We want to know the story

Isn’t it true that you always want to know the story of the destination you visit? I want to know where the restaurant’s name came from, where the photos on the wall were taken and who the old “tannie” was who’s recipe is used in the signature dish.

We all want to know.

One place that got the message loud and clear is OJ’s, a small, quaint restaurant that could easily be mistaken for a take-away shop on route through one of the Freestate towns, Heilbron. From the outside it doesn’t promise much, but believe you me, on the inside it’s a completely different story – literally.

Do you remember the time when all South African cars had yellow coloured number plates? The time when towns could still be identified just by looking at one’s car? Well, that is where OJ’s’ story begins. OJ was Heilbron’s number plate code. Today these number plates are part of the name and décor in one of Heilbron’s finest restaurants. It tells stories of days gone by and paintings of old cars with OJ number plates hang proudly against the walls. The menu has also been carefully planned – catering for the farming community that it is, but also for those who appreciate that extra touch. Still, the community can identify with its story, which is why many of them will keep coming back.

OJ's

OJ’s

Tips on how to tell your story:

  • Use the town’s history as a theme and a timeline.
  • Involve the community.
  • Be creative and use old things to create new things.
  • Include the theme in your décor, your name and your menu items.
  • Add items to the menu which you know the community will enjoy and then just give it an extra touch to make it look more appealing.

So…what is your restaurant or destination’s story?

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Tell your story

People have been fond of stories for centuries. They can identify with it. Stories have been told over the years in order to explain, educate and entertain. Back then, people and children could sit and listen to the stories that were told. Today stories need to include visual content in order to draw attention.

Storytelling

Storytelling

Isn’t this ideal for a guesthouse, hotel or restaurant? Many of these destinations have some kind of history to share, a great view, some unique dishes or a reputation for the best service in town. Why not share this story with the public in the form of stories and images? It is such a great tool for content creation and really not difficult.

Ways to do it:

  • Create a story book for kids that tells the story of your destination and what the readers will be able to see here.
  • Share tidbits of your story on social media with photos of way back when…
  • Create videos of the happenings at your destination.
  • Teach your staff about your story and encourage them to share it with guests.
  • Have annual concerts or performances at your destination and tell your story through plays and music.

These are but a few of the millions of creative ideas you can use to tell your story. An exciting exercise for anyone who likes to explore new, creative opportunities.

Need some assistance on how to kick off your storytelling campaign? Contact Travelling Mystery Guest on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

 

Storytelling for hotels and guesthouses – Part Two

Nowadays, with people being on the move, telling your story with words might be quite challenging, as people don’t have time to read. How can you tell your story, capture their attention and have them understand what you are all about?

Sharing Content

Sharing Content (Photo by: Marda de Villiers)

  • Tell your story visually – people like looking at and sharing images. Use platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube and Facebook, as well as photo blogs. With the typical guest using a dozen different touch points to research their trips, you want your story to be visible on as many platforms as possible.
  • Combine your hotel’s story with an educational tour around the resort or establishment or an art class that interconnects with your story (tourists prefer interactive and educational experiences these days).
  • Have your audience take part in your story and take photos of their experiences which you can share with them through social media.
  • Tell one part of the story today and the other part tomorrow.
  • Write only a part of the story and ask the audience to partake in a competition to complete the final chapters or to add the visual content to the story.

Why tell your story?

Because “nothing holds attention like a great story”. (MSGroup – Creative Storytellers). According to research the human brain still searches for a story to make sense of information. Stories are universal and therefore they cross the boundaries of language, culture, gender and age. They are told and retold and build a sense of community which in event establishes emotional connections and creates a shared sense of purpose.

By telling your story, you will be able to create emotional connections with your guests which would never have been possible otherwise.

Learn more about storytelling, content creation and social media sharing at Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops. Contact Renate for more information on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Go ahead – write your story and share it with the world!

Storytelling for hotels and guesthouses – Part One

Storytelling is a very exciting (and not so new) way of marketing. It has also become a great tool of keeping record in the hospitality industry – especially with hotels, guesthouses and restaurants in mind. Not to mention the opportunities available with this marketing tool.

Storytelling

Storytelling (Photo by: Renate de Villiers. Berlyn Wall. 2014.)

What is storytelling?

According to the National Storytelling Network, storytelling can be defined as an interactive art using words, actions and images of a story to encourage the listener’s imagination.

With that in mind, your hotel or guesthouse (the storyteller) needs to find a way to support your listener’s (your guest’s) imagination. The difficulty of this is that you need to encourage your guests to imagine the correct things about your products and services. Unfortunately this story needs to be true. In business no fiction is tolerated. Your story needs to show guests what you believe in, where you come from and what your passions are. Your story needs to tell your guests why they can trust you.

6 Things to remember when writing your story:

  • Stories are interactive. You are the storyteller and your guests are the listeners. The listener’s response has an influence on the way the story is told.
  • Storytelling directly connects the storyteller (your hotel or guesthouse) with the audience (your guests).
  • Storytelling uses words. Be sure to use the best language / lingo relevant to your target market.
  • Storytelling encourages the activation of the listener’s imagination. Be sure to encourage your guests to imagine realistically (or to make the correct conclusions about your product). Your story resembles your company’s true core, its values and its timeline. Your guests would want to relate to that.
  • Storytelling is a universal thing. It happens in many different cultures, languages and situations. From kitchen table conversations to traditional rituals. Every guest has his own story and somewhere his story will relate with yours.
  • If your hotel or guesthouse is one of those that does not really have much history, doesn’t have a unique feature like a super modern look or something similar, your best storytelling material will probably come from your everyday operational happenings.

Learn more about storytelling, content creation and social media sharing at Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops. Contact Renate for more information on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

PR for your town

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!

Table Mountain - Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

Table Mountain – Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

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.

Matjiesfontein - My favourite South African town

Matjiesfontein – My favourite South African town

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 enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

PS – thanks for the great eye-opener, Brand Slut. Let’s start with Jo’burg.