How much time do you spend scheduling your guides and staff per week? Too much probably? Nearly half of tour operators still do many of their processes manually, which means they’re wasting a ton of valuable time.
It’s a time-consuming and labor-intensive task for adventure tour companies. It requires coordinating multiple factors, such as guide availability, skills, and experience to ensure you have the right guide leading the right trip every time.
With manual scheduling, you’re prone to human errors and inefficiency which can lead to overbooking a guide, not having a guide at all to lead a trip, missed opportunities, and unhappy customers.
Okay, so how do you avoid all this? Automated scheduling. It can improve the accuracy, efficiency, and transparency of your scheduling process. In this article, we’re going to cover the benefits of automating tour guide and staff scheduling, tools and software to automate the scheduling process, and how to get started using automated scheduling software.
Benefits of Automating Tour Guide and Staff Scheduling
Manually scheduling tour guides and staff is time-consuming, error-prone, and inefficient. Your time is better spent on leading tours, improving customer service, and growing your guiding business. We realize a majority of tour operators are still running a lot of manual processes and can be technology-adverse.
If you’re still on the fence about automating your tour guide and staff scheduling, here are some benefits:
Automated scheduling takes into account your guides’ availability, skills, and experience. It eliminates the risk of scheduling errors (e.g. double-booking) missed opportunities (e.g. not booking a guide for a trip at all), and unhappy customers (e.g. canceling a trip because you don’t have a guide).
For example, if a guide is assigned to lead a tour but is unavailable, the scheduling tool automatically assigns a substitute guide with similar skills and experience. This stops you from having to cancel or postpone a trip because you couldn’t find a guide in time.
Automating guide and staff scheduling frees up your time to focus on other important tasks like customer service and growing your business. With automated scheduling, tour operators don’t have to spend hours at the computer trying to figure out who’s available to lead a trip. The system does it for you.
Automated scheduling gives employees access to their schedules in real-time, which, in turn, enhances transparency and helps reduce stress. Guides can see their upcoming schedules, swap trips, and block out dates they’re unavailable. They can also receive notifications and reminders about assigned trips, reducing the risk of missed trips or confusion.
Better Resource Allocation
Automated scheduling tools provide tour operators with insights into guide availability, skills, and experience. This allows them to allocate resources more effectively, reducing over-booking, under-booking, or booking a guide without the necessary skills to lead a particular trip.
For example, if you notice a particular guide is overworked, you can use a scheduling tool to allocate more trips to other guides. This improves staff morale and reduces the risk of burnout.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
Automated scheduling tools can help operators provide better customer service by reducing the risk of cancellations or postponements due to scheduling conflicts. Also, these tools ensure that the right guide is assigned to the correct trip—one they have experience and the skills to lead. This leads to happier clients, positive reviews, and increased repeat business.
Tools And Software To Automate Tour Guide And Staff Scheduling
Adventure tour operators can help streamline their guide scheduling by using different tools or software. There are workforce management software, scheduling apps, a combination of these tools, or using online booking software like Origin.
Workforce Management Software
One popular option is workforce management software, like ADP Workforce Now, Paylocity, and Oracle PeopleSoft.
This type of software allows operators to track staff hours, time-off requests, performance and reliability, tax calculations, as well as create and manage schedules. The software can also send notifications and track performance, making it a comprehensive solution for operators.
Online Scheduling Apps and Tools
Another option is scheduling apps, like Square Appointments, Calendly, and Appointy, which are used to create and manage schedules for your guides and staff.
These apps give you the ability to create custom schedules, send out notifications, and track employee time. While scheduling apps may not be as comprehensive as workforce management software, they can be a more affordable option for adventure tour operators.
Use A Combination Of These Tools
Adventure tour operators can also consider using a combination of these tools to automate their tour guide and staff scheduling. For example, they may use workforce management software to track staff hours, time-off requests, performance, etc. and a scheduling app or online scheduling tool to create and manage their schedules.
Use Origin To Schedule Your Guides And Staff
There is also online booking software that can manage your guides’ schedules so you don’t have to. Origin is the only online reservation system that considers your guides’ schedules when publishing available trips for your customers. Using Origin, scheduling is accurate, efficient, and transparent. You’re never short on guides for a trip and you always know who’s available to lead an adventure. You can learn more about us by scheduling a demo or creating an account today.
How to Choose the Right Scheduling Tool
When choosing a scheduling tool, there are a number of factors to consider, such as the size of your business, what you need in guide and staff scheduling software, and your budget.
- The size of your business: Some scheduling tools are designed for small businesses, while others are designed for larger businesses. There is plenty of scheduling software that accommodates any size of business too, like Origin.
- The features you need: Some scheduling tools offer more features than others, like maybe more than you actually need, and you usually pay for all of them. Make sure to choose a tool that has the features you need. At the same time, there is software that doesn’t offer enough and instead, gives you the very basics. You’ll want to research different options to see what you need and what they offer.
- Your budget: Scheduling tools can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month, so know your budget before signing up for a software tool.
Ultimately, the best tool for a specific adventure tour operator will depend on their individual needs and requirements. It’s imperative you research and compare different tools to find one that’s the best fit for your guiding business.
How To Start Automating Tour Guide and Staff Scheduling
Automating your guide and staff scheduling is a daunting task, but with the right preparation and approach, it can be a straightforward process that delivers significant benefits to your business. Here are the steps to get started:
1. Identify Your Needs
Before you begin the search for a scheduling tool, identify your specific needs and requirements. What are the features that are important to you? How much can you spend? What are the pain points in your current scheduling process that you want to address with automation?
Make a list of your priorities so you can narrow down your options when you start looking at different tools.
2. Research Different Tools
Once you know what you need, you can start researching different tools. There are a number of scheduling apps, online tools, and workforce management software available that can automate your scheduling process.
When evaluating different tools, compare features, pricing, and customer reviews. Look for software that has a user-friendly interface, has most, if not all the features you need, and provides good customer support.
3. Implement The Scheduling Tool
Once you have chosen a scheduling tool, you need to implement it. This involves creating schedules, assigning guides, and sending out notifications. You may also need to train your staff on how to use the new software.
Make sure that you have a plan in place for the transition, including a timeline for when you will start using the new tool and how you will handle any scheduling conflicts during the transition. If you’re working with a reputable software company, they’ll help you implement their software.
4. Monitor and Adjust
Once the software is in place, monitor it and make adjustments as needed to ensure it’s meeting your needs and requirements. Set up regular check-ins to evaluate the performance of the scheduling tool and identify areas for improvement.
Use data to track key metrics like schedule accuracy, staff satisfaction, and customer feedback to inform your decisions about how to optimize the scheduling process.
5. Continuously Improve
Automated guide and staff scheduling is not a one-time fix—it requires continuous attention to optimize the process and adapt to changing circumstances. Regularly review the data and feedback you receive and make adjustments to your guide scheduling process as needed.
Consider using advanced analytics tools to gain deeper insights into guide performance and scheduling trends, and to identify areas where further automation could lead to more efficiency and accuracy.
In summary, to get started with automated tour guide and staff scheduling, identify your needs, research different tools and software, implement the chosen software, monitor and adjust as needed, and continuously improve the process.
By following these steps, you can streamline your scheduling process, improve accuracy and efficiency, and free up your time to focus on other important tasks, like getting back outside.