Why Tour Operators Shouldn’t Use Sheets for Resource Management

5 Reasons Tour Operators Shouldn’t Use Spreadsheets for Resource Management

Have you ever faced overbooking for one of your tours? Or had to deal with a no-show from one of your guides because of a schedule conflict? Or maybe you had your guests waiting a couple of hours because there was no transfer available to pick them up?

All tour operators will pass through a similar situation at some point, but if you are dealing with these issues too often, maybe your resource management needs an upgrade.

This is what you are going to learn in this article. Forget Excel or Google Sheets, resource management can be a no-brainer if you have the right tool.

Do you know what is resource management?

woman writing pink postit resource management

In general terms, resource management is the process to list, plan and allocate all the limited resources necessary to complete a project or activity, or to meet a business objective.

For tours and activities, it consists in anticipating all the personnel, equipment, tools, vehicles, meals, technology, time, budget and any other resource necessary to successfully run a tour and allocate them in the most efficient way possible.

Trust me, planning a tour in advance will save you from many headaches and unexpected situations.

Example of resource management in tours and activities:

A tour operator that runs a city walking tour needs to know all their guides’ skills and availabilities in order to assign them on the right day and time to attend to a specific group of tourists.

The person in charge of managing the tour also needs to know its length to plan when the same guide will be available to attend the next group of tourists.

Good resource management results in the right resources being available at the right time for the right activity.

Learn the benefits of resource management

agenda office material resource management

If your company is still recovering from the setback our industry has suffered in the past years, or if you are looking for consistent growth in your business, resource management is something you should address.

It offers many benefits to support tour operators’ success, including:

Helps you spot problems in advance

During the process of planning a tour and allocating the necessary resources, you will notice conflicts before they occur.

Additionally, this gives you time to act in order to solve the problem or to pivot faster in case of unexpected changes.

Data from a Project Management Institute survey indicates that 21% of projects fail because of limited or overtaxed resources.

Gives you a clear view of your company’s capacity

Documenting all your resources, such as their quantity, capacity, availability and specificities gives you a better overview of your company’s capacity.

If you offer bike tours you should know how many guides you have, which languages they speak, and when they are available. Also, how many bikes, their model and the number of seats. Put simply, your company’s capacity is the combination of these resources.

Knowing this information is essential not only to plan better your tours and activities but also to not over-utilizing your resources.

Increases your employees’ satisfaction

No one likes to work extra hours without notice or to be assigned to a task last minute. When you have control over your company’s resources you are able to give better working conditions to your team.

Happier employees have better performance and deliver superior service quality.

Saves you time and money

Efficient use of your resources eliminates waste and reduces canceled tours, overbooking and bad reviews. Having all planned in advance will also save you time between tours, which you can spend on other critical tasks of your business.

The outcome is more profits and a high return on investment (ROI) at the end of the year.

How can I manage my company resources as a tour operator?

man entering safari jeep resource management

When it comes to resource management, there are mainly three ways you can do that:

  • Manually (paper and pen)
  • Semi-automated (spreadsheets)
  • Fully automated (booking solution)

Of all of them, manually is by far the worst way to manage your resources, even for small businesses. Due to the many variables involved, you can easily make mistakes when assigning guides or allocating equipment to your activities.

Also, it will consume a lot of your time to write down and calculate everything you need when planning a tour. In short, this isn’t a good option and can be costly to your business.

Spreadsheets are very popular among tour operators to manage guides, equipment and other resources, especially because it’s a free solution and there is plenty of material online teaching how to do that on Excel or Google Sheets.

Finally, you can pay for a resource management software. That is the ideal solution if you want to make the most of your time and resources. Below you will understand better why.

This is why you shouldn’t use spreadsheets for resource management

mobile screen excel icon resource management

It might sound like a good idea to create your own Excel sheet to manage your business or to download a ready-made template for that, but before investing your time and brains in this venture, there are a few things you should consider.

1. You must know one thing or another about programming spreadsheets

Whether you create or download a template, you will need to get your hands dirty if you want to use a spreadsheet to manage your resources. The reason is simple, every business is unique and you will need to adapt your sheet to your own reality.

Not to mention that a resource planning template ready to use by tour operators is hard to find online. Even rarer to find one that attends to most of your business particularities and needs.

Said that, if you are not savvy in editing and programming spreadsheets, better you start learning.

2. Resource management gets complex as your company grows

As your company grows, your spreadsheet layout and formulas might need an update. Depending on the number of new tours and equipment that can be overwhelming.

Not to mention the trouble of updating a spreadsheet if you decide to diversify your business. For example, if you start with multi-day tours, or add kayak tours to your portfolio, chances are you will need to start a new table from scratch.

Updating your spreadsheet is only half of the problem. A big and complex table is hard to understand and maintain. Remember, you are using a tool that was not meant for travel businesses to manage their resources.

3. You might miss information

Can be challenging to keep track of all the numbers and critical information when you have different resources to manage on a spreadsheet. A single date that you miss, or a number that you forget to add can lead to poor decision-making and undesired situations on-site if you don’t spot the mistake on time.

Pro users can add graphs to their tables to help them schedule and allocate resources. But again, if you are not one of them, you will need to learn how to do that.

4. You are on that on your own

Neither Microsoft nor Google will give you personalized assistance if you need help adding a formula or a macro to your sheet. At most their support will occasionally answer your email and chances are they will give you not-so-useful information.

Believe me, this can be very frustrating, especially if it’s something urgent. In the end, you will need to learn everything by yourself or pay someone to solve the issue for you.

5. New managers will struggle to learn how to use it

You can argue that over time you will master working with your spreadsheet. But there is an issue, only you will understand how to properly use this tool. In case your company grows and you need to hire someone else to take care of planning the tours, this person will need to learn from zero how to work with it.

One way to overcome this setback is to write down documentation teaching in detail how future employees can use your spreadsheet. Needless to say, doing that is time-consuming for both, you and your future employees.

Why is a resource management software the best solution for tour operators?

orioly resource management feature ss frame

No need to reinvent the wheel. If you search on Google right now you will find different web-based apps that were developed especially for tour operators. They are called online booking software, and guess what, many of them have a resource management feature ready to use!

These apps are designed with the challenges and peculiarities of the tours and activities industry in mind. Because of that, they are intuitive for operators to use, and are compatible with the different variables of planning a tour, such as:

  • Number of vehicles and their capacities
  • Number of guides and the languages they speak
  • Other equipment and their capacity (bikes, kayaks, audio guides, etc)
  • The shared capacity of your resources
  • The availability of your resources

When you finish adding your resources to the tool, you will know right away which ones are available to assign. As you link guides, vehicles and equipment to your activities, their availability is automatically updated, which makes it easier for you to plan your tours and save you precious time.

If you like the idea of using a specialized software for resource management but you are not fully convinced about investing in a booking system, download now our ebook Advantages of Using Online Booking Software and learn how this technology can be a turning point for your tour business.

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