Our industry is hurting badly right now, there is no sugar-coating this. Tourpreneur Host Shane Whaley wants to know what you need to hear on the Tourpreneur Podcast as we battle through the coronavirus crisis together.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Checkfront, the booking platform trusted by over 5,000 tour and activity operators around the world. You can start your own free 21 day trial over at checkfront.com.

Tourpreneur Host Shane Whaley

My name may be on the intro but this is your show. Tell us what you need to learn or hear going forward on the show.

Shane Whaley – Host, Tourpreneur Podcast.

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Tourpreneur Podcast Episode Transcript.

Welcome to the Tourpreneur Podcast where travel industry veteran Shane Whaley will take you on a journey with fellow Tourpreneurs sharing their tips, ideas, insights and success stories to inspire you to make your tour business the best it can be.

Hello everyone. This is Shane and a special episode of Tourpreneur, because I need your help.

We are in uncharted territory. I am just back from a trip to London. One, quite frankly, I wish I hadn’t gone on. The whole world seems to have turned upside down. I came home early because there was a ban being brought in on flights into the United States and I’ve just read that now the EU is also banning foreign flights. And I sit here with Tourpreneur and I’m asking myself, what can I do to serve you, our listeners?

Because I’m reading some pretty tragic emails right now from some of you that are really struggling. There’s no money coming in, you’re being hit with cancellations, you’re going to have to lay off really hard working staff through no fault of their own. And I’m asking, what do you want to hear on the podcast?

Part of me even thought, well, should I just suspend the podcast for four weeks?

Because I’m not sure if you want to hear stories from other tour operators about how they built their business. Because right now the question for many of us is, can we survive this?

I want to be positive and have a bright perspective on things in life. But as I say, this is uncharted territory. I have no success formula to share with you and I am very suspicious of people out there who profess to have one.

We can share advice and best practices, particularly those who suffered at 9/11 or with Katrina or with the volcano cloud that hit. But most of us, there is no, “Oh, this happened, so do this.” There’s some good housekeeping and we touched on that with Peter Syme on a previous episode of Tourpreneur.

So I want to turn this over to you. I know many of you are anxious, worried, in tears about what may happen, so how can I serve you?

Maybe, I spoke to one tour operator this morning who said, “No, keep the stories coming. They inspire me. I know we’re going to get through this and just don’t mention the virus.”

And I thank him for that feedback. I don’t particularly agree, especially with the virus thing, because right now we all need to be learning from each other and helping each other and sharing our concerns with each other.

But maybe I am wrong here and I’ve learned this working at OTAs most of my life, is that the data doesn’t lie.

The opinions in the room are not always right, it’s the people coming to the website that are right. So I want you to let me know if you feel that, “No, I want to hear more Tourpreneur stories.” We can continue with that during this crisis. If you want to share your story, I’m would be delighted to feature you and highlight your story on the show.

But maybe you want to hear stories and experiences that tour operators are going through right now dealing with this crisis, dealing with this Coronvirus pandemic.

What are we all doing? How are we slimming down our operations? How are we dealing with cancellations? Are we doing any marketing? I know there was a debate last week after Arival’s webinar about whether we should still be marketing or not.

What free marketing is available for us? That may be something you want us to cover.

I’m going to share some ideas with you that I came up with from our Tourpreneur Listeners Facebook group and others that I’ve been reading about, but I really would like you to let me know what you want to hear. How can I serve you?

Because I know you right now are in an isolated place. Well, we’re all self-isolating, but I mean our industry is so fragmented.

You may not have anyone to reach out to and I want to be here.

I want us to serve as somewhere where you can come and listen to fellow tour operators to hopefully keep your chin up through these dark times.

So it could be, for instance, how do I deal with tour cancellations? Okay? Do you refund 100%? How do you go about asking your customers and guests to actually postpone a trip? Do you have any advice or tips or tactics around that?

Should we be marketing our tours right now, yes or no? Do you want episodes where we run an SEO audit, so you send your website in and I’ll get some experts and we’ll look at your website and give you a free SEO audit and we do that on air so we can all learn.

We do have an episode coming up, which is a website tuneup. That’s a clinic we were looking to bring in monthly, that comes out next week.

If you like it, maybe you want more of those?

Because I think right now as we’re going through this downtime, this is when we can look at all those tasks that we just haven’t had time to do, right, as we’re busy running our tour business.

We don’t have time to do our own SEO audit or read that book that somebody recommended or write more copy for your website, whatever it may be.

So let us know if you think website tuneups would be a good idea.

Pricing? Okay, how do we deal with pricing? Should you discount? Also a big discussion. How do you promote gift cards? I know right now, particularly for restaurants that have been closed down, gift cards are going to be huge for future purchasing. But how do you deal with that financially?

Because that’s money down the road. You need the money. You got the money now, but you’ve still got to provide that service later on. I’m very fiscally conservative myself, and I hope you all are too because we don’t want to be putting off trouble for later down the road.

The big question is layoffs. How do you look at your costs?

What can you cut if it’s going to be a lean couple of months?

I mean on the Arival webinar last week, I think they were saying this crisi could last for a year. Some people are saying two months. This is a challenge for us. None of us know how long this is going to go on for. So how can you start to reduce costs?

I’ve just had to do that myself with the podcast. I have a podcast editor that edits all of our episodes, so I’m sorry if they do not sound as good as usual, but I’ve had to say, “Hey, for now, I need to temporarily suspend working with you until things have improved.”

I have a show notes writer who does some work for me, et cetera. I was going to hire a virtual assistant to help me with guest liaison, that’s all on the back burner because going through these dark times I can’t afford it.

And I say that as someone who, being completely candid with you, I’m living off my savings. I’m trying to create Tourpreneur as a business, I’m living off my savings. My stock market portfolio has been absolutely pummeled as has everyone else’s. And I’m looking at that going, “Wow.”

Compared to when I went to London last Sunday to now?

Yeah, it’s devastating. And I have to look at my own costs and I might have to go to work. I might have to stock shelves of toilet paper down the supermarket. I’ll do it because I’m not too proud that I wouldn’t do it.

And we might have to do the same. We might speak to Tourpreneurs who also are like, “Yeah, I’ve got to go and take a part-time job now because I need to have money coming in. I’ve got mouths to feed.” This is something else we can look at.

And that’s why I want to thank Checkfront, because, without Checkfront’s support of the show, without them, who knows?

Maybe there’d be no Tourpreneur, because I wouldn’t be able to continue with it. So in terms of laying staff off, sorry, it was a roundabout way of going about that, I in my career have had to lay off people and it is the absolute worst job.

Especially when you’re laying off people who are really hardworking, loyal, passionate, and through no fault of the business you have to lay them off. If someone was thieving or bad conduct towards guests, yeah, that’s pretty straight forward.

So maybe you want to hear me bring on an HR professional? How would you go about that discussion? What do we need to do? Just to have that conversation, never mind the legals, but what is your frame of mind when you sit down one of your hard workers and you’ve got to let them go knowing they’ve got a family?

Do you want deep dives on booking platforms?

Now is the time, maybe you think, “Well yeah, I’ve been thinking about changing my booking platform or working with one.

Now we have this downtime. I actually have time to do a demo. I have time to read up on it.” Let me know.

So these are just some ideas that I was thinking about, what I might need if I was running my own tour business. Please let me know what you want to hear on the show.

This is really important to me that I serve you with what you are going to need over the coming months. Don’t hold back.

You can email me. If you go to Tourpreneur.com my contact details are there. Or [email protected]. Or better still, if you’re a Facebooker come to our Facebook group that you can find at Tourpreneur.com/Facebook.

We’ve almost 1200 members on there that are all sharing knowledge and resources. I work very, very hard to keep that group full of value, so no spam, promotions, et cetera. And a lot of people are sharing some really important things on there right now in terms of carrying on through this tough time.

So please, for the future of Tourpreneur I guess, over the next couple of months, please let me know what you want to hear and I will do my utmost to serve it to you.

Especially if there are any experts you want to hear on the show or aspects of running the tour business.

Please do let me know. This is your show. I know it has my name on the intro, but really think of Tourpreneur as your show.

The next two episodes we’ve got coming up, they’re prerecorded. So pre-coronavirus pretty much because I’d batch recorded four episodes because I was going to be three weeks in Europe with Arrival and ITB and a personal trip to London.

So the next two podcasts, we have one coming up on trademarks, which I know is a question I’ve had from many of you, about trademarking your tour company and your tours, with an attorney. And then the week after we have the website tuneup. So if you do hear anything strange, bear in mind these were recorded a month ago.

All right. So thank you for tuning in. Please reach out to us if there’s anything we can do to help you, anything you want to share, particularly join the group, join the daily brief. That email is so depressing to write at the moment, I’ll be honest with you, because there’s very little good news out there.

But hopefully, hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll have good news soon. So until next time, thank you for tuning in to Tourpreneur.


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