Well let’s hope for better than 2011 but being prepared for worse is likely to pay dividends.
We had grown used to being confident that circumstances beyond our control aside to expecting our hard work and diligence will be rewarded during the oncoming year. The past couple of years have probably put paid to that level of optimism however there is though nothing sadder than to witness people working their fingers to the bone but failing to recognise they are mining the wrong seam especially those locked into doing things a certain way because it bought them past success. Becoming a busy fool can happen to almost anyone and perhaps we are most at risk during periods such as the uncertain times we currently navigate.
Tourism & Leisure finds it self in a unique place in that the “end product” is enhanced by advances in IT through increasing assessability as the possibilities of social media, the integration of electronic platforms, PMS and software developments enhance management performance, improve customer feedback and heighten expectations of customers whilst at the same time the fundamentals remain the same i.e. good service, cleanliness etc. Ultimately our customers are looking for and expecting quality employee contact to complete their leisure / tourism experience.
There are many ways in which the advantages of social media and electronic distribution can be managed in order individual businesses can retain control over reputation, customer history and reduce costs whilst enhancing loyalty and repeat business. The starting point is to set targets for distribution channels, commission ratio and repeat business. It may also require some painful decisions to be taken regarding whether you are chasing profit or revenue? All too often we’ve seen revenue being sought in order to maintain a historic cost base; managers kept in post who have long since been effective, food service and styles in keeping with previous customer needs as apposed to contemporary expectations, these “fixed” costs robbing the business of financial resources and driving decisions to open availability to who ever can provide customers. It is sad to see those within tourism and leisure who have lost sight of their distribution channels thus becoming dangerously dependant on internet retailing, losing direct contact with customers and increasing cost per booking and driving down yield in the process.
Engaging external expertise is one way of helping you to see the wood for the trees. I am not suggesting we have the answer to every situation but we can help to create a viable plan to enthuse all involved with the business to commit to delivering the basics of service matched to qualitative research. As with most medicine there is no quick fix and as previously mentioned sometimes the solution has been known for a while but too painfully personal to implement.
Some key questions to help you decide if your current strategy will bring you success in 2012;
v How many customers book direct via your website
v Who “manages” your top 25 performing customers
v Have you mapped your distribution network and costed commission fees
v What is your sleeper diner ratio / conversion to enquiry ratio
v What percentage drop in revenue would wipe out any profit
v How many good ideas from your team have you endorsed in the past six months
v Are you exceeding your customer satisfaction benchmark rating
v Has any of your suppliers offered better prices, increased quality and guaranteed deliveries
If you have difficulty answering any if these don’t despair… but do take action as 2012 will be tough but with the right strategy and effective, decisive implementation you could well be feeling very proud of you and your teams performance this time next year.