To help deliver their service, many adventure travel brands use small on the ground operators, called Destination Management Companies.
To avoid any mishaps, let’s look at a few ways any trek company can improve its service delivery to get more repeat business and great online reviews.
Hat tip to the guys at WeTravel for inspiring this article with their 9 Golden Rules to Service Delivery.
This is probably the most important rule in business and marketing: make your employees happy and they will make your customers happy. It’s unknown how many businesses understand this, but your employees are your first consumers. They should be your most loyal supporters and should want to advocate and advertise the business whenever possible.
The best reviews that a business can get, will come from the people working for it. If your employees are dissatisfied, it will show in the way that they treat customers.
So, how have you been treating your employees? Are they happy with the way things are? Or are they underpaid and overworked, and not given any kind of praise or acknowledgment?
It may not seem like much to you, but a simple “Well done!”, can make an employee’s day infinitely better, and it will show in their work ethic. Only when employees are satisfied, can your customers be satisfied.
It takes more than a smile to create great customer service. Great service should be woven into everything that the company does. It should be a part of the vision and the mission of the company, and it should be in the minds of the employees.
Creating a company culture based on great customer service, means that you will have to incorporate it into everything that the company says and does. It should be a fundamental value, that every employee believes in.
This will not be easy to do, especially if you have numerous staff. But once you have implemented the first point (satisfy your employees), it should make it easier.
Happy employees are more willing to adopt a customer service attitude. It will also be good to try and involve employees in any decisions regarding new campaigns or trekking tours and destinations, as this will give them a sense of responsibility towards the project. This way they will be eager to find ways to ensure its success.
Unfortunately, many on-the-ground operators make this mistake over and over: they hire staff with experience and forget to provide proper training, not just shadowing of their more experienced guides.
You can’t expect a new member of staff to jump right and know a lot about your company’s tours and values without any training. Instead, try providing your staff with the right tools to do their job well right from the start. Each department – like sales, account managers and tour guides – will need to have a specific skillset, and training to acquire those skills.
You should remember though, that soft skills, such as conflict-resolution, communication and diplomacy, are equally as important as technical skills. In fact, customers are more likely to leave a glittering review if your staff can handle their queries with patience, humor and kindness.
So, equip your people with information packs on how to handle various customer encounters and test them regularly.
There are times when it may be very tempting to take the easy route and cut corners on service delivery. But Don’t. Your business will have to pay for it later.
Provide your customers with excellent value for their money, not a cheap knockoff. They will know the difference, and they will not appreciate it. You may think that the cheaper option would be best for you, but it will not be best for them and in the end, you will lose customers.
Word-of-mouth is still a very powerful tool, and you can be certain that they will tell family and friends all about their trip. It is up to you if what they say is good or bad.
And many disappointed clients won’t stop at that – if you cut corners and deliver a poor hike, expect terrible online reviews.
Customers are always willing to pay a bit more for better value. You can still make a profit without selling your customers on a cheap trek.
Most travelers prefer as much information about their upcoming trip as possible. A detailed itinerary will need to be provided for each day of the trip. Make sure that you lay out the basics, such as fully-catered breakfast, lunch and dinner – but leave out the finer details. That way, even though they know what to expect, you can still amaze them with excellence.
The best way to exceed customers’ expectations, is to find out what they want and expect out of their trek, and then try your utmost to bring their vision to life.
The most important thing to remember is to never make a promise that you can’t keep. Provide as much detail as possible, without overselling.
Be fully aware of what you can and can’t provide. When it comes to exceeding expectations, it doesn’t have to be expensive or big. In fact, something small and thoughtful will matter just as much, or maybe even more.
Don’t forget to leave a gift! Everyone loves getting free things and proving a gift to your customers upon arrival at their destination, or having one waiting for them at their accommodation, is always a welcomed gesture.
They will appreciate it, and you will be one step closer to that amazing review.
Andrew is one of the senior writers at Mountain IQ. A native of South Africa, Andrew has hiked and climbed all over the world. His favourite destination is Nepal and his most memorable hike was to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!