Have you ever heard of a SWOT analysis? S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a simple but powerful exercise you can use to map out a strategy and get ideas down on paper. Earlier this year I ran a SWOT analysis challenge for my readers and over 50 people completed the challenge!
I thought since we are seeing 2021 in our sights that this would be a good time to think about how we can aim for success next year. And a S.W.O.T can be done for your business or your personal life. I have used it several times when I was at a fork in the road in my life and the task of writing and taking action helped me make good decisions.
Steps in Creating Your Tourism business SWOT Analysis
In order for your SWOT to be effective, you have to block out some time on your calendar. You need to give this your full attention and not be distracted ( almost impossible, right?). Go find somewhere quiet to sit, or go sit on a park bench. I always find this exercise to be part analytical and part creative so you need your whole brain.
I also recommend writing down your first draft and putting it away for a day or two. That will give you time to think of some other elements you hadn’t considered in your first attempt. Go back and add and edit your listings.
Are you thinking of working on this with your team? Great idea. Set a deadline and a meeting for everyone to gather back together to discuss and come up with a final document.
Even if your manager hasn’t asked you to create a SWOT analysis, doing this work will often give you clear insight into what you need to do. Keep it as your secret weapon when planning for next year!
Start by listing your business’ strengths. If you are an attraction, hotel, or retail outlet, what do you offer that is better/different/more unique than others? What do your customers love about you?
If you are a tour operator, what is unique about your tours? The way you add in secret elements? Your customer service? The variety of offerings that no one else carries?
And to my DMO readers, – are you best in class for your marketing? Do you provide educational training for your partners that make them devoted customers? Have you won awards for your work?
Some of your strengths will be objective – i.e- ‘we are less than a mile off the main route’, ‘we have an 88% return customer rate’, ‘our DMO has won National awards’. Some are more subjective – ‘we are considered a must-see stop for families’ ‘ we provide unique narration in several languages’ ‘ We are the most popular tour operator in the Southwest’.
List them all for now. There is no right or wrong answer.
I would encourage you to be very honest here. Sometimes our bosses/board don’t like to hear bad news, but this is often the category that can make the most difference. You know what your organization’s weaknesses are. This is the place to list all the elements that frustrate you, prevent an outstanding customer experience consistently and things that make your job harder.
Poor communication between departments? List it. No clear plan for safety and cleanliness protocols? Write them all down.
This is where your creative thinking will come into play. Do you have an idea that would make you stand out from your competitors? Long time readers of my blog know that I have mentioned the Blue Ocean Strategy book ( and this shortened version) before. A Blue Ocean refers to a competitive arena with no competition – you are providing products and services that no one else is.
Red ocean is when there is a lot of competition and everyone is just competing on price. Use this exercise to figure out your Blue Ocean opportunities. Not all of them will be acted on, but it is important to get all your great ideas onto paper. I encourage you to come up with at least 10 opportunities. Many times ideas # 5-8 are where the gems lie!
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This is different than weaknesses. Threats are elements on the horizon that will directly impact your bottom line. Covid 19 is an obvious one. Are restrictions making revenue goals impossible?
When I have worked with clients on their SWOT analysis in the past, we discuss elements such as new competition or changes to industry standards like more strict driver hours on buses. But in today’s world, the implications of the pandemic and the resulting economic fallout is more than enough for us to focus on.
Many times there is nothing you can do about the threats on your list, but it helps frame your action steps.
Now that you have each element filled out, what do you do? Pick a strength and focus on it. Choose an opportunity and start thinking how you can capitalize on it. Weaknesses? Don’t worry about them initially, but tackle them once you are seeing success. Threats? Nothing you can do, but keep them in mind as you strategize on your action plan.
Would you like some additional help? Click here to check out the S.W.O.T course at the online Tourism Pro Academy. The course is only $19.99 and you will end up with a completed S.W.O.T and some action steps. Use the coupon code DECEMBER to get 25% off this month!
Guest post by Sally Berry: Sally Berry is a U.S. tourism industry expert and has an industry blog at SallyDavisBerry.com which helps attractions and destinations get more visitors through their doors.
She has been named a Top 10 Most influential woman in the Group tour market and a Top Innovator in the Group tour market by Groups Today Magazine.TourOperator.com named Sally a Top Tourism Networker and a Top 20 US Tourism Industry Professional.
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About Catherine Heeg
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