A constantly changing travel industry means your booking volume can rise exponentially from one week to the next, or worse, disappear altogether.
Attractions with solid capacity planning processes in place are better equipped to manage these sudden shifts in demand.
That’s because capacity planning removes the guesswork from hiring, scheduling, or investing in new equipment.
Instead of blindly estimating how many guides you’ll need to accommodate your booking volume next month, you can make a far more accurate prediction with a capacity planner. It’s like a crystal ball for your capacity needs.
In this post, we’ll explain how your attraction can leverage a capacity planner to better predict and meet guest demand in 2022.
- Continuously update your forecasting model
- Get to know your customers
- Leverage automation
- Rinse and repeat
What is a capacity planner?
The easiest way to begin your capacity planning process is to invest in the right software.
Capacity planning tools help attractions evaluate their capacity needs so that they can better adjust to fluctuations in demand. They help attractions keep track of resources like tour guides and equipment to ensure you can smoothly accommodate your booking volume.
A capacity planner can also help your attraction forecast future resource needs by anticipating changes in guest demand.
The best-in-class, modern booking softwares have a lot of this functionality built in. For instance, in Xola, you can manage tour guide schedules and equipment to ensure your availability is accurate. This way, you can avoid the stress of being overbooked and having to turn guests away.
You can take capacity planning a step further and leverage the data to make smarter pricing and staffing decisions.
For example, Xola’s capacity utilization report can help you see how specific tour listings are faring over time. If you have an early morning tour that is consistently operating at only 25% capacity, you may choose to offer that tour at a discount to incentize your most price-sensitive customers to book at your least busy times.
As a result, you start filling up your less-desirable time slots and boost your company’s profit.
Capacity planners help your company stay ahead of the curve, allowing you to make the best resource decisions based on real data.
5 steps to creating a capacity plan
Let’s take a look at a step-by-step breakdown of the capacity planning process.
- Identify the key resources that need to be measured. For an attraction, this typically includes staff, available working hours, equipment, and venue space.
- Measure the resource capacity of your current team. In this step, you’ll determine how many tours or bookings your company can currently handle. Here you can find out the capacity of your team as a whole and break it down by individual employee — which can be especially useful to spot overworked employees and potential bottlenecks.
- Forecast future demand. A crucial part of capacity planning is to forecast changes in your booking volume or ticket sales. Once you know what to expect in the future, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions about your current resource pool.
- Determine your new capacity requirements. Is there a gap between capacity and demand? This is where you’ll determine whether your current staff, equipment, and/or space can meet the anticipated guest demand.
- Match capacity with expected demand. The final step is to start mitigating the gap that was identified in step 4. For example, if your current staff can’t accommodate the expected rise in bookings, you might need to hire an additional tour guide before those new guests arrive.
Capacity planning forecasting best practices
Demand forecasting is a significant portion of capacity planning. It’s how your attraction can go about predicting what and how many tours they’ll be booking and when they’ll be booking them.
Here are 5 best practices to help you make demand forecasting as accurate as possible.
Continuously update your forecasting model
If you continuously feed new data into your forecasting model, you’ll have access to real-time information that can help you optimize your company’s financial performance.
As you track the number of guests on a daily basis, your capacity planner will start to notice trends and changes in booking volume, especially over a period of time.
This fresh data will help predict future guest numbers so that you can make the right staffing and equipment decisions to meet both short- and long-term demand.
Get to know your customers
Your future bookings and ticket sales are dependent on your customers. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll understand what drives them to book your tours or visit your attraction.
Regular customer surveys, for example, can help identify the variables that influence guest demand. The feedback you receive from your guests can help you predict future fluctuations in demand.
Let forecasting technology do the work for you. Capacity planning tools can forecast fluctuations in demand while you and your team focus on providing your guests with the best experience possible.
Xola’s capacity utilization report, for instance, highlights your most and least profitable time slots. It also helps you see which of your tours are performing best and when. You can then choose to automatically offer deals that would incentivize guests to book your less popular tours.
Forecasting technology removes the doubt from the equation and ensures that you’re responding to demand proactively, instead of reactively.
Rinse and repeat
To improve the accuracy of your demand forecasting, you should always analyze your previous forecasts. Compare your predictions to actual results to see when you were right or wrong. Then, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve your forecasting model. Consider repeating this process quarterly to continuously minimize wrong predictions.
Capacity planning is important for the success of any company, especially in the travel industry.
Your attraction shouldn’t be hiring too many or too few employees, all while losing money in the process. To avoid either scenario, follow these best practices to improve your capacity planning process in 2022.