Someone suggested to me the other day that work must be pretty quiet at the moment as there are few visitors around. While it's true that May and June are traditionally the quietest months for visitors each year, this doesn't always translate into having less to do. If you liken tourism to farming, our "harvest" time is November to April. During the winter we prepare our patches, refertilising before planting the seeds that will make sure the next crop is not only bigger, but produces a better yield than the last. These "quiet" months are often a time to review the past season and make plans for the next.
It can be a time to review our customer satisfaction levels, renew contacts and make new connections with agents. We ensure existing agents are happy with the services being provided, address anything that needs improvement, and find ways to support them to ensure their contribution to the business is maintained and that opportunities for growth are maximised. During a period when many agents are making plans for their coming season's activities, there can be opportunities to provide new ideas to maintain a competitive edge simply by engaging in conversation and providing updated information.
Financial records provide details of where the most effective cost centres exist within the business. They provide us with the information needed to help with decisions on where we should focus our resources. We can review marketing strategies and new opportunities to ensure our financial and human resources produce the best outcome going forward. Keeping accurate records and statistics throughout the year are rewarded when assessing areas of success as well as those that did not provide the expected return.
System checks, to make sure our procedures are efficient and effective, can create time and cost savings. As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, it's important to keep up with new opportunities and have the knowledge to know which to embrace, without simply being swept up in the latest trend. We need to be sure that new initiatives will provide increased efficiencies with a positive result for the bottom line.
We make the most of the available information and material to check industry trends, to know which markets are showing most potential for the products we provide. By gathering information based on our own business experience, and combining this with research at a regional and national level, and through communications with our customers and agents, we start to form a picture of what may lie ahead for next season and those in the future. From this we create our forecasts and make decisions around marketing strategies, staffing and further investments. Not an easy task these days as bookings tend to have a shorter lead and visitors tend to react quickly to good news and bad news stories, and what their dollar can buy them, when making decisions on where they will travel.
What we hope is the ground work we're doing during this "quiet" time will produce a good crop over the summer, that will not only see us through our next off-season, but will continue to bear fruit in the seasons to come.
- Kay Clarke is managing director of Stay and Play Rotorua Ltd, providing promotional and representation services to local businesses.