In the world of tour operations, resource management is vital. It's about smartly allocating all available resources to keep your business running flawlessly.

This guide reveals why resource management is a make-or-break factor in tourism. If you're a tour operator, it's time to ditch outdated spreadsheets and embrace efficient tools.


What you will learn:

  • How resource planning with spreadsheets may lead you to more erroneous decision-making and stunt you toward growth.
  • Why using resource management software is a viable option - even for small tour operators.
  • If you still opt to use spreadsheets, know how to ensure accurate records and clear staff communication.

We have also included three useful templates we found online for managing resources and tracking projects and tasks. These templates may come in handy if you are starting out in the tour business.

Efficient resource management in the tourism industry can either make or break your business. | Photo by Pexels

Why Tour Operator Resource Management is a Big Deal

Picture yourself as an aircraft pilot, soaring through the skies with eager passengers. They trust you to lead them on an unforgettable journey. But here's the challenge – you have limited fuel, snacks, and time!

Resource management is just like skillfully navigating this adventure aircraft. It's about knowing the resources (money, time, and energy) you have on board and using them wisely to ensure everyone has an unforgettable experience.

Resource management for tour operators is a big deal.

Consider a recent study by Forrester Consulting. The study reveals that many frontline workers know the risks of using spreadsheets for essential tasks.

But here's the concern: despite this awareness, nearly one-third of the respondents said their managers don't recognize these risks. This means that top-level executives might make decisions based on data they assume to be accurate, but errors could be hidden in the spreadsheets.

According to the same study, 30% of organizations use over 10,000 spreadsheets, but only 19% take action to reduce associated risks despite 53% expressing concern.

What will happen if you keep on the manual data entry and 'do not take action' for resource management?

Inaccurate spreadsheets can cause inaccurate data-driven decisions.

If you opt for spreadsheets, here is our quick guide.

While some companies still find spreadsheets somewhat inefficient, they can be a great starting point, especially for new tour businesses.

This guide shows you how to use spreadsheets effectively and essential tips to avoid human errors.

We also curated free project management and resource planning templates we found online. We hope this can get project managers and tour ops started.

Why do some choose spreadsheets?

Spreadsheets offer a straightforward way to organize data and manage your tour and activity business and project resources. They may not be as sophisticated as dedicated project management tools but can be a solid foundation, particularly if you're starting out.

Spreadsheets are easy to understand and allow you to customize your resource management system to suit your needs.

We've got you free templates to get started:

We've curated some free templates available online to help you kickstart your resource management using spreadsheets. These templates cover project timelines, task allocation, and resource tracking.

By utilizing these pre-designed templates, you can save time and effort in setting up your management system.

Track project tasks, team resources, and future projects with free online scheduling resources.

Visit the links below to access these templates:

3 Spreadsheets Best Practices for Resource Planning

While using spreadsheets, it's crucial to be mindful of potential human errors and take steps to minimize them. Here are three essential tips to ensure efficient spreadsheet management:

#1 Consistent Data Entry

Establish clear guidelines for data entry to maintain consistency across the spreadsheets. Consistency reduces the risk of errors and makes it easier to analyze data.

#2 Regular Backup and Version Control

Spreadsheets are susceptible to accidental changes or data loss. Keep regular backups and implement version control to track modifications made over time.

#3 Cross-Check and Review

Assign someone responsible for cross-checking the data and reviewing the spreadsheets regularly. This helps identify and correct any errors promptly, ensuring accurate resource management.

What did we learn?

While some businesses may find spreadsheets inefficient, they can be a practical choice for managing projects and resources in a tour and activity business, especially for newcomers.

In the meantime, utilize the free templates provided to get started quickly, and remember to follow the tips mentioned above for practical spreadsheet usage.

With proper organization and attention to detail, spreadsheets can become valuable assets in your resource management toolkit.

Are Spreadsheets Holding You Back?

How can you ensure quality control with manual resource planning and project management?

As you already know, spreadsheets can serve various purposes effectively, but they also exhibit particular limitations when used for resource management.

Pay attention to these five key areas where these limitations are evident:

1. Limited Automation

Do you find yourself manually allocating resources, tracking updates, and managing data in spreadsheets? How much time do you spend on these tasks?

Consider this.

Spreadsheets often lack automation, which means you're stuck doing repetitive tasks. Allocating resources, tracking updates, and managing data become time-consuming, leaving room for human errors to creep in.

Imagine how much more you could achieve with automated resource management.

2. Version Control Issues

Have you ever experienced the frustration of conflicting data in collaborative spreadsheet environments?

Multiple team members may update the same spreadsheet simultaneously, leading to version control problems. This could result in confusion and difficulties in tracking changes accurately.

All bookings and assets are synced with automated software in one centralized dashboard. Once one makes the changes, everyone else is updated in real-time. Besides, you can control access permissions to ensure who should be the only one updating the schedule and data.

Tour operator inventory management with spreadsheets may be cost-effective at once - but it won't grow with you.

3. Scalability Challenges:

What if your bookings and reservations grow?

Spreadsheets may become challenging to use and slow when managing many resources or a complex project. Handling significant data can cause performance issues and hinder efficient resource planning.

Using spreadsheets may be once effective if your business is starting up. But once it scales, why not rethink a more cost-effective solution?

4. Lack of Real-Time Updates:

Do you face the challenge of outdated information in spreadsheets due to the lack of real-time synchronization?

If this is the case, this means that changes made by one team member may not immediately reflect in others' views. This can lead to outdated information and decision-making based on obsolete data.

In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to overbookings or double bookings. As a result, customer experience may suffer. This can even lead you to gain poor online reviews on Google or social media.

5. Security Risks:

Lastly, consider the security vulnerabilities of sharing spreadsheets via email or other platforms. Spreadsheets are prone to security vulnerabilities, and you want to keep your customers' information secure and protected.

On the flip side, resource management software solutions are mostly SSL-secured. Right from the booking process, your customers will know that any personal data they share with you are kept private.

An SSL-secured badge will show along with the booking widget - a real game-changer for building customer trust.

What do we learn?

Sticking with the good old days of using spreadsheets will only cost you the unnecessary expenses of inefficiency and poor customer service.

Do more with a resource management software solution

Tour and activity operators can have a more effective resource utilization with digital tools. | Photo by Pexels

Resource management software offers numerous benefits and advantages for tour operators. It can streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

In certain cases, when local businesses integrated online booking systems into their websites, they experienced a remarkable boost in revenue, with some witnessing an impressive increase of up to 120%.

Consider these key advantages in detail:

1. Centralized Information:

Resource management software provides a centralized platform to store and manage all the aspects of essential resource allocation data related to tours.

This includes customer information, bookings, itineraries, availability of resources (e.g., vehicles, accommodations), and staff schedules. This way, a centralized approach simplifies data access and reduces the chances of errors or double bookings.

2. Automated Booking and Scheduling:

The software can automate the booking process, allowing customers to book tours online, which reduces manual administrative tasks for operators.

It can also optimize resource scheduling, ensuring that resources are efficiently allocated, minimizing conflicts, and maximizing utilization.

3. Real-Time Availability:

With resource management software, tour operators can instantly check the availability of resources, such as tour guides, transportation, and accommodations.

This real-time information enables quicker response times to customer inquiries and reduces the risk of overbooking. It saves you time; it satisfies your customers with a more efficient service.

Efficient resource plans and successful tour projects can lead to higher profits and customer loyalty.

4. Better use of resources:

Resource management software analyzes historical data and trends to allocate resources wisely.

For tour operators, it can help them make well-informed decisions. Such as which tours to offer, when, and which resources to make available for each tour.

By doing this, you will be able to make the best of your tours in terms of more effective marketing and better profits.

5. Efficient communication:

Effective communication is crucial in the tour industry.

Resource management software often includes communication tools such as email integration, instant messaging, and notifications.

These features foster seamless communication between tour operators, staff, and customers, ensuring everyone is kept in the loop.

6. Inventory management:

For tour operators with physical products or equipment (e.g., rental gear), resource management software can help track inventory levels, manage stock, and automate reordering.

For instance, a tour operator might use software to track the number of kayaks in their inventory and automatically order more when the quantity falls below a certain threshold. This prevents stockouts and ensures resources are available when needed.

7. Providing a better customer experience:

By automating various processes and offering online booking capabilities, resource management software provides customers with a smoother and easier experience.

It allows customers to easily book and pay for tours, access detailed itineraries, and receive timely updates, leading to higher customer satisfaction. This, in turn, leads to greater loyalty and an improved customer experience.

Tour operator capacity planning improves use of resources and customer satisfaction rate.

8. Data analysis and reporting:

Resource management software typically generates detailed reports and analytics on various aspects of the business. It can generate reports about booking trends, resource utilization, and customer feedback.

For instance, with resource management software, you can see if there are any busy periods in the year when resource utilization is particularly low and adjust your booking rules accordingly.

These insights can be priceless for identifying strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement.

9. Integration with Other Systems:

Resource management software solutions can integrate with other tools commonly used by tour operators. This includes accounting software, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and online payment gateways.

For instance, many resource management tools can be integrated with accounting software such as QuickBooks to automatically transfer financial data and help tour operators save time and reduce errors.

This integration streamlines workflows and reduces manual data entry.

10. Scalability and Growth:

As tour operators expand their business, resource management software can accommodate growth without significant operational disruptions.

For example, a system of this type can quickly accommodate new destinations, inventory, bookings, rates, and additional staff and users. Moreover, resource management software allows businesses to remain agile and flexible in the face of expanding operations, making it a valuable tool for tour operators.

Top Online Booking Software Providers in the Tourism Market

If you want to switch from spreadsheets to a software solution, here's a table showing the software providers and their best features for resource management.

Each software has its own set of strengths built for optimizing tour operations. For more detailed information, visit each SaaS Provider's website to learn more. | Photo by TicketingHub Content Team

There are still a lot more options available on the web. You can search through software review sites like Capterra, G2, TrustPilot, and Software Advice.

Whichever you may choose, the basic principle in choosing the most suitable software for you is it should make things easier for you and your guests. Although it will come with a cost, it should not be too much for you or your guests.

Here are additional resources to help you better compare options:

Assuming you have discovered your resource planning and management software solution, the next step is to integrate it into your system. How can you accomplish this with minimal disruption and without causing distress to your staff?

How can you adapt quickly to a new booking solution?

Make sure to onboard your team on all the aspects of using the software. Investing time in training now can save you tons of wasted time in the long run from tool inefficiency. | Photo by Pexels

Adapting to a new booking solution can be smooth with the right approach. On the other hand, it can also be difficult and time-consuming. If the new solution is not implemented correctly, it can cause major disruptions to the business and frustration among employees.

Here are some quick tips for transitioning seamlessly:

1. Familiarize yourself with the software

Take the time to explore and understand the new booking solution thoroughly. Read the user guide or watch tutorials provided by the software vendor to familiarize yourself with its features and functionalities.

2. Start with a test run

Before going live, test the new booking solution. Use sample data to simulate bookings and test the entire process to identify potential issues or improvement areas.

3. Training your team

If you have a team handling bookings, ensure they receive adequate training on using the new solution. Offer hands-on training sessions and encourage them to ask questions or seek help as needed.

4. Communicate with customers

If your customers are used to the old booking system, inform them about the upcoming changes and guide them on how to use the new system. Ensure to highlight any additional benefits they may experience with the new solution.

5. Gradual rollout

Consider gradually implementing the new booking solution, especially if your business experiences high booking volumes. This can help you manage potential issues more effectively and provide a smoother experience for staff and customers.

6. Collect feedback

Be open to receiving feedback from your staff and customers during and after the transition. Their input can help you identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to optimize the booking process.

Ask your team: How are they doing with the new software? | Photo by Pexels

7. Monitor performance

Keep a close eye on how the new booking solution performs in real-world situations. Monitor booking rates, customer feedback, and technical issues to ensure everything runs smoothly.

8. Offer of Support

Provide ongoing support and assistance to your staff and customers during the transition period. A dedicated support team or helpdesk can ease frustrations and ensure a positive experience.

9. Address Challenges Proactively

Expect that there might be some challenges during the adaptation phase. Be proactive in addressing these challenges and consider having a backup plan in case of major issues.

10. Celebrate success

Once the transition is complete and the new booking solution is fully integrated, toast the successful adaptation with your team. Thank them for their efforts and the benefits the new solution brings to your business.

Conclusion: What Did We Learn?

In summary, resource management software empowers tour operators to optimize their resources, improve operational efficiency, and provide a better experience for staff and customers. It ultimately leads to increased productivity, reduced costs, and enhanced competitiveness in the tourism industry.

Efficient resource management can benefit tour businesses in many ways.

It can ...

  • Maximize profits
  • Improve customer service
  • Help make well-informed decisions
  • Prevent overbookings and backend conflicts
  • Streamline operations

How about you? Are you still using spreadsheets? Is it holding you back?

With systematic resource management, your tour and activity business can skyrocket in efficiency and customer reviews. You and your team deserve to save time and spend less on the hassles. Most importantly, your customers deserve nothing but your best service.

Do you like the idea of having resource management software? Here are more tips to help you choose the most suitable system for your tour business.

Keep Reading

Back to blog