Be the customer to know the customer

To be a customer is different from offering a service to a customer as I am sure you are aware. Still, as service providers we often forget how it feels to stand on the receiving side of things. Every now and again we need to remind ourselves what it feels like to be a customer in order to identify our customers’ needs and expectations.

Marketing Tourism in South Africa by Richard George

Marketing Tourism in South Africa by Richard George

In his book, Marketing Tourism in South Africa (4th Edition), Richard George says:

“By observing your involvement in the decision-making process as a consumer, you will develop a better understanding of marketing and consumer needs and aspirations.”

We cannot market our destinations and services to customers if we don’t know their needs and aspirations. This is why quite a few destinations, like Southern Sun’s resorts, invest in employees who are primarily responsible for direct customer interaction. In addition to the extensive, continuing training they undergo, each employee experiences the resort first hand before they get the opportunity to work on the front line. (Marketing Tourism in South Africa. 2013:18) This allows them to experience the complete customer journey, giving them an overview of what customers will expect when they arrive at the destination.

In the tourism and hospitality industry, guests usually have to make a decision considering what they’ve seen on the internet or on a brochure, which is why many customers depend on referrals from friends. When employees have experienced the destination’s service, it makes it so much easier for them to up-sell.

“You need to understand the customer journey before you can sell it to customers.” –Renate de Villiers

Invest in your employees. Train them continuously, make them understand the customer’s journey through your destination and involve employees in the communication process with customers in order to get to know your customers better.

In the end, tourism and hospitality is all about relationships and as we all know, people understand each other much better if they have something in common. Employees who have not experienced the customer journey of your destination will therefore struggle to find “common ground” with customers and will not be able to sell the destination to the best of their abilities.

So, take the chance to let your staff stand on the receiving side at least once and then let me know what changes you see…

 

(Thanks Richard George for a stunning book! Such hands-on examples and great ideas for blog posts!)

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What if…you were me?

What if you were me?

I sometimes wonder how others would have handled certain situations. Emotionally people tend to differ a lot, especially when it comes to professional situations.

I’ve thrown myself into the deep end of a very deep swimming pool at the beginning of the year (but I have learned to keep my head above the water, although I still get tired sometimes), and never had I thought that I would be where I am today. Starting your own company during an economic crisis is not for sissies – I can tell you that much! But here I am…and I am still the owner of my dream company, Travelling Mystery Guest!

I’d like to know how you would have handled these three situations (which I’ve had to deal with this year) – perhaps we could learn from each other for the upcoming challenges, who knows?!

What if…

  1. You just started your own company and one of your friends asked you to offer him/her your workshops (which you’ve worked on for at least two months) at no cost?
  2. You had to move back into your parents’ home in order to decrease your expenses and then your siblings move back home too and now you’re one big happy family in one house again? (One thing is for sure – I appreciate them more and more every day!)
  3. You got an opportunity with one of the top companies in the industry, only to find out that they just want a barter deal and you actually really need the money?

Getting your company off the ground is not that easy. I have been told by many that a new company takes up to three years to break even. Well, even though this year has been tough, one thing is for sure:

“Never underestimate God’s grace or your family’s support. It’s what keeps you standing through the tough times.” –Renate de Villiers

Travelling Mystery Guest’s top blog posts

There are always a few blog posts that stand out from the rest and interestingly enough, these were ours until now:

1. Our very first post showing off our new business cards. (Keep in mind that our email address has changed since then…)

TMG’s Compass Inspired Business Cards

2. Some notes about LinkedIn:

Should I have a personal or company profile on LinkedIn?

3. Travelling Mystery Guest’s view on Google+:

Should my hotel have a Google+ page?

4. Some notes on how we can improve South Africa’s customer service:

How to improve SA’s customer service

Restaurants in SA

Being a fan of coffee shops and dining out and evidently landing up as the owner of Travelling Mystery Guest, I’ve visited quite a few restaurants in Southern Africa.

SA Restaurants

SA Restaurants

Most of the restaurants I’ve visited form part of popular franchises, as they are usually the most affordable. I LOVE fine dining, but unless it’s for work, someone else pays, or it really is a special occasion, I don’t often visit them. It’s interesting to see, also, how your perception changes over the years. Staying in a small country town for most of my life, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of fine dining. In grade 9 my favourite restaurant was Wiesenhof in River Square, Vereeniging! Today, after studying in Pretoria and experiencing life in Cape Town, I’ve learnt that there is much more to dining out.

“Where I was used to vanilla flavoured milkshakes and chicken mayo sandwiches, I can now appreciate pre-planned white, square plates with elegantly placed proteins, foreign vegetables and garnishes that turns food into art.” –Renate de Villiers

South Africa’s restaurant industry is quite versatile, though. Sometimes you really just want to experience the nostalgia that comes with a vanilla milkshakes or chicken mayo toasted sandwich. Other times an elegant white plate painted with food is the perfect fit. It is, however, always about the presentation and the service received and that is what classifies some restaurants higher than others.

Restaurants’ attentiveness regarding customers’ needs and expectations play a very big role in the customer’s journey. This includes:

  • Digital interaction with customers (social media, on their website, blogs, etc.).
  • More health options on the menu (i.e. for people with allergies or intolerances).
  • Waiters’ knowledge about the menu and suggestions regarding wines, different menu options, etc.
  • The restaurant’s involvement regarding social and environmental responsibility.
  • Small things that make big impressions like a compliment in a cup, letting kids put together their own pizzas, something different like a unique teapot, freshly baked bread and now also the popular crafters’ beers.

These are but a few o the things that play a role in South Africa’s restaurants. Where do you fit in?

Workshop & Discussion: Get to know your customers

There is a reason why destinations often struggle to provide the best possible customer service to their guests and it’s because we don’t always know our customers.

Today’s customers are much more informed than a few years ago. We would like to take a look at a few topics which will assist destinations in getting to know their customers better.

Here are the topics we’d like to discuss:

  • Types of tourists
  • Types of customers
  • Being a tourist and a customer
  • What tourists and customers expect
  • The customer journey affects a customer personally
  • Teach employees to know customers better
  • How to collect customers’ data without disturbing them

Would you be interested in joining us for this workshop? Let us know!

Contact us on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za

Get psyched for tourism’s high season

It’s Spring and we are starting to get ready for South Africa’s biggest tourist rush in December, we must also have our marketing strategies in place, prepare our staff for high season, ensure that our destinations are in tip-top shape and that we can handle whatever gets thrown our way.

Hospitality in Spring

Hospitality in Spring

 

I often wonder what different destinations do in order to “set the scene” regarding these things for high season. Obviously everyone has their own way of dealing with it, but surely some things work better than others.

Here are a few things I can recall that always psyched me up for high season:

  • Involving staff in preparations for summer, year-end functions, Christmas and New Year.
  • Quick, short training courses relevant to staff’s departments, encouraging them to go the extra mile and up-sell your products and services.
  • Making staff feel they belong by organizing yearend celebrations for them as well. Combining these with some kind of acknowledgement ceremony is also a good idea.
  • Having staff experience what the destination has to offer first-hand. This just gives them a view from the other side, which makes it easier for them to identify with customers’ wants and needs. It’s good to do this just before high season, as it will still be fresh in their memories.

For me Spring symbolizes new beginnings, growth and beauty. Why not find ways to implement this in your marketing and other destination strategies this month? Have staff come up with fresh, new ideas on how to improve customer service. Involve them in the process – they are the ones on the floor and notice things you might not even be aware of. This is one way of ensuring growth for your destination and its people.

Embrace this new season!

Stay or dine for free with TMG

It’s always fun to stay or dine for free. Especially when you can enjoy dinner at a restaurant you usually can’t afford or if you can stay at a hotel you’ve always dreamt of experiencing.

Stay or dine for free

Stay or dine for free

Travelling Mystery Guest is looking for people to assist with the evaluation of customer journeys at restaurants, guest houses, hotels and lodges, which will allow you to stay or dine for free. Even though this opportunity has its perks, it also comes with a few responsibilities and you will be required to have some knowledge regarding customer service in the tourism and hospitality industry.

If you feel you have the required knowledge and skills to evaluate a destination’s customer journey, to complete the evaluation sheet sensibly and to report back to Travelling Mystery Guest with constructive feedback and suggestions about the destination, contact us today on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. We would love to hear from you!

Terms and Conditions

  • We will need your CV and a cover letter. (Please send it to enquire@travellingmystery.co.za)
  • This is not a full time job, but rather an opportunity to stay or dine at no cost. In return for this, Travelling Mystery Guest will require you to complete the customer journey evaluation sheet as accurately and relevantly as possible.
  • You will be required to sign an agreement, in order for Travelling Mystery Guest to protect its copyright on all documents.
  • You will be required to attend a crash course on Travelling Mystery Guest’s evaluation process. This will most possibly take place in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
  • Travelling Mystery Guest’s evaluators’ list is divided into South Africa’s different provinces. You need to be able to visit destinations in your own province. Travel costs will be covered by the company, given that you have adhered to the necessary requirements stipulated in the agreement.

For more information on Travelling Mystery Guest’s services, internships and possible holiday positions, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za