How many times did you go on an excursion organized by an agency and you were totally dissatisfied with the entire organization? The excursion did not go according to plan, you got the wrong room or you weren’t informed that the departure time for daily activities had changed and so on. I have to admit that it happened to me too, especially while traveling with brand new agencies, but luckily, this does not have to become a rule.
In order to avoid the problems that can occur when planning and organizing a group excursion, I will list some advice that can help all tour operators (no matter if start-ups or already established ones) that want to enhance their business.
1. Create an itinerary
Good presentation of the services that you are offering is the key to success. So, creating a quality itinerary with lots of photos, descriptions and clear content is the first thing you should do. From the perspective of the client – this implies a short overview of the prices, the schedule of the trip and the description of daily activities. It would be an advantage if you had an excursion software that would generate your itineraries automatically.
2. Make a list of all passengers
Once enough passengers have applied for the trip, you should get a list of all the passengers, check their information and make corrections if needed. This includes checking whether they have paid, so you can proceed with organizing. It is important to have this list of passengers centralized in one place e.g. in an excursion system, so later on when you make confirmations with your suppliers, you will have accurate information, so there won’t be any mistakes.
3. Check with all of your suppliers and call them to double check
After you are done with your passenger list, you should verify the availability of all the services provided by your suppliers and get their confirmation. You should not forget to include tourist guides and inform them about the sequence of the scheduled events. When all the services are provided, the excursion can start.
In addition, for your personal organization, my advice is for you to prepare a few documents that would be helpful during the excursion.
a) Seat and allocation list – once your passengers arrive at the agreed departure destination, you should place them on their seats. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where your passengers are getting confused and / or rowdy.
b) Rooming list – in order to prevent a misunderstanding about the rooms, a rooming list may be the solution. A common customers ‘source of dissatisfaction is actually associated with the incorrectly assigned rooms. In my experience, that happened to my acquaintances plenty of times when they went on a trip.
c) List of additional requirements – once you’ve written down the list of all clients and their special requests and needs, you can see all the additional services that should be ensured for them. It may happen that your customers have some additional requirements such as an extra bed, baby cot or massage. Every customer is different and has different demands and it is up to you how you handle them. It is advisable to have a personalized approach to everyone so that later on you are able to know exactly which customer wants which specific service, and thereby are able to address them.
Moreover, make a to-do list and write reminders for the documents you need to manage!
4. Send reminders to your passengers via e-mail/mobile texts
Sometimes passengers forget their documents such as passport or insurance policy, or they arrive late at the agreed departure destination. To prevent this from happening, you may send some sort of a reminder to them. It could be in a form of an itinerary or a simple trip schedule.You could send it via e-mail, text message or by post and it should contain information about the departure time and place, trip schedule, reminder of the documents they should take and maximum luggage allowed.
5. Stick to the excursion schedule / itinerary
Sometimes it is hard to follow the plan because something unexpected may happen. For example, someone from the group is late, or something unexpected happened to your means of transport, but you should be prepared for situations like those and be able to inform your passengers about them. The most important thing is that your passengers are familiar with all the changes in the schedule to avoid any misunderstandings.
6. Get the feedback from your passengers
Your customers’ feedback can be a great source for improvement. You can ask them directly what they thought about the excursion, but the best way is to give them some sort of a questionnaire where they can write down their suggestions for improvement, pros and cons of the excursion and whatever else you are interested in finding out.
As a conclusion, I will say that it may seem hard to fulfill all the conditions mentioned above because it is hard to manage everything and get the perfect results. In order to succeed it would be helpful to have excursion booking software that supports everything mentioned above. We cannot influence external circumstances but what we can do is try to organize things the way mentioned in the article, so that risks are reduced to a minimum. In the end, the ultimate goal of every tour operator is to get happy and pleased customers, so that they return to your company.