Worldly Business Lessons and Thoughts

Traveling the world is a great way to unwind and a goal shared by many. We each have a personal “bucket list” of places we’d like to visit. On my trip to Italy and the UK this summer I couldn’t help but notice the sheer magnitude of the tourism economy of London and Rome. In fact, tourism is an enormous piece of the European economy with over 12.3 million workers in 2.3 million enterprises (according to Eurostat). At the same time, even though we business owners are on vacation, we can’t help thinking about our businesses back home. Here are a few noteworthy observations I made during my holiday that may apply to your businesses.

1. Be able to communicate with your customers in their language. I was shocked by how little I needed my Google Translate app (which is awesome! Try the conversation mode). Having menus and instructions throughout Europe in di‰erent languages certainly helped us feel comfortable buying from businesses. Can you communicate in multiple languages?

2. Protect your biggest assets. Whether it was The David, The Colosseum, or Big Ben, the level of security and restoration efforts was awe-inspiring. Are you careful with the single big item that drives your business? What are you doing to preserve and protect your product, history, service standards?

3. We are now a “no wait” society. Even at the most popular attractions, the wait times are managed extremely well. There was a HUGE line to get into Vatican City, but the line moved swiftly and efficiently. And, by using MyTaxi and OpenTable, we could order a taxi and grab a table on demand. Do your customers need
to wait for your services? Do you leverage technology to make appointments or serve on demand clients?

4. VIP is valued and paid for. In Florence they have people outside selling “skip the line” tours at the Statue of David. Business class seats on long flights are highly sought after. Do you o‰er the ability for customers to upgrade to VIP? Most people value their time and status over money in the long run. What higher  end service do you provide and charge for?

5. Transportation is essential. Getting places throughout Italy by rail is a pleasure as is the Tube in London. Mass transit to tourist destinations is essential for driving revenues. Can your customers easily get to you? Once there, can you move them around efficiently?

6. Location, location, location. Just watching the action of the restaurants, souvenir shops and open-air marketplaces near “big attractions” just reminds me that not everything is bought online. And prime locations can be super lucrative. Should you consider moving your business closer to the action?

7. Appearance is everything. Signage is underrated as an essential part of a business’ ›rst impression. Shops, restaurants, and attractions that looked nice from the
exterior were bustling. Part of that appeal can also be reflective of your online presence and reviews. What does your business look like from a first-time customer’s point of view? When was the last time you navigated your website?

8. Know when to work hard. Siesta closes many of the stores and restaurants in Italy, but in the tourist areas, it did not seem to apply as much. In speaking with some of the business owners, they noted that they sort of skip it during busy season in order to survive the slower months. Does your business have a slow time or season? Work hard when business is brisk. Lastly, to have a successful tourist destination, it takes the cooperation and partnership of business, government,
residents, nonprofits, and  other agencies. The same is true for your business. It takes successful relationships throughout your community to thrive. It’s a big world, but we are all connected!

Andy Cagnetta owns and operates
Transworld Business Advisors. He joined
the company as a sales associate and
later purchased it. Transworld is an
international franchise business and
franchise brokerage, with thousands
of businesses for sale and over 100
franchisees in the United States and