Thankfully, people globally are becoming more comfortable with the idea of travel. As countries open their borders, lower or remove their restrictions, people are more confident to book the overseas trips they have long missed out on. Although travel demand is steadily increasing, the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic caused the industry is becoming more obvious. Keen travellers, who were once happy and capable of booking their own trips, are reluctant to plan and execute the travel experiences that they dreamed of in lockdown due to a variety of challenges they have not previously encountered. This blog looks at why now is the time for travellers to engage a true destination expert that they can access in the country i.e. an inbound tour operator, to plan their trip, and exactly what value they can add to travellers’ dream experiences.
The added complexities of travel
Over the last six months, the tourism industry and travellers alike have excitedly seen many countries start to open their borders, but each one has specific entry requirements, which are also frequently changing. Keeping abreast of ever changing regulations, while also making sure travellers are prepared for them, has added another layer of complexity to the overall travel planning experience.
While airlines are building up their flight routes again, it will take time for them to reach pre-pandemic levels. Hence, travellers have less options when it comes to connecting flights between two destinations as well as limited flight times to choose from. When you combine the additional entry requirements with the limited airline capacity and connections, figuring out the flights can be quite challenging and prone to errors.These are all areas where the expert knowledge of an Inbound Tour Operator becomes invaluable. Add to this the current inflated cost of flights, safeguarding the investment travellers are making in their holiday is plain old common sense.
What is an Inbound Tour Operator?
An Inbound Tour Operator is a destination expert that specialises in their own country or a niche travel experience, such as cycle tours. This means they have developed a deep understanding of the destination or niche; its culture, people and environment. They focus on creating a clear picture of what the traveller wants out of their trip. By understanding the intangible value a traveller holds within the trip, the once in a lifetime experience that is unique to their needs, wants and desires. To this end many Inbound Tour Operators have spent the entirety of the pandemic learning more about their specific destination or niche and staying on top of any new experiences that have evolved. Making them primed to craft a highly personalised itinerary for the traveller.
Here are 5 great reasons why you should work with an Inbound Tour Operator when planning your next trip:
Up-to-date on travel regulations
Inbound Tour Operators are familiar with the entry requirements to their destination and stay up to date with any changes, such as the type or timing of COVID-19 tests, that are completed before the travellers fly. This means the travellers themselves don’t have to stress about watching the news and staying on top of any last-minute changes to pre-departure testing or flights. Instead, the traveller receives all of the information they need from the destination expert who has already found a solution for any changes that have arisen.
Specialist knowledge and intimate supplier relationships
Two years is a long time to plan a dream trip, so travellers wanting to make sure they have the entire experience they have dreamed about for so long, is understandable. Many travellers are wanting to experience destinations, and the people there, in a way that reaches far beyond the usual tourist experiences. These bucket-list trips are often more complicated, with several stops throughout the destination to plan and it can be hard to find those off the beaten track activities, if they are trying to organise it by themselves.
By finding an Inbound Tour Operator who is an expert on the country, region or specific destination they want to visit, travellers are ensuring that they will enjoy a trip that meets or exceeds all of their expectations. This attention to detail will ensure the traveller will get the opportunity to experience every aspect of the destination they wish to. The travellers know the accommodation, transportation, and activities that the Inbound Tour Operator includes in the itinerary are all selected based on their criteria. These specialist tour operators build close relationships with carefully selected suppliers who provide the highest quality experiences. Most Inbound Tour Operators will only send their travellers to accommodation, transport and experiences they have personally visited. This vetting means that they are certain their travellers will be well looked after throughout their trip.
Helps travellers use their money wisely
Travellers have had limited travel opportunities in the last two years, so many have saved their money while they have waited for travel to resume. Now that tourism is restarting, a trend has emerged where travellers are willing to spend more money on a trip due to their excitement to travel again, their need for security regarding their travel arrangements and an increase in savings. Meaning travellers are also wanting their travel experiences to reflect that extra cost, which can be difficult to achieve. Travellers planning and booking trips themselves will have to navigate through multiple travel sites trying to find the best deal that offers the total experience they are looking for.
By entrusting an Inbound Tour Operator with their next trip a traveller is considerably more likely to get the most value from their money and time. This is because Inbound Tour Operators are experts; they know the best places to stay, they understand optimal trip cadence and they are adept at matching the activities they recommend to the travellers’ needs and interests. It is these intimate supplier relationships, together with their expert knowledge of the country they sell, that delivers that sought after trip of a lifetime. An additional bonus for the traveller is they can see who their money is going to, so they can ensure they are using local suppliers and supporting the destination’s community.
Save your time
When planning any trip to a new destination, most diligent travellers spend hours doing in-depth research on flights, accommodation, transport and activities. They often spend time agonising over every choice to make sure they make the best decision to match the image of their holiday in their head. Sometimes, even when travellers take the most care when selecting their trip choices they are still left unsatisfied and disappointed.
This is where a destination expert can offer the most value, as they save their travellers valuable time by eliminating the travellers need to research and constantly check booking sites. They can plan, organise and book the itinerary for the traveller all while taking a fraction of the travellers’ time during the process. The traveller can also put their faith into the destination expert to make decisions that best suit what the traveller wants, so that their expectations are exceeded during their trip.
Will give you peace of mind
With the added uncertainty around booking, availability, schedule changes and cancellations in the current travel environment, it can be stressful for travellers as their departure date gets closer. If something does go wrong either before or during their trip, travellers may find it difficult to find the help and support they need from the airlines, accommodation or activity providers as they are under-staffed and extremely busy trying to manage a large workload. This can lead to additional stress as it may mean completely changing flights, finding new accommodation, choosing different activities, or even being left stuck in an unknown destination.
Inbound tour operators can help resolve these problems as they have experience solving last-minute travel issues and have a deep understanding of the traveller’s needs, wants and expectations. What’s more, they are in the country. The traveller can put their full trust in the inbound tour operator, knowing that they will help at any time and with any travel situation.
By choosing to work with an inbound tour operator to plan a trip, travellers will be less stressed from the initial planning stages all the way through to when they walk back into their home after their once in a lifetime experience. This means they can enjoy every part of the process, and start the trip with a positive and relaxed mindset, which in turn should make the experience even better. After a tough two years in the travel industry inbound tour operators are excited to get back to doing what they love and sharing their passion for their chosen destination or niche. So they will be more than happy to listen to, create and book any travellers once in a lifetime trip.
Have we encouraged you to use an inbound tour operator for your next trip?
Every Earth Day 100 billion people pause to think and act on environmentally friendly initiatives. But what would happen to our planet if every day of the year we kept that momentum going? Travel is considered one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions largely due to planes, cruise boats and cars releasing large amounts of CO2 emissions per trip. Now, imagine the impact on the planet if all those 100 billion people decided to travel in a more environmentally conscious manner.
In this blog, we explore practical ways that tour operators can encourage people to travel more sustainably from the very start of their travel journey through to the end when they have returned home.
Help the traveller choose their destination
Encourage travellers to think about how far they want to go. The further they travel away from their home the more carbon emissions are created. For reference, a car travelling 200 miles (321km) will contribute 120 pounds (54kgs) of carbon emissions. Whereas over the same distance a plane will contribute 109 pounds (49kgs) of carbon emissions.
Another option is to highlight to travellers certain destinations that have started planning and coordinating efforts and initiatives that will help make their towns and cities become more sustainable. Put these destinations higher up on their list, because travellers will find it more fulfilling to visit them. Through their travels they will be able to see for themselves the impact a local sustainability focus has on the environment of the destination.
Select transport options for the traveller
Encourage travellers to consider slower travel to get to their destination. This also gives tour operators a chance to show off all the little spots along the route to the destination that they know of and add little nuances the travellers will enjoy. By encouraging slower-paced travel, tour operators can also choose transportation that will become a point of difference for the travellers; such as walking, biking, sailing or using public transport. This choice will not only lower the trips’ carbon emissions, but also give your travellers time to explore along the route and enjoy the overall journey.
Tour operators and travel experts alike are the ultimate organisers. So any traveller wanting a sustainable trip can rest easy knowing their tour operator is going to make a clear and well thought out route for their journey. By creating a clear plan, tour operators can ensure they limit the number of times their travellers will have to double back through the same area. It will also allow them to create the right flow between locations so the traveller can experience the journey at the right pace and in the right order. This means you can ensure the traveller sees the best of both the destination and the journey. As a result, the traveller is not seeing the same landscapes twice, therefore spending less on fuel, and cutting down on energy and carbon emissions.
Plan activities for the traveller to do at a destination
For tour operators choosing which activities they want their travellers to experience and do at the destination, consider which company runs the activity. Try and choose activities that are locally owned and operated by a person from the destination itself. This way, the traveller gets an authentic experience and the money remains in the community at the destination.
When researching any new activities or attractions that you haven’t built a relationship with yet, take note of if they have a type of sustainable certification, such as Green Globe. These could be an international certification process or a programme specific to the destination. If they don’t have certification, check to see if they discuss any sustainable practices they have put in place at their company to protect the environment. Specifically, if the attraction uses and protects the natural environment at the destination as part of their experience.
Provide packing tips to the traveller
A lot of destinations are becoming more aware of the role single-use plastics are playing in the pollution of their natural environment. Some destinations may have already started to do something about it, such as Fiji which has banned the use of plastic shopping bags. For those countries that have taken action to ban plastic bags, make sure your travellers are prepared and bring their own fabric shopping bags when visiting shops or local markets. Better yet, have your own reusable shopping bag with your logo on it and give it to the traveller to take with them.
As a tour operator, you don’t have much control over what the traveller does while on the road, but you do have a chance with the itinerary to suggest ways the traveller can be more sustainable. You can do this by encouraging travellers to think about what they take with them in their day bag and suggest they bring reusable items, such as a drink bottle, a coffee mug, straw and utensils. If the destination they are visiting doesn’t have a reliable water supply, tell the traveller so they can purchase a water bottle equipped with a filter system before they leave. By carrying reusable items, it means the traveller will limit the number of extras they need to buy throughout the day. So not only does it save plastic from getting thrown away, but it also saves them a little bit of money.
For tour operators, the traveller’s toiletries bag may not be top of mind, but it is where a lot of plastic containers can be found. To remind travellers of the sustainable options that are becoming more available for their toiletries bag, you could send them a link highlighting different sustainable products they could take with them, or, take it a step further and give them a gift card or sample pack for their journey. If the you know that the traveller will be visiting a destination where they will be swimming in an ocean or sea, tell them to bring reef-safe sunscreen or recommend a good option for them.
Consider how to guide the travellers actions
Encourage travellers to think about their actions when they are staying at their accommodation. A good example of this is to recommend that they limit their request for sheets and towels to be replaced with clean linens. By doing so, they are supporting the hotel in decreasing the energy and water use that it takes to clean all the linens every day. The travellers can further decrease the hotel’s water and energy usage by making sure they turn off all the lights in the rooms when they are finished with them.
As the tour operator, there is a bit of control over souvenir shopping because you can recommend the souvenir shops the travellers should visit. By highlighting the places where your traveller will most likely want to buy souvenirs and knowing the kind of souvenirs they are willing to purchase, you can add another layer of understanding about them. Travellers who purchase souvenirs from local businesses ensure that the money they spend on those souvenirs stays at the destination. Also, encourage them to learn about and consider what type of resources have been used to make the souvenirs before purchasing them.
At the end of the trip
You may need to consider a new way to ask for feedback from the traveller that also brings awareness to the overall impact of their trip. By looking at where they stayed, what transport they took and what activities they did during their entire trip, you can calculate their total carbon emissions and send them the result. You can even take it a step further and recommend a company to offset their carbon emissions that work within the destination the traveller just visited. This way, the traveller can feel like they are giving back to the destination they just had an incredible experience in and are contributing to protecting the destination.
Finally, it’s important to use the feedback the traveller gives you on the trip. If they fill out a questionnaire, make sure it includes questions about sustainable practices throughout the trip. As a result, you have the opportunity to adjust the itinerary to make a better, more positive impact on the destination for future trips, as well as educate the traveller on how to travel more sustainably.
If you believe the future of travel is sustainable and meaningful, read our Better Travel Manifesto and show your support by taking the pledge.
We are proud to announce the launch of our year-round global sustainability initiatives that aim to benefit local communities and natural environments around New Zealand, with the hope that we can expand the initiative to include other countries around the world.
These initiatives align with our Better Travel Manifesto, which we released in March 2022. After seeing the positive response to our vision for the future of travel, we realised the idea resonated with people and we needed to take action to help make that future a reality. We know that our work has just begun and are excited to continue expanding our efforts to include more sustainability initiatives in the near future.
Tree funding with each itinerary sold
We are committing to donate $1 to Trees That Count for every travel itinerary sold by our Tourwriter customers within our platform starting from Friday 22 April 2022. This means our customers are actively participating in the creation of responsible travel, as the more itineraries they create and sell, the more we will donate to fund native tree plantings.
We will be confirming the number of trees we donate to Trees That Count through this initiative at the end of every month. For each monthly donation, we will select a different local community or environment around New Zealand, starting with a focus on areas where our employees live and work before moving on to the rest of the country.
Tree registry for all
To ensure everyone has a chance to support the work that Trees That Count do, we have also set up a Tree Registry. This is to encourage our customers, employees, investors along with anybody else who would like to make a contribution to Trees That Count directly throughout the year. This year, we have a goal of raising NZ $2,500, which will fund 250 native trees ready for planting in the Wellington Region, where our head office is located.
Sponsoring a Beehive
With the aim to educate our staff and others on the importance of bees and the role they play in supporting our natural environment, we have committed to sponsoring a beehive throughout the season. The beehive will be located in the Wellington region so that we can follow the bee’s journey and gives our staff the opportunity to help with maintenance of the hive and the environment around the hive.
Better Travel Manifesto and Pledge
To support our sustainable initiatives and demonstrate what kind of travel we want to encourage people to take, we created the Better Travel Manifesto. It details how we want travellers to have meaningful, responsible, refined and tailor-made experiences. To show your support for our vision we invite you to take the Better Travel Pledge.
We appreciate your support of our mission to not only create better travel, but a better world. We’re busy working on our next project, so stay tuned for what’s to come.
Tourism is now one of the world’s largest industries and one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. Globally, travel and tourism’s direct contribution to GDP was approximately 4.7 trillion U.S. dollars in 2020. For many countries, tourism is seen as the main instrument for regional development as it stimulates new economic activities.
Economic sustainability, one of the three pillars of sustainability, refers to practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting the social, environmental, and cultural aspects of a community. Although this pillar can have a positive economic impact on the balance of payments, employment, gross income and production, it may also have negative effects, particularly in the form of leakage.
Tourism leakage occurs when the revenue generated by tourism is lost to outside economies. The cumulative effects of actions like buying an imported souvenir and staying in a foreign-owned hotel can amount to significant losses for the local economy on which your tour operations depend. Unfortunately, leakage is the highest in developing nations, but it is present at any destination.
The following are some key statistics about economic sustainability:
- 42% of travellers shopped at small, independent stores to support the local economy during their travels.
- 70% of money spent by tourists leaves the country
- In Fiji, it is estimated that 60% of the money earned through tourism ends up leaving the island nation.
- According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), for every $100 spent by a tourist on a holiday to a developing country, only $5 remains in the host community.
- Tourism leakage estimates range from 40% in India to 80% in the Caribbean.
- Non-star rated hotels (likely locally owned) only result in an 8.8% leakage.
Like most complex issues, the issue of tourism leakage is not black and white. However, to help get you started, we’ve outlined a few initiatives that tour operators can take to ensure that the expenses from the travel you offer benefit the destination and the communities your customers are visiting.
Encourage the purchase of local products and services
By choosing to support local products and services, you decrease the leakage and engage in sustainable tourism. A few ways to do this are by seeking out locally-owned restaurants serving local fare, hiring local tour guides and staying in locally-owned accommodation. The more local businesses you can support, the less leakage occurs.
Plan excursions and tours during the off-season
Many businesses, hotels, and excursions that operate off-season employ permanent residents. At a time when the destination may need the money most, your money supports the local economy. The income of permanent residents contributes to a diversified and healthy economy throughout the year.
Donate to help local causes and initiatives
Donating to local projects is a great way to support the local economy in addition to buying from and employing locals. In each destination you offer, you can choose to support a local project and donate a fixed amount per traveller or tour group. However, donating does not always mean giving money. You can also donate time or materials and the projects can be both social and environmental. Consider supporting a local hospital, school, or women’s empowerment center. Additionally, you can support a local wildlife sanctuary, vegetable garden, or take part in a tree planting project.
Employ local workers
One of the easiest ways to directly stimulate local employment in tourism is to hire local workers. In addition to supporting the local economy, you will also add value to your travel experiences since locals are very familiar with their country, its history, people and culture. As the link between the destination and the traveller, they are able to transform an activity into a memorable experience.
Limit the number of all-inclusive hotels
All-inclusive travel, a type of travel where tourists purchase a travel package that includes everything they need from transport to food, drink and entertainment, is aimed at encouraging travellers to stay put. This type of tourism, also known as enclave tourism, directly impacts the local economy because travellers don’t feel the need to explore the local community and support them through their purchases. This results in very little money reaching the destination, where the tourism is taking place. To avoid this, stay at locally owned boutique accommodation or resorts, hire local taxi services or bike rentals and dine with locally-owned restaurants.
As a tour operator, you have the opportunity to decide where your money and that of your travellers ends up. You can ensure a destination directly benefits from tourism by spending your money locally and with the right people. It gives locals the chance to do business, boost economic growth, and the empowerment to be more independent. We encourage you to take action towards better travel. It will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the communities in which you offer tours and on the locals who live there.
As travel resumes, one of the first things people around the world will be doing is travelling with one intention: to be reunited with loved ones. For specialist tour operators, this reality might be conflicting. While it’s important to reconnect, reunion travel also represents an even longer time before travellers are ready to resume their high-end experiential holidays.
Humans are social creatures, so while there’s not much we can do about the fact that reunion travel is going to be the most common travel style in 2022, there are a few things your tour operator business can do to take advantage of this emerging niche market.
Targeting reunion travellers
Design 2022 tours with the fact that families and friends from all over the globe are going to want to reunite in one common destination. Design packages and itineraries with multiple generations in mind, and make it easy for your guests to book arrival and departure flights from numerous locations.
Consider alternative marketing channels
It’s also worthwhile re-considering what platforms you invest your marketing dollar on. Reunion travel broadens your target market to other generations; could you consider marketing on social media to create awareness amongst the younger cohort of travellers, for example?
When travel resumes, it won’t just be families wanting to reconnect; friends will also be eager to meet up and experience an epic trip to blow off the cobwebs built up over the past 2 years. Niche itineraries such as golf trips, walking tours and yoga retreats are perfect for marketing to a group of similarly minded friends wanting to have a memorable shared experience.
Consider the business traveller
Another segment of the travel market likely to be planning some serious reunions in 2022 are working professionals looking to reconnect with their colleagues in other international offices. While these types of travellers aren’t likely your traditional clientele, they do offer a unique new opportunity that you may wish to tap into.
Considered an up and coming niche market in travel, bleisure travel, is when travellers mix business and leisure. As more and more professionals look to reunite with their international colleagues, it’s not unlikely that they’ll want to scratch the travel itch that they’ve missed out on after all these years while they’re at it. Golf trips, weekend excursions, wellness retreats and cultural experiences focussed in a specific destination are all likely to be well suited to the bleisure traveller.
Leave time and space for connection
People travelling with the intention of reuniting with loved ones are going to want to have ample time to do so. So while you want to keep your itineraries unique and enriching, remember to hold back on the number of activities in order to leave space for the magical and long awaited reunions to happen.
When it comes to booking accommodation, keep the need for connection in mind. Rather than several hotel rooms, your guests may prefer to book a homestead that has common areas where they can spend valuable time in one another’s company. On the contrary, there may be some families that value having their own private rooms to decompress in alone after a day full of family antics. Either way, it’s small details like this that can make all the difference for reunion travellers. Make sure to have those conversations with your potential clients early on in the sales process so everyone is on the same page from the get-go.
Consider multiple generations
Families reuniting will often come with the added complexity of multiple generations; from toddlers and children, to teenagers, adults and grandparents. When designing reunion tours make sure to get a good understanding of the different age groups attending. Select activities that work for all ages, or include different options so that everyone is catered for.
In the same vein as reunion travel is ancestry travel – a desire to connect with ones heritage through travel. Learn all about this up and coming niche here
Cancellation policies and covid sensitive terms & conditions are going to be top of mind for your travellers in 2022. Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared
There are a number of other travel trends expected to hit in 2022, discover them in this blog
Borders are reopening, vaccine passports are being widely adopted and pent up travel demand is reaching a boiling point. Although new variants of COVID-19 are creating some uncertainty, experts believe that 2022 will be the year the tourism industry finally begins to rebound.
Tour operators preparing for this restart are facing a number of unprecedented challenges; one of the most notable is hiring talent in a post-pandemic environment. In the following blog we’ll take a look at the state of the talent pool in the tourism industry, and guide you through some tips and tricks for attracting top talent in a post-covid world.
The state of the talent pool in tourism
According to Statista, over 100 million jobs were lost in the tourism industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with tourism hotspots like New Zealand reporting 4 out of every 10 tourism jobs lost in 2020 alone.
Despite the passion that runs rife within tourism professionals worldwide, as we pass the two year anniversary, the reality is that many of those that lost their jobs have moved on to work in roles within industries that were able to provide a more reliable income source during the pandemic. As a result, the available pool of experienced talent is expected to be significantly smaller than it was prior to the pandemic.
Global economies have recovered from the initial shock of early 2020 significantly faster than many predicted. Developed nations such as United States, United Kingdom and Australia have reported unemployment rates at near to (and in some cases, lower) than pre-pandemic levels. Although promising from an economic perspective, the lower unemployment rates means the employer market is going to be all the more competitive.
Tourism industry perceptions
Even before the pandemic, the tourism industry had a challenge in attracting and maintaining talent within the industry. This was due to the perceptions society associated with the industry itself; including, poor working conditions, low pay, seasonality, and unknown career pathways. The pandemic has now increased the challenge further by adding uncertainty around when international and domestic travel will return in full-force around the world. With each country opening up at different times and with different requirements making it even harder to create certainty around employment opportunities.
For example, in New Zealand, Go with Tourism has created a workforce by combining the knowledge and experience of a variety of stakeholders within the tourism industry to tackle the employment challenges. They have come up with four solutions;
- Create a Tourism and Hospitality Accord
- Build an industry toolkit
- Improve and promote career and training opportunities
- Community Engagement Programme
These four solutions will collectively work together to adjust New Zealanders’ perception of the Tourism Industry, which in turn will encourage talent to return to or enter the industry. With this information in mind what can you, as a tourism business, do right now to encourage the right people to apply for your roles?
The elephant in the room
Firstly, let’s talk about money. After the past two years, we know your balance sheet has been hit hard, making rehiring with competitive salaries all the more daunting. Remember, a lot of other companies who are restarting are in the same boat as you. While it’s important to offer realistic livable wages, there’s other creative solutions your business can undertake to attract top talent in a post covid world.
Offer Flexible Working
Since the start of the pandemic people have become more aware of how, when and where they spend their time. By offering a flexible working environment the job will be more attractive to the pool of talent. This has been reinforced by research showing that 45% of workers said the shift to working remotely had a positive impact on them in the past year.
A flexible working environment can include; letting employees work from home for some or all days of the week, encouraging employees to start and finish work at the times that suits them best each day, or letting employees decide which days of the week they want to work e.g. have a Sunday to Thursday work week. Showing a willingness to allow flexibility and remote working will encourage potential employees to apply, because they can see the role will allow them to have a better work-life balance.
For many applicants, working with a company that aligns with their values is just as important as the salary they will receive. Think about your business’s mission and vision. How can you align your employee benefits with these guiding resources to create a workplace environment that matches your values? Some ideas for benefits could be:
- Share scheme – Where employees can sign up to receive shares in the company. This encourages your employees to help the business succeed, promotes loyalty to the business and gives the employees other potential sources of income through dividends or acquisitions.
- A discount of your product or service – Even a small discount can be seen as a benefit for a potential employee. The discount might also encourage the employee to bring their family and friends to show off their new job, which brings in new customers.
- Company culture – Do you have a welcoming and inclusive company culture? Including things like team building events, lunches, social group activities, will help grow collaboration and make your employees feel more comfortable at work. As it allows employees a chance to learn more about their colleagues in a social setting
- Corporate values – What values does your company have that you expect all your employees to hold? Being transparent about these values will allow applicants to determine if their values match. If the applicant can connect with your company through a shared value they are more likely to want the role and select it over a different opportunity.
- Corporate social responsibility – Mention any charity work you do or that an employee can do through the business. Do you support any charities? Make sure you explain the reason behind the businesses support. Why is it important that the business supports this charity, it could be because the charity supports the protection of a native environment that you operate close to.
Demonstrate the career pathway
Throughout their life experiences a lot of people will only interact and see the frontline tourism jobs within the industry itself. Many don’t realise the scale of the tourism industry and how businesses have a large amount of behind-the-scenes roles that assist with businesses day to day operations.
Demonstrate to potential employees how the role could lead into a career, make it clear what skills you are going to teach them and what courses or resources will be available. You are highlighting how the job they are getting paid for now, could lead to future opportunities in an exciting industry that is starting fresh and re-growing from the impacts of the pandemic.
Reframe your idea of the “Ideal Applicant”
The “Ideal Applicant” before the pandemic was a person who had; experience working in the tourism industry; or could have completed, or be in the process of completing, education with a tourism focus. Now, you will need to reframe your idea of an “Ideal Applicant” focus on what values are important for the applicant to hold, what attributes you can train and most importantly, how they will fit into the team.
Welcome talent from other industries
Don’t be afraid to hire a person who hasn’t worked in the tourism industry before, you might be surprised what they can offer. The tourism industry is not the only industry that has been affected by the pandemic. The hospitality and event industries have both suffered and lost a lot of talent. Workers from both these industries will have a lot of transferable skills such as; time management, communication skills, customer service skills, and teamwork. These skills will enable them to succeed in the role.There are other industries that have been pushed to breaking point due to the pandemic, such as healthcare and logistics. These industries may have burnt out staff who are looking for a fresh change and could be eager to try something completely new.
Applicants with different industry experiences will not only bring different skills, but also bring new perspectives. They might have a new idea for the business that increases efficiency or creates a new experience for customers. By bringing in different perspectives from a variety of different industries you will get multiple fresh perspectives and a variety of new ideas that could impact and improve your business in the long run.
Don’t be afraid of inexperience
A new pool of talent enters the workforce each year; the school leavers or the young adults returning from overseas who are yet to nail down what career they are looking for. These applicants might not have much experience yet, but what they lack in experience they make up for in drive and a willingness to learn.
For these applicants instead of looking at where they have worked, look at what skills they have and what attitude they present. These days the younger generation has more computer and digital skills that could be used to the businesses advantage, such as helping update the website and social media. They may also bring some fresh perspective and ideas that better suit the younger generations. Their willingness to learn will allow you to teach them the best ways to operate in your business and help them grow with you. You never know, the school leaver you hire today could become a leader of the tourism industry in the future.
If the tourism industry is known for anything it is the passion each and every person has. The way a travel expert will curate an experience to share a culture, or how a tour guide will create a life-long memory. This passion and dedication to creating eye-opening experiences is what every person starting in the industry aspires to be. Finding those applicants who have enthusiasm and curiosity about the tourism industry, which can be turned into passion for tourism and your business products or services, would be a huge asset. Look for those diamonds in the rough and see how they shine when you polish them.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) lives with some form of disability or impairment, and with an aging population, that number will only increase. During the pandemic, many persons with disabilities and the elderly were excluded from public health and travel updates and information regarding accessibility to basic tourist services. Considering this, it is more crucial than ever that tourism advocates for inclusion, accessibility, and diversity, as they are good for both tourism and people’s general wellbeing.
Inclusive or accessible tourism is about being mindful of the unique needs of people around us that also wish to explore the world. In 2022 and beyond tour operators have the opportunity to transform the lives of many aspiring travellers by minimising barriers, reducing uncertainty and increasing accessibility in the tours you design. By embracing the entire community of travellers, regardless of ability, tour operators have the opportunity to appeal to a wider range of tourists, presenting a compelling business case whilst also practising social responsibility.
People with disabilities make up a large part of your market and come from all walks of life. These can include guests, business owners that you work with, and employees. There are a few things that are important to note when it comes to understanding this segment of the market:
- The majority of disabilities aren’t visible
- Some people may not identify as having a disability. For example, an older person may find it harder to see or hear but would not feel the need to tell you
- A disability can be temporary. For example, a person may need to use crutches for a short time as a result of an injury or accident.
As businesses are looking to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic, ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements is a smart way to recover and grow your business in a more inclusive and resilient way. Here are some global statistics that tell us a bit more about the importance of accessible tourism:
- The potential market of people with disabilities in the European Union (EU) is more than 80 million people (130 if we add senior citizens and accompanying persons).
- 70% of people with disabilities in the EU have financial and physical capabilities to travel.
- In Asia and the Pacific, the market size is 690 million people and in Latin America and Caribbean this figure reaches 85 million people.
- The economic impact of disability travel reaches USD 58.7 billion in the USA.
- Trips taken by citizens from the United Kingdom with an impairment and their travelling companions made up 15% of domestic overnight trips in 2015 and 20% of day visits in 2018.
- Average holiday expenditure of tourists with disabilities is EUR 800+ compared to EUR600+ of tourists without any disability, in Spain.
- In Australia, when domestic and inbound markets are added, the total accessible tourism market is worth AUD 10.8 billion.
Customers with disabilities can experience a wide range of difficulties and barriers when it comes to travel due to the way that services and environments are designed. Sadly, all too often services and public spaces do not consider the access requirements of lesser abled people. Improving the overall accessibility within your tours will enable you to tap into a large and growing market that is. Here are ways you can ensure that your business is accessible for everyone:
Improve your marketing information
By incorporating accessibility information into collateral provided to all guests, you’ll show your customers that you care and are committed to creating a more inclusive travel experience. It’s also a good idea to consider additional formats when it comes to your marketing materials, office facilities, and tours such as using larger print, simple language, audio descriptions and braille.
Provide reliable, detailed, and up to date information on the accessibility of the tours that you offer. Tell visitors about any potential barriers such as steps or bedrooms on upper levels not accessible by lift and include specific measurements and floor plans where possible and appropriate.
Review basic information you provide on booking
Consider including additional information on accessibility that will be helpful to your customers. For example, information on wheelchair accessible taxi services and public transport are a great place to start. Information on accessible refreshment stops and tourist attractions near their accommodation or local town centre may be helpful as well.
Prepare your staff
Make sure staff are familiar with all of the tours that you run and any barriers they have. Another good idea is to integrate disability awareness training into your customer service onboarding. By doing so, your staff will learn information about common barriers to access, as well as strategies to overcome them.
If accessible travel is new for your business it’s especially important to collect customer feedback that can be used for future improvements. As an example, if you are offering tours that are accessible to those with disabilities, talk to them to find out what you could do to make the experience better for future guests. They have most likely travelled to other places and may be able to share some useful information.
As tour operators, it’s our job to make sure that travel is accessible for everyone to experience. Now is the time to adopt an inclusive approach to tourism by developing sustainable practises and solutions. Accessible tourism brings a plethora of benefits to visitors, local communities, tour operator businesses and provides a better quality and inclusive life for all.
When it comes to sustainable tourism, there’s much more to it than just protecting the physical environment. When an area is visited by tourists, there are bound to be some social and cultural impacts on the host community; socio-cultural sustainability is all about reducing those impacts.
Locals may experience congestion and overcrowding in towns and cities, an increase in crime, and the arrival of migrant workers to fill tourist industry jobs may reduce employment opportunities from locals. In addition, an increase in visitor numbers beyond a destination’s natural carrying capacity can put a strain on its infrastructure and services, thus negatively impacting the experience of both locals and visitors.
The goal of socio-cultural sustainability is to minimise these negative impacts while promoting positive ones, such as preserving local traditions and promoting cultural exchange – all of which lead to more meaningful travel experiences. In order to maintain social and cultural sustainability in tourism, local interests must be protected and supported and community living conditions must be given the same priority as the development of tourism. It is only through local participation that tourism can develop sustainably for years to come.
Here are some key statistics that support the need and want for socio-cultural sustainability:
- 84% of travellers believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial.
- 76% of travellers want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society.
- 73% of travellers want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel.
- 32% of travellers consider offering guests information about local ecosystems, heritage, culture, as well as visitor etiquette as a step in the right direction.
As tour operators, it’s important to recognise that all tourism has an impact on communities. Collectively, it is our responsibility to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts and boost the positive. Not only does this enrich the destinations you are showcasing, but it also ensures they are sustained and maintained for your travellers to gain meaningful experiences from in years to come.
So what are some initiatives that your business can take to promote socio-cultural sustainability in tourism?
Learn about the local ideas and practices
Commodification is when traditions and culture are commodities for tourists to consume. If not managed cautiously, this takes away from the significance of the cultural practices and may be disrespectful to the people of which these practices belong to. Even though tourism can be majorly beneficial for host communities, there are still several things to take into consideration when it comes to their cultural heritage.
For this reason, it’s important to thoroughly research the local culture and norms before attempting to impose Western culture on a developing country. Then, educate your travellers so that they know how to adopt local customs and traditions. This will help ensure that the local culture not only stays alive but thrives.
Hire local workers
One of the main ways that tour operators can be more socially sustainable is to work to alter their supply chain management to include the local people residing in a destination. Sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) encapsulates the trend to use purchasing policies and practices to facilitate sustainable development at the tourist destination. In order to preserve the culture and ensure money goes directly to the people who work hard to keep the area beautiful, hire as many locals as you can.
A great way to do this is by hiring local guides. They are more likely to know the hidden gems and will facilitate a truly authentic and immersive experience for your travellers. Doing so also supports the economy of your host community and reduces economic leakage; it’s a win-win for all!
Book tours in more remote areas
A great way to solve the issues of culture clash and social stress is to encourage trips to more remote areas instead of inside bustling cities, and ensuring your travellers are educated about the customs within those remote communities.
Instead of an influx of tourists in one spot, booking trips in neighboring areas and villages will result in much less congestion and stress in the city. Tourists can make day trips into the city and then disperse to other locations to keep the noise and traffic to a minimum. Taking travellers off the beaten track is a growing trend in tourism, and experts believe will provide guests with a more fulfilling and enriching overall experience.
Treat people with kindness and respect
The easiest way to be socially responsible abroad is to be kind to those who let you into their world. Be mindful of your presence, support local businesses, be considerate of the suppliers you choose and treat the destination as if it were your permanent residence.
The importance of this pillar of sustainable tourism is often overlooked, but it is vital to remember that when a community welcomes tourists into their homes, it deserves to be treated with respect. We understand that change may not happen overnight, but we encourage you to consider how your business can maximise its positive impacts on host communities, create mutually beneficial social and cultural situations, and offer aid and support to the residents and cultures of host communities. By adopting these practices, not only do we benefit the destination, but we also make travel better for everyone involved. So why not start implementing them into your business practices today?
When it comes to sustainable tourism, perhaps the most well-known and fought-for impacts are the environmental ones. Environmental sustainability is about acting in a way that ensures future generations have the natural resources available to live an equal, if not better, way of life as current generations. Generally, it focuses on the well-being of the overall environment. As a tour operator that specialises in showcasing the beautiful destinations you visit, finding ways you can enrich those destinations is of the utmost importance to the longevity of your business.
This pillar, one of the three pillars of sustainability, focuses on water quality, air quality, and reducing environmental stressors such as greenhouse gas emissions, crowding, and manmade disasters. It also includes both the natural (beaches, forests, waterways) and built environments (ruins, historical buildings).
Here are some key statistics that support the need, and want, for environmental sustainability in tourism:
- 69% of travellers are committed to reducing the carbon footprint of their trip or pay to offset this whenever possible.
- By 2030, global transport-related CO2 emissions from tourism are predicted to grow by 25 percent from 2016 levels
- 79% of travellers want to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport (i.e. walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars).
- 84% of travellers want to reduce general waste on future trips.
- 35% of travellers would like to see travel companies offering tips on how to adopt better practices while traveling.
- Tourism is responsible for roughly 8% of the world’s carbon emissions.
Although the evidence is clear, as a tour operator business owner, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to incorporating earth-conscious practices into your business. To help get you started we’ve outlined some initiatives that your tour operator business can take to adopt environmental sustainability in 2022 and beyond.
Choose your modes of transportation carefully
The amount of emissions released from transportation is one of the major factors contributing to climate change. As a tour operator, your company has the chance to help by promoting more eco-friendly transportation choices.
If your customer doesn’t need to fly to their destination, they shouldn’t. Taking a train is a great alternative whenever possible. But if they do need to fly, it’s best to avoid flying too many short distances in a row. Out of all the different modes of transport, short distance aviation causes the most pollution per kilometre, therefore, you can reduce your emissions by booking a non-stop flight. Another great tip is to consider booking your guests’ seats in economy class. The seats may be smaller, but they have a smaller carbon footprint than business class, making them a more environmentally responsible choice. If economy isn’t an option, be sure to explore your carbon offset options to further minimise the impact.
Choose more efficient transportation when exploring the destination
Reaching the destination is just the beginning. Now that they are there, your travellers are going to want to do some exploring. Instead of hiring a driver or renting a car for them, offer more earth-friendly options such as public transportation. This includes riding the subway, hopping on the bus or taking a streetcar. However, it’s important to remember that the efficiency of public transport modes can vary from one destination to the next. While many cities utilise bus and rail systems that are powered by cleaner fuels or alternative technologies, others still run on diesel or natural gas. And if you’re travellers are up for a more active experience, they can spend the day exploring by bicycle or on foot. By offering these alternative modes of transportation, tourists will gain a more immersive and authentic travel experience.
Consider the size of your group
Consider the size of your tour groups when planning walking or sightseeing tours. A small number of people travelling at a time has less impact on vegetation and animals than hundreds of people visiting at once. This also leaves more space for genuine interaction with local communities. If it is not possible to cut down the size of your group, it’s important to acknowledge the greater footprint it will leave and how it may impact the host community.
Educate your travellers
A responsible tour operator is all about sharing insights and tips on how their customers can travel responsibly. With that being said, it’s important for tour operators to engage in ongoing training about environmental issues. This allows you to better understand and learn about eco-friendly initiatives so that you can pass it on to your travellers. By offering you advice on reducing plastics, giving back to communities and more do’s and don’ts of the host country, you can help your guests make a positive impact and ultimately take away more knowledge from their experience.
Offset your carbon footprint
Globally, travel accounts for 8% of carbon emissions. Inevitably, there are unavoidable carbon emissions from your travel itineraries that need to be compensated for. This is where carbon offsetting comes into play. Carbon offsetting allows you to compensate for the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions you produce by reducing emissions somewhere else.
A way to support this is by getting involved in the range of international programmes and tree planting initiatives from Carbon Footprint Ltd. In addition to reducing carbon, these programmes benefit some of the world’s lesser developed regions, providing healthcare, education and employment opportunities. Sustainable Travel International is another great resource that allows you to calculate your footprint and offers ways to offset your omissions online.
Discourage littering when on a tour
When tourists visit a community, they should leave it in the same condition, if not better. Encourage tourists to make sure that all trash is disposed of properly and that litter is never left behind. The amount of pollution flowing through bodies of water is at an all-time high, which takes away from the natural beauty of the location and puts the animals that inhabit it at risk.
So when planning a tour, take a moment to consider access to bins throughout the journey. When you know access will be limited, make sure to provide other options such as providing your guides with the means to take away rubbish and dispose of it in a more appropriate place.
Get rid of single-use plastics
It is widely known that plastic is highly destructive to the environment, especially when only one use of plastic items is involved. A great and easy start to becoming more environmentally friendly is to eliminate plastic straws from your tours altogether. You can then encourage your customers to bring their own reusable water bottles and provide clean drinking water in reusable containers so everyone can fill up their own bottles. Another great option is to partner with restaurants, suppliers and accommodation providers that actively avoid single-use plastic.
While becoming a more environmentally friendly tour operator can sound overwhelming, the fact that you took the time to read this article is a great start and shows initiative. Don’t be afraid to start implementing small changes at first as they can have profound impacts. And remember, responsible tourism not only helps the environment, but also your bottom line along the way.