Because small entrepreneurs matter!

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in All Blogs, Blogs | 0 comments

Because small entrepreneurs matter!

Small and medium enterprises are the largest employers in less economically developed countries and are estimated to account for 90% of worldwide tourism products and services supply. More specifically, it is micro enterprises (MEs) that make up the largest share of these locally-owned businesses, and this means that small entrepreneurs have a key role to play in alleviating poverty. However, they rarely have the skills and knowledge necessary to do business with western markets; this is especially the case for small tourism excursion suppliers who find it very hard to sell to UK tour operators. Usually identified as the main trusted intermediaries between tourists and destinations, tour operators provide access to sizeable markets on location, and thus represent a larger and more direct source of income than the independent travellers’ market, which few MEs have the capability, and the technology to access before departure – a fact sadly too often ignored.

So, what can we do to address this problem? There are already a multitude of initiatives out there that provide business skills training to tourism MEs but there is little evidence that any of those have actually resulted to securing tangible contracts with UK suppliers. Many tour operators and their ground handlers try to help but they do not have enough time to explain ‘how things work’ for them, and their clients. What is missing is a tool MEs can use to learn the necessary basics to become market ready before they even make contact with UK operators or ground handlers. My manual “How to sell Excursions to UK Tour Operators” does just that.

Also of great use to community groups, it explains the differing requirements and working practices of various types of UK tour operators. With this knowledge, small tourism ventures are better equipped to grow their business but also develop as better informed entrepreneurs and professionals, autonomously, which retailers expect as a given. It is very much a fact that the success of a company is often attributed to the business competences of its owner, and his/her ability to take initiatives; to be ‘entrepreneurial’.

The manual is unique on two accounts: First, I have researched, written and designed it to be accessible to small entrepreneurs from developing countries, which means that readers certainly do not require a university degree to use it. The language is simple and clear, with pictures to aid learning but also a mine of practical tips offered by leading UK tour operators, and ground handlers located in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Second, to reinforce learning, I have designed a series of activities which can be freely downloaded from www.small-matters.net. As an experienced lecturer, I cannot stress enough how these activities will help small entrepreneurs better understand what is expected of them. The biggest failure of current training in tourism is its ‘tick the box’ approach that focuses on meeting targets to do with participant numbers rather than learning; and consequently, change is rarely achieved.

The manual is divided in 5 chapters, to be read consecutively. It starts with a section on the main factors that affect the design of an excursion. This helps entrepreneurs understand that different tour operators and their clients are looking for different experiences. This completely dictates the type of activities or itinerary or attractions that should be selected as part of an excursion. Chapter 2 focuses on Health & Safety and provides clear guidance on hygiene, cleanliness and safety standards that must be met to access the UK market. Chapter 3 is very practical and teaches how to calculate prices and commission fees paid to retailers and intermediaries; it is all about pricing as there is no point in selling an excursion that is not profitable enough to earn a living or that is too expensive for tourists to buy. The next section explains how to get in touch with tour operators and to start working with them. It very much focuses on identifying the business and communication skills that tour operators and ground handlers expect small entrepreneurs to have acquired when discussing business. The last chapter deals with the actual professional ‘delivery’ of the excursion, to supply what tour operator and ground handlers want: a great experience of true quality (whatever quality and experience means to them and their clients).

Of course, we all know that small businesses find it hard to take the time to read manuals. This is why I can also deliver a one day training session that introduces each chapter and includes very practical activities that make small entrepreneurs think and take action. Destinations looking to use tourism as a route to securing more income at grass-root level are welcome to get in touch at www.small-matters.net. I anticipate that many trainers will want to use the manual themselves. They are welcome to do so but they will never be able to deliver the learning experience I can offer. Instead, they can benefit from my ‘Teach the Trainer’ day that will ensure they help MEs learn effectively; learn to actually sell.

I think we can all agree that it’s about time we all try to create linkages with markets in a more effective manner.

 

 

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