The 10 Best Time Saving Tips and Tools for Tour and Activity Operators

Tipps & Tricks  Vanessa Judas

As an operator in the recreation and leisure industry, it’s the little things that can often get in the way of what matters most to you: your tours, activities and customers. Things like responding to emails, maintaining and updating your website, answering calls at the office and doing the bookkeeping can quickly rob of you of precious time that you could be spending on the life and blood of your business.

If you want to save time and reclaim resources for what’s most important to you, check out our top 10 time saving tips below.

 

Tip 1

Keeping track of time and identifying issues

The first thing you need to do to save time is to actually identify where your time is going. Often it’s the little things, like writing emails, which cost you a few minutes here and there every day without you even noticing it. As the weeks, months and years go by, that’s literally hours — or even entire days! — of time.

So you want to start by looking at your day and making a note of the things you do and how much time you spend on each task. When you’re finished, look at your list and immediately remove anything that isn’t necessary. Then take the remaining items on the list and restructure them according to how important they are to your day-to-day business and how much time they require. Combine related tasks and assign a max amount of time to be spent on each. Naturally, it requires some discipline to refocus your time and energy like this, but it’s a great way to create some breathing room while still checking off all your boxes.

You can use the following time-tracking tools to get an overview of how your day is currently structured and how much time you spend on all your tasks:

Timing

Tyme

Timelog

Toggl


 Tip 2

Using a calendar and managing appointments

Using a digital calendar to keep track of your tours, activities, meetings and other events is absolutely essential. Through the use of colors and other visual cues, digital calendars let you see at a glance where you can squeeze things in and where you might run short on time. Once you’ve got your calendar up and running, you want to start planning your week in advance by adding all upcoming appointments and events and setting reminders. And be sure to leave enough time before and after each appointment in case things don’t go exactly according to schedule.

One of the best things about using a digital calendar is that you can access it from anywhere on your smartphone. So ditch that old analog planner and start using one of the following calendars to step up your scheduling game:

Google Calendar

Mac OS X / iCloud Calendar

Fantastical

Outlook Calendar

Psst: bookingkit automatically synchronizes your bookings with your digital calendar — in real time!


Tip 3

Email and telephone

If you mostly communicate with customers through email or over the phone, you’re probably wasting more time than you realize. The biggest problem with talking on the phone is that you can’t really tend to other things at the same time. Every time you take a call, some other activity gets put on hold until you’re done. And by the time you manage to refocus your attention on what you were doing before, the phone rings again. But of course you need to be there for your customers when they try to get in touch with you. Which is why it’s a good idea to specify a time of day to accept calls and, during the rest of the day, to use a mailbox where customers can request to be called back.

When it comes to email, standardization and automation are the name of the game. Instead of writing each email from scratch, you can streamline your communications by creating a series of standard messages that can be used over and over again and using the auto reply feature to have friendly responses automatically sent when you’re not around.

By the way: bookingkit comes with a powerful email automation feature which even lets you configure after sales emails to be sent for each booked activity. Just set it, forget it and enjoy the extra free time.


Tip 4

Online storage and file sharing

If you’re on the go a lot or you have a team of employees working for you, it’s important to make sure that everyone has the information and files they need to do their job. If you’re still spending huge portions of your day sending and receiving info and documents through email, it’s time to upgrade to a cloud service to give you and your team direct, around-the-clock access to the latest files and media your business is using.

We recommend the following cloud services:

Google Drive

Dropbox

Owncloud

Hey, over here: With the bookingkit app and ticker scanner, all the tools you need to manage your tours and activities are right in your pocket. Plus, ticket purchases and admission have never been faster.


Tip 5

Online booking and website building services

Our personal favorite when it comes to time-saving tools: offering the option to book tours and activities online. What makes online booking so effective is that it removes any need to confirm booking requests from customers through email or over the phone. Oh, that list of participants you’ve been manually managing for weeks now? Yeah, you can forget that too. Heck, you don’t even need to come into the office! Combine this with a website building service which supports online booking plug-ins, and you’re set. Here are some of the most popular site building services:

Jimdo

Wix

Homepage-Baukasten.de

WordPress

Turnkey solution: booking can be quickly and easily integrated into your website with a code snippet or WordPress plug-in — it only takes 5 minutes, even for beginners!


Tip 6

Social media management

Promoting your tours and activities through social media is extremely important, but it also takes a lot of time to manage accounts on multiple platforms. To simplify this process, we recommend linking your accounts with one another (e.g. automatically turning Facebook posts into Tweets) or using distribution tools to push the same content to all your accounts. The first method already comes built into Facebook’s functionality. For the second, consider using one of the following social media management solutions:

Falcon

Buffer

Hootsuite


Tip 7

Managing tasks/projects and taking notes

Traditional project management — creating structured workflows, setting fixed deadlines and breaking projects up into smaller achievable goals — goes a long way to saving you time and energy. There are both feature-packed and streamlined digital solutions available which can help you do this:

Trello

Asana

We also recommend switching to a cloud-based solution for taking notes and making to-do lists (e.g. Evernote, MS One Note, Google Keep) so that you can quickly and easily access and record ideas no matter where you are.

Evernote

One Note

Google Keep


Tip 8

Invoicing and payment management

When it comes to creating invoices and keeping track of payments, computers do it better — plain and simple. Sure, writing your own invoices one by one can be a rewarding experience. We get it. But it isn’t necessary, and as your business grows, you simply won’t be able to keep up. If you’re ready to make the switch, there are tons of bookkeeping programs out there to choose from, even ones designed for specific industries. Here are a couple examples:

Datev

Comparing invoices and received payments every month and trying to run down the invoices for unidentifiable payments is another huge time sink.

If you’re looking for a way to digitally combine your online bookings, payment processing and automatic payment management, there’s really only one way: bookingkit.


 Tip 9

Using marketing platforms and setting quotas

If you’re using email to take booking requests for the tour and activity listings on your website, and you also have listings on websites like TripAdvisor and mydays, chances are you’re starting to feel the pain of trying to keep availability information up to date and accurate across all platforms. Shuffling available spots around to avoid overbooked activities is extremely time consuming, but the advantage of being able to distribute your listings to as many platforms as possible is undeniable. To get around this conundrum, you need a solution which automatically lists your tours and activities on multiple platforms and handles all comparisons and quota checks automatically.

With built-in support for tons of powerful marketing platforms — including Viator/TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, mydays, erlebnisgeschenke.de, Geschenkidee, rent-a-guide, Jollydays, Musement, Berlin.de, escaperoomgames.de and kochschule.de — bookingkit is the only solution which gives you everything you need to maximize exposure and manage availability.


Tip 10

Finding information and pictures

As a tour and activity operator, you know how important it is to keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in the industry. And keeping an eye on what the competition is doing and what your potential customers are getting up to in their free time is also essential. To save time looking for the information you need, consider subscribing to trade magazines, regularly checking trade websites and setting Google Alerts to automatically receive targeted news by email. There are also several apps out there which provide summaries of important books and let you save articles you want to read later:

Google Alerts

Blinkist

Pocket

Feedly

Finding professional, high-quality images for your website, for social and for print materials is now easier than ever. If you want to avoid hiring a photographer or spending all day on Google’s image search, check out the following services:

Unsplash

Pexels

Shutterstock

iStockphoto

Pikwizard

What now?

Don’t take our word for it — put our tips to the test to find out what works best for you! Every business is different and comes with its own unique needs and challenges. Want more information about any of the tips we’ve provided here or want to add some tips of your own? Want to learn more about how bookingkit can help your business? Get in touch with us!

Create free bookingkit account

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Don’t wait! Start reclaiming time for the things that matter most to you today.

The bookingkit Team

Vanessa Judas
Vanessa is an expert in the activities industry and a member of the online marketing team at bookingkit. When she's not looking for current trends and the latest tips and tricks from the leisure industry, she likes to be active and to explore the hotspots of Berlin.

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