The 80/20 Rule for Tourism Pros – Homework Included!

  I have written about the 80/20 Rule for Tourism Pros before, but I thought I would give all my readers a refresher course along with some worksheets I created for a talk I recently gave at the Pennsylvania Bus Association summer meeting.

80/20 explained

In a nutshell, the 80/20 rule explains why some actions create big results, and why many other actions create little to no results. One of the phrases often associated with the rule is “The vital few and the trivial many”. As tourism professionals, I am sure you never have enough time or resources. Our industry is not the same as it was 20 years ago and increasing competition forces us to look for ways to create advantages. Using this law of nature will give you an advantage.

If you haven’t read the 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch, start there. It is an easy read and will open your eyes to how this can change your professional and personal life.

Secondly, realize that the actions you have been taking will change based on the new awareness you will have. Change can be hard; it has been for me. But you have to make changes to make progress.

Three areas for 80/20 change for tourism pros

In my first 80/20 blog post, I wrote about how this rule can impact your sales efforts with clients. I will let you go back and read that, but in a nutshell, you will see that not all your clients are created equal. A few of your clients are vitally important, and most of them are only marginally important to your success. If you list your top 10 clients by the amount of business they bring you (either revenue or the number of customers) you will see that the top 3 or 4 bring in most of your business. I don’t have to look at your worksheet to know that it’s true – the 80/20 rule is like a law of physic or a law of nature.  Those top customers are your ‘vital few’. This is where you should spend your time and resources.

In this post I will go into some detail on the impact of this rule with your staff and yourself.

Staff and the 80/20 rule

If you have staff, consider their time at work using the 80/20 lens. A few things that they do regularly will make a big difference in your business. What is that? Is it answering the phone professionally and taking reservations? Maybe meeting with local and regional partners to strengthen partnerships? Or perhaps leveraging your social media accounts by creating interactions with potential guests?  Write down the most important tasks as you see them. Then ask your staff what is the 20% of their activities that make the biggest difference? You might be suprised at your different answers.

Does the job description reflect the most important skills needed?

Once you have agreed on those actions, make sure they are reflected in the job description. One of my staff takes the time to write a short response to all our Trip Advisor reviews. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but we have seen much more engagement in our listing since we have done that. So the job description now lists ‘excellent writing skills’, which was never needed before.

Eliminate and delegate

You will also see that 80% of their activities and responsibilities are not as important. That is where delegating and outsourcing can come in. Is there a way to eliminate any of the responsibilities? Are they important, or have things always been done this way? If you have frontline staff, volunteers, or interns, are there some tasks they could take on? Virtual job sites such as Upwork and Fiverr can connect you with virtual assistants, or qualified people to take on more basic tasks.  Your staff will thank you for helping them be more efficient and less stressed.

You and the 80/20 rule

Yes, you! If you apply the principle to your work life, you will find that you have free time. Don’t make the mistake I did and squander it on scrolling through social media (damn you Pinterest!). I was able to stop taking work home at night and on the weekends. I had to realize that I had to make plans for my free time, or it would just disappear. When is the last time you read a book? I switch back and forth between non-fiction and fiction, but I usually read 1 or 2 books a month. How about hobbies? Want to learn something new? Try a meetup group- they have meetings for everything. The point is, once you do your most important work at your job, you can then concentrate your new found time on your most important resource of all – your well being.

Now comes the homework!


If you haven’t read the 80/20 Principle yet, start here. When I spoke at PBA in June, I gave everyone an 80-20 worksheet 2017. You will see that it is broken down into 3 sections: your customers, your staff and you.  It is a great tool for getting your thoughts on paper.

Lastly, I created a forum for the 80/20 principle. A forum is just a page on my website where readers like you can go and post questions or comments. I am a huge proponent of the 80/20 rule and love to help others become successful by implementing it. Load me up with questions in the forum!

Guest post by Sally Berry:  Sally has held many positions in the tourism industry including sales manager at attractions, sales director at a regional DMO, a stint as a receptive operator and now the Tourism Sales and Marketing Manager at the Corning Museum of Glass. The Attractions Coach blog came about after peers kept asking for advice and consulting jobs.  Writing is a passion of mine and I enjoy helping tourism pros become more successful. Learn more here.

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