— Shep Hyken (@Hyken) February 6, 2014
Here are a few things that customers LOVE to have in their guesthouse or hotel rooms…whether we like it or not:
So which of these cool gadgets are you planning to install at your tourist destination?
I’ve recently read an article on the importance of PR for the city of Johannesburg, which made me think: it is not only Johannesburg that needs more PR. It’s every town and every city that we love here in South Africa. Cape Town might be the Mother City of South Africa, but mainly because of its spectacular natural wonder: Table Mountain. We need to find the reasons why other cities and towns in South Africa are PR worthy and tell it to the world!
Johannesburg, for one, like mentioned in the article written by Brand Slut, has many different things to offer and its diverse cultures and its history should be just as big an attraction as Cape Town’s attractions when communicated to the world.
Smaller towns like Matjiesfontein, Parys in the Free State, Clarens, Henley on Klip, Haenertsburg, Paternoster – why are they not on every traveller’s list even though everyone who has been there loves it? Because they lack PR!
Matjiesfontein is one of my favourite towns in South Africa. More like a village, actually, consisting of a gravel main road that separates the train station from the Lord Milner Hotel and the rest of the town. It is in this town that you will find the house where the first South African telephone rang – or so the tour guide told us. So much history and stories lie hidden in this town, yet no one knows of it.
Clarens has become very popular over the years, offering great outdoor activities in and between the Drakensberg. It also allows the not so active to enjoy arts and crafts, which is becoming a very popular reason for travel worldwide according to research from American Express Travel.
Still, I can go on and on about the awesomeness of all these places, but if its inhabitants don’t share their love and appreciation of the place with the world, no one will know and no one will visit. Let’s get up and do some PR, people!
For bookings on workshops relating to the basics of PR and Marketing for tourism and hospitality destinations, contact Travelling Mystery Guest on firstname.lastname@example.org / 082 336 1562.
PS – thanks for the great eye-opener, Brand Slut. Let’s start with Jo’burg.
Do you sit with information about your guests, but you don’t know how to use it? Do you sometimes wonder which areas of service you should focus on? We’ve got the solution for you!
A customer journey map is a tool which will assist you in identifying what your customers experience at your establishment, what their likes and dislikes are, and which areas of customer service you should focus on. It’s something that any company in the tourism and hospitality industry should spend time on, as that is the one thing that will help you to get to know your customers better. You will be able to identify the different touch points between the guest and your establishment and the guest’s experience at each touch point. The ideal get-to-know-your-guest tool.
Here are ten easy steps put together by Travelling Mystery Guest to assist you in creating your own basic customer journey map. This map can become quite intense if you really put some effort into it – the steps below are just some guidelines to put you on the road: (PS – we also offer workshops on this topic. Contact us for bookings.)
Thanks to my sources: Antje Helfrich and Marc Steiner from Openview.
Experts say that our customers are constantly changing. I suppose it is true, as customers are people and people change. But why? What makes customers change? Here are a few reasons for change:
Like we have different generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X and Y and more) we also have different technologies that the generations are comfortable with. Some parts of certain generations adapt, others not. They say generation Y is the Twitter generation. Boy, would I like to see my mother Tweet! It’s two different generations growing up with different technological habits. For many of our parents television was a luxury. Today we stay up to date with news via Twitter. It’s quicker, allowing for a faster pace and more knowledge on a wider variety of subjects, which means our customers want faster service and are more educated than ever with a pace that increases daily.
Loyal customers, those people who return time and again, also change. We need to be sure to change with them in order to keep them loyal. A teenager who came to drink a milkshake at your restaurant close to the university will become a student who would like to enjoy a beer at the same spot a few years from now. It’s about getting to know your customers and giving them special attention. The guy who attended a party at your establishment yesterday might bring his wife and children to your restaurant a year from now. It’s about remembering.
Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of social responsibility. If they can be part of your initiatives toward having an impact on your community, they might support you even more.
More and more travellers prefer to stay at hotels and guesthouses that take their environmental responsibility seriously. Do you?
Previous experiences and expectations
People experience things and then set a certain standard with which they are comfortable. They also hear about places and attractions from friends, which creates a certain expectation. Be sure to live up to that!
Increased health requirements
There has been a tremendous increase in food related illnesses and allergies. We need to be aware of these things and cater for them too.
This one I don’t even have to mention, because we all know what it takes to keep afloat in trying times. Our customers feel the same. We need to be willing to amend and change with them to show them that we care and we understand. We need to learn to put our customers first – even when it comes to financial stability. They are the ones who will keep your business alive if they feel that they matter.
Travelling Mystery Guest offers workshops on customer service, the customer’s journey and more. For bookings, contact Renate de Villiers on email@example.com / 079 110 5674.
And so the first month of 2014 is already behind us and February is well under way. Many experts have had a look at the travel market‘s stats from last year and here is what they were able to identify:
Being in the hospitality and tourism industry one meets hundreds of different guests – not one being the same. I sometimes wonder what makes them different, yet choose the same home away from home.
Even though choosing the same hotel or guesthouse to stay at, not one guest has the same expectations or interests. Some of it may be the same, but I’ve never met any guest who had the exact same “customer DNA” than another.
Here are a few things that differentiate one guest from the next. Keep it in mind for when your next guest arrives and see if you can understand them better when you know a little more about where they come from…
In South Africa alone we have more than 11 different local languages and even more different cultures. With such a rainbow nation, it is only natural to have different kinds of guests and that is just domestic! When we look at guests from foreign countries the gap becomes even bigger. Understanding foreign languages, cultural habits and lifestyles become a challenge in many ways, but also food to a true lover of hospitality and tourism.
Levels of Education
Whether we want to know it or not, the level of education plays a very important role in a guest’s manner of dealing with certain situations. Professionalism, understanding, knowledge and communication skills are but a few characteristics that will differentiate a man with a degree from a man who has never finished high school. There are exceptions to the rule and therefore it might be better to rather refer to experience than education. Someone with more experience will evidently be more professional, understand better, know more and communicate better.
Experience also comes with age. Therefore an older person will have better communication skills than a youngster. They will obviously also have different expectations and needs and therefore it is important to be able to cater for both guest types.
Men and women have been said to come from Mars and Venus respectively, so why would we treat them as if they have the same needs and expectations? Women enjoy the finer things in life while men are mostly happy with a braai and a beer. Once again there are exceptions to the rule.
This can be related to many things – where they grew up, who their friends are, genes, culture and more. This just means to say, once again, that not one guest is the same.
People have different interests. Some enjoy arts and culture (which is one of the top reasons for travel in 2014 according to a survey done by American Express Travel). Others like nature and sports or even history. Getting to know what your guest’s interests are might make understanding them a little easier.
A parent will be a different kind of guest in comparison to a student for example. Parents are much more careful and considerate, while students can sometimes act impulsively and appear to be a little more selfish (in a good way…or bad).
Everyone has a story. Your hotel or guesthouse too. Some people like sharing them, others don’t. Some people are happy with their stories, others not so much. Some have just gotten married, others just lost a loved one. Knowing these things about your guest might help you to give them the best customer experience they’ve ever had.
I once read somewhere about a business traveler who carried a photo of his daughter with him everywhere he went. He stayed at one hotel quite often and left the photo on his bed side table during his stay. One evening when he returned from work the photo had been framed and put next to his bed. The cleaner thought it well. On departure he asked the receptionist who had framed his photograph and she explained that the cleaner had noticed him carrying the photo with him everywhere he went and that she wanted to help him protect it. He then told the receptionist that the girl in the picture was his daughter who recently passed away.
Get to know your guests. Share in their stories. Make them feel at home.
I love watching people. In fact, I think human beings are one of the most interesting and terrifying things at the same time. How many times do we tend to say that we wish we could understand someone else?
My point is – no one is the same. No one thinks in the same way and therefore no one acts or reacts in the same way. This goes for hotel guests (your customers) as well.
I’ve done some research on the kinds of hotel guests you can expect to arrive and came up with the following:
The Free Independent Traveller
Tourism specialists don’t call him FIT for nothing. FIT’s are fit to do everything themselves. It’s all about making their own decisions, bookings and, yes, mistakes. Even though travel agents have much more knowledge on certain topics, FIT’s (currently one of the fastest growing types of tourists) have found that the internet allows for many travel planning opportunities. More and more bookings are done via Facebook these days, so be sure that you have someone who checks your social media pages on a day-to-day basis. These guests can be anything from budget travellers to glamour seekers. Be sure to identify their likes and dislikes as quickly as possible and make suggestions accordingly. Note to self: Identify guest’s favourite social media port and send them links to things they might want to see in your area. With FIT’s it is all about internet savvy and engagement through the right channels.
The Foreign Free Independent Traveller
Pretty much the same kind of guest as your FIT. The only difference is that when it comes to foreign countries, the help of a travel agent might still be called upon. They still, however, compare different places and prices – remember that the I-pad has become number one on many travellers’ packing lists. All it takes is the press of a button. These guests need some assistance and tips from your side. Be creative and give them a customized map of your area with everything you know they’d like to see. Think foreign.
Group Inclusive Tourists
These “groupies” tour in groups in order to save some money. The group doesn’t necessarily have the same common interests, but the travel costs are lower. Obviously these guests won’t be your big spenders, so keep them happy by keeping them comfortable.
All the single ladies, all the single ladies….put your hands up for these girls who have taken the travel industry by storm. Everywhere I go I see promotions for ladies travelling on their own. Way to go for not letting singleness stand in the way of you wanderlust! Many establishments have special promotions running for this guest type – so many great opportunities here! Focus on keeping them safe, helping them meet new people and pampering them and you’ll be sure to gain a few extra guests!
These types of guests can be segmented even further – check out our next post on the different guest segments.
I’ve recently returned from a tour through Europe – mainly Germany. We stayed in some very fashionable hotels, in small town guesthouses and even in hostels. As a lover of all things hospitality and tourism I couldn’t help but compare their service to that of our own here in South Africa. You’ll be surprised with the following findings:
Very high high-five for SA hospitality
For one, I feel that South Africa’s friendliness in the hospitality industry earned a jump-in-the-air-high-five! It might be that the two cultures’ personalities clash a little, but be that what it is, we get much more smiles from South African receptionists than those in Germany. So, I salute you, SA hospitality peeps.
Make your own bed
One thing that blew my mind was the fact that most establishments, be it a hotel or a hostel, made the beds a little differently than we do. When you walk into the room you will find the duvet cover folded neatly in half and placed on the bed. The pillow cases are all double sized with the unfilled part folded in neatly under the pillow. I suppose they want to really show you that the bedding has been washed.
Coffee (not) in the room
Some hotels offered coffee in the rooms (for the first day). Others encouraged you to use the kitchenette downstairs, but the receptionists tend to watch you like a hawk. Where we get Cremora in most rooms, they provide guests with pourable creamer. Super delicious (and super fattening, I suppose). I’d recommend the small milk containers like those from Parmalat, though. The hostels are another story – most of them provide guests with coffee and tea on the house (as long as you wash your cup). J I must say, I was very impressed with Germany’s hostels. Clean and neat – even the kitchens.
Map on arrival
Most establishments provided us with a map on arrival, circling the exact spot of the hotel to indicate where we are. Some even went as far as to circle some of the most popular attractions, assisting us to identify the things we’d like to see the next day. In Prague (yes, I know it’s not Germany, but it impressed me THAT much!) we got a map that indicated different kinds of attractions – the romantic kinds (indicated with a heart), the historical kinds, the arty kinds, and more. Such a nice gesture showing that they cater for any type of tourist.
That’s why I love travelling – you get some tips from others, but also see what they can learn from you. Keep smiling, South Africa! It’s good to be known for friendliness – that’s one thing that makes people feel welcome and the number one requirement for hospitality.
Travelling Mystery Guest has quite a few really informative and motivating new workshops for you to attend in March! The company has also taken your busy schedules in consideration and therefore presents the workshops at your establishment at a convenient time for you and your employees. Now tell me that’s not customer service!
In March we will be taking a closer look at the most important social media ports and how you can use it to your advantage. You’ll learn more about the importance of storytelling, sharing relevant content with the right audience, engaging with customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and much more.
If you can only attend one workshop in March, but you would like to learn more about the other topics as well, stay connected with us online. You will be able to find regular blog posts on similar topics, as well as some slideshares and other tips on a regular basis – it’s unfortunately just not as much fun as actually attending!
The workshops for March include the following topics (and if you would like us to include additional specifics in the workshop, please give us a shout!):
For bookings and more information about the workshops, what they include, how much it costs and more, feel free to contact us on 079 110 5674 / firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest and stay up to date with our whereabouts.