“No strings attached!” - Isn’t that music to every man’s ears?
Updated: Jul 20
Why virtual assistance is a great asset in tourism, especially for small businesses.
You have heard of virtual assistants before and wondered for a second, what they do, or why they would be an option for your business? Or you've never even thought or heard about it?
Give me 5 minutes of your time, to explain, why it makes as much sense for a resort, dive center or liveaboard to work with virtual assistants, as for any other small business.
Your local staff is the heart of your company, but not necessarily perfect for all the tasks. Your location might be in a remote area where it is hard to find staff with a level of education that some duties in your company require. Their native language is not the same as the language of your clients and agencies, so while serving guests in a restaurant is fun and easy for your local team, it can be more challenging to answer emails from international tour operators in their language. The cultural background between your guests and your employees differs, therefore reading between the lines, understanding clients’ needs, and communicating on a professional level is difficult even for your bilingual office clerk.
Especially in small resorts, the more demanding office work only takes a few hours a week, but it is also important to quickly respond to booking requests and questions. To hire a well-qualified full-time office clerk for that is not only a challenging task, in more rural areas but also means paying a higher salary while keeping her busy with a lot of chores, she is overqualified for.
All this means, that in most tourism businesses, the more important office work, is left to the owner or manager. But usually, they have other important things to do, their strength is overseeing the operation, organizing, and leading their team, and often they don’t enjoy answering the same question of potential clients every day. So, they squeeze in email correspondence between a hundred other tasks, they get called away in the middle of sending an offer and end up answering late, in a rush or without being fully concentrated.
For liveaboards, it can be even more challenging, as the cruise director (or even the owner) usually spends a lot of time underwater and needs to be present for crew and guests. Plus, having a constant and stable internet connection is something most boats can’t be sure of during a trip. So, unless you own a few boats and can afford a booking office, somebody usually takes care of bookings, availability lists, invoices, etc. remotely. Which is exactly, what a virtual assistant, does. But unlike your daughter, ex-wife or grandma 😉, she is an expert in her field, takes pride in what she does, and is committed to a daily schedule.
This is the reason why outsourcing certain tasks of the booking process, keeping statistics, sending invoices, checking payments, and keeping online availability programs up to date, can be the smartest solution. It not only frees the owner’s mind to take care of more important and more suitable tasks, it also saves money, as you only pay for the time you really need highly qualified help.
For medium-size or more upscale resorts, the option of hiring two or more virtual assistants, who are specialized in different areas, can provide even more value.
While one takes care of bookings and emails, a second one does the bookkeeping and payments. And a third one is a website specialist or social media marketing expert and helps you to bring your business to the next level in online marketing, with only a few hours of work every week. You got all your duties handled by the best-qualified person you can find, without worrying about work permits, flight tickets and long-term contracts. You don’t even worry about the different workload in high and low season, as you simply hire them for the time you need them today, this week, this month, and this year.
So, maybe, the concept of outsourcing some office work to people who love it is also a smart investment for your company… What do you think?