest in— marketing and sales, payments and point of sale, and decision support.
Within each of these systems, you have reporting and analytics. They help you make sense of your day to day operations and find trends over time.
And to link all these systems together, you need what’s called an application programming interface (also known as an API).
For the Arival Conference in Las Vegas, I spoke on a panel with Alex Bainbridge, of Uptaste, and Will Plummer, of Trust My Travel, on the essential tech stack for tours and activities. We all agreed that the essential tech stack is different for each company. What’s necessary for one business might not be enough, for another.
It depends on the size of your business and your goals.
One thing is certain—when making decisions about technology, you need to plan ahead.
You don’t want want to be ripping and replacing different systems each year.
Instead, think about where you want your business to be in 3-5 years. Then figure out the tools that will help you get from point A to point B. And the systems you’ll need once you’re there.
You want to start implementing those systems now, so they become naturally integrated into your day-to-day operations.
Here’s a look at the technology that’s available to tour operators today.
As you can see, I’ve broken down what I believe is essential for different types of tour and activity businesses. These business types are a function of their size and goals.
Lifestyle- A lifestyle company is a family run business that is happy with things as is. They’d like to increase their revenue but don’t have a desire to expand. This means they don’t need to adopt complex systems to handle large volumes of data.
Single Site– Single site businesses are small, but they have growth in mind. They want to expand to a second or third site in the next 2-5 years. Because of this, they should adopt technology now that will help them scale. That way, they have the processes nailed so can create a stable and repeatable model.
Multi-Site- Multi-site businesses already have a lot of complexities. Their main goal is operational efficiency. They need to align all their software so they can see an and unfragmented view of how their business is performing.
Now let’s take a look at the technology involved.
Sales and marketing software
The goal of your sales and marketing channels is to communicate and engage with your prospects and customers to attract them to your website and convert them to paid guests.
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Channel Management
- Gift Certificates
- Media (Photos & Videos)
This article that breaks down each element of CRM for tour operators and more.
Payment and POS technology
The goal of your payment and point of sale system is to automate your administration & manage your business goals.
- Revenue management
- Website booking system
- Payment processing
- Online waiver forms & risk mitigation
- Accounting and finance
This post that breaks down each element of accounting software for tour operators and more.
Decision support technology
The goal of your decision support is to help manage your property and staff.
- Resource Management
- Access Management
- Dispatch Logistics
Read this breakdown each element of decision support technology.