Learn from 2016’s mistakes

As the year draws to a close, it is time that we take a step back and reflect on not only our achievements, but also our failures. Like Harold J. Smith once said:

“More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.”

The Pepper Tree Restaurant

The Pepper Tree Restaurant

The reason for our reflection is not to carry our mistakes with us, but rather to use them as stepping stones towards achieving bigger heights inĀ  2017. Therefore, we’ve made a list of the general shortcomings in South Africa’s hospitality industry, hoping that it might be a guide to improvement in the year to come:


  • Communication is one of the most basic, yet most neglected service standards when it comes to South African restaurants. I’m not talking about “hello” and “goodbye”; I’m talking about keeping your guests informed, looking them in the eye and serving with confidence. Communication is not just a language. It’s a way of doing. It’s not only verbal, but also non-verbal. Your body language often says more than your words.
  • Up-selling is non-existent in most South African restaurants. Managers may argue and say that they don’t want to bombard guests with too much information and they don’t want waiters faffing around the guests all the time. I say your waiters are not your only up-selling tool. Yes, they are a great up-selling tool and with the right technique and confidence, they could probably increase your sales with at least 10% per seating just by convincing guests to order an additional item on the menu. But, there are other methods too. Need some tips? Let us help you to work out an up-selling technique for your restaurant with our workshop on up-selling professionally. Contact us for more information on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za

Accommodation establishments:

  • In 3 to 4-star establishments, the customer service levels are often not up to standard in most of the departments. From receptionists that are not available at the reception desk, to porters who don’t show, to room service timing and delivery, to the cleanliness of the in-house gym, to the availability of amenities. Systems and standard operating procedures need to be put in place and need to be adhered to at all times to ensure that the customer journey runs smoothly.
  • Maintenance is a touchy subject, yet so very important. A preventative maintenance plan needs to be in place and needs to be kept up to date at all times. Once an establishment has let this slip for 6 months or more, the maintenance costs escalate at a very fast pace, which means other business aspects will need to be neglected in order to fix this.
  • Health and safety is almost never the fun part of running an accommodation establishment, but it is crucial. Even though fire extinguisher and emergency exit signs are not necessarily aesthetically appealing, it is important to put them up. The problem comes in where establishments put them up in places where they are not really visible to the guests, which completely defeats the purpose. Guests need to be able to see these signs in case of an emergency.
  • Following up does not happen very often. It often seems as if there is a general agreement that when a guest has checked out, all is well with the world. Still, following up with guests, asking about their stay, inviting them to come again, is the actual final part of the guest’s visit. Not the departure. This forms part of the post-stay phase in the customer’s journey, hence, it is just as important as the pre-stay and the visit. Following up makes a guest feel cared for and will make them want to return (if the stay was pleasant). Don’t neglect the post-stay phase of the customer journey. It’s like up-selling for the guest’s next trip.

These are only a few of the things we’ve noticed in 2016. Use it, don’t use it. Just remember:

“A mistake repeated more than once, is a decision.” -Paulo Coelho

Avondale Wines at Marble Restaurant

It’s not every day that you get to eat lunch at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank, let alone in the company of whom I believe is one of South Africa’s top proprietors in the wine industry.

I was invited to join Johnathan Grieve from Avondale Wines, along with a two other journalists, for what he calls a vertical tasting of Avondale‘s white wine range, Cyclus, paired with a delicious lunch at Marble Restaurant. It’s not the norm for the travel editor of BELLA Magazine to enjoy the food editor’s perks, but this time I got lucky.

Finding Marble Restaurant if you’re a first time visitor, might be challenging as the signage for this high in the sky restaurant (literally) is quite small and almost unnoticeable among parallel parked cars, construction barriers and cones around the Trumpet on Keyes building where the restaurant resides. But, once I entered Marble, on the third floor, my frustration with the concrete jungle was immediately exchanged with awe – what I saw was an almost 180 degree city view and, even though in daytime the view was quite hazy, I can only imagine what it must be at night. Jo’burg truly is the City of Gold.

Marble struck me as a high end restaurant with posh, carefully thought through interiors and a top quality dining experience. The staff are well trained and professional and shares Avondale Wines‘ sentiment for elegance. Chef David Higgs‘ menu is rich in a variety of South Africa‘s finest cuisine: Blackened Octopus with crushed paprika potato, candied lemon and squid ink dressing; Rib Eye Steak with burnt end beans and mature cheddar, homemade pickle, smoked pepper and chipotle sauce and Lamb Cutlets with chimmi churri, crisp potato skins and lemon labneh. Need I say more?

Avondale Wines, a family run wine farm between Paarl and Franschhoek, is known for its unique wine farming techniques. They call themselves slow-wine makers and make handcrafted, organic wines that surprise you with multidimensional flavours. These wines are different. The white wines are only released two years after production, which may cause it to loose the original fruity flavours, but gives it time to develop and age into absolute elegance.

Avondale makes use of ancient, original farming techniques and have mastered the art of focusing their farming on rhythms, energy and homeopathic remedies. Their wines, which are not only unique, but also top quality in my opinion, resembles their utmost respect and symbiotic relationship with nature.

Fabar Restaurant, Avondale Wines‘ latest venture, will open its doors on 19 October 2016. Be sure to pop in whenever you are in the area.