Hospitality Working Hours – A different approach

In the hospitality and tourism industry it is almost expected that you will have at least one staff member complain about his or her working hours. It’s almost understandable, even though we all knew what we got ourselves into when we took the job.

Still, hospitality hours are hectic and many hospitality experts would agree with me that we need to find a way to make it work for both our customers and our employees. We can’t tell our guests to leave that we can go home now, can we? But we also can’t tell our staff to forget about spending time with their loved ones. We need to find a way to make ends meet.

But how?

Keeping guests and staff happy

Keeping guests and staff happy

Shift work is probably one of the first and best solutions. Shift rotating rosters are probably just as good a solution, if not better. This not only allows hospitality managers to balance the skills of employees during different parts of the day, but it also allows employees to learn about different departments in the industry. This stimulates and motivates them to go the extra mile and it teaches them the versatility of hospitality, allowing them to develop different skills.

Be a soundboard – listen to the employees’ complaints. Many times people just need someone to listen to what they have to say. Who knows – they might just have the ideal solution to the problem.

For restaurants it might be possible to make changes to the opening and closing times of the business. The Whippet Coffee Shop in Linden, Johannesburg, for instance, mentions on their website that

The Whippet believes in a lifestyle approach to business – we believe in giving our staff reasonable so that they can spend time with their families – this means our kitchen and store opens and closes early. This also allows our chef and store owners to keep their passion for the food, drinks and the people they serve. We hope you can share our philosophy on life.”

(See really cool photos of  The Whippet Coffee Shop here: Kikisofpeopleandplaces)

So, what is your philosophy on life?

Share your comments below or chat with us on Twitter (@TravellingMG).

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Should I have a company / personal profile on LinkedIn?

Needing or not needing a company profile on LinkedIn is not necessarily the question. The question should rather be: what do you want to achieve with your profile on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Looking at LinkedIn, we all know by now that it is a professional platform on which people and companies can interact on a professional level about industry related topics. It is not a social platform, like Facebook, which is mainly used to stay in touch. LinkedIn is used to link people for business purposes rather than social purposes.

You need to decide whether you, as the owner or manager of the hotel or guesthouse, would like to “get linked” with other people in your industry or if you would like people to follow your hotel’s brand. The problem with the brand is that the brand needs to already have gained a certain amount of popularity in order to even be visible on a platform like LinkedIn. Interacting via the company profile is also much more difficult than from a personal LinkedIn profile. Your company profile would for instance not be able to link with people, even though people can follow the brand. The only interactions possible for a company profile would be to follow other brands (company profiles). The usage of the LinkedIn company page is therefore very limited and I would therefore prefer to have a personal profile instead. Why?

  1. I will be able to interact with fans of the brand in person.
  2. Fans will interact more easily with a person than a brand.
  3. It gives conversations and discussions more credibility as it can be traced back to someone specific.

Be careful:

With a personal profile related to a certain brand (i.e. your hotel) you need to ensure that the brand’s promise, values and beliefs are always visible throughout. If you decide to have a personal profile on LinkedIn with the aim of promoting your company, it is important to remember that the profile will then only be used for business purposes and not for socializing. (Not that LinkedIn is meant for socializing in any case). You will have to have a clear policy with regards to personal profiles on LinkedIn whenever they are linked to your brand.

For Travelling Mystery workshop bookings and tips on the basics of LinkedIn marketing for hotels and guesthouses, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Why your guesthouse needs to be on Facebook

Have you ever wondered why your guesthouse might need to be on Facebook? Are you afraid of opening a Facebook page or do you just not have enough time to manage it?

Facebook

Facebook

I have found that guesthouses seem to have a very low presence on Facebook even after many seminars, blog posts and discussions on the matter. Reasons for this might be due to ignorance, social media incompetence, the lack of time (or effort), the lack of consistency, a lack of understanding with regards to the benefits of social media or just no interest in the matter.

Unfortunately, in our ever changing industry (and fast changing world) social media has become a necessity, as this is the main platform being used by customers to engage and interact with brands.

Your guesthouse (the brand) needs to think like your customer (the guests) and interact with them on a level they will understand through a medium / platform that is most convenient and user friendly for them. In order to do so, we need profiles and pages on at least Facebook and Twitter, as these are the main social media platforms from which guests plan their trips, do research on certain accommodation establishments, ask for quotations and more information and even book accommodation.

I believe these five reasons should encourage each and every guesthouse owner out there to immediately open (or re-open) a Facebook account:

  1. It gives you a competitive advantage against other guesthouses who are not on social media.
  2. It creates more awareness online for your brand as more people will be able to see your presense on Facebook.
  3. It gives you the opportunity to share your story (which forms part of your brand identity) with your fans.
  4. It gives your regular guests and other guests the opportunity to engage with you in a more convenient way than usual.
  5. It shows that you are willing to adapt to your customer’s needs, which will encourage them to stay at your establishment rather than the not-on-facebook-guesthouse around the corner.

For assistance on starting your guesthouse’s Facebook page and for the basics of managing a Facebook page, book your Travelling Mystery workshop by contacting Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

The different kinds of hotel guests

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.

Types of guests

Types of guests – Image from: http://www.lifehacker.com

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.

Single Ladies

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.

Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or connecting with Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Pinterest for your guesthouse

Do you own or run a guesthouse? Have you heard of Pinterest? Are you on Pinterest, but only for personal use? Well, why not open a Pinterest account for your guesthouse?

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words. Now you can use this to your advantage by pinning pictures of your guesthouse onto your own Pinterest boards for the world to see! But that’s not all. You can also use Pinterest to inspire you with new ideas for breakfast recipes (trust me – you won’t know where to start!) and easy dinner recipes for your guests. You will even be able to get some tips on what to do on special days and holidays like Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Pinterest also provides loads of tips on how to keep kids busy. If your guesthouse caters for families, this is the ideal platform to use for tips on creative and educational activities for kids.

TMG can truly recommend Pinterest. Have a look at Travelling Mystery Guest’s Pinterest boards and let us know what you think.