Peak season — also known as high season — is the busiest time of year for tour operators. Bookings pour in as travelers spend their holidays exploring summer destinations and trying new things. Of course, this brings in more revenue, but it also means more work. That’s why it’s best to get ready for peak season ASAP.
You may have even started already. Whether you’ve launched a few email marketing campaigns, or figured out your distribution strategy, you’re on the right track for a successful summer. But what about your team?
There will be back-to-back bookings, larger tour groups, and less downtime. If your team is unorganized, they could get behind on schedule, make avoidable mistakes, and worst of all, treat your guests as an inconvenience.
More guests shouldn’t mean more problems. Everything should still run smoothly, and exceptional customer service should always be a priority. As such, your team needs to be at the top of their game all season long. To keep the team on track, you can prepare them for peak season in 6 ways:
1. Fill gaps in your team
While it’s great when a tour guide steps up to cover other areas, it’s not a suitable solution during busy times. If they feel pulled between tasks, they might not give your guests their full attention. Plus, an increased workload could lead to burn out before the end of the season.
Instead of relying on your current employees to pick up the slack, you should hire for the roles you’re missing. With a complete team, everyone can focus on what they should be doing, and what they want to be doing. Responsibilities are clear and understood, and there’s no overlap or time-wasting.
But don’t just fill job openings, hire great team members. You can do that by outlining what you’re looking for, defining your company culture, sticking to your standards, and giving yourself plenty of time to review candidates. In other words, start the hiring process well before peak season.
Struggling to come up with interview questions? Download this list of 147 questions for tour guides.
2. Automate administrative tasks
You may have areas in your operation that will benefit from automation. Take the front desk for example. It involves communicating with guests, scheduling bookings, distributing invoices and waivers, checking-in guests, and collecting payment. During peak season, these tedious tasks can quickly become overwhelming and time-consuming for your team.
Luckily, Checkfront can handle all of the above. At any time, guests can self-book and pay on your website. You can automate and personalize confirmation, reminder, and thank-you emails. And best of all, your team will learn booking software in a matter of minutes because the dashboard is intuitive and easy to adopt.
If you haven’t tried Checkfront yet, start your free 21-day trial today!
3. Get your team up to speed
Often, training is considered a requirement for new employees only. But your seasoned tour guides could use a refresher, too. After all, they might’ve forgotten your company’s best practices already.
To ensure your entire team is top-notch and ready for peak season, it’s a great idea to plan a workshop. Whether it’s one or two days long, you can cover everything you want your team to know — including how to take bookings over the phone, and the best tour guide storytelling techniques.
At the same time, a workshop is a perfect opportunity to unite your team. You can break up the training sessions with ice breaker games, and team building exercises. That way, everyone will have a chance to bond, get to know each other’s strengths, and feel a part of the group.
4. Choose your team leaders
Sometimes, things go wrong — guests complain, equipment breaks down, and tour guides don’t show up. If you’re the solitary leader, you might find yourself swamped with problems. And what happens when you’re not around?
You should have leaders in place so your team can turn to someone other than yourself for direction. They can be there to set a good example, offer advice and assistance, and adequately delegate responsibilities. Ultimately, they can help manage your team during peak season.
So take a look at your team, and evaluate who exhibits strong leadership qualities. For reference, a good leader communicates effectively, has a detailed knowledge of resources, can make tough decisions, and pushes people to be their best. If you need help choosing, you can always ask your team who they think deserves the role.
5. Communicate your expectations
During peak season, you may want your team to show up fifteen minutes before they start. Or perhaps you’d like your tour guides to end the week with a meeting where they discuss what went well, and what needs improvement. But if you don’t let them know what you require this season, how can you expect them to follow through?
To solidify your expectations, you should lay them out first. Similar to goals, they are meant to be realistic, and attainable. Once you have a list of tasks and responsibilities prepared, gather the team for a briefing or hold one-on-ones with each team member. Of course, the latter will be more effective, but if you have little time, one group meeting works as well.
Just remember to share the purpose of these expectations. When employees know and relate to the reason, they’re more likely to get on board. Also, communication shouldn’t stop there. Throughout peak season, it’s a good idea to casually check-in on how your team is performing.
6. Show your team appreciation
Getting ready for peak season is going to be a lot of work. Not just for yourself, but your team as well. And then once summer hits, everyone will be putting in their best efforts with little time to relax. So to motivate your team to keep going, you should show some appreciation.
There are a few ways you can give thanks for their contribution. Before it gets too busy, you can take the team out on a fun excursion. Financial incentives — like an end of season bonus — can be an award they look forward to getting. You can offer unique seasonal benefits your team will love. And most importantly, you can regularly praise a job well done.
Peak season is an exciting time if your tour business is well-prepared. When the whole team is working together, and everything is running smoothly, your guests will take notice and have a better experience overall. On top of that, your tour guides will be eager to come back for next season. So follow the above tips, and don’t forget to let us know how your summer goes!