Business or pleasure?

Is your establishment’s target market mainly guests who visit on business or pleasure?

As a hospitality and tourism industry expert, you probably don’t need me to explain to you why it is necessary to know your target market. The problem is, we get so used to our target markets, that we sometimes forget that they are also people, and people change.

As our environment, whether it be our technological or our physical environment, undergoes certain evolvements, we tend to change with it eventually. Therefore, as an accommodation establishment, restaurant or venue, it is important to keep up with trends in the industry.

Here are three trends TMG noticed feature in certain sections of the hospitality and tourism industry that you as a professional in the industry probably need to consider:

Environmental Responsibility:

This is not only a trend, but also a necessity. It has come to TMG’s attention that many travellers prefer accommodation at establishments that prove to be environmentally responsible. Guests are even willing to give up certain levels of comfort for this.

Kids entertainment:

Guests travelling for pleasure normally include families. Families often require some entertainment for children, which includes jungle gyms, swimming pools, and possible movie nights for when parents want to enjoy a romantic dinner. It is also important to remember that parents are well educated on this subject and therefore your establishment is automatically expected to provide them with service that will exceed their customer expectations. Think educational and try to include outside activities for kids. Take them on treasure hunts or short kids’ hiking trails. Use your environment and be creative.

Wi-Fi:

Businessmen are often on the road and with the fortunate evolvement of cell phones, computers and emails, many people unfortunately do the work of three or more by themselves these days. Wi-Fi has always been a luxury and not too long ago only top hotels and restaurants provided the service. Today, however, more and more hospitality and tourism establishments are adding this to their list of services and these establishments are the ones who become popular amongst business travellers especially very quickly. If business guests form part of your establishment’s target market and you do not provide your guests with Wi-Fi, you will need to revise your list of services.

For more tips and ideas on how to exceed your customers’ expectations, perhaps you should contact TMG and attend one of our workshops? Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

Products from Travelling Mystery Guest

After identifying a gap in the hospitality and tourism industry with regards to customized customer journey evaluations (another, better way of doing mystery guest visits) and customer service, I (Renate de Villiers) decided to start Travelling Mystery Guest – a company that identifies accommodation establishments and restaurants‘ advantages and assisting them in using that as a method of providing customers with the best possible service.

Here are a few of the products Travelling Mystery Guest offers:

TMG Products and Contact details

TMG Products and Contact details

Why should you hotel’s website be mobile friendly?

We’re living in a time where mobile is not just an option anymore – it’s a necessity. People have less time on hand and therefore being able to Google from their phones wherever they are has become the perfect solution.

Go Mobile

Go Mobile (Image from store.apple.com)

If your hotel, guesthouse or restaurant’s website is not mobile friendly, it is also very easy to move on to one that is. That, for me, is one of the main reasons why your website should be mobile friendly – to keep visitors there on not send them away.

 

Other reasons I believe you should have a mobile friendly website:

  • It should appear clear and user friendly on any mobile device. If it’s not mobile friendly it won’t be easy to read and it won’t look neat.
  • According to Admin E-Solutions users will be doing 50% of their online searches via their mobile devices.
  • People will be able to access all your information from anywhere at any time on any mobile device.
  • Being mobile friendly will increase the time users are willing to spend on your site.
  • Over 20% of online searches are done via mobile devices.
  • According to Hubspot 61% of users have a better opinion about brands if they offer a good mobile experience.
  • Blogging and social media brings mobile visitors – Comscore found that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device.
  • A mobile responsive site will help you in the future as other devices like televisions, watches and glasses become more popular for web browsing. With a site that is mobile friendly you site will still look professional and user friendly on all other devices.

Mobile is definitely a must for the near future.

What do you expect from the hospitality industry?

Feel free to let us know what you expect from the hospitality industry and we’ll be sure to include this in our upcoming workshops for the industry:

Perfect for Good Friday

I couldn’t resist sharing this quote with you today – so perfect for Good Friday.

May you have a blessed long weekend, peeps!

Good Friday Quote

Good Friday Quote

How to identify customer expectations

Even though customers tend to change and not one customer seems to be the same, they also make things easier for us in terms of identifying their expectations. We just have to learn to identify it. How?

You would have noticed by now that many companies have employed social media managers who are responsible for communicating with customers via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And it doesn’t stop there. Then came LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest…and Instagram and Flickr and I whatever else. The point is…customers communicate via social media. Not just with companies, but also with friends and family. They share stories and ideas via links on Facebook, they mention good (or bad) reviews on Twitter with creative accompanying hashtags and they create dream boards on Pinterest. What does this have to do with identifying customer expectations? Well…let’s look at a few examples:

Facebook:

Facebook gives you the opportunity to learn more about your followers in numerous ways. Your followers will only interact on posts that they find interesting or worth their while. You can also view your page insights, which shows you who your followers are, where they are from, which types of posts they mainly interact on, how many female and male followers you have and more. You can also view your followers’ most basic information like where they are from and some of their interests. This should already give you a good idea of what they are into and therefore you have an opportunity to act on it. No excuses!

Twitter:

To view discussions on Twitter and the people’s tweets and interactions with your brand is sometimes quite interesting. People’s title descriptions usually also say quite a lot about their personalities and what they would enjoy.

Pinterest:

I believe Pinterest to be one of the best ways to identify customer expectations, as this is where people pin everything they would like to have and not necessarily what they have. It includes things they dream about and things they hope for like the perfect wedding dress or the most beautiful presented dishes or creative recipes. If these people are like me, they most probably will never have all these things that they pin to their boards, but it’s never a bad thing to dream. And that’s where you could come in and sweep your customers off their feet! Make their dreams become reality with a popular Pinterest recipe for dinner or plan a contest with a dress similar to the most pinned wedding dress on Pinterest. Identify what your customers dream about and act on it.

Need some assistance in identifying your customers’ expectations? Contact Renate from Travelling Mystery Guest on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

Practice here:

Have a look at Renate’s Pinterest page and identify five of her customer expectations from the list below. The first one to identify all five expectations correctly will receive a Customer Journey Evaluation for your destination for FREE!

Renate’s 5 customer expectations:

How to improve SA’s customer service

In the hospitality and tourism industry, customer service is one of the first things people notice. It’s also one of the industries that happen to have quite a lot of customer service complaints. So how can we fix this?

Customer Service

Customer Service

I believe that a large part of the problem is due to the lack of motivation and drive. A lack of love of the game.

For me, as a lover of all things hospitality, it is difficult to believe that someone can actually not like the industry. Yes, the hours are bad and yes, sometimes it feels like no one cares, but isn’t this industry also one of the most rewarding industries to be in? Just think about that one time you smiled at someone and they smiled back; the day you helped a guest with her bags and she remembered your name from the last time she visited.

It’s a human to human industry. A people industry. It keeps us focused on what really matters: humanity.”-Renate de Villiers

How can we improve South Africa’s customer service?

  • Focus less on the money and more on the person.
  • Treat customers like you would like to be treated.
  • Do small extra things that make big differences.
  • Be humble.
  • Smile.
  • Always think “how can I help?”
  • Be visible and/or available at all times.
  • Understand your customers and their behaviours – if they use Twitter, think of ways you can give them better customer service through this social media platform.
  • Listen and learn. Don’t just listen.
  • Be proactive. If someone asks for a list of restaurants in the area and you don’t have one, find a way to provide them with one as soon as possible and have a formal list to hand to them the next time around.
  • Don’t just sit and wait for things to happen – make them happen.
  • Keep staff and fellow employees motivated and loyal to the company.

Any other ideas from your side?

Here are some motivational quotes and infographics on customer service on our Pinterest page: Customer Service.

How to keep guests entertained over weekends

It’s hard to keep everyone happy and entertained over weekends – especially if you don’t know them well. Travelling Mystery Guest has identified a few tips and ideas on how you can keep guests entertained over weekends at your destination:

  • Provide them with a booklet that includes all the possible attractions in the area.
  • Give guests the option of having a family picnic in the hotel / guesthouse’s garden.
  • Hold quiz nights at your restaurant.
  • Rainy day? Provide guests with board games in the rooms – this is the ideal time to spend some quality family time!
  • Organise a town or city tour for your guests and show them all the hidden gems of your surrounds. Have some of the locals join in on the fun and educate guests about your environment and the locals living there. You can even create your own customized tourist attraction map.
  • Hold art weekends where guests have the opportunity to take part in pottery or painting classes.
  • Hold family cook-offs for the families staying over.
  • Organise a local organic market for one weekend per month at your destination. You’ll be sure to have a few walk-ins too!
  • Have local musicians perform at your venue.
  • Hold movie nights (with just a white sheet, a few cushions and popcorn you can get quite far, trust me!).
  • Think karaoke evenings for kids, or even guitar hero and Wii. Kids can keep themselves busy with this for hours!
  • Provide guests with a list of local restaurants (be sure that they are tried and tested… you don’t want to refer them to a dodgy, horse-meet-selling restaurant) – except if that is what they want? You can always suggest a restaurant-hopping evening for them: entrees at one restaurant, mains at a second and dessert at another.
  • Make up mystery baskets and invite families to cook their own dinner. Just make sure that you have enough space to do this. Another option is to take it outside – have them make a “potjie” or have a braai.

Do you have ideas you’d like to add? Feel free to comment below!

Happy weekend everyone. 🙂

Challenges in the hospitality industry

Any industry has its ups and downs and so the hospitality industry in South Africa also has certain challenges to face.

Hospitality Solutions

Hospitality Solutions

Travelling Mystery Guest has been observing a few challenges which need to be addressed – let us know if you agree and what your thoughts are:

  • Economy: South Africa’s economy has taken a knock and local business has decreased tremendously. But, this gives us the opportunity to look at other possibilities like targeting international tourists. Have you given that any thought yet?
  • Working hours: The hospitality industry has always been known as one of the industries with long and irregular working hours. Have you ever given thought as to how we can change this or work around it? I know of one restaurant that has decided to reduce is operating hours to ensure that its staff get enough personal time. This ensures that they have more energy and loyalty to the company, allowing for great customer service. Yes, it’s less time to make money, but trust me, with such loyalty from staff you can move mountains!
  • Shift work: Staff working different shifts makes it difficult to arrange staff meetings, etcetera. How do you work around this?
  • Transport for staff: Most staff working in South Africa’s hospitality sector use public transport. Do you as a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant provide staff with additional options like on-site accommodation, transport allowances or in-house transport options?
  • In-house training: Many of the smaller hospitality establishments and even some of the larger companies neglect to pay attention to training their staff on a regular basis. Training not only forms part of basic customer service, it also provides staff with the feeling of belonging and self actualization. If you, as a manager, can’t find the time to train staff, get someone to do it for you. Travelling Mystery Guest offers customized workshops and presents the workshops at your establishment. No effort, no need to organize additional staff, no need to plan transport – we come to you.
  • Bad customer service: Is this due to the lack of training or is it just attitude? Either way – something’s got to be done. If it’s a lack of training, make a plan and train your staff. Lack of attitude – if you hired them, you have the right to fire them. Make this clear and don’t just say it – act on it.
  • The lack of loyalty: I’ve noticed that many people are not in the hospitality industry for the love of it, but merely because that’s the only job they could get. We need to find a way to make our staff love the industry. We will never be able to exceed customers’ expectations if our staff don’t have the right attitude. Management needs to find a way to make staff love what they do. Get to know your staff, place them in the right departments, train them on things they are interested in and build on their strengths rather than focusing on what they can’t do right.

Do you have any comments or ideas? Would you like to add other challenges to the above? Feel free to comment below.

Travelling Mystery Guest is planning a brainstorming session on the challenges in South Africa’s hospitality industry and solutions to consider for the end of May. Let us know if you would be interested in attending, and we’ll add you to our contact list for further details. Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow the hashtag #HospitalitySolutionsSA and let’s encourage South Africa to overcome the challenges we face in the hospitality industry.

Become a MYSTERY GUEST with TMG

Don’t we all just love to talk about what this restaurant did wrong and what that hotel didn’t do? We tell this to friends and family, share it on every possible social media page, run to TripAdvisor and Hello Peter, yet nothing really gets done. You might get your money back or a chat with the general manager, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Now you have a chance to make a difference!

Become a mystery guest

Become a mystery guest

Travelling Mystery Guest invites you, the South African customer, to become a mystery guest with the company in order to gather more information about customer expectations in the hospitality and tourism industry. This, however, does not mean that you can just sit back and relax – the information you gather from your experience will be crucial to Travelling Mystery Guest’s findings which will be shared with the establishments visited in order to assist them on improving customer service.

In a nutshell the following will be expected of you:

  • Attend an in-depth training session on how to become a mystery guest for Travelling Mystery Guest (Pty) Ltd.
  • Sign an agreement with TMG, indicating that all information gathered is the property of the company.
  • Have permanent access to internet and social media.
  • Have your own transport and contact methods.
  • Have experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.

What’s in it for you?

  • A great new experience and the opportunity to explore your local environment.
  • Some insight on the hospitality and tourism industry’s challenges.
  • 10% commission on every establishment you visit.
  • 10% on every TMG workshop booked in response to your visit.
  • In-house training on customer service and the procedures to follow as a mystery guest for TMG.

What’s in it for Travelling Mystery Guest?

  • More accurate recordings of a customer’s journey at an establishment, assisting us in giving restaurants, guesthouses and hotels the best possible feedback on their customer service.
  • The opportunity to really make a difference in the industry.
  • Some great new friends.
  • An increased database.

Interested? Send your CV to Renate at enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

 

Terms and Conditions:

Only South African citizens may apply.

You may only become a mystery guest if you have your own transport, contact methods and constant internet access.

The application process may include further interviews.

Your participation may be terminated with immediate effect should you not adhere to Travelling Mystery Guest’s operating procedures and standards.

You may not participate as a mystery guest for the company if you have not completed Travelling Mystery Guest’s training and signed an agreement with the company.

All documents, photos, databases and other information gathered in the process will belong to Travelling Mystery Guest and the reproduction or reuse thereof will be illegal.