Managing the visitor experience
One of the biggest changes the management team will face is managing the influx of visitors into a community. This could cause issues for a community that has not been exposed to many visitors from different cultures participating in community life. Best practice would involve the implementation of procedures to minimize the possible negative impacts on the community.
Developing a visitor code of conduct
The community might want to develop codes of conduct to guide visitor behaviour and to ensure that all interactions between visitors and the community are framed as two-way intercultural exchanges. It is vital that good communication with visitors is set up before they arrive in the community to provide visitors with information about appropriate behaviour and dress, or adhering to local customs and beliefs, for example, alcohol avoidance. This is especially important if places of religious worship are included as part of the tour activities.
This helps visitors to behave in culturally sensitive and appropriate ways, with the understanding that visitors are there to learn as much as they can about local life and the community is also open to positive learning from outsiders. The community should be clear upfront about what kinds of learning are positive and which are negative and should be avoided; similarly, visitors should be asked what they would like to gain from the experience and what kinds of local knowledge they are particularly interested in accessing
Manage visitor expectations
One way to successfully manage changes in visitor expectations is to have some knowledge of the standards that foreign visitors might be accustomed to. This will ensure that the CBT venture service providers are aware of visitor needs and standards. Marketing material should also make clear what visitors should not expect (e.g. certain luxuries or conveniences) to minimize visitors getting frustrated if they feel that their expectations have not been met.
Managing personnel with appropriate policies
One of the key drivers in establishing a CBT venture is to provide meaningful employment to people in the community. During establishment, the management team should develop guidelines for employment, including agreement on fair work hours (including the right to rest, limits on working hours and length of holidays), safe and hygienic working conditions, and equal pay for equal work. Safety and respect in the workplace and gender equity should be encouraged through policies that provide equal opportunities for women and men to participate in the CBT operation. However, this can prove challenging in countries with rigid gender roles regarding types of work that are considered normal for different sexes. Codes of practice that specify appropriate behavior toward visitors should also be developed.
Since most CBT ventures are based around giving visitors the chance to interact with the host community, personnel involved in the venture are at the front line of this interaction and are crucial to fostering an atmosphere of mutual cultural respect. Staff interactions with visitors shape every part of the experience for visitors. It is important that personnel are trained to deliver key services, and that there are established standards for visitor interaction and adequate mechanisms for staff to give feedback to management when problems are encountered.
It is also important that the staff working for the CBT operation feel valued and that all members of the community are given the opportunity to contribute and benefit from the project. One way to motivate and educate staff is to rotate duties. This was done with in the case study regarding Taquille Peru, where rotation of duties allowed staff members to gain insight into how each component of the CBT worked together to deliver the overall experience and to expand their skill set. A workforce with flexible and multiple abilities also makes the CBT venture more resilient: if staff are no longer able to work due to illness or other responsibilities, other staff members are able to step in with limited disruption to service delivery.
Codes to protect natural assets
The natural assets also attract visitors to CBT destinations. Therefore it is crucial to protect these natural assets. A code for environmentally and socially responsible practices should be agreed upon and applied. A code for environmentally responsible practice is one way of managing natural resources, whereby staff and tourists alike are made aware of what they can or cannot do while in the natural environment (e.g. while on a lake or river expedition).
Managing for risk
A CBT leadership team should have a risk management plan to deal with medical emergencies or natural disasters. Stakeholders should identify and plan for all emergencies that may occur and will need to communicate this plan to staff and visitors. The leadership team should familiarise itself with the relevant disaster management government agencies and know which policies or regulations are relevant to the CBT operation in dealing with emergencies. Guides should be given training in the administration of first aid and how to identify safe evacuation routes. All safety policies should be communicated to visitors prior to or at the time of arrival at the destination.