1. Plan for the future
Sustainable tourism success does not come about by itself; like any project, it needs to be carefully planned and nurtured. To this end, your business plan is an essential tool: it helps you formulate the ‘vision and mission’ of your business and to clarify where you want to be in six months, five years, and ten years from now.
Before you even start to put your ecotourism business plan together it is helpful to spend time assessing your strength and weaknesses by conducting a SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunities and threats). Take an honest look at your current situation and your unique selling points as this will help you to stand out from the crowd, identify areas where you may need help, and plan for sustainable tourism success.
Your business plan and SWOT analysis will provide the basis of your action plan. This breaks down your vision into small, manageable steps and outlines a clear path through the maze of ‘things to do’, in order to achieve your goals.
2. Understand the competition
Holidaymakers face an almost infinite choice of hotels when planning their next vacation. What makes your business stand out? Sustainable tourism success hinges on understanding, and reacting to, competitors’ offers – to be more creative, and to take advantage of unique opportunities that come your way.
It is not necessarily the cheapest price that makes the sale, but the best value for money. Can you offer something that is unique, but does not necessarily require a large investment?
3. Make improvements
There is always room for improvement, but which one will give you the best results in terms of cost savings or marketing appeal, for the smallest possible investment?
‘Greening’ your operations by changing your lightbulbs or reducing your waste requires only a very small investment, but can give you quite substantial savings. Larger improvements that directly impact your guests’ experience, and give you a sustainable tourism marketing advantage, are equally important for success.
4. Be creative
For hotels, the biggest challenge is to generate business all year -around. Remember, there are always people out there looking for a good deal. Those who are no longer bound by a work or school schedule often prefer to travel during the shoulder season, as services are cheaper and places less crowded. Find out what these market segments want and create offers specifically catering for their needs and preferences.
5. Offer a consistent service
The ‘screenage generation’ is savvy when it comes to making their own travel arrangements. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as review sites such as Tripadvisor, are key to attracting this market. Happy guests will be glad to make recommendations. Even if things go wrong, all is not lost. You can salvage the situation by making generous amends. A customer is more likely to recommend, and even return to, you if they feel that you care about them and their holiday experience and are doing your best to make up for whatever problem they may have experienced. Great, consistent service is the biggest ace you can play to win and retain your customers’ trust and loyalty.
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