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Tourism Tidbits Archive

Being a Good Tourism Manager

January 2007

There is no doubt that in the post 9-11 world tourism and travel are high stress jobs. In fact while most people like being on vacation or being “there” very few people like “getting there.” Changing regulations, overcrowding, and often overworked and underpaid staffs have made tourism anything but fun. In such circumstances it is essential that industry leaders be more than mere experts in leadership, they also need to be good managers of staff, customers, scant resources, and time. To help you manage these increasingly difficult situations, Tourism Tidbits offers the following ideas and advice.

  • Good managers are polite and firm. By definition, managers are meant to direct and make decisions. That means that while subordinates deserve to be treated fairly and with respect, in the end, final decisions lie with the manager. Managers do not hold their jobs for the purpose of winning a popularity contest. Instead, managers need to maintain a certain social distance from their employees and to realize that at times they will have to make decisions that may not be popular. This social distance is especially true for people in the tourism and travel industry. Tourism and Travel tend to attract people-oriented people who often find it hard to say no even when they should say no. The same principle is true when dealing with tourism and travel customers. Managers need to maintain good customer service but also not to forget that they have to protect their company. The key managerial issue in tourism then is not the necessity of saying no, but rather how to say “no.” Good managers say no in such a way that the company is protected and good-will is not lost. Use power without overpowering customers and subordinates. A good way to exercise authority rather than abuse it by placing yourself in the position of the person with whom you are speaking.
  • Good managers do not forget that they too are employees. Never forget that a good manager must know how to balance satisfying his/her boss’ needs, those of his/her subordinates,and also customers’ needs. Customers tend to be especially sensitive to issues of time constraints. Good tourism managers are willing to be uncomfortable and take risks to protect their company, its reputation and their customers. They also have to be able to determine when to delegate a task to subordinates and when they need to handle a problem personally. The art of balancing “owning a problem” with delegating a problem to another person is never an easy task. T o help in determining when to do each, ask yourself if you are helping others to grow or if you are simply being lazy. Are you merely seeking what is comfortable or are you doing what is best for the corporation and the other employees? Finally, can someone else do this task just as efficiently or would it be best handled by you?
  • Good managers know how to inspire people and try to be charismatic. While true charisma is something that may be innate, we can all increase our charisma quotient. In tourism and customer oriented businesses, people who smile, show they care about other people, take the time to listen to what others have to say tend to be charismatic. The most important part of good management, however, comes not from charisma, but from having out employees and subordinates develop a sense of trust. The best management is based on the employees’ belief that their managers are giving their best efforts to the company and its customers.
  • Good managers are people oriented. Although each of us has a certain amount of “natural charisma” we can develop “acquired charisma” by showing employees and customers that we care. Be empathetic to travel, family, and job problems. Realize that problems do happen and in today’s hard world of travel, many of our staff and customers are exhausted, frustrated or simply tired. Try to be understanding of the other person’s situation. Accept blame or responsibility rather than transferring it to another person, the weather, or the political situation. Then do something to fix the problem. Make sure that people know that you both care and are competent in what you do. Often it is best for good managers not to become too close to their employees and customers. Maintain a strategic level of social separation while letting people know that you are there to solve their problem.
  • Good managers know how to be cognizant of both their tangible and intangible resources. Often managers forget that the difference between business success and failure comes from intangible resources such as reputation, a sense of caring and service. Too often people in tourism and travel are so busy serving others that they forget to take care of themselves. Make sure that you are in top physical and mental shape. The bottom line is that neither our customers nor our employees want to hear our excuses. An easy rule to remember is: “do not give excuses, give solutions.”
  • Good managers are careful in how they use their own and other people’s time. Nothing in tourism is as important as time. In fact, the great majority of tourism problems and annoyances can be traced to poor time management. Good managers respect other people’s time. They understand that the one tourism non-replaceable resource is time. No amount of money can replace time, no apology or excuse can give a visitor back a lost vacation day. Caring for other people’s time begins with personal time management. Never arrive late, never hold a person standing in front of you hostage to a telephone call. If you poorly use your time, the odds are that you will be careless with other people’s time. Learn to develop a daily calendar and at the end of each day analyze how you could have used your own time more efficiently.
  • Good managers know to which emotion to appeal. There are times when it is necessary to appeal to different emotions, think about when you need to be cerebral, emotional passionate, dynamic or laid-back. See these various emotions as part of a management tool chest. Not every emotion works with every customer of staff member. Instead make a mental note on how to use emotions not to manipulate but to inspire and which emotions work best for you.

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