Customer Service – the secret to making money in the outdoor industry.
Have you ever wondered, “How effective is all my marketing?” Are you spending money to get “the word out” and yet your sales aren’t what you would like? In this article, I will show you the most effective and easy path to increase your sales without spending additional money.
Many in our industry overlook the foundation of what business we are in. This is a service business. We are selling and providing an invisible experience.
This emphasis on getting promotions “outside”, causes you to overlook the “inside” and the foundation of marketing a service: the service itself.
Our participants and guests should go home with a increased skills, fond memories, unique experiences, and rejuvenated. This will lead them to enthusiastically share with family and associates the magic of how wonderful your company is. Word of mouth and repeat business is the most cost effective, easiest avenue to continually make more money and grow your business.
Harry Beckwith author of “Selling the Invisible” says it best, “First before you write an ad, rent a list, dash off a press release – fix your service”.
Careful research and analysis I’ve done over the years, of many of my adventure travel clients around the globe, led to the creation of the following nine principles. They are the foundation of customer service for our outdoor industry. Think about how your guests experience your operation. Focus on improving these principles and never compromise them.
The Nine Principles of Customer Service
for the Outdoor Education & Adventure Travel Industry™
- Be a Good Listener – First and foremost, listen to their concerns, complaints, as well as their praise. Discover what it is they want. Your guests are your best source of information in assessing your services and performance. Help them qualify themselves before signing up. Make sure they understand the rigors, responsibilities, dangers and level of exertion.
- Exceed Expectations – Under promise and over deliver on a consistent basis with exception service. Blow ’em away with the unexpected. This is what they’ll remember and tell their friends about.
- Practice Safety – Guests want to know the activities they are about to do or surroundings they are in, are safe and their welfare is always being monitored. They will feel more at ease during real or perceived risks if they have been educated about their new activity or environment in advance. Advise on plant, animal and natural resource cautions. Let them know that there is generally nothing to worry about if they respect the environment and heed your advice. Brief guests on your safety procedures for any excursions without staff away from home base.
- Provide Great Food – Guests must eat well, never be hungry and have adequate water and drinks. Fresh food with ample portions served at a scheduled time can make any adventure more memorable and satisfying. Whenever possible, serve appetizers, happy hour eats and beverages.
- Everyone Needs Sleep – Guest need and want comfortable and peaceful sleep. Make sure everyone is comfortable with their bedding. Cater to individual needs (snoring, light sleeper, frequent bathroom needs) by offering single accommodations, charging an extra cost is OK. Provide easy access to bathroom with safety procedures for night time use. Separate late evening social areas from sleep areas by distance and/or trees or a hill. Handout earplugs if necessary.
- Think Comfort – Provide American standards when possible. Here’s a chance to over deliver! Bathroom breaks and bathing are important on a regular basis. Give people every opportunity for comfort: hammocks, beach chair, portable toilets, etc. Make sure everyone has adequate water, appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Be Sensitive to Capabilities – Never exceed physical or mental capacities of guests. Always ask group and individuals if they are comfortable with activity and exertion level before and during activity. Be sensitive to the slowest as well as strongest in group. Split the group into 2 smaller groups is a good answer. Rest as needed.
- Be Fun – That’s what our guests are paying money. Be friendly, helpful, courteous, and fun! Make sure your staff is there for the guests and not for themselves first. Good story tellers, jokesters and musicians can separate your staff and company from others companies. Be sensitive with humor and families with kids. If you cater to kids, employ staff that loves kids. Guest sometimes need encouragement or guidance to try an activity. You are the guide and activity director combined. Communicate activities or mini-class in advance so guests know what and when activities are happening.
- Provide Information – An informed guest is safer, more relaxed and has more fun. Our guests are educated and want to learn about their new environment. Assume guest know little or nothing about their surroundings. Look for opportunities to provide a minimum of three details about each type of surrounding element during any outing. For example: names and information of plants, animals and habitats, birds, trees, rocks, geological formations fish, marine mammals and shells. Information on local culture, economy, and history too. The more we can share, the more value we are providing our guests.
Like business I know and have worked with, you too will experience more repeat clients and referrals by applying these little details of great customer service. Your business, in time will prosper like never before!
“Tourism Tim” Warren is business coach and project manager specializing in marketing, sales, publicity and management for the adventure travel and outdoor education industry since 1994. Tim creates promotions that makes your phone ring and increase profits.