Cost savings and efficiencies

As the cost-of-living crisis bites, many Attraction and Experience businesses who – still reeling from the pandemic – are struggling to recover business and stay afloat. How you respond to these challenges may affect whether your business or organisation can continue to operate commercially.

The simple steps below will assist your thinking, and allow you to look at your operation objectively, and ensure that you concentrate on the opportunity to save costs and increase efficiencies in your organisation, and ensure that you respond to these commercial challenges effectively.

It is difficult to keep the emotion out of the thinking, as often you are dealing with your own business, or one you are very close to. Dealing with a service which positively impacts people’s lives, plus one which employs people or has the support of volunteers, who also benefit from in more ways than simply a salary, mean that many decisions can only be based on subjective emotions and feelings.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this – in fact we advised to ‘humanise every decision’ during and post pandemic recovery. This, however does make tough decisions tougher. The following process will hopefully prove to support the thinking in a strategic, and people-focused way, to allow you to make the right decision for the business and organisation.


  1. Your Revenue
  2. Commercials – what is your P&L telling you?
  3. Identifying Cost Saving Opportunities

First Things First - Your Revenue

The cost-of-living crisis is making it hard for everyone to make ends meet, and the tourism industry as a whole, including leisure attractions, experiences and hospitality businesses are are no doubt being impacted.

Tourism is indeed the lifeblood of the local economy and operators must seek out ways to combat this change in behaviour in order to sustain commercial viability of the operation.

With the level of inflation now almost 10%, Household budgets are being squeezed, and the leisure spend is therefore being reduced. This is impacting on many activities, with research has seen some numbers to UK visitor attractions numbers down by up to 33%. The following explains the changes in behaviour, and the consequences which are being felt, and creative ways to sustain and grow footfall and profit in the face of these challenges.

The Domestic (UK) Market and ROI visitor

The International Market

Section 1 deals with the Domestic and ROI market, who can easily access Northern Ireland for a short break, domestic travel and longer holidays, the International Market is just as susceptible to the trends affecting the Domestic UK and Irish Markets.

With a longer lead time and decision-making time, to increase footfall and to combat the initial decision-making process which may be more reticent to spend money on international travel, the rules above still apply. Guests and customers will be looking to maximise the Value for Money aspect of their trips, so price points and added value are of paramount importance for this market as well.

Commercials - What Is Your P&L/ Accountant Telling You?

Although it is easy to concentrate on the day to day operation of any leisure business or attraction/experience, your commercials and your accounts will tell you all you need to know.

You MUST find time to identify the trends and the peaks and troughs of the business on a daily, weekly, quarterly and annual basis, in order to stay on top of all your business trends.

This means setting aside time in the working week to go through numbers, percentages and – most importantly in this case – identify EVERY cost which is being charged to the business.

This means not leaving the finance side of the business to your accountant to work out on an annual basis, but giving you full control of the business daily, weekly, monthly etc, so you can make important decisions swiftly, based on business performance now, yesterday and last week, not merely on the last quarter or even the last year.

If you do not already record much information, it is important you set up systems and processes to do so, which can be recorded and therefore used to identify trends, and enable you to make key business decisions.

E.g. if your busiest time of the week is a weekend, Monday you need to record the actuals for this month, this year and last years and further back. This will help you identify trends.

It also is useful to record statistics:

  • Revenue /Average spends etc – see above
  • Costs – daily/weekly monthly etc.
  • Vs last week
  • Vs last year
  • Vs previous years
  • Visitor numbers/Thoughput/Time of Day/Duration of visit
  • Types of visitor (Adult/Child/Concession)/Demograpic?/Where are they coming from?
  • Other information relevant to your business: E.g. weather, temperature, travel information etc.

If you already have these records in place, ask if there is any other information which impacts your business which is worth recording from now on. Information is power and will enable you to seek out opportunities to improve through every aspect of your business.

Identifying Cost saving Opportunities

As well as ‘Other or miscellaneous costs of all kinds, there are usually 4 largest cost elements in a leisure/food/beverage business:

These will now be examined in turn, and with hints and tips for reducing these.