Are you normal?
My mother recently pointed out something that I think is a little unkind. She commented that I keep saying that I've worked in tourism marketing for over 30 years but I'm old (according to her) and it's now nearly four decades. Nothing like telling someone they're older than they think!
But there is a good side. Or so I choose to believe.
Experience. Lots and lots of experience. I've helped and advised many different businesses - all in tourism, in many different areas and sectors and different situations.
Most years I see a pattern and have a good idea of how booking and visitor revenue will be.
This year definitely feels different. I do see a pattern but it's one of unpredictability. The word of the year could easily be 'patchy': some times and areas of really strong visitor numbers, followed by curious gaps.
Most of the businesses I work with are quite small and independent. So they may have their own previous experience but don't have easy access to general trends. More and more businesses are telling me what's happening to them, and talking about strange gaps in business, and then asking, "Am I normal?"
Comparing yourself with others is normal. It happens in every aspect of life, but here's what I'd like to say about tourism businesses.
It's almost impossible to compare what's happening for one small tourism business with another. How well you might be doing depends on so many different factors such as:
- where you business is - locations go in and out of fashion
- how long it's been established - some new ones are doing really well, benefiting from the novelty effect. Other longer-established businesses do well from regular visitors and their reputation
- how much you spend on marketing and how active you are - businesses that splash the cash don't always do as well as those that are more creative or simply more consistent
- what kind of business you run - every sector is having a different experience this year, and within each sector such as accommodation there are differences between glamping and caravanning, self-catering and B&Bs
- the standard of your business, when you last upgraded it, the changes you've made
- whether you've adapted to changing market places - for example by becoming more sustainable or accessible
- how distinctive you are and how much you stand out from the competition
- whether you're good at marketing and have attended any of my courses )))....
There are so many factors.
If you're wondering about the future of your business, it might be worth taking a look through this list and asking yourself which factors are most likely to affect your business?