Ensure your tour operator software really is the best
Whether it’s tour operator software, a CRM system, online itinerary builder, accounting tools or something in between, incorporating a new solution into your business is sometimes daunting, but it shouldn’t have to be. Choosing the best tour operator software for your business comes down to how well your software matches your business needs, and more importantly, how well you implement it. You can spend months trialling and searching for the best tools, but if you don’t incorporate them into your business in a scalable way, they won’t have a chance to live up to their full potential.
In Part One of this blog series, we delved into the key considerations tour operators should work through when beginning their journey of finding the best tour operator software. In Part Two, we’re taking you through the next stage of that journey. Explore how you can make the most of the software solutions you’ve carefully selected for your business.
Your team should be part of the decision making process from day one when it comes to both choosing and implementing your software. Some team members may be using this software for their entire working day, so decisions made will ultimately affect them. Your travel designers are effectively your in-house experts for what will and won’t work for your business, so utilise them!
Another factor to consider is that the decisions you make in the implementation stage will likely impact the way that you run your business in future. The staff member in charge of implementing the software should be in a position to make the best possible set-up decisions for your businesses needs both now and in the future – this is possibly not a job for the office junior. However, this doesn’t mean the team can’t be involved. Empowering your wider team to have input in the decision-making process will ensure implementing your new solution is much smoother, with less resistance to the changes you want to make.
Taking the time to properly train your entire team on your new software is also very important. There’s nothing worse than having a great piece of software that none of the staff are using to it’s full potential. Consider the following when organising training sessions and remember that the time that your team puts in during this stage will absolutely be worth it in the long run.
Who should do the training?
Often this decision falls to the staff member who is least busy, rather than the person who will get the most benefit and will do the best job. Remember that this software may be with your business for the long haul, so getting it right is worth the time and effort.
Who should get the training?
It’s important with any business decision to spread the knowledge. This is especially relevant in terms of software, where knowledge can be quite specific. Make sure that as many people are trained properly in the software as possible so that you don’t expose your business to the risk of a singular person taking all the learnings with them should they leave unexpectedly.
How should the training sessions be structured?
This should be what works best for your team, whether that’s group seminars, one on one training sessions or simply giving them instructions and leaving them to train themselves.
You could have found the absolute best tour operator software solution, but if you aren’t using it correctly and consistently, it might end up being more of a burden than a blessing. Most software solutions should come with flexibility and customisation around naming conventions, user permissions and itinerary/quote templates.
The software will most likely also be used by multiple people. It’s important for both your brand, and internal processes that rules of engagement are established to make sure that all of your staff are using the software in the same way. The decision making process with this can be tedious and time-consuming, but believe us, it will save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
There’s nothing more important for consistency in your business than documenting your processes. Time passes, staff leave, new staff arrive, and before you know it, the rules of engagement that you carefully established have gone out the window. Standard Operating Procedures or SOPs are crucial if you want your business processes to have longevity.
A SOP is a formal document distributed to all staff, outlining principles, procedures and guidelines for carrying out operations. SOPs can serve as official protocol documents, templates, and even how-to guides. You’ve spent time finding the best tour operator software for your business, so why not invest a bit more into making sure your whole team (now and in the future) is utilising it in the best way for your business.
Our five hot tips for writing good SOPs
Outline your Purpose
You should start with a clear, concise summary of what the SOP is about and why it exists. Your staff will be much more motivated to read and take note of what is inside if they know that it is important.
Consider your audience
Is this SOP for a specific team or the whole company? What do they already know and what do they need to know? What information is important to convey in a SOP and what can be conveyed in an email?
Make it interesting
Break up walls of text with diagrams and images. This could include using a flow chart instead of a list, screenshots of the software or even a gif if appropriate.
Use a Beta Tester
We’ve all received an official document or instructions, then discovered the instructions don’t work or a link is broken. Don’t be this person! Test it before it goes out to the team to ensure that it makes sense and your staff can follow it.
There is nothing worse than being sent a 50-page document that could have been half the size. Hyperlink out to other documents if completely necessary, rather than copy-pasting in a wall of text.
An important feature that many substantial software solutions such as tour operator software should come with is support. Although it’s not as tangible as a product feature, a good support service can be the difference between a good tour operator software and a great one.
Don’t be afraid to lean on these services, particularly in the early stages of integrating your new tool into your business. Chances are they have done this many times over, have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly and will be able to steer you in the right direction. Aside from fixing problems, they’ll also be able to tell you about different features and advanced ways of using the software that you may not have discovered by just going it alone.
There are thousands of different business software solutions out there, all working slightly differently and solving slightly different problems. Ideally, everyone would be able to use one big system that did everything you needed it to; from customer relationship management and accounting to organising meetings and making coffee! Unfortunately, the technology is not quite there yet, which is where software integrations come in. Most software companies are aware that they might not be able to offer every single thing that your business needs to run smoothly. Instead, they would have worked hard to create connections with complementary software solutions, so that they can offer a seamless integration to help your business thrive.
These integrations can be hugely beneficial to your tour operator business, so get in contact with support to make sure that you are getting the most out of the integrations that they offer. Some companies even have in-house integrations with other products, like Tourwriter + Minim. Tourwriter’s end to end software integrates seamlessly with Minim, an online itinerary builder platform. This means that not only will you have greater support in setting up the integration, but you know that both products have been designed with the other in mind to compliment each other and create a truly seamless integration.
Learn what to look for when searching for the best tour operator software in Part One.