3 Powerful Mindset Shifts to Unleash the Potential of your Tourism Business

leadership mindset personal effectiveness Aug 24, 2022
3 Powerful Mindset Shifts to Unleash the Potential of your Tourism Business

Induction to the Multinational Mindset


Early in my career, I joined an American multinational corporation. Coming from a typically self-deprecating rural Irish background, I thought I had landed on another planet. The culture shock was real! Why? It was a powerfully exuberant place, full of collective positivity, self-belief and ambition.

We were reminded often that we were the best, that we had been recruited because we were the best, that together we were better than the rest of the best. This was part of everyday language and particularly pronounced at the Annual Sales Conference and Annual Unit Days – 2-day events where everybody got away from the office for two days, stayed in the finest hotels, dined on the finest foods, were inspired by motivational speakers and bonded by team-building experts.

The Management talked about purpose, innovation, transformation, breaking new ground, transforming the lives of our customers, making a real difference to real people, bringing happiness and goodness to the world. We were a sales and marketing organisation and what we were selling and marketing were chocolate and sweets, convenience sauces and petfood.

This corporation knew the importance of mindset, belief and attitudes to the bottom line of the business. The higher our mindsets, the higher our sales.

While I may have been cynical initially, I have always been grateful for that experience. I learned that mindsets are cultivated, mindsets are changeable and that the mindset we allow ourselves to have is a very big deal indeed!


Tourism Mindsets


Fast forward to my life in tourism. Here I found tourism destinations and local experience providers who truly had the potential for wonderful impact in the world – connection, transformation, shared memories, learning, conservation of heritage, tradition, folklore, landscape. However, I didn’t find corresponding high levels of self-belief or a discourse of self-empowerment.

I’m not suggesting that the American Multinational Self Talk Motivational Machine would transpose well to places, destinations or indigenous experience providers of tourism. However, I do think a pinch or two of it would be very good indeed. Unravelling limiting beliefs and cultivating a mindset that serves one’s goals is a large part of the my work as a trainer and coach to tourism business owners and experience entrepreneurs.


So Why is 'Mindset' so Important?


Mindset usually refers to an established set of attitudes and beliefs held by someone. Our attitudes and beliefs affect everything we do – they inform our thoughts which in turn dictate our actions and behaviour. A mindset can work for you and against you – sometimes its liberating and empowering, sometimes it's restrictive and downright debilitating. Developing certain mindsets helps us reach our goals while others stand firmly in the way as we struggle to get near them.

That is why your mindset is such a big deal!

It can be very tricky to notice your own mindset. What you already believe makes sense to you and so you rarely question it. You take it as fact. If your own mindset is a barrier to your progress, it can be extremely hard to recognise that.


Mindsets Can Be Changed and Cultivated


The good news is that we have the power to change our brains, learn new things and develop new skills. Ask the neuroplasticity neuroscientists all about that! We now know that we can re-wire our thought patterns and we can cultivate a belief system and set of attitudes that serve us better on our journey.

Below I share three of the most powerful mindset shifts that I’ve seen tourism entrepreneurs like you can make:


Powerful Mindset Shift #1 - Evolve From the Worker Bee Mindset to the Chief Executive Mindset 


A key question to consider is whether you own a job or whether you own a business. If you have a worker bee mindset (i.e. you own a job), you are focused on generating income to live and exchanging your time for a wage. You are usually busy delivering the service but also trying to make sure the next piece of work is lined up. The focus is short-term and tactical.

If you have a CEO mindset (i.e. you own a business) you spend more time working on the business rather than just delivering the service. You care about goodwill, reputation and brand value. You invest in your own leadership and management skills and you seek to build capital. You seek an appropriate return on investment. The focus is long-term and strategic.

Your goals may mean having a job works really well for you. If your goals include expanding your personal impact and growing income through your business, then work on stepping into those CEO shoes.

One client evaluated our coaching programme saying: “I moved from being a tour guide trying to run a business to being a business man who could guide a tour.” Another said “I no longer see myself as trying to earn a wage from tours. I now see myself as the CEO of an international tourism business that partners with other international tourism businesses around the globe.”


Powerful Mindset Shift #2 - Replace the Mindset of Modesty with the Mindset of Magic


There’s no room for humility in tourism. That sounds like I’m encouraging boastfulness and big-headedness. Not so. What I am encouraging is ridding oneself of stifling levels of humility that keep you thinking and acting small. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Genuine shock that people are prepared to pay for your experience.
  • Being unable to read TripAdvisor Reviews because the compliments make you squirm.
  • Dismissing positive feedback and even rave reviews as ‘they’re just being nice’ or ‘they had to say that’.

I regularly hear people diminish their own offering to others:

  • “I’m only a little business that nobody has heard of.”
  • “My story isn’t that great and my experience isn’t either but some people seem to like it.”
  • “My Mam think it’s hilarious that anybody pays me to do this.”

Then there are the people who know they are good, who believe deeply in the quality and value of their experience, but who just can’t tell other people about it. At least, they can’t tell others about it in a way that does justice to the experience.

If you have a wonderful experience, you absolutely must message your own magic! Get comfortable with telling people why spending time with you is a great idea. Your ideal guests or trade partners don’t have the capacity or ability to formulate that for themselves. How could they? They have their own lives, businesses, preoccupations – they won’t spend time and effort thinking about what makes you special!

Know the words you want to own in the minds of your ideal customer and then use those words often when speaking about yourself. Release the irrational fear that others are out there waiting to judge you – they’re either not paying that much attention to you or they are cheering you on in good spirit.


Powerful Mindset Shift #3 - Stop Thinking 'People Won't Pay More For This' and Start Thinking 'My Ideal Customer Will Pay What This Is Worth'


“I’m squeamish about pricing” is what one client said. It will sound familiar to many.

Pricing is one of those areas that takes quite a while to get comfortable with. There are many courses available on pricing. There is a pretty methodical approach to doing it. Your ultimate pricing will be based on a mix of marketing strategy, sales targets and financial analysis. Right?

Actually, it’s very hard to arrive at a good pricing level. Too often, the price is set based on a hunch of what the market will be prepared to pay. And that hunch is dictated by the mindset of the tourism entrepreneur with regard to cost and value and the external voices that caution on value for money. It’s also often set based on what the wage market might consider an appropriate price per hour (similar to wage per hour) rather than on a price that reflects the investment in experience, knowledge, premises, curation and planning.

Very often, it’s based on the money myths (and we all have them) that have been gathered through the experiences of life.

I often ask clients who struggle to recognise their true value this question:

‘What if you doubled your price?’

Almost invariably, they will react in a scandalised kind of way, gasping with incredulity. ‘Oh my gosh, no way! You must be joking! Who would pay that? Who would think it’s worth that? What do I offer that would make it worth that?’

The challenge then is to answer those very questions. I ask people to write the answers down and say them aloud. They are always surprised by how much clearer this makes their target market and how much value they then can see in what they do.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Wayne Dyer


Tina O'Dwyer

Tina is a Certified High Performance Coach specialising in tourism. She has extensive experience in sustainable tourism, regenerative tourism, food tourism, networks, clusters and collaborations. In September 2022, The Tourism Space will be launching a group training programme which has a key focus on mindset and your personal storytelling. Learn more about the Tourism Business Accelerator Programme here.

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