A big challenge for many travel businesses is seasonality. As the leaves and temperatures drop, reservations and foot traffic inevitably follows. However, just because the business is in its off-season, it does not mean the commitment should be. The time granted by the seasonal lull provides the perfect opportunity to optimize the business and prepare next season’s business strategies. With that said, here are 5 things businesses can do during the off-season in order to prepare for next year’s peak.
Update Legal Documents
The off-season is the best time to ring up the lawyers to look over the businesses’ legal documents and contracts. It pays to ensure everything stays up to date. This is especially useful for travel businesses since regulations within the industry tend to drastically change annually. By making sure that liabilities and insurances are up to date with the current regulations, travel businesses can avoid encountering any legal loopholes or troubles that may come during busier times.
Maintaining equipment is vital in providing a seamless service. It is hard to tend to it during peaks because of the volume of people you need to accommodate. Slow days are the perfect opportunity to finally look into the gear to keep it running in tip-top shape.
Most tour operators actually sell their equipment at the end of the year; using the proceeds to purchase new and updated gear for next year. This is to avoid working with depreciated gear with maintenance cost that will only increase as time passes. Purchasing new equipment when reasonable will also reduce risks. It lowers the chances of something breaking down in the middle of a tour which could cause hiccups down the road.
Maintenance extends beyond hardware and equipment as well. Software such as booking and POS systems need to be re-evaluated. Figuring out which components work smoothly and which ones cause confusion among users will help decide if it’s time to switch to a better alternative.
Reach Out to the Press
Off-seasons also provide a good chance to broaden the business’ reach. Publications usually plan articles months in advance. The off-season is the best time to reach out to them to take the front page once the peak seasons come. Take this time to figure out the best platforms and print media to contact for the added exposure. Figure out the best reporters and publications to get in touch with, in order to get the most out of the added exposure.
Online channels like social media is another great avenue for marketing. Social media allows businesses to connect with customers better. Businesses can keep customers engaged by posting relevant and interesting content, whetting their appetites once travel season begins again. It is also a good way to get feedback on the last season’s operations, improving on faults as they are pointed out. And if there are positive things pointed out? Encourage customers to post these reviews on aggregator sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. If not present on these directories, reviews on social media accounts also go a long way in enhancing the brand’s image.
Launch Off-season Sales
Everything costs money. To this end, businesses that are seasonal in nature tend to dread the quiet months as in some cases, revenue stops coming in completely. Still, there are ways to get some revenue flowing even in less busy times.
For example, Big Feet Pajama Co., a business selling warm pajamas in the US retargeted their campaign during spring and summer times to New Zealand and Australia, where winter is in full swing. They used an Australian Google Adwords campaign and invested in a distribution facility in the country in order to cut down on shipping costs. This allowed them to keep revenue flowing. A similar shift in target audience during slow months will help businesses maintain their bottom line.
Prepare and Train Staff
The time granted by the decrease in traffic allows companies to look into another important resource: manpower. Building the team for the year and keeping them updated with any changes will empower staff. It motivates them which lead to better output and satisfied customers once the travel season returns in full swing.
Operators generally provide incentives to keep seasonal employees happy, ensuring they come back to help out when the business is in the season once again. Still, even regular employees could use the refresher. They will be able to provide feedback on the things that can be improved within the business.
Training does not have to be time-consuming either. Some courses can be automated and conducted online. The business can also have senior employees train their junior members. The junior members get to improve their core skills while the senior members get to exercise teamwork and leadership skills.
For smaller travel businesses and operators, getting an offshore staff can be a cost-efficient alternative. From taking reservations to managing inventory orders, an offshore staff can tend to a wide array of functions within the business.
Offshore staff can be scaled up or down quickly, reducing the time it takes to build an in-house team. They also do not require a lot of training; a quick refresher of the business’ processes is usually enough. They are also updated with the latest software and practices involved in the job.
How does your business adapt to peak seasons? Contact us today and let us figure out the best practice for your business.