How to grow a tourism business

How to grow a tourism business

Clean, green New Zealand

 …the land of the long white cloud …100% pure NZ. Our reputation is strong around the globe and it brings 3.7 million visitors to our shores every year.

That’s a lot of people bringing a lot of money into our economy. How much? $36 billion every year. And that makes tourism a very popular choice for small business owners all over our small country.

Here are some more interesting numbers from Tourism New Zealand:

  • Tourism is our largest export industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings.
  • It directly employs 7.5 per cent of our workforce.
  • 80 million people are actively thinking about a New Zealand holiday.

Tourism businesses come in all shapes and sizes, and cover areas such as accommodation, attractions and activities, events and conferences, food and beverage, tourism services and transportation. But while there’s certainly opportunity, they all have their own unique challenges when it comes to growing a tourism business.

The two biggest challenges are seasonality and human resources. Our visitor numbers increase and decrease based the seasons and the holiday habits of visitors’ home countries. For example, our warmer summer months are more popular for visitors, and during Chinese New Year, our Chinese visitor numbers peak. This inconsistency throughout the year can be challenging for small businesses but the silver lining is that the inconsistency is consistent year upon year. Therefore, planning is extremely important for these businesses.

The other major challenge is around staff recruitment and retention, which is also related to seasonality. The tourism industry tends to attract young, transient workers. Again, the key to managing this challenge is planning. If you know when you need more staff and when you don’t, you can plan for it, just like you can plan how to retain quality workers if you know they are hard to find. 

As well as paying careful attention to planning, there are other things successful tourism businesses do to sustain and grow their businesses in the face of these challenges. These include investing in their website and social media (because people plan their travel online and word of mouth is strong); understanding their customers intimately (so they can tailor their products and services, and therefore ask a premium price); and offering exceptional customer service (because in tourism it’s all about the experience).

Like any business, it's important to do your research, have a plan, understand your market and have a unique and relevant business proposition.

Paying attention to these aspects of your tourism business will help you to grow your business and add great value when it comes time to sell your tourism business.


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