Are you a Madonna or a Cher?

How understanding personalities can help you become a better tour operator

You’ve probably completed at least one personality test in your lifetime. Perhaps it was part of a job application, or maybe for a project when you were in school. They often yield some interesting results and can be a great dinner table conversation – but what we often neglect to do is take time to consider how the science of personalities can help us become better tour operators and business managers.

In this resource, we’re taking a deep look at one specific theory that has certainly been tried and tested at Tourwriter. We’ll explain a little bit of the science behind personalities, show you how it can be used as a valuable business tool and why understanding personalities can help you serve your customers better than ever before.

The theory

16Personalities is a personality framework that uses aspects of both the Myers-Briggs and The Big Five personality theories, to describe their own personality profiles.  This framework is comprised of, as you may have guessed…. 16 personality types, each being represented by a  different 5 letter acronym. Each letter in the acronym refers to either end of a trait spectrum, for example, Introversion or Extraversion (I or E).  These trait spectrums are all based on the characteristics described in the Big Five personality theory; extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism and agreeableness. You can read more about all the personality types here.

Personality is complex, and psychologists have been researching it for years. We know that no two people are exactly the same, but if we can group or categorise people accurately enough, we can predict and understand the way in which others think, behave and interact. It’s an intriguing idea and one which has a lot of value in the workplace as a business tool.

Why your travel business is about to get a whole lot more inclusive

We grow up understanding that everyone is different and that it’s ok to be different. But understanding how we’re different is often the missing piece of the puzzle in the workplace. Personality testing in the workplace gives us this ‘how’ and in doing so presents some fabulous opportunities for you to establish a healthy tour operator business environment and a happy team that compliments your business.

Imagine a whole organisation filled with people who think and behave in exactly the same way as you. In some ways, it would help you to overcome challenges like miscommunication. In other ways….. not so much.  A workplace filled with all the same type of people means that you would miss out on all of the possibilities that diversity brings.

Different personality types all think in different ways; coming up with new ideas and challenging the status quo. Taking time to implement a simple, yet eye-opening activity like personality testing can ultimately help your organisation become more understanding of one another, more inclusive, more productive and hopefully more innovative.

Take time to understand and adapt to personality differences.

If you don’t understand personality differences, having diverse personalities in your work environment can often bring about clashes. Asking your team to take a personality test will help shed light on different work styles – and you’ll probably learn a lot about yourself along the way!  

We understand that asking your team to take a test can sometimes feel a little confronting – which is why we encourage you to do it in a relaxed and inclusive way. Make sure your team understand that it’s less about ‘figuring them out’ and more about learning together. Finally, making sure that your team understand it’s not compulsory will help alleviate any confusion, particularly for those tour operator businesses who have never done an activity like this before.

The Aha! Moment

Perhaps your colleague is an Entertainer, and you are a Logistician. They may naturally take a relaxed and creative attitude to problem-solving, whereas you may prefer a more straightforward and analytic approach. If you both have an understanding of these preferences and traits, it will be easy to compromise and adapt your working style to suit each other’s needs – a much more productive and positive approach!

At Tourwriter, we’ve been using the 16Personalities framework for several years. It’s helped us to better understand our now global team of over 40 staff, and find ways to design processes and systems that complement our extremely varied team. In your organisation you may find, as we have, that different personality types are drawn to different roles and responsibilities, which can be super useful from an HR perspective. The members of our marketing team, for example, tend to have extraverted, social and people-focussed approaches to work, whereas our development team consists of more analytic personalities. 

Personality type shouldn’t, however, be taken as a hard and fast rule; people don’t like to put in boxes after all. However, we encourage you to consider this information when looking for a new staff member to join your team.

How can you apply this new tool to customer relationships in your travel business?

Running a travel business is about people just as much as it’s about tourism. So far in this article, we’ve discussed the advantages of understanding and adapting for your team’s personalities, but the other big advantage to understanding the science of personalities is being able to serve your customers at a more personal level.

Your newfound appreciation for the different ways people work can easily be applied to your customers and the way they travel. Designing packages for your extroverted travellers and for your introverted traveller could even be the key to unlocking more business.

Understanding the different types of personalities that your customers have can also help when it comes to providing next level customer service. As a tour operator, you are working with your customers in a similar way to your colleagues. Gaining some insight into the personality of your customers means that you can adapt the way you interact with them. Not only does it show that you really care about their experience with your business, but it will make your job a lot easier!

Resources for tour operators

Read our top tips on how to delight your customers.

16 Personalities give their take on the best jobs for different personality types.

Learn about the work habits and ideal jobs for different personalities.

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