default.jpg

Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism

Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism

In an attempt to support women entrepreneurs of Cyprus , our Board of Directors decided on the 13th July 2012 to upload the training material offered from WERT project . The material will be available for downloading soon from our website.

What is WERT?

The Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism project, or WERT for short, is a collaborative partnership between different training institutions and networks from several European countries: UK, Finland, Spain, Estonia, Greece and Cyprus. The project is supported by the European Union through the Leonardo da Vinci –Transfer of Innovation programme 2010-2012.

WERT aims to meet the needs and build the skills of women entrepreneurs involved with rural tourism activities, such as accommodation, arts and crafts and food production, and to improve the quality of training provided by the vocational education sector.

In Cyprus, the WERT project was implemented by Intercollege and the Association of Cypriot Women in Tourism.

For more information about the WERT project please visit the project website at www.wertedu.eu

WERT Training Programme

The WERT training programme was specifically developed in order to enhance the business and managerial skills of women entrepreneurs in rural tourism. By using real life examples from Cyprus and Europe, and utilizing the experience of experienced instructors and practitioners in the field of tourism and hospitality, the WERT training material represents an ideal source for people who wish to start their own business or existing entrepreneurs who wish to enhance and hone their business skills.

WERT Training Handbook

In collaboration with CSTI the WERT Intercollege project team offersyou the opportunity to download for FREE a shorter version of the WERT training material which includes the following key topics:

Topics

How to develop your business through Marketing

  • Situation analysis, market trends and opportunities. Vision and objectives.
  • Target customers and needs. Marketing strategy Products, pricing, promotion & place
  • Marketing tactics & monitoring progress
  • Prepare your business marketing plan

How to use financial information to manage your business

  • Sources of finance – grants, loans
  • Cash flow and profitability
  • Key financial information to manage your business
  • Prepare your financial plan

How to develop a sustainable business

  • Eco-friendly processes and practices that impact the ‘bottom line’Eco-friendly grants/subsidies
  • Developing a tourist business which is accessible to all
  • What do customers want?Skills for quality service delivery & monitoring
  • Developing communication skills including cultural awareness and foreign languages
  • Prepare your sustainability plan

For more information about the WERT training program or if you wish to join the WERT Community in Cyprus please contact:

Ms. YiannaOrphanidou, WERT Scientific Coordinator, Intercollege
email: orphanidou.y@unic.ac.cy

tel: ++357 22841649

This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Business Training for Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism

The content of this publication may be reproduced in part, except for commercial purposes, provided that the extract is preceded by a complete reference to the “Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism, Leonardo da Vinci, Transfer of Innovation, European Commission supported project 2010-2012”.

Published 2011

This project has been funded with the support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authors and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

www.wertedu.eu

Welcome to WERT

This handbook represents a section of the complete WERT training course material and it is provided in collaboration with the Intercollege project team.

The Women Entrepreneurs in Rural Tourism project, or WERT for short, is a collaborative partnership between different training institutions and networks from several European countries: UK, Finland, Spain, Estonia, Greece and Cyprus. The project is supported by the European Union through the Leonardo da Vinci –Transfer of Innovation programme 2010-2012.

WERT aims to meet the needs and build the skills of women entrepreneurs involved with rural tourism activities, such as accommodation, arts and crafts and food production, and to improve the quality of training provided by the vocational education sector.

In Cyprus, the WERT project was implemented by Intercollege and the Association of Cypriot Women in Tourism.

For more information about the WERT project please visit the project website at www.wertedu.eu

WERT training Programme

The WERT training programme was specifically developed in order to enhance the business and managerial skills of women entrepreneurs in rural tourism. By using real life examples from Cyprus and Europe, and utilizing the experience of experienced instructors and practitioners in the field of tourism and hospitality, the WERT training material represents an ideal source for people who wish to start their own business or existing entrepreneurs who wish to enhance and hone their business skills.

Handbook structure

This handbook (excerpt from the complete WERT training course material) is divided into three units which help you to develop an overall plan for your business. The following structure gives details of what topics will be covered in each unit.

Unit – Topics – Activity

Unit 1 How to develop your business through Marketing
1.1Situation analysis, market trends and opportunities. Vision and objectives
1.2Target customers and needs

Marketing strategy

Products, pricing, promotion & place
1.3Marketing tactics & monitoring progress
1.4Prepare your business marketing plan (see at the end of the handbook)Activity 1

Unit 3 – How to use financial information to manage your business
3.1Sources of finance – grants, loans
3.2Cash flow and profitability
3.3Key financial information to manage your business Prepare your financial plan (see at the end of handbook) Activity 3

Unit 4 – How to develop a sustainable business
4.1Eco-friendly processes and practices that impact the ‘bottom line’ Eco-friendly grants/subsidies
4.2Developing a tourist business which is accessible to all
4.3What do customers want?

Skills for quality service delivery & monitoring
4.4Developing communication skills including cultural awareness and foreign languages. Prepare your sustainability plan (see at the end of handbook)Activity

Ideas from Europe

There is a section at the end of the course materials with a fascinating range of stories from women entrepreneurs in Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Spain and the UK. In these stories, the women explain how they set up their businesses and provide tips on how to manage a business. There are examples of crafts, accommodation and food enterprises which should provide a rich source of inspiration for your business. Videos and video transcripts of some of the women entrepreneurs are also available in the online course. We welcome any new case studies to add to the course. If you would like to send us the story of how you have developed your business, please contact your country contact at the end of this section.

The following link provides a useful introduction to online learning. Just click on the e-learning banner at the bottom of the page to play the game:

http://www.prismanet.gr/eruralnet/en/games-based-learning.php

The WERT On-line Community

By joining the WERT On-line Community on our website www.wertedu.eu you will be able to develop your learning further, share ideas and experiences, market your business, offer services and expand your network with other European women entrepreneurs.

For more information about the WERT training program or if you wish to join the WERT Community in Cyprus please contact:

Ms. Yianna Orphanidou, WERT Scientific Coordinator at orphanidou.y@unic.ac.cy

Unit 1.1 Building your Marketing Plan

In order to have a clear sense of where you would like to be with your business, you need to think about where you are now and how you are going to get there.

This can provide the direction and motivation for your business to succeed. Of course, your plans need to be flexible and you will need to be willing to change if new opportunities arise or changes affect your business.

What should you include in your Marketing Plan?

The Marketing Plan outline (Activity 1), provides a useful framework for you to complete. This will help you to gather the information you need, add ideas and facts, including financial information and discuss your ideas with others.

This is a useful exercise whether you are planning to set up a business or review your existing business. It will contribute to your overall business plan which you will complete at the end of the course.

The following sections will guide you through the process. You need to read this to help you complete Activity 1.

Introduction – where are you now?

Start by writing a brief description of your current business or, if you are planning to set up a new business, explain the background to your plan. Be as factual as you can. Some examples are given below, you may think of others.

  • When did you / do you plan to start your business?
  • Where are you located?
  • What type of business is it?
  • What product(s) are you offering?
  • What type of customers do you have?
  • Do you get repeat business and how much?
  • How is the business going from a financial & non-financial viewpoint?
  • Is the local community involved in your business?
  • How ‘sustainable’ is your business?

Suggestion – give your description to a colleague and ask if they feel it is an accurate description of your business.

Analysis of market, trends and opportunities

What are the trends in your market?

Think about what is happening in your market. To do this, you may find it helps to talk to family, friends and tourism networks, look at magazines and newspapers and research the internet. You will find useful references at the end of this section. Examples of rural tourism trends could include: using local produce, adventure tourism, short breaks, wellbeing breaks and ‘green’ holidays. Try to consider local, regional, national and even international trends and include statistics.

Write the rural tourism trends which could affect your business in section 2 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1).

How can a SWOT analysis help you?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. A SWOT analysis is a valuable step towards building your plan. It can help you to analyse where you are currently with your business and product. It also helps you to bring together external factors (Opportunities & Threats) with the internal factors relating to your business (Strengths & Weaknesses).

Using the chart below, write down the key external factors which you feel could affect your business or product under the Opportunities & Threats headings. You should consider the market trends you have just identified to see if they can be turned into innovative and sustainable opportunities for your business. For example, you could list the rising retired population as an opportunity for your rural tourism business and changing legislation, interest rates and competitor activity as a threat.

Now think of your strengths and weaknesses as an organisation. Be honest. Check your views with any staff or friends. If you have conducted customer research, make sure that you include this too. For example, you could list your customer service skills as a strength & lack of time/resource as a weakness.

At this stage, you should be starting to see a ‘snapshot’ view of your business or product. Think about how it looks from your customers’ viewpoint. Does it feel an accurate reflection? Add the SWOT to Section 2 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1).

Strengths
Opportunities
Weaknesses
Threats
Where would you like to be?
Vision

Now you have some details of where you are, you can start to think about where you would like to be. For example, are you looking to diversify from farming as Judith did at Somerset Lavender or add accommodation to your business as Irene did at the Borda Farm (see Unit 6)? Are you planning to set up a new business based on your strengths and hobbies as Heli did in the Tamme Horticultural Farm (see Unit 6)?

A vision or mission statement helps you to define the purpose of your business. It should be clear and easy to understand. It should also be agreed and shared with the people you work with in order to make it happen.

Try to be creative. You can mind storm with a family member or friend to think about your vision for your business or product. An example of a vision statement is “Using our talents as a family to provide a memorable visitor experience of our rural heritage.”

Write your vision statement in your Marketing Plan (Activity 1, Section 3).

Objectives

Your objectives should help you to achieve your vision. They should be SMART i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound. For each one, you should be able to answer each of the above statements: how will it be measured; is it achievable; is it relevant and when should it be achieved?

Examples of objectives are:

  • To increase family income by 20% within 12 months
  • Average length of stay up to 3 nights within 6 months
  • Involve local community in production of 5 new craft products within 2 years
  • To increase returning visitors to 70% of total business within 3 years

Write your SMART objectives in your Marketing Plan (Activity 1, Section 3).

Well done. You have started building your Marketing Plan. You should keep thinking about your vision and objectives and refining them. Can you convince others that your ideas are viable? Are these ideas based on evidence of market need?

You should keep adding to your plan as the course progresses. This will help you to build a comprehensive plan which will help you to focus on where you would like your business to be.

Sources and resources

The Cyprus Government portal provides a plethora of information and relevant links for business:

http://www.cyprus.gov.cy/portal/portal.nsf/dmlbusiness_gr/dmlbusiness_gr?OpenDocument

Estonia tourism information, statistics and trends:

http://www.visitestonia.com/en/

Estonia: Development of the company

http://www.eia.ee/for-the-entrepreneur/development-of-the-company?setlang=en-GB

Estonia: Tourism development

http://www.eia.ee/for-the-entrepreneur/tourism

Finland information, statistics, trends

http://www.mek.fi

http://visitfinland.com

http://www.travel.fi

http://www.mara.fi

http://www.mtk.fi/maaseutu/maaseutuyrittajyys/matkailuyrittajat/

UK tourism information, statistics and trends:

http://www.visitbritain.org/

For more resources, see resource bank Unit 1 available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Spain information in resource bank

DAFO Turismo Euskadi

Guia-generico hotelero actual

Tips from women entrepreneurs

“Being a family run business, it is nice to keep it as a family unit rather than a large business approach.”
Judy Shellard, Wellow Trekking, UK

Unit 1.2 Developing your Marketing Strategy

How am I going to get there?

Building on the previous sections of your Marketing Plan, you now need to develop ways of achieving your objectives.

Who are your target customers?

Think about your existing customers and the customers you wish to attract:

  • What types of customers do you have or would like to have e.g. families with young children or retired couples?
  • How long do they stay in your area? Are they day trippers, visitors taking short breaks or longer breaks in the school holidays?
  • Where do your customers come from – this country, another country?
  • Do they come from any particular sector of society?
  • Are you hoping to specialise in one particular sector of the marketplace e.g. specialist interest groups such as walkers or cyclists or those interested in local gastronomy and heritage?

Using the above questions to help you, write a brief description of your target customers in Section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1).

Identifying customer needs

If you are already in business, the best place to start is by listening to your customers. Ask them about any problems they have faced when trying to find a rural holiday and how can you help solve these problems. You can include any findings from customer surveys here too to help you identify their needs.

If you are starting a business, try to find out what your target customers need through research and discussions with your contacts, family and friends.

Think of your ideal customer or customer groups and try to imagine what they are looking for in terms of their overall experience. Ask yourself questions such as the following and discuss your ideas with others:

  • What will customers do during their stay?
  • What sort of accommodation will best suit their needs and their budget?
  • Will they be looking for a tailored package or will they want to organise for themselves?

It helps to think as broadly as possible about your product or idea for a product and refine your ideas as you progress through the course. Try to keep an open mind and be receptive to ideas and opportunities, always keeping your customer in mind.

Write a summary of your customers’ needs in Section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1).

Developing your offer

Think about your offer in terms of the 4 Ps (product, price, promotion & place) which all inter-relate.

Product development

Think about how you can develop your rural tourism product or service to solve any problems your customers may have and meet their needs. Also consider how you can make your product or service stand out in the marketplace from competitor offers. This is known as creating a unique selling point or USP. Consider your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how your offer will be different.

Write a brief summary of how you plan to develop your product or service in section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1). You may find the following questions helpful:

  • Can you think of a new idea not currently available to meet customers’ needs?
  • What is the supply and demand in your local area for your product or service?
  • Are you making the most of your area, its heritage and local produce?
  • Can you link with other local businesses to provide your customers with what they are looking for e.g. by creating a themed trail based on local history, food and drink or traditional crafts?
  • Will you be able to help their experience be ‘green’ and sustainable e.g. by providing information on local transport, cycle hire, etc.?

Pricing

There are many factors to consider when pricing your product or service and you should listen to customer feedback and review the impact of any changes in pricing on your business profitability. Consider the following, then write your pricing strategy in section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1):

  • Are you offering a ‘premium’ or a ‘value for money’ product or service?
  • How do your prices compare with competitors?
  • Are there ways you could reduce your costs by saving energy, for example?
  • Do you need to make changes e.g. offer lower prices and special offers to attract business in the off peak season, offer lower process to returning customers?

Promotion

Promoting your product or service can be achieved in a variety of ways. You need to create awareness and interest in your product which encourages potential customers to purchase. How much you are prepared to spend on promotional activity and the likely returns are obviously key factors to be taken into account.

Consider the following; then write your promotional strategy in section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1):

  • How could you communicate your offer to customers in the most effective way?
  • Can you use links with local tourism groups and other networks to promote your offer e.g. farmers’ markets, country shows?
  • Could you develop a tourism ‘trail’ in a co-operative way?
  • How could technology help you to increase awareness and attract a wider audience (Unit 2 will cover this area in more depth)?
  • Have you considered promotional tools such as advertising, direct mail and public relations (PR), for example?
  • How could you encourage customer loyalty?

Place

You can think of ‘place’ in terms of the place where a product is sold e.g. in a craft shop or on a website as well as how the how the product or service reaches the customer. For example, customers may pay for your services direct or via a holiday booking agency.

  • Is the method of distributing your product cost effective?
  • What other routes are there for target customers to purchase your products?
  • How can you make it easier for customers to purchase your products in the off peak season?

Write a brief summary of your plans in section 4 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1).

Review your 4 Ps (product, price, promotion & place) and make any adjustments to make sure they work together to help you achieve your objectives.

In a service business, you may also wish to consider the following aspects to developing your strategy:

People

Having the people to provide the service your customers expect is essential. Recruiting the right staff and training them appropriately in the delivery of their service is essential if the organisation wants to obtain a form of competitive advantage. Customers make judgments and deliver perceptions of the service based on the employees they interact with. Staff should have the appropriate interpersonal skills, attitude, and service knowledge to provide the service that consumers are paying for. In the UK, many organisations apply for the Investors in People accreditation, which tells customers that staff are taken care of by the company and they are trained to certain standards.

Process

This refers to the systems used to help the organisation to deliver the service. What are the processes that allow the customer to obtain an efficient service delivery? Banks that send out Credit Cards automatically when their customer’s old one has expired again require an efficient process to identify expiry dates and renewal. An efficient service that replaces old credit cards will foster customer loyalty and confidence in the company.

Physical evidence

Where is the service being delivered? Physical evidence is the element of the service mix which allows the customer to make judgments on the organisation. If you walk into a restaurant your expectations are of a clean, friendly environment.

Sources and resources

Principles of Marketing (2001), Philip Kotler; Financial Times/ Prentice Hall; 3rd edition

Cyprus Tourism Association

http://www.visitcyprus.com/wps/portal

Larnaca District Development Agency

http://www.anetel.com/english/index.html

A Toolkit for introducing Estonia – watch, listen and download information for free

http://tutvustaeestit.eas.ee/en/home

Marketing, advertising, promotion (Finland)

http://maaseutumatkailu.blogspot.com

http://www.smmy.fi

http://luontoyrittajat.net

Women in Rural Enterprise for articles written by women entrepreneurs on marketing, advertising and promotion

http://www.wireuk.org/marketing-advertising-and-promotion.html

For more resources, see resource bank Unit 1 available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Resources from Spain

Tipologías de turistas extranjeros en Euskadi(spanish)

Descripcion de demanda del turismo rural vasco

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘The key to PR is to remember that it takes ages! For example, this year we will have features in three national magazines. It has taken an e mail and a phone call every year for the last five years to get it!’
Judith Green, Somerset Lavender, UK

‘The most effective way to promote the business is direct marketing. Examples include trade fairs, holding an open house, press and TV coverage and working with regional networks.’
Heli Videhof, Tamme Horticultural Farm, Estonia

Unit 1.3 Making your plans happen

Whatever the size of your business or planned business, you will need to consider the resources required in terms of people and financial to turn your Business Marketing Plan into reality.

Your plan will help you to budget for income, expenditure and profit. Feeling confident with the financial aspects of your business is crucial to effective management and you can learn more about this in Unit 3 of this course.

From a people perspective, thinking of who can help you to achieve your objectives is important. This may mean employing staff in the busy periods or using your network of contacts to help.

In Section 5 of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1), for each of the SMART objectives, write the actions you will need to take to achieve them under the following headings:

Objective
Action
Who?
By when?
Progress

Ensure that any timescales that you set are realistic and agreed with those concerned. You will also need to decide how often you will review progress: weekly, monthly or quarterly. Be prepared to be flexible, listen to feedback from customers and staff and learn from your mistakes!

Sources and resources

Estonia: Developing Marketing Tactics

http://www.aktiva.ee/13120/Turundusplaani_koostamise_juhend.html?Session=a6da71a294a5af0775e6863a607e8fbf

Tips from women entrepreneurs

“The farmer has to be a producer and a sales rep at the same time and not everyone’s prepared to do both.”
Irene Irastorza, The Borda Farm and Rural Guesthouse, Spain

Unit 3.1 Sources of finance

From our research with women entrepreneurs, financial management was identified as one of the key areas where training was needed. Whilst some respondents felt that financial matters were for their accountant to deal with, feeling confident and in control of your finances is critical to the success of your business.

In this unit, you will gain useful information on how to add financial aspects to the business plan you started to create in Unit 1 and the practical Activity 3 should help you to develop some useful ways to use financial data to make important decisions about your business.

Forecasting financial needs

Based on your business plan, you need to look specifically at forecasting the finances: how much funding you need, when you will need it, how much you need for personal use and also where you might find the money. If you are a new business, you will need to consider start-up costs such as equipment to buy, premises to rent or buy, website and marketing costs as well as running costs.

Raising finance

There are several options for finance sources including:

Savings or personal borrowing. You could mortgage or re-mortgage your home, borrow from friends or family or sell existing possessions. There are risks involved and tax implications. Consult a professional financial advisor.

Bank. If your business plan is viable, you may be able to borrow some money from a bank. They will almost certainly expect you to offer security for the loan, often your home.

Outside investors. Often called ‘venture capitalists’. They would want a share in your business, and they will also want some control.

Grants and government support. The main advantage is cheap finance. However, there is always strong competition for any grant schemes and applications can be complex and take a long time to come to fruition (or be refused).

Grants

There is a range of grant schemes available, with many rules and regulations about who can apply. European Union and national funding may be available. Examples include rural development programmes which cover diversification from farming and tourism. See ‘Sources and resources’ at this end of this section for more detail.

Each grant has its own set of criteria to determine whether or not your business is worthy of its money. Many have complex forms to complete. It is often accepted that once you have completed the grant application form as required, the next one will be easier. Remember that such publicly funded schemes are designed to encourage new and growing businesses to bring wealth to the economy and ultimately create jobs. So enterprise is to be encouraged – do not be put off by the forms and seemingly difficult processes involved.

Tips on applying

Talk to the awarding body before applying.

Try to find someone who has already been awarded a grant, they are often willing to help.

Keep up to date with what is available – a list of websites, sometimes registering for information to be emailed to you, local newspapers.

When you hear of something, plan your application, talk to the body and prepare your application with as much detail as the awarding body requires. Make sure you give all the details required and highlight all potential benefits. Your business plan will come in handy at this point, and any of your financial plans. All this information will assist you in looking and acting professionally and convincing the body that you will benefit from the award, and that the money will be utilised as intended.

Make sure that you understand the grant, what the rules are, how it will be awarded. Ask yourself what the body is looking for in your application so that you can be sure that you have provided it.

Apply quickly.

Keep your application – information may need to be checked or added. It is also useful for the next application!

Don’t assume you will get the award, even if you are getting good signals. If you go ahead without the authority, you will not convince the awarding body that you need the money. Also be sure that you have money available, most grants require that money is matched from another source.

Sources and resources

Europe: EU Rural Development Policy 2007 – 2013

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/rurdev/index_en.htm

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/agriculture/general_framework/l60032_en.htm

http://www.2007-2013.eu/by_scope_eafrd.php

http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTARD/0,,contentMDK:20445353~hlPK:1313652~menuPK:1308911~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:336682,00.html

http://www.brusselsnetwork.be/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=62&limit=14&limitstart=14

http://een.mra.si/index.php?id=7&lang=en

EU Common Agricultural Policy

http://www.agri.ee/public/juurkataloog/AVALIK_TEAVE/Uhispoliitika/UPPst.doc

The features of European agriculture and Rural Development

http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/capexplained/index_et.htm

UK: Rural Development Programme for England

http://rdpenetwork.defra.gov.uk/funding-source

Business Link – UK government online resource (business support schemes currently being reorganised but website will be maintained)

www.businesslink.gov.uk

UK government financial support for SMEs (Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme and Enterprise Capital Funds)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12049304

Information on grants, loans and start up funding for UK small businesses

www.smallbusiness.co.uk

Finland: Financial support for SMEs, grants and loans

http://www.ely-keskus.fi

http://www.finnvera.fi

http://www.maaseutu.fi/fi/index/yrittajyys.html

Cyprus: Larnaca District Development Agency

http://www.anetel.com/english/index.html

State Aid Schemes for Industry

http://www.publicaid.gov.cy/publicaid/publicaid.nsf/dmlprogrammes_e/dmlprogrammes_en?OpenDocument&Start=1&Count=200&Expand=6

Estonia: Rural Development Programme for Estonia 2007-2013

http://www.agri.ee/mak

Rural Development Programme for Estonia 2014-2020

http://www.agri.ee/eesti-maaelu-arengukava-2014-2020-2/

Rural Enterprise

http://www.agri.ee/maaettevotlus/

LEADER Programme

http://www.agri.ee/leader/

Rural Development Programme for Estonia 2007-2013 case studies

http://www.agri.ee/mak-i-edulood/

Information on grants, loans and start up funding for Estonia small businesses

http://www.eas.ee

For more resources, see resource bank Unit 3 available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘Although times now are difficult, there are always funding programmes and women should consult the local chambers of commerce, the Employment Agency and their local authorities.’
Agrotourism Cooperative Organisation – Nea Kuzikos, Greece. Unit 3.2 Profitability and cash flow

Budgets and profitability

Even if you are very experienced in the financial aspects of business, it is useful to revisit the basics and ensure that you have a good grasp of how your business is performing at any time.

In simple terms, for your business budget and a simple profit and loss forecast, you will need to take away planned expenditure from expected income over a period of time to see what profit you could make and then monitor regularly actual performance. For example, a rural craft shop would need to include the following:

  • Income from shop sales
  • Less costs
  • Raw materials for crafts
  • Wages (including casual staff in summer months)
  • Rent and rates
  • Other costs (Marketing, etc.)
  • Total costs
  • Profit

Your accountant will be able to advise you on financial documents required in your country such as a profit and loss account and balance sheet. You will need to review these documents regularly to measure how your business is performing and to decide what steps you need to take.

Forecasting cash flow

One of the main reasons why new small businesses fail is that they do not watch their cash flow. You need to manage the income and outgoings of cash and manage your credit control carefully. Whilst a business can survive for a short while without any sales or profits, cash is essential.

Cash includes coins and notes, current accounts, bank overdrafts and short-term loans. It does not include money owed by customers, long-term borrowing or any stock, assets the business has. You need cash reserves in order to trade effectively and grow your business. You need to pay your staff, suppliers, loans, income tax, VAT. Many of these items have to be paid on fixed dates.

Effective cash flow management

You need to consider the time gap between expenditure and receipt of income. This is a particularly important aspect for seasonal businesses such as rural tourism enterprises in the off peak times of year. There are some ways you can help yourself manage this well:

  • Issue invoices promptly – and don’t forget about them. Regularly chase them
  • Consider your supplier charges, are they reasonable?
  • You do have the right to charge interest for late payment, but this may not help you remain on good terms with your customers
  • You could offer discounts for prompt payments
  • You could consider asking your suppliers for extended credit, but remember they may also have cash flow problems
  • You may wish to buy any assets on a lease or hire purchase rather than spend your available capital
  • Keep an eye on your cash flow – identifying a problem early may mean that there is time to correct it
  • Keep an eye on your marketing and modify as necessary
  • Review your forecast regularly and adjust as necessary

Sources and resources

Why so many start ups fail?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7759207.stm

Financial support for SMEs

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12049304

How to write a business plan – financial forecast

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2943252.stm

Business plan, profitability and cash flow (Finland)

http://www.uusyrityskeskus.fi

https://liiketoimintauunnitelma.co

http://www.infopankki.fi/fi-fi/yrityksen_perustaminen/

http://www.slideshare.net/guest70fecb/laadi-liiketoimintasuunnitelma

http://web.venturecup.fi/index.php?id=303

Estonia: Bookkeeping News portal

http://rup.ee/est/

Magazine of Economics Bookkeeping News

Salary and Tax Calculator

http://www.kalkulaator.ee/

Estonian Tax and Customs Board

http://www.emta.ee/

Bookkeeping Information Portal

http://raamatupidaja.ee/

Bookkeeping and Tax Portal

http://www.rmp.ee/

Expert on Salaries, laws and news

http://www.palk.ee/

Bookkeeping Information Portal: Financial Accounting, Taxation, Auditing

http://web.finance.ee/index.php

For more resources, see resource bank Unit 3 available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘With the sharp increase in fuel costs and the need to run central heating for 8-9 months due to the cold climate in the area, there has been an impact on profits as we have not felt able to increase prices to visitors accordingly.’
Stavroula Karavassili, Panthoron agrotourism enterprise, Greece

Unit 3.3 Managing your finances

The difference between cash and profit

As we have seen in the previous section, keeping your focus on cash available is crucial to the short term survival of your business and allows you to meet day to day expenditure. In rural tourism businesses, factors such as seasonality, investments in building work, repayment of loans and bad debts can affect the amount of cash available and need to be managed carefully. A business can be profitable yet fail because of lack of cash.

Profitability measures

Profit is vital to the long term success of your business. Understanding the difference between gross profit and net profit is crucial to managing your business effectively.

Gross profit = sales revenue – cost of sales

Net profit = gross profit – expenses

It is the net profit which determines your business’ ability to survive and grow.

The following profitability measures will help you to understand how your business is performing and to decide on what actions you may need to take.

The net profit margin measures net profit as a percentage of sales and is calculated as follows:

  • Net profit x 100 Example: €20000 x 100 = 20%
  • Sales revenue €100000

For example, if the net profit margin is low it could be because your expenses are too high or your sales too low.

The return on capital is also useful as it measures net profit as a percentage of capital invested in your business (such as your own funds, shareholder funds and any profits from previous years). This is calculated as follows:

  • Net profit x 100 Example: €20000 x 100 = 10%
  • Capital invested €200000

This can help you to see how effective the investment has been in generating profit and consider how the return could be improved.

Regularly reviewing your cash and profitability measures can really make a difference to your business. Don’t leave it all to your accountant!

The effect of pricing on profitability

Our research showed that women entrepreneurs found that deciding upon the price for their product or service was difficult. Setting a price that is too high or too low will, at best, limit business growth and at worst, it could cause serious problems for sales and cash flow.

If you are starting a business, you need to consider your pricing strategy carefully before you start. Established businesses can improve their profitability through regular pricing reviews. When setting prices it is essential to make sure that the price and sales levels set will allow the business to be profitable. The product or service should be compared with the competition and a decision made about where the business wants to be in relation to the competition as part of your overall business plan and marketing strategy developed in Unit 1.

Costs and value – fixed and variable costs

Knowing the difference between cost and value can increase profitability:

  • The cost of the product or service is the amount spent to produce it
  • The price is the financial reward for providing the product or service
  • The value is what the customer believes the product or service is worth to them

Every business needs to cover its costs in order to make a profit. Working out costs accurately is an essential part of working out pricing. Costs are either:

  • fixed costs are those that are always there, regardless of how much or how little is sold, for example rent, salaries and business rates
  • variable costs are those that rise as sales increase, such as additional raw materials, extra seasonal labour and transport. When a price is set, it must be higher than the variable cost of producing the product or service. Each sale will then make a contribution towards covering fixed costs – and making profits.

Pricing considerations

The perception of your product or service is important. In accommodation for example, a high price contributes to the perception that the customer will receive a high standard of room, facilities and service. This might encourage customers looking for a premium break or it might deter more price-conscious customers.

Offering specially reduced prices can be a powerful tool. Special offers in the low season, for example, can help you to manage your cash flow. However, if you discount too much, customers may question the full-rate pricing or see it as a cheap option, making it difficult to charge full-rate prices in the future.

Managing risks

When analysing your business performance, it is also useful to ask ‘what if…..?’ questions so that you can assess the possible impact of decisions and also make contingency plans. You can use financial and non financial information in your analysis. You should also review the SWOT analysis you developed in Activity 1 to assess possible risks.

For instance, what if you were to offer a fixed price menu in your restaurant? How could this impact on sales? What if a key member of staff is ill? Who could help? What if building works cost more than you anticipated? How could this impact on your cash flow and profitability?

Learn from experience. Sometimes the unpredictable peaks and troughs in activity follow a pattern – it’s just that you have yet to recognise it.

Sources and resources

Women in Rural Enterprise – finance and accounting articles by women entrepreneurs

http://www.wireuk.org/finance-and-accounting.html

Estonia: Bookkeeping Mini Portal

http://www.kkk.ee/

Introduction to Bookkeeping by Kütt J.

Bookkeeping Manual for NPOs by Märitz, E.

Financial Analysis and Planning by Ilisson, R.

Financial Accounting by Alver, L., Alver, J.

For more resources, see resource bank Unit 3 available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘With any building works, try to get an accurate estimate of costs and then add a little for contingencies. In my experience, the cost of transportation of materials to a rural location can increase construction costs significantly.’
Stavroula Karavassili, Panthoron agrotourism enterprise, Greece

‘One of the best ways to keep oneself on top of everything going on in business is to do the bookkeeping.’
Janika Saar, Jaanioja Handicraft Farm, Estonia.

Unit 4.1 Eco-friendly practices

Protecting the environment, culture and heritage needs to be at the heart of rural tourism management in order to make it sustainable for future generations. The diagram below illustrates the interaction between Visitors, the Industry that serves them i.e. rural tourism businesses such as yours, the Community that hosts them and their collective impact on and response to the Environment in which they operate.

Visitors

Industry Community

Think of your business or planned business and how it interacts with other businesses, the local community and visitors. What is the impact on the rural environment and how can this be protected?

Sustainable tourism business checklist and action you can take

Use the following checklist to find review how green your business is, what changes you could make and how you could save money:

Saving energy

This is the most effective way that tourism businesses can reduce their environmental impact, for example:

  • Replace old light bulbs with low energy ones
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and TV standby lights
  • Use thick curtains and draught excluders
  • Use washing machines and dishwashers only when full
  • Putting lids and saucepans and turning grills off when not in use

Reducing waste

Disposing of waste costs an increasing amount of money. If you employ staff, involve them in finding ways to reduce waste:

  • Identify how to reduce, re-use and recycle
  • Can you reduce food waste?
  • Can you reduce paperwork? Do you have excess visitor brochures that no one looks at?

A 40-unit camping/caravan site invested in its own bottle bank. Payback was 3 years with savings from then onwards. They now provide wheelie bins for customers to recycle cardboard, tins and food waste. The visitors are impressed and the owners save money.

Reducing water usage

  • Are you on a water meter?
  • Do you use low-flow showers?
  • Do you plastic bottles in your cisterns reduce flush water?
  • Do you mend dripping taps?
  • Do you minimise chemical use by using non-biological cleaners?

Purchasing

Visitors come to enjoy the local area. If you buy local products, your customers enjoy another local experience and you support local business. You also protect the environment by cutting down on ‘Food Miles’

  • Have you considered forming a consortium with other local businesses to organise deliveries and negotiate discounts?
  • Do you encourage your visitors to use local shops/pubs/restaurants?
  • Are there local crafts/foods/drinks in the area, for visitors to buy as souvenirs of their stay? If these are not easily available, consider keeping a stock in your own business area.

Transport

  • Reduce traffic by encouraging visitors to walk, cycle or use public transport.
  • Offer information on local walks, cycle paths and public transport
  • Offer information on bike hire, hire them yourselves or simply make them available to visitors
  • Offer secure bike lock-ups and make sure your visitors know they exist
  • Promote local community festivals and events, this will keep visitors in the local area, reducing traffic congestion and supporting the local economy

The local environment

Your visitors come because of the unique qualities your area has to offer:

  • Get to know your local area and offer information about it
  • Offer various Codes of Practice guides or write your own ‘Follow the Country Code’ and promote your environmental credentials to visitors
  • Information from local history and nature organisations
  • Local wildlife information
  • Do you encourage wildlife on your land?

One small guesthouse owner gives information to guests about walks available directly from her property, including bus-timetables, and places to visit/eat/drink en-route. This has resulted in repeat bookings.

Activity 4

Write an action plan of the steps you plan to take in Activity 4 and regularly review progress and cost savings.

Sources of support

There are many groups and bodies that cover sustainable development programmes, grant funding and give general help and advice to businesses involved in this sector. See the sources and resources section at this section.

Promoting sustainability – activity 4 continued

Think of how you can inform customers to your business of how they should care for the environment during their visit.

Design a leaflet or web page to encourage them to care for their surroundings, save energy, recycle and avoid pollution. Include your design in Activity 4.

Sources and resources

Presentation on Waste Management in Cyprus, May 2009 by Patricio Gonzales More in Unit 4 resource bank available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative. Non-governmental organization for small tourism-related businesses:

http://csti-cyprus.org/

UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs covers various grants, funding schemes and links to other useful sites

www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/funding

Sustainable consumption and production, pollution prevention controls include the environmental permits required in Finland

http://www.ymparisto.fi

Sustainable tourism development in Europe – EDEN

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/sectors/tourism/eden/

The State Forest Management Centre (RMK) maintains, grows and manages the Estonian State Forest. RMK also provides hiking trails in recreational areas, national parks and protected areas. While encouraging people to walk, hike and backpack, RMK calls for and builds awareness of sustainable nature tourism.

http://www.rmk.ee/subject-headings/for-hikers

Tips from women entrepreneurs

See Stavroula’s story to see how she uses local products and how she has developed local community and business links through the Quality Pact.

Involve your family and your neighbours as partners in running a tourism farm.

http://www.kuusikunaturefarm.ee/ENGindex.html

Unit 4.2 Developing a tourist business which is accessible to all

Benefits to all

A focus on the elderly and people with different accessibility needs can help you to build your rural tourism business and help these visitors and their carers to have a memorable and enjoyable holiday. These customers may also prefer to visit at off peak times which could help you to manage your business flow.

Trends

Research has shown that 16% of the European population is aged over 65. This is estimated to reach 20% by the year 2020 and 36% by 2050. Also around 16% of the European population have some sort of disability.

Recent research by Surrey University in the UK puts the potential accessible travel market at more than134 million people (27% of the population of the European Union). European travellers alone will generate 83,000 million Euros of revenue for the industry.

Accessible rural tourism legislation

European legislation: there is no unified code guaranteeing universal accessibility in Europe. There is concern over the issue however, and a number of different bodies and the European Union itself are creating reports, forums and networks with the aim of establishing European standards that will guarantee universal accessibility.

It is important that you understand your country’s legal requirements relating to accessibility. For example, you will need to make reasonable adjustments to any physical barriers that make access to your premises difficult for disabled people of any nature. You could make an extra effort over and above the legal requirements and then promote your offer specifically for people with particular need.

Have a look at the relevant links at the end of this section so that you are familiar with legislation, the rights of individuals and the steps you will need to take.

A range of needs to consider

We often think of accessibility in terms of ramps and lifts for wheelchair users but there are many different needs to consider as not all disabilities are visible. For example, diabetics need to monitor blood sugar levels and eat accordingly and asthmatics need non feather bedding. As well as mobility difficulties, consider blind or partially sighted people, those with hearing loss, mental health conditions and long term illnesses and progressive conditions such as cancer. The needs of those with young children with pushchairs and pregnant women, for example, should also be taken into account when reviewing accessibility.

There are many actions you can take to improve accessibility and they do not need to be costly. Consider the following:

  • If you have a brochure or website, are they easy to understand and available in large print? Is signage clear and easy to follow?
  • Have you provided information such as whether accommodation is wheelchair accessible?
  • Have you provided seating for those who may need to rest for example in a craft shop or art gallery?
  • If you have staff, are they trained to be aware of different needs? For example, writing down information for visitors with hearing impairments.
  • Have you provided information on food contents for those with allergies?
  • Do you have an accessibility statement to inform customers of the steps you have taken?

Examples of changes made by a rural accommodation provider include ensuring that there was good lighting in any area where a person had to write (for example in the reception area) and providing a hook for hanging a walking stick by reception. A rural museum printed one or two copies of a guide in large type, hade them laminated and gave them out when necessary instead of printing a large number of ‘special’ brochures.

You may find it helpful to review your product or service with staff and customers with a range of needs to improve accessibility.

Accessible customer service guidelines

The following guidelines provide a useful starting point for developing your approach.

  • Do not underestimate disabled people. Only offer them assistance when it is clear they are unable to perform a task.
  • Never give them assistance without asking them first. “Imposed” assistance is humiliating.
  • Assistance should be discreet. It should not attract the attention of people in the immediate vicinity and should be done naturally and without hurry or fuss.
  • Do not offer unrequested advice. In general, disabled people know exactly what they need and want and are able to communicate it one way or another.
  • Never address a disabled person’s companion, unless the disabled person is unable to follow the conversation.
  • Be patient when dealing with a disabled person; it may take them longer than others to talk or act. The most important thing to remember is to treat disabled persons in the same way as others, respectfully and not condescendingly.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed when talking to disabled people. Never make compassionate comments about their condition. When relevant, refer to their condition in a natural way.
  • Never treat a disabled person like a child, including psychically disabled adults.

Sources and resources

‘Easy does it’ booklet to help tourism business improve accessibility

www.visitbritain.org/quality/assessmentstandards/NationalAccessibleScheme/Access/easydoesit/index.htm

UK legislation – The Equality Act 2010:

www.direct.gov.uk/en/DisabledPeople/RightsAndObligations/DisabilityRights/DG_4001068

UK charity for accessible tourism:

www.tourismforall.org.uk

UK directory of accessible accommodation and travel

www.openbritain.net

Accessible tourism in Finland

http://www.suomikaikille.fi

http://www.metla.fi/julkaisut/workingpapers/2007/mwp052.htm

Few practical examples of accessible tourism in Estonia:

to the beach – http://www.visitestonia.com/en/roosta-beach

to the bog – http://www.visitestonia.com/en/nature-study-trail-in-paaskula-bog

See also Unit 4 resource bank available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Tips from women entrepreneurs

“We particularly want to cater for visitors with particular needs and have taken great care to ensure that one of our cottages is suitable for people with a range of accessibility needs.”
Judy Shellard, Wellow Trekking, UK.

A unique business initiative Villa Benita initiated by a businesswoman Ms Terje Kross in 2008, joined accommodation, health care and holiday services for groups of disabled people, wheelchair users and seniors regardless of age and health condition. Villa Benita is the unique facility in Estonia that can accommodate groups up to 25 wheelchair users.

http://www.travel-service.ee/?m1=110&m2=111

Unit 4.3 Developing a quality customer service

In this unit, you will develop ideas and ways to ensure that you and any staff you have deliver a quality service so that customers will want to return and tell their friends about their positive experience.

There can be many benefits from delivering an excellent service including satisfied customers, increased sales and profits, a competitive advantage, a better public image and a better place to work for staff.

What do customers want?

In Unit 1.2, you identified your target customers and their needs as part of your Marketing Plan (Activity 1). Take a few moments to review the different groups of target customer and their needs. If you are already in business, you could conduct a survey verbally or in writing to find out customer views (see example customer survey at the end of this section).

Customer service checklist

The following checklist will help you to develop your service to meet your customers’ needs more closely.

  • Do you let your customers know in advance the range of services you can offer?
  • Do you invite them to contact you if they have any particular needs?
  • Do you think about the type of customer who will be visiting and any particular needs they may have e.g. walking maps, cycle routes, local food, etc.
  • Do you get to know your customers on first name terms? Do you ask open questions and listen attentively to find out their interests and needs? Do you act promptly to find out information they need or offer ideas?
  • During their visit, do you check that everything is OK and provide help if required?
  • At the end of the visit, do you ask if they have enjoyed their stay verbally, in a questionnaire or both?
  • Do you make a note of their interests/needs for future reference? Do you forward a follow-up mailing to provide details for future visits?

You can use the findings of your research to develop a customer service strategy with clear quality standards for you and any staff to follow (Activity 4) not only to meet but exceed customer expectations. This should work together with your actions to improve accessibility developed in the previous section and help to ensure that you welcoming to all your target customers. You will need to check regularly that quality standards are being met.

Skills for effective service delivery – creating a positive impression

Whether you are serving food, providing accommodation or selling local craft products, you can create a positive impression which will help the customer experience of your product or service. Here are some factors which can help to build a good impression:

Appearance (dress, personal hygiene, attitude)

Communication – listening and responding in an appropriate manner, answering letters, emails and faxes in an appropriate and timely manner. When face-to-face or on the telephone, the language used, the pitch and tone of voice and pauses, silences all affect the general ambiance. Obviously body language is important when face-to-face

  • Behaviour – this must be adapted to respond to different customer behaviour
  • Paying attention, listening
  • Responding promptly and positively to comments and questions
  • Courtesy – even when under pressure or the customer is angry or confused
  • Giving timely and correct information
  • Explaining why any needs and expectations cannot be met
  • Checking that you have understood the needs, especially if the request is complicated

Delivering quality customer service

You and your staff need to be prepared to deal with any customer with thorough knowledge of your product or service. You will need to ensure that any equipment used is in good and safe working order and that health and safety and any other legal requirements (see Unit 5) have been met. You will also need to ensure that any commitments made to customers are kept and that customers are kept informed of progress at all times.

Regular checks on customer service will help you to identify if customers’ needs and expectations have been met and how you could provide a better service. If you have staff, you should share information with them to maintain standards. You should also ensure that your suppliers are aware of the quality standards you expect and monitor regularly to ensure that standards are met. Try to think of the risks involved if service quality standards are not met.

Resolving customer service problems

Many customers judge the service by the way in which their problems and complaints are resolved. Statistics show that on average, an unhappy customer will tell seven other people! Some problems are reported, others are not. Some customers will not report problems and simply go away with the feeling that your service is not good.

Here are some tips on handling complaints:

  • Identify the problem
  • Gather and interpret information, listen carefully
  • Ask questions to determine your understanding of their problem
  • Identify repeated problems and eliminate
  • Share the information with others to identify potential problems before they occur
  • Select the best solution
  • Identify available options
  • Consult with others as appropriate and confirm available options
  • Work out advantages and disadvantages for each option
  • Select the best overall option for your customer and your organisation
  • Suggest other ways that problems may be resolved if you are unable to help
  • Implement
  • Discuss and agree the proposed option with your customer
  • Take action to implement the agreed option
  • Make sure any commitments to resolving the problem are kept
  • Keep customers fully informed
  • Check with the customer that the problem has been resolved to their satisfaction
  • Give clear reasons to customers when the problem has not been resolved to their satisfaction

Improving customer service

By listening to customer comments and feedback, it is likely you can devise ways of improving the product or service you offer. Organisations change the way they deliver services because customer expectations rise and other organisations (such as competitors) improve the services they offer.

You need to keep up-to-date with other similar offerings and continually match your product offering against your competitors and your customer responses and make judgements about whether new ideas offer possibilities for improvement.

Informal and formal feedback is relevant. Use this information to develop a better understanding of customer needs and expectations. You also need to take into account the negative aspects of changes and how these can be resolved. When you have made the changes you need to review the new feedback to ensure that the improvement really was an improvement!

Creating and keeping up-to-date records of your customers gives you a clear picture of your business and helps you plan for the future. Details of any problems and their resolution would also aid you to recognise any recurring problems so that they can be resolved. You must always be aware of accuracy and confidentiality when keeping records, including legal obligations.

Sources and resources

Women in Rural Enterprise, customer satisfaction tips

http://www.wireuk.org/customer-satisfaction.html

Case study on customer service – National Maritime Museum, UK

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/leisure-travel-tourism/units/customer-service/

Customer satisfaction, quality rating (Finland)

www.mtk.fi/maaseutu/maaseutuyrittajyys/matkailuyrittajat/

https://portal.mtt.fi/portal/page/portal/Majoitumaalla

Evidently the best way to get to know the guests` ideas about the strengths and weaknesses, is to include a clear feedback form on the website

http://www.sagadi.ee/manor/feedback

See also Unit 4 resource bank available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see learner guide for how to access).

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘A good reputation goes a long way. One should be able to place oneself in the customer’s position daily and think about how to serve even better. A returning customer always costs less than one sought from far and wide.’
Marita Lähdesmäki, Jokiniemen Matkailu, Finland.

Estonian Tourism Quality Programme

Enterprises that are devoted to developing quality and successfully implement the programme are recognised with the diploma called “People Committed to Quality”. The recognition informs customers and the public that the enterprise is ready to make an effort in the name of its customers’ well-being.

http://www.visitestonia.com/en/accommodation-in-estonia/quality-marks-of-estonian-accommodation/eesti-turismiettevotete-kvaliteediprogramm

Example customer survey

Here is an example of a questionnaire for an accommodation provider which could be adapted for other sectors:

Please complete this questionnaire before you leave and hand in at reception or to any member of staff. Thank you for your help.

Did we provide you with all the information you needed before your visit?

Yes….. No…..

If no, what more information would you have found useful?

…………………………………………………………………………….

Before your visit, did you contact us by

Telephone …. E-mail ……

Was this service helpful?

Yes….. No…..

If no, what could have been done differently?

…………………………………………………………………………….

On arrival, did you find staff friendly and helpful?

Yes….. No…..

If no, what could have been done differently?

…………………………………………………………………………….

Overall, how would you rate your visit?

Poor …. Average …. Good ….. Excellent ……….

Any other comments you would like to make to help us improve our service?

…………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………….

Unit 4.4 Developing communication skills

Deciding on the best way to communicate

Effective communication with customers is critical as part of the service offered. Communication may be formal such as a letter to confirm a booking or informal such as a face to face discussion with a customer about their stay. You will need to decide which method best meets your customers’ needs and consider the use of websites, e-mails and texts.

Telephone techniques checklist

A phone conversation may be the first contact a customer has with the organisation and can create an important first impression. The following checklist may help you and your staff to improve your telephone techniques.

  • Answer the phone promptly – ideally within three rings. Ensure that you have an answering service switched on if you not able to answer the call. Return all calls promptly, at least on the same day.
  • Use a clear, friendly tone of voice. A good way to start is with a greeting such as ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Hello.’ Then state your organisation & name. ‘How can I help?’ is also a good opener.
  • Listen carefully to the caller’s requests and check with them that you have provided the information they require. Confirm what action has been agreed & state when this will be delivered. Phrases such as: ‘Can I just check that this is what you need?’ or ‘Is there anything else I can help you with today?’ are useful ways to check understanding & offer further help.
  • Always have a pen and paper or computer by the phone to record any messages for others or actions to be taken.
  • Try to use the caller’s name when you end the call and thank them.
  • Act promptly as soon as you have finished the call to ensure that you meet any agreed deadlines and provide a reliable service.

Communicating by e-mail checklist

You can develop your skills in communicating electronically with practice. The following checklist may help you with this development.

  • Think about what you are trying to communicate before you start and what you want the recipient to do when they have read the message. If, for example, you are sending a booking confirmation, you may wish the customer to provide additional information, which you should make as clear and easy to respond to as possible.
  • Emails can be less formal than letters and more like the spoken word. You can start with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’ rather than ‘Dear’ and end with ‘regards’ or ‘thanks’ rather than ‘Yours sincerely’, for example. Emails which use full words of capital letters are generally viewed as rather rude, as it comes across to the recipient as shouting.
  • Try to bring human warmth into your messages, which you would sense from body language in a face-to-face situation. If, for example, you are sending an email to an existing customer, you may want to use their first name(s), refer to something they enjoyed on their last visit or wish them well. This will help any short message you wish to send, seem friendlier.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s point of view, particularly if you are responding to a complaint. Try to be positive in your tone. Think about the recipient and their needs and avoid rushing off a response before you have had time to think. You could also ask a friend or colleague for their feedback before you send it, particularly if you are dealing with a tricky issue. Once you have hit the ‘send’ key it is too late to change your mind!
  • Be precise. Keep your sentences and emails short. People are busy and often do not have time to read lengthy e-mails. They may choose to ignore or look at later (and then forget!) if the message is too complicated.

Cultural awareness and foreign languages

Speaking in the language of your customers (even if it is only a few words!) can make all the difference to the customer’s experience. Being sensitive to different cultures can also help visitors to feel more at ease. Translating your promotional materials including websites into other languages can also help you to attract additional customers.

There are many ways you can improve your language skills such as attending language courses in your local college, spending time in another country or on-line learning. See the sources and resources at the end of this section for useful information.

Activity

Create a basic handbook for dealing with rural tourism guests in a foreign language. You can start by writing down, in your own language, basic vocabulary and phrases for greeting customers and dealing with their requirements.

Now look up these phrases and vocabulary in the languages you would like to communicate with your existing and potential customers. You can use language guides, tourist dictionaries such as the one in the resource bank, books, courses, etc in your research. If using online translation services, take care as the translations will be very literal and it is a good idea to check these with a native speaker first to avoid any errors.

Add your handbook to your sustainability plan (Activity 4).

Reviewing your sustainability plan

Working through Unit 4.1 – 4.4 will have helped you to complete your sustainability plan (Activity 4). You should now review your plan and discuss with others how it will help you to put into place processes to meet and exceed customer expectations. Be prepared to review regularly and learn from any mistakes!

Sources and resources

Tourist dictionary in Basque, Spanish, French and English in Unit 4 resource bank available via the website www.wertedu.eu (see user guide for how to access).

Web tool designed to help people working in the hotel and gastronomy, tourism and retailing sectors. For example, restaurants or hotels can use the web tool to train their employees to interact with guests and clients from foreign countries.

https://becult.mmg.fi

Online language courses from English to other languages

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages

Online translation – google translate

http://translate.google.co.uk/?hl=en&tab=wT#

Quite often people feel confused about the names of the herbs – in herbal teas, salads, soups, desserts, cocktails…

A Latin name and a photo will help you to finds a proper equivalent in your own language.

http://www.anniesremedy.com/chart.php?alpha=a&sort=1

Food gives relevant information about people. One of the most practical ways to study world cultures, is to study foods or national cuisines:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonian_cuisine

http://www.eestitoit.ee/?page_id=159&language=en

Tips from women entrepreneurs

‘Guests relax and want to talk about themselves and their lives. People who stay at Maddiola are looking for a more personalised experience and want to feel at home.’
Edurne’s story – the Maddiola Country Guesthouse

Activity 1 – Marketing Plan Outline

The outline below should help you to think about where you are and where you would like to be with your rural tourism business. Developing a plan can help to provide the direction and motivation for your business to succeed.

1. Where am I now?

Brief description of your business: when you started/plan to start in business, type of business, type of customers, key products.

2. Analysis of market, trends and opportunities

  • Trends relating to your business in your country/area
  • SWOT analysis
  • Strengths
  • Opportunities
  • Weaknesses
  • Threats

3. Where would I like to be?

  • Vision
  • SMART Objectives

4. How am I going to get there?

  • Target customers
  • Customer needs
  • Marketing strategy
  • Product development (including unique selling point)
  • Product/service Features Benefits
  • Competitor name Strengths Weaknesses

My product offer is:

  • Price
  • Product/service Your price Competitors’ price

My pricing strategy is:

  • Promotion

My promotional strategy is:

  • Place

My strategy for how my customers will purchase my product is:

  • For service businesses, you may also add your strategies for People, Process and Physical evidence.

5. How will I make my plans happen?

  • Objective
  • Action
  • Who?
  • By when?
  • Progress

Activity 3 Financial Plan Outline

The outline below should help you to strengthen the plan you developed in Unit 1 from a financial perspective and to feel more confident about taking decisions and managing your business. Complete the following sections:

1. What sources of finance could I consider?

Building on your business plan objectives and resources required from Unit 1, review the information in section 3.1 and investigate the relevant links on ‘Sources and resources.’ Write down which sources of finance you wish to consider for your business taking into account the likely time this will take to pursue. If you are setting up a business, estimate your start up costs using a spreadsheet, such as Excel (an example template can be found in Unit 3 resources).

2. Using budgets

Building on your plan from Unit 1 and the information in Unit 3.2, set a budget for planned income, expenditure and profit to see how you are going to make your plans work and monitor closely. For your budget, you should use a spreadsheet, such as Excel (an example profit and loss forecast template can be found in Unit 3 resources).

3. Create a cash flow forecast

Create a cash flow forecast using a spreadsheet, such as Excel (an example template can be found in Unit 3 resources).

Consider how you will format the spreadsheet, such as weekly or monthly, how long (usually a quarter) and you should have at least two columns, one for the forecast, and then one for the actual (so that you can see how good your forecasting was!) and monitor closely.

Some of the items to think about are fixed costs, such as salaries, rent, utilities, loan payments, interest and bank charges. Think about the receipts and payments, based on realistic estimates. Think about when you expect to receive income – it may be realised in the period following the actual sale. Likewise supplier payments – when will you actually pay them, what terms have you agreed with your suppliers.

4. Managing your finances

Having considered the information in Unit 3.3, how do you plan to manage the performance of your business? Include how you will use profitability measures, pricing considerations and risk management.

Activity 4 – Sustainability Plan

The outline below will help you to think about how you can build a business which is ‘green’ and exceeds customer expectations. It will also help you to develop a lasting business which will survive in challenging economic times.

6. Sustainable tourism business checklist

Use this space to write the eco friendly steps you plan to take after going through the checklist in Unit 4.1. Remember that these steps could also save you money.

  • Saving energy
  • Reducing waste
  • Reducing water usage
  • Purchasing
  • Transport
  • The local environment

7. Promoting sustainability

Think of how you can inform customers to your business of how they should care for the environment during their visit.

Design a leaflet or web page to encourage them to care for their surroundings, save energy, recycle and avoid pollution. Include your design here or attach.

8. Accessibility

Find at least 5 examples of practical actions that you can take in your business to improve accessibility giving timescales and costs (this could be your staff time, for example). Give some details about each improvement. Review your progress regularly.

  • Action
  • By when?
  • Cost

Customer service

Based on the customer needs you have identified through research, what steps will you take to meet and exceed customer expectations? What quality standards can you set for you and any staff to follow? Complete the action plan below and regularly review.

  • Customer need
  • Action & quality standard
  • By when?

10. Communication skills

Create a basic handbook for dealing with rural tourism guests in a foreign language. Include your handbook in the chart below or attach.

Key phrase Translation into (language)

© 2017 The Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative (CSTI). All rights reserved. Designed and Developed by mmVirtual