Explore your area… What do I mean?
By now you should be confident with the trips you are running for your clients, so it is time for you to grow your knowledge some more. Take a couple of days and head out into the area you operate in visiting some of the accommodation establishments and other operators. Introduce yourself and what you offer and find out more in person about what they offer.
Most hotels or accommodation will take you around and show you some of their rooms and facilities as everyone likes a bit of free publicity – just don’t plan on visiting if you know there is a big conference or wedding on as my experience is then staff are really busy – but if you are looking at a big hotel, there is still normally someone around to show you. But make sure you have some questions to ask so you can file the answers in your memory for future.
Visiting other operators can be a little more tricky, especially in the paranoid environment of South Africa where most Adventure Operators think you are out to try and steal their ideas or clients, when in reality it would be so much better for the industry as a whole if everyone worked together. So do not be affronted if you are made not welcome when visiting. The more of us who strive to be welcoming and willing to assist will slowly develop an industry that respects other operators and promotes a sharing of ideas which will grow the industry and so help everyone. You will however get to meet some operators who like you, are striving to be the best, and they will be open and willing to share ideas – these are the ones you will want to develop good relationships with.
From personal experience getting to know the hotels and other accommodation in the Drakensberg and what they can offer, allowed me to recommend a particular establishment to a group of Israeli ladies for their holiday in the Drakensberg as this establishment was able to cater to their specific dietary needs, which a lot of the big hotels were not able to do. So although not the actual adventure activities, without the accommodation, the tour would never have happened.
Next time…. Networking.
Michelle owns Globetrotting My Way and has 22 years experience planning trips.