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If you’re working for a great company or been a part of a remarkable corporate culture, you know what it’s like to be a part of something special.

Through our work with sightseeing companies around the world, we’ve learned firsthand what makes these companies great; leaders share three essential qualities that make them hugely successful: their goal orientated, have clarity, and courage.

So what is it about these qualities that help tour operators succeed?

What we see happening in our work with leading sightseeing companies is a repeating pattern of cultures that value people.

Team members are empowered to flourish, make mistakes and learn so they can succeed faster. By doing so, employees look for challenges and gain a sense of accomplishment because they’re striving for goals that contribute to an organization’s success.

Here are three things these companies do well.

Leading Sightseeing Companies Define Their Success

The old paradigm of business success is to benchmark your company against your competitor’s offerings. Where you stack up provides a clear indication of whether or not you are achieving success in any meaningful way.

This thinking is flawed. Why?

By benchmarking your competitors, you put yourself in a box. There isn’t any room to create value that falls outside the category of “me too.”

Instead of focusing on just monetary success with a me-too mindset, leading companies move beyond income statements by evaluating success by their value-creation achievements.

For example, you may want to apply your skill set to create passenger value by offering hands-on visitor experiences to co-create and improve your tours for everyone. Enhancing your tours doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve wildly high profits. It means you’ll be providing visitors with more meaningful experiences profitably. By your definition of success – goal completed.

Having clear goals and achieving them – getting to the outcome you envisioned is a big win.

We’ve found that leading sightseeing companies focus on their purpose first – to create exceptional customer value. They have a clear understanding of why they exist, a vision of where they want to go, and a plan on how to get there. They’re completely engaged in the work they do and love doing it.

So what’s the takeaway?

Your income statement and balance sheet don’t define you or your success. The continued pursuit of realistic, worthy goals does.

Leaders Know Their Audience

Leaders know their audience. We’ve all heard this before, but you may be surprised to learn that many of our customers struggle with defining who their customers are.

The problem is, you’re attracting diverse audiences looking for things to see and do in your destination. You may be drawing Millenials, Gen Xers, and Boomers. Singles, couples, families with kids. English, French and German travelers. The conversation about who your customers are becomes intimidating right away.

So how do you define your audience? Is this even possible?

The answer is yes. While you may not have a brand strategy firm working on your ideal customer personas for targeted marketing, there are other ways to gather valuable information about your audience.

What we’ve seen from companies that set themselves apart is this:

They are great active listeners.

Leading companies hone this skill by having a direct line of communication with their customers. They regularly engage in conversations with staff and visitors to make sure they’re meeting and exceeding expectations. They often gain customer insights using feedback loops with frontline staff, who share what they’ve learned with their managers.

Another successful approach we’ve seen is incentivizing employees. We’ve witnessed innovative programs by sightseeing companies where managers give points to frontline staff for gaining customer insights and offering exceptional customer service. Team members collect points throughout the year and use them to bid on products and apparel at annual auctions.

An employee engagement program is a great way to keep the customer experience top of mind.

Fail Fast, Learn, and Succeed Sooner

We have customers that have a “fail fast, learn and succeed sooner” culture. It’s been amazing to watch these customers grow. What’s striking about this ideology is the ability to innovate fast. We have customers expanding with new product offerings that succeed in the market.

One example is Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises. They started with boat tours as their core business. Next, they expanded sightseeing operations by launching a Hop-on, hop-off trolley tour business (no easy feat), created a City Pass which includes visitor experiences, tours and attractions, and most recently, a guided walking tour business that meshes storytelling with sound effects and music to create immersive guest experiences.

Their staff are always trying new things and learning as much as they can about how marketing, delivery of experiences, and customer satisfaction all work hand-in-hand to create value for the organization and their customers.

The fail fast, quickly learn process has created several opportunities to grow and succeed because the team isn’t afraid to take risks. Since learning happens from concrete action, staff and management are empowered to make smarter decisions.

Fail fast to succeed sooner is a meaningful iterative process based on the voice of the customer. 

Work Towards A Common Goal and Purpose

As idyllic as it is to imagine a world where everyone is fortunate, companies that embrace leadership as an opportunity to add value to other people often see the most success.

The role of leadership is changing. Companies that invest in developing people have cultures that flourish. Everyone works towards a common goal and purpose. And that makes all the difference in the world.

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