Ep. 264 — Maintaining Profit Margins and Growth in High-Demand Destination

Host Peter Syme sits down with Ambrose Bittner, a seasoned operator of private customised tours across Asia. They delve into the intricacies of running a tour operation, touching on key aspects like process engineering, client communication, and the decision to outsource tasks versus keeping them in-house. 

Ambrose shares his journey through COVID-19, during which he invested in new back-office infrastructure and refined his booking process. They also explore the challenges of maintaining revenue growth while managing staffing and the delicate balance between business and personal life.

Additionally, they look ahead to 2024 and 2025, discussing the evolving travel landscape in Asia and opportunities in Japan. 

Whether you’re a small business owner in the travel industry or simply curious about the behind-the-scenes of bespoke tours, this episode offers valuable insights into overcoming challenges, leveraging AI, and strategically growing a tour operation business.

Timestamp Overview

00:00 Asia travel delayed, government loan assisted business. Staffing challenges.

06:02 Increased training needs post COVID for businesses.

10:18 Invested in back office infrastructure and website.

13:47 Early owner takes hit, recruit to profit.

16:40 Struggles with work-life balance, especially post-COVID.

18:12 Focusing on business and nonprofit work balance.

22:46 Operators facing challenges in staffing and training.

26:21 Preparing for Japan trip; staffing challenges expected.

31:13 Surviving with wife, diversifying after COVID.

33:31 Maximize investment in hot travel destinations.

38:25 Strategies to grow business through referrals important.

40:42 Outsource certain tasks, not client communication.

44:31 Customized tours in Asia, wide range of activities.

46:02 Choose accommodation based on your needs and budget.