As the calendar year winds down, it is a perfect time to prepare for the upcoming travel year. Advance planning can help distribute the workload during the high travel season and keep your business steady when there are lulls. Whether you are a “mom and pop” travel business or a team of many, the following tips will help you plan for a prosperous year.

1. Look back to move forward

Review all aspects of your business during the previous year. Identify what group travel products were popular and determine what made them stand out from other offers. Was it the time of year? The destination? A particular tour guide? If there are factors that can be replicated, use them on other tours to boost their success. Repeat the process for travel products that did not sell as well – what would make them more attractive?

This is also a great time to take an inventory of the vendor relationships you have. Turnover within the hospitality sector runs over 70 percent in comparison to the average of 46 percent for all private-sector jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Updating your vendor contact list before high season will save time and frustration. Grow your list of vendors through tour planning publications, networking with colleagues, attending trade-shows or searching social media.

2. Be your own customer

Consider all channels you use to engage your customers: website, social media, email, brochures and mailings. Determine which channels provided the most success, make sure to factor in the time dedicated as well as the costs when analyzing the return on investment. Map out a plan to promote tours and any special discounts you can offer to encourage additional bookings in the upcoming year.

Take the time to do an internet search for your business. How difficult was your search? Study your website. Are all of the links on your website working properly? Check that your tours have up-to-date details and pricing. Make sure your business contact information is correct and easy to find. If you use an online booking system, it is helpful to complete the process as your customers would, to identify any necessary improvements.

Review and update your business details on your social media accounts. Consider growing your audience through paid advertising campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Reach out to previous customers to tag you in their tour photos, this allows you to have a stockpile of pictures for future social engagements and helps boost your online presence.

Finally, visit review platforms like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google to see if there are recent reviews for your organization. Address any pending reviews. And just like photos, ask your clients to provide reviews for more recognition.

3. Get organized

Evaluate travel trends and how they influence your business. Are there different types of groups or destinations that should be incorporated into your business plan? Shifting or expanding your scope of services may mean changes in your team to make sure you are sufficiently staffed to meet your client’s expectations. Communication and organization of information are critical to be successful. Online tools have made it easy for businesses to become more efficient. Programs like Google DriveEvernote or Dropbox bring all of your working files together so you and your team can safely access to them from any location.

Let us know what planning tips you use each year to help grow your business. Email your tips to