4 Ways to Motivate Seasonal Employees

Tour operator Howie Colt, founder of Gone Sailing Adventures, shares how he keeps his team engaged throughout the entire summer.

tour operator sailboat toronot
Reading Time: 3 mins 30 sec

Tour operator Howie Colt, founder of Gone Sailing Adventures, shares how he keeps his team engaged throughout the entire summer.

Like many small business owners, Howie Colt, founder of the Toronto-based Gone Sailing Adventures, has a lot to worry about. From finding the appropriate partner location to dock his fleet of six sailboats, to managing the noise his tour company makes so as not to disturb the neighboring condominium, Colt is no stranger to understanding the challenges of running a bustling tour company.

gone sailing adventures staff torontoBut what keeps him up at night the most? Ensuring his mostly seasonal staff is motivated and happy throughout the entire summer. “Half of my employees are summer students,” says Colt. “They get paid well, but they work long and hard hours. By August there’s sometimes burnout, and many employees want to take time off to relax before going back to school.”

After nine years of running the sailing tour company, Colt knows a thing or two about motivating members of his team, who he says play an essential role in ensuring clients have a positive sailing experience. Here, learn how he keeps his team engaged throughout the entire sailing season—and incorporate these ideas into your own business.

Manage time-off expectations. Because Colt runs so many tours throughout the summer, one condition of working at Gone Sailing Adventures is that employees are not entitled to take extended time off during the season. Managing this expectation upon hiring staff is paramount to ensuring employees know exactly what’s in store and what’s required for the summer.

However, Colt tries to surprise employees in July—when burnout can start to manifest—by offering some staff members at least five days off in a row for a small vacation.

Offer small rewards. When employees exhibit extraordinary actions—whether that be an above-and-beyond work ethic or gracefully dealing with a disgruntled guest—Colt sometimes hands out small rewards, such as a $25 gift card to a favorite staff bar or restaurant. A little can go a long way in making someone feel appreciated.

Build community. As your staff will be spending the majority of their summer with each other (and you), cultivating a sense of community is extremely important. Colt tries to hold a staff party at least once per season to show his gratitude, build camaraderie among employees and boost moral. “It’s great if we hold the party on one of our sailboats so my staff can be guests as opposed to working on the water,” says Colt.

Pay well. “When it comes down to it, you have to pay your staff fair and well to keep them around,” says Colt. Research average hourly rates in your region, pay your employees above that and offer monetary incentives (hint: try an hourly raise!) for staff to return next year.

June 24 – 26, 2019

Oct. 27-30, 2019
Orlando, FL

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


already a member?

Lost your password?


Become an Arival Insider

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021.

Arival.travel articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].