Well I know he is a Lord and as he keeps on telling us a very successful business man but Sir Alan got it wrong last night on the apprentice. Liz should not have been fired. It should have been Stella or Stuart. Stella as her guiding skills and choice of tour were cringe worthy but ultimately Stuart as he was the team leader and it was he who set the price that let them down. Why oh why did Sir Alan fall for that “I’m only 21 horses speech why why?” and why did he get rid of Liz who has worked so hard each week and been a valuable team member on most tasks.
So what went wrong? Well yet again it went wrong as each team yet again failed to do some basic project planning. Firstly why did they not research current bus tours their themes and their prices? They could even have done some competitor research by phoning some of them up to find out what are the most popular tours and why and what prices they sell them at and wither there are any family or group passes. They failed to do this and went headlong into Ghost and Ghouls and Cockney theme and then Stuart in the losing team then plucked up a price out of thin air! Big mistake and the main reason they lost the task. Neither team yet again thought of who their customer was. Some thought about this would have helped. Yes you can argue that it was the TOURIST. Someone wo Stuart seemed to feel was full of cash and rather stupid and this was such an easy sell – WRONG. Just like there are always different types of customers there are also different type of tourists the fundamentals are just the same. Was there a particular market their tour would attract such as anything to do with Beatrix Potter in the Lake District always attracts the Japanese tourist. Were you going for the family market so needed a family themed tour? Just a little bit of thought regarding this could have meant that they knew what price competitors charged, knew their most popular tours and finally with this knowledge and thinking what type of customers to attract a theme and a price could have been put together.
The next fundamental mistake were the tours themselves. Jamie made me laugh I don’t know London very well but I do know that the Thames is the biggest river in London not the second biggest. But he carried it through with humour and enthusiasm. Stella was as wooden as ever and she was not helped by the fact that Liz and Stuart had failed to carry out their research of Cockney London and I thought she was very lucky not to have people asking for their money back!
I must admit I was surprised that the other team won with their 20% that they gave to the British Travel Centre though that said they did have a full last bus and 80% of a full bus is better than 100% of an empty bus so I was wrong there.
Main lessons for me this week. Well first harsh reality in this world its sometimes the better candidate who loses out as people listen to flash but no substance. I have seen that myself many times to me Liz was by far the better candidate of the three of them. Second lesson is yet again the teams failed to carry out basic project management particularly on pricing and that let them down and thirdly it showed that tourism is not the easy business that they thought. Yes tourism is fun – holidays are fun you are creating memories for people and showing them a new culture which is one of the many reasons that I love working in tourism. However like any industry tourism is a serious business that is why it is one of the growth areas in the current and no doubt future economy. Like any business you need to get your basics right.
Product – the product needs to be the best it can in the market you are in. If you are a 3 star Hotel be the best 3 star hotel. If you are running a coffee shop be the best in the town. Make the most of your product so that people want to buy.
Price – Look at price carefully I would never advocate going into a price war the only way is down but look at what your competitors are doing and see where you want to be in the market. If you can add value added to your product.
Promotion – Make sure that you have a brand that suits your product and that stands out in the marketplace. Yes you can do it yourself but how is that going to compete with a designed brand that will make you stand out and will stand the test of time. Investing in a graphic designer is an essential outlay and you can then use this for all your promotional material. You want people to notice you.
Communicate – Communicate with your customers and don’t just sit there and expect them to come to you. Make sure you have all communication angles covered. Press and PR is a great way of creating initial awareness and Social Media is also a cost-effective way of keeping your customers updated but also attracting new customers. Make sure you have an attractive website and keep it updated and full of useful information so that people will want to go back to it. Keep in touch with your customers use enewsletters and direct mail and face to face communication. Tourism like all business sectors has many networks be part of this activity become known in this network so you can gain referrals.
Customers – Last but the most important point its all about the customer. Be customer focused know what type of customer you want to attract and make sure that your product suits these customers. Make sure your staff if you have them know that customer service is key to the business and work hard at this aspect always as marketing can get customers through the door but its great customer service which will get them returning and telling others about you.
So the end of another week of the apprentice and for us in the snowy Scottish Borders the beginning of a thaw its been a balmy 5 degrees today! Is there a thaw in the Apprentice? No I sense a chill in the air its the interviews next week – can’t wait. And Liz I am sorry you were fired but Sir Alan’s loss will be someone elses gain! Mistake Sir Alan! Sorry Sir.