From our last two days of analysis, we know our hypothetical travel agency’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, it is time to think about the opportunities that the market is presenting. Opportunities are external to the company and present the possibility for profit and growth IF the company can position itself to take advantage of the opportunity – which is precisely what the SWOT analysis is designed to do. It is almost certain that the company will not be able to take advantage of every possible opportunity, so identifying the ones with the most potential is critical.
Analyzing opportunities requires a good working knowledge of local, regional and national trends. Changes in the public perception of particular destinations, pop culture, improving economic conditions, pent up demand or changes in local demographics can have real impact on a travel agency’s opportunities. For example, the upcoming release of a movie can increase demand for a particular set location as did Lord of the Rings for New Zealand. Getting ahead of that demand curve might suggest a marketing campaign or a set of destination specialist courses. Positioning a travel agency to take advantage of the building of a new local senior citizen community is the type of advance planning that could be important to growth. New company in town? Opportunity! Competition close down over the past year releasing both clients and new personnel? Opportunity!
A good exercise is to look at your list of Strengths and determine whether they reveal any possible unexploited Opportunities. For example, do any of your associates have destination specialties that could be turned into opportunities? Do your press contacts suggest a particular strategy with regard to public relations opportunities? Alternatively, examine your travel agency’s weaknesses. What if you eliminated one of them – would that present a new opportunity?
Here is a list of possible opportunities for our hypothetical agency:
- Pent up demand for travel after recession
- ABC Travel, a competitor, looks weak – no marketing during recession – laid off employees
- Series of articles in local paper on River Cruising got a lot of attention
- New Senior center has inquired about group travel
It is easy to see that opportunities may be fleeting. For that reason, a SWOT analysis cannot be treated as a static plan but should be considered alive and organic. Not all opportunities can be anticipated by the travel agent and therefore some room must be left for contingency and unexpected opportunities.
Tomorrow – Analyzing your Threats