Understanding the Gaps

There are five gaps in the service quality gap model. For a business to be able to close these gaps and deliver excellent customer service, you first need to understand the gaps, what causes them and how to deal with them. Travelling Mystery Guest guides you through these five gaps:

  1. The customer gap: The gap between customer expectations and customer perceptions

Customer expectations are the things customers expect to receive and are influenced by factors such as lifestyle, personality, demographics, advertising and experience with similar products. Customer perceptions are based on the interaction of the customer with the product or service. (Touch points, as discussed in our Customer Journey Mapping workshop). In an ideal world, the customer’s expectation should be exactly the same as their perception. Although customer expectation is largely influenced by things you have no control over, one way to prevent this gap is to avoid false advertising. Do not advertise a service or product you can’t deliver, not only will the customer be disappointed that you can’t provide; they will also be angry that you misled them. Be sure to deliver what you promise.

2. The Knowledge Gap: The gap between consumer expectation and management perception

This gap is basically the difference between what the customer expected to receive and how the management thought they wanted it. Usually this is because companies are trying to meet the wrong needs. This can be solved by going back to the basic step of market research. Your company’s target market should be clearly defined and their needs should be researched extensively. Post-service-research must also be conducted. Management should ask:

“Were our predictions correct?”

“Did we satisfy our customer?”

“If needed, how must we change?”

Only the customer can answer this.

3. The policy gap: The gap between management perceptions and service quality       specification

According to Kasper et al, this gap reflects management’s incorrect translation of the service policy into rules and guidelines (standard operating procedures and training) for employees. A simple example would be that the kitchen staff is not allowed to use their cell phones in the kitchen area, but this rule is not clearly communicated and may result in bad customer service because of hygiene problems. This problem is very unnecessary and management should provide all rules, even if they seem self-explanatory.

4. The delivery gap: The gap between service quality specification and service delivery

This is basically bad employee performance. Management may know what the customers require, but if the employees (who work directly with the customers) are ill equipped to manage customersneeds, bad service comes to light. This is also an unnecessary gap that can be prevented by proper training, which should be implemented from the start. Bad service reflects poorly on management. Having good human resource policies is also very important for regulating your staff.

5. The communication gap: The gap between service delivery and external communications

A good example of this is false advertising. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. The prevention of this gap is solely the responsibility of the business. You are setting a high level of expectations for your business just to create customer disappointment all by yourself. Rather be efficient and subtle when advertising and exceed customers’ expectations. For example: Don’t advertise your pool as a ‘luxury swimming center with temperature control and amazing views’, rather say, we have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, then provide a photo of both and be sure the pool is clean. Through this you are not setting the customer up for unrealistic expectations. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Brainmates [online], also available from: brainmates.com (accessed 25/02/2017)

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Invited

Join us for breakfast at the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town (Foreshore) for a Breakfast Briefing in collaboration with HVS Consulting and Guy Stehlik from BON Hotels.

We will be discussing the benefits of understanding your guest, considering the customer journey as part of the process of creating revenue.

Some more info on Travelling Mystery Guest‘s workshop on Customer Journey Mapping:

How to improve your company’s customer satisfaction

 

Customer service is the main focus of any hospitality business. Whether you manage a hotel, guesthouse or a restaurant, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t return. Here are some skills required to improve customer service:

  1. Patience

Patience should be exercised on every level when working with customers. Some people are very hard to work with. Nevertheless, handling them with patience enables you to better understand your customer’s problems and needs. One moment of patience can build a lot of respect towards your entity, not only from the person you are currently assisting, but any other observer that sees the way you treat your clients.

  1. Attention

It’s true that you won’t understand your customers if you’re not paying attention to them. When helping a customer, they can clearly see whether you are paying attention to them or not and that is a big indicator of good or bad service. It’s also wise to pay attention to what customers are not telling you verbally. Some people are very shy when it comes to giving feedback, so observing their body language and subtle responses will enable you to determine their true feelings towards your service.

  1. Training

Knowledge is power and when customers come to your business, they expect a certain level of knowledge about the service you provide. Money spent on training will definitely not be wasted. There is, of course, theoretical knowledge that can be learned, but improve your worker’s skills by giving them practical knowledge and skills. Expose them to stress factors and difficult situations before sending them into the industry. This will be very useful when they are facing a difficult client.

  1. Communication

From personal experience, it is really upsetting when a customer informs a staff member about a problem and the staff member refrains from responding immediately. When staff members discuss the problem with one another in a language the customer can’t understand and only give explanations 10 minutes later, the customer feels uncomfortable and uninformed. Every minute you leave the customer wondering what is going on, is a minute for them to decide they are never coming back. Teach your staff to communicate clearly and within the required time. Even when they don’t have the solution, they should keep the customer informed by indicating that they will make an effort to find out.

  1. Determination

Customer service is not something you can slack on. If a customer walks away from your business saying “the product we received was great, but the service was terrible”, then they are not satisfied even though you partially fulfilled their requirements. Bad service is something the customer always remembers and which inevitably determines their final experience. If something goes wrong in your daily schedule, customer service is what will save you from bad reviews.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

Ciotti, G. 2016, 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs, [online] also available from: www.helpscout.net, accessed 13/02/2017

 

 

 

Catering for different ages

Travelling is not limited to age, anyone who wants to travel are free to do so. But different ages have different habits when travelling and different reasons for visiting certain places. Travelling Mystery Guest takes you through the decades to see what various age groups look for in their travel experience.

  1. In your 20’s:

In your twenties, you don’t really know much of the world. When travelling, it will be a whole new experience for you. You don’t really have anything to compare this experience with, so it will put you completely out of your comfort zone, which is ultimately the best way to learn the lessons of life.

Younger people also have the time to dwell abroad; they might even look for job opportunities and decide to settle in a foreign country, because they don’t have a job at home tying them down. With today’s economy, many young adults research job opportunities abroad.

Millennials often travel solo with the goal of meeting new people. This can lead to a long period of travelling where they continue to visit new places with the friends they meet at each new destination. They usually don’t have family responsibilities yet, which gives them the freedom to travel for a longer time.

  1. In your 30’s:

They will mostly be settled with a job and a steady income, making their travelling time shorter, but their trips more affordable and luxurious.

This age group includes a lot of newlyweds on their honeymoon or young couples exploring the world together. They will probably stay at more exclusive hotels and would have some plans of what they would like to explore.

This age group might have more to compare their current experience with. Unlike those in their 20’s, they might be more interested in cultural experiences than clubs.

They may also be travelling with small children, adapting their accommodation and entertainment plans according to the kids.

  1. In your 40’s:

They do thorough planning and their knowledge of travelling is a lot better. They make an effort to have a comfortable stay and more convenient transport options.

They might have more spending money and they will pay more to have a memorable experience. Travelling for work is also quite common in this age group, as well as family trips.

There are also a few travellers in this age group who believe they are getting old, so they will still plan some extreme and adventurous holidays, while it is still physically possible.

  1. In your 50’s:

They might choose destinations with a rich and exotic culture. They have the money and mostly the time to a take a long holiday to experience things they have planned thoroughly.

A frequent occurrence is that their children live abroad and they are visiting, which can also be for a long period of time at once.

Family holidays are still present in this age group, the children being older and often paying for themselves. People in their 50’s are usually quite knowledgeable about travelling and would guide their children in possible activities.

Destinations must find ways to cater for all the different age groups. This will not only keep customers happy, but it will also enlarge your customer segment, which eventually will increase profits.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Different types of Tourists

In the hospitality industry, you will be introduced to a lot of different people. As tourists, they become your customers. Certain businesses cater for certain types of tourists. Travelling Mystery Guest helps you to identity the different tourist types, which assists you in understanding the requirements.

  1. Incentive tourists:

This group includes people who didn’t initially plan on visiting your destination For example, a worker has accomplished his sales target and he is rewarded with a dinner for two. Since they had no intention of coming to you, they won’t particularly have a set expectation. This is a good opportunity to wow a customer. These people view this rewards as inspiration to work harder, and therefore it could be a good idea to build customer loyalty by adding a personal sentiment to their experience. Example: a bottle of wine with a personalized congratulations message.

  1. Business tourists:

These people travel purely for business reasons. If you manage an accommodation service and you want to lure business travelers, providing them with conference rooms is probably the best way. Bring their work place to where they are staying rather than being dependent on meeting facilities near you to bring in customers. When you have facilities available, offer them everything they may need. Water and juice in the room, lunch at a specific time and any other service they might require. These people are not specifically there to enjoy luxury but they don’t want to struggle while they are busy working. Try and provide as much as possible, especially transport and internet services.

  1. Leisure tourists:

This group is on holiday purely for relaxation and luxury. When accommodating some of these travelers, it would be a golden opportunity to up sell all the services your business provides. If you don’t have a spa or relaxation facilities, be sure to equip these visitors with enough information of where they can find them. Don’t fuss around these customers, but be sure to provide them with everything they might need. It would be good to offer them something extra, for example, drinks served by the pool.

  1. Sport or recreation tourist:

These tourists either take part in sports or they are there to watch sports. When you are aware of a sports event near you and the customers have informed you that they will be attending, it could be a good opportunity to provide some extra services. They might be returning at a late hour or leaving early in the morning. Ask them if they have any special preferences, for example food at a certain time. Also try to take part in their experience by wishing them luck or saying you hope they enjoy the event.

  1. Special Interest Tourist

This group is visiting because of a certain passion. It will be good to stay informed about events near your destination and interests in your location. For example, people who are staying at your lodge during a bird watching trip. This tourist type often plans their travelling very well, so you might be informed about their activities before they arrive. Always accommodate their arrival time and the reason they are visiting. As with sport tourists, you can take part in their trip by asking about their experience.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys 

Resources:

The different types of tourists in tourism industry, online, accessed 10/02/2017, also available at www.hotelresortinsider.com

 

PACKAGES FOR 2017

packages

Travelling Mystery Guest

Travelling Mystery Guest has launched a few exciting packages for tourism and hospitality destinations in South Africa. These packages combine a few of the company’s popular services, like Customer Journey Evaluations, Workshops and Destination Marketing Photography to provide our clients with even more value for money.

Bookings for 2017 are already open. Contact us today for more information or to book us for a visit at your destination.

Have a look at the packages below:

PACKAGE 1
CUSTOMER JOURNEY EVALUATION & VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT

This package includes both a Customer Journey Evaluation (mystery guest visit with customized quality assessments, complete and constructive feedback and measurement) and a one hour photo shoot for your destination, of which the images are available to your destination for website and social media content.
R2250.00 for Restaurants
R2750.00 for Accommodation Establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 2
VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT, BLOG REVIEW & PHOTO BLOG FEATURE

This package includes one hour’s photo shoot of your destination’s physical aspects and experiences, as well as a review on Travelling Mystery Guest’s blog and a photo blog on Travelling Mystery Guest‘s photo blog, TMG Photos.
R1000.00 for Restaurants
R1250.00 for Accommodation establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 3
HOST A WORKSHOP AND ATTEND FOR FREE

Host one of Travelling Mystery Guest‘s full-day workshops of R950.00 per delegate at your venue for a minimum of 10 pax and have one employee attend the workshop for FREE. Delegates may be from your own destination, sister companies and/or other destinations. Workshop marketing and gaining delegates will be both Travelling Mystery Guest and the venue’s responsibility and the package agreement will not be binding until a minimum of 10 delegates (including 1 delegate attending for FREE) have been confirmed. Food and beverage costs are not included in the price per delegate.
Terms and Conditions Apply.

*Travel, accommodation, F&B and other customer experiences, i.e. spa treatments and safaris are not included in the package price.

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Travelling Mystery Guest

Travel Trends for 2017

I love watching things change in the travel and hospitality industries. Never a dull moment. Whether it is decor trends that change, or the plating of food, every year has some new, evolving trends that either shock us or surprise us. Wall colours, ways of travel, types of accommodation preferences, types of travellers and their expectations…here is what is being predicted for 2017:

Travel experiences

Travel experiences (Image cred: pixabay.com)

  1. EXPERIENCE. More and more travel experts say that travellers want experiences with some kind of purpose, especially when it comes to wellness and cultural education. Travellers want to have digital detox options and they want to experience different indigenous cultures. When I say experience, I mean travellers really want to experience certain things like working on farms, taking lessons from local artists and trying out local cuisines.
  2. CONSERVATION. Another trend that is growing quite quickly, is the trend of travelling with the purpose of conservation. Conservation of not only the planet, but also cultures, wildlife and more.
  3. MORE DESTINATIONS IN ONE TRIP. Travellers don’t go to one destination and stay there for two weeks anymore. Instead, they make the most of their time away from home and fit in as many destinations and experiences as possible. In South Africa, this is a huge trend as travellers want to see, for example, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park all in one trip.
  4. EXPERIENCE DRIVEN TOURS. Tour operators say that travel to Africa is booming. Travellers now want the true African Safari experience and less luxurious spa experiences. Things like walking safaris, canoe trails and fly camping should do the trick. Experience driven tours that encourage travellers to move at a slower pace while on holiday are a must in your planning for 2017 if you want to “wow” your customers.
  5. COMBINATION TRIPS. “High-low” safaris are also becoming very trendy in the travel industry, where travellers rough it with walking trails or canoeing and then end off their trip with a few days at a luxury lodge. Combination trips are definitely something to look into. Gosh PR also mentioned this at the THINC Africa Conference, hosted by HVS earlier this year, where they explained that UK travellers want something from both worlds in one trip. With South Africa having so many stunning beaches, we need to tap into this travel market, providing tours that combine safaris and beach holidays to travellers from around the world.
  6. LIVING ROOM-LIKE SPACES. With regards to decor, hotels have living room-like spaces to look forward to – moving away from the traditional front desk.
  7. CULTURE INSPIRED DESIGNS. Culture-centered designs where there is not much difference visible from the indoor spaces to the outdoor spaces is not necessarily a new trend, but it has increased in popularity.
  8. BOHEMIAN FOR BUDGET. Bohemian simplicity has become a popular design trend to follow, especially for budget hotels, with high-touch furnishings, but simple, environmental finishes.

References:

http://www.greenspot.travel

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com

http://www.travelweekly.com

http://www.goshpr.co.uk