How to Grow Your Business
You have a tourism or tourism-related business and have had it running for some time. Now it’s time to take it to the next level. How can this be done? Consider the following very carefully:
• Monitor your business, e.g.: are the business offers still relevant in the present needs and wants of our customers? Product offerings in the market are under constant change, because the customer needs and wants change. Does your business still fit in the market; is it still viable?
• Be sure of a proper costing system. Most businesses’ shortcomings are a proper costing system. “As long as there is money in the bank and I can pay my way, my business is viable” is commonly found. Costs are changing all the time. It is therefore important to have a proper costing system:
• Assess your business’ strengths as this will support its growth;
• Assess you company’s culture and make sure it reflects your values; Assess your top team as a group and the individuals in the team in terms of their ability to share your leadership requirements. If you do not have the right team, your company will not be able to move forward;
• Develop a plan for the future; take stock of your company’s strengths, resources and opportunities;
• Reassess your roles, responsibilities and your approach to management. Guide your team to take on roles you currently handle and concentrate on the things you do best.
• Offer formal business training to your employees, this will grow their performance abilities and therefore be an asset to your business. However, most businesses do not have the resources to send their employees to business schools for courses in business management. For this reason, the provincial government made the decision to offer a tourism business management programme at a greatly reduced rate. Not only are there only 8-full day sessions in one year, but these are limited to the off-peak times, when most entrepreneurs are doing their preparation for the peak season. This training is tourism-specific and scenario-based. It is customised to the tourism entrepreneur so that he or she is equipped to manage and grow his or her tourism business;
• Some businesses manage to break-even or make a little profit, but this is nowhere near their potential for growth.
This happens for a number of reasons:
• Lack of business management ability.
• Inadequate access to markets.
• Inadequate access to finance.
• Lack of mentorship.
Below are a few initiatives which aim to remove some of the obstacles in realising the full potential of your business;
• Advanced Training Programme - this includes training sessions that focus on investing in new product developments, how to grow your business and whether to take on a partner for example. This programme consists of 8 sessions.
• Tourism Mentorship Programme - this programme gives you the ability to discuss your problems and frustration with other business persons who may be able to offer solutions.
• Exhibitor at Indaba
Once you are at this level of being an established business, you are, in all probability, comfortably able, in terms of meeting international demand and levels of service. At this point, you may apply to attend Indaba as an exhibitor with a stand. Your application will be successful.
• Your business stands to gain from exposure at Indaba rather than at another tradeshow.
• Your business is ready to meet demand.
• The space and budget available permits.
• Design customised products (e.g.: bathroom toiletries) for your establishment; this is a great marketing tool and will give a special touch to your establishment.
• Make sure your tourism establishment is graded; this is an advantage in terms of marketing. Potential customers would rather book or visit a graded tourism facility than a non-graded facility, as they can be assured of predictable and guaranteed levels of quality. Also, it is vital for long-term success.
• Ensure your marketing and communication campaign is communicated to tour operators and travel agencies, build good relationships with them so that they will be confident in selling your offerings. Also make use of web advertising and brochures.
• It is important in businesses to be efficient and consistent. Answer queries by telephone or email as soon as possible, if you cannot meet a customer’s specific needs, offer possible alternatives. Quick, friendly and individualised service wins every time in a market full of competition. If you have a special theme, apply it to everything you do, be consistent. Find that unique selling point and deliver it consistently.
• Know your market and advertise according to it.
• If you do not have the budget to advertise all-year-round, advertise at specific times of the year, for example, before school holidays, a local festival or an upcoming conference.