Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches pay homage to heritage fare

Chef George Jardine to enthral with traditional tastes and champion wines

28 May, 27 August & 19 November

BHWL feasting LR

Bottelary Hills Feasting

Discover what makes fine country food and slow-crafted wine so special when you book a seat at this year’s trio of Pop Up Lunches featuring the Stellenbosch wine route of Bottelary Hills and celebrated, Scotland-born chef George Jardine.

The must-do winery lunch series has grown to become a feature on the calendar of food and wine-lovers who can’t miss this annual taste exploration showcasing different farms and wines of the region each year. Stepping up the attraction, a headline chef is part of the mix too.

George Jardine with knife LR

Chef George Jardine

On the heels of Bertus Basson’s participation in 2016, comes celebrated chef George Jardine whose stellar career includes a string of successful restaurants and his most recent project – the fine dining eatery in the heart of Stellenbosch, Restaurant Jardine.

For the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches 2017, Jardine will present his signature foodie pizzazz at Hartenberg Wine Estate on 28 May; Kaapzicht Wine Estate on 27 August; and, Mooiplaas Wine Estate and Private Nature Reserve on 19 November. At the same time, guests will have the chance to socialise with the winemakers or owners themselves.

 

The theme of the menu and events will serve to highlight the deep historical roots of the region and farms of Bottelary Hills.

Known for producing champion wines, Bottelary Hills is one of five sub-routes in the Stellenbosch wine region and is situated to the northwest of South Africa’s famous wine capital.

Bottelary Hills is home to some of the oldest wine farms in the country and many of them have been nurtured over generations by the same families. As a result, they have an incomparable understanding of the terroir, which shows in the wines the region produces,” says Stellenbosch Wine Routes manager Elmarie Rabe.

“Then pairing these wines with the cooking of one of South Africa’s most acclaimed chefs is an opportunity no epicurean dare miss.”

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Bottelary Hills Dining

For the lunch at Hartenberg Estate on 28 May, guests will get insight to heritage stretching back to 1692. Hartenberg lies in a valley on the free-draining, north-eastern slopes of the Bottelary Hills where its vineyards were planted to take most advantage of either morning or afternoon sun. There is a difference in altitude of some 250m between the vineyards, providing sought-after diversity to its portfolio. At the hand of renowned cellar master Carl Schultz, the estate has become known especially for is outstanding Shiraz wine.

On 27 August, it’s the turn of Kaapzicht Wine Estate. The name is derived from Dutch and refers to the sweeping views of hills and Table Mountain the estate enjoys. The Steytler family has farmed the 190ha property since 1946 and specialises predominantly in red cultivars. Kaapzicht’s unirrigated vineyards thrive in ancient, weathered granite soils and are cooled by breezes from the Atlantic Ocean just 30km away – ideal conditions that produce full bodied, fruity and award-winning wines.

The final Pop Up Lunch on 19 November features Mooiplaas, which has a reputation for spectacular scenery almost equal to the elegance of its wines. Here too, is a farm built on heritage, care for the land and topographical contrast that results in diverse microclimates. Cape Granite is the foundation material of the soils on the estate, which comprises some 100ha of vineyard and 70ha reserved for its nature reserve.

Tickets to the Bottelary Hills Pop Up Lunches cost R550 per person and include a wine tasting prior to lunch and the ensuing three-course feast, served generously with glasses of estate wine paired with each course. Each guest also gets a bottle Bottelary Hills wine to enjoy at home too.

Booking for every one of the popular events is required as the tickets are limited. To make a reservation or see a map of Bottelary Hills, visit the Stellenbosch Wine Routes website. For more information phone (021) 886 8275.

Get social and share your experience with Stellenbosch Wine Routes on Twitter @StellWineRoute and Facebook.

Why you need to respond to your customer’s feedback

It’s never fun reading bad reviews about your own establishment, but responding to them quickly and in the correct manner can save your establishment’s image. To react to good feedback also makes your customer feel as if you are taking personal interest in them. Whether good or bad, your customer wants to know their feedback is recognised. Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at why this is important:

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  1. To avoid future complaints

Customers always name the specific thing that made them unhappy during their previous encounter. Take notice of this, because if this is a problem to one customer, it might be a problem to others as well. To respond to your customer and to take action on what they complained about, can eliminate similar complaints in the future. Also, when a customer is considering a place to stay or dine by looking at online reviews and they notice that complaints are being repeated, it’s clear to them that the establishment is not attentive to complaints.

  1. To build loyalty with your customers

It is really rewarding when a customer is satisfied, especially when they made the effort to write a good review. This is something that prospective customers notice, which means your loyal customers promotes your business for you. Why not thank them? It’s minimal effort and this may result in a long-term relationship with your customer. This will actually have a “seal the deal” effect: You’ve already satisfied your customer and now you are just taking the final steps to ensure that they return.

  1. To avoid bad word of mouth

Too many times have customers taken the time to complain on some sort of platform only to be ignored by the establishment.  With people on social media being quite ruthless, a bad review can snowball into a conversation that can do a lot of damage to your establishment’s image. Even if it is a fussy customer who complains about everything, Shep Hyken says: “The customer may not always be right, but they are always the customer. So, let the customer be wrong with dignity and respect.” It’s not always easy, but this is what we deal with in the hospitality industry.

  1. Essential to improve

It’s always a good idea to initiate customer feedback. If you are planning on making some changes or improvements in your establishment, why not ask your customers’ opinion? You are, in fact, implementing these changes to satisfy your customer. Post a questionnaire online and ask willing customers to give you their feedback. This will decrease the risk of wasting money on things your customers do not need, because you’re working with the feedback that your current, or even potential customers have given you.

  1. It’s a way to check up on your employees

As a manager, you might not always be present on site, due to numerous responsibilities. If you are dealing with a customer complaint, find out what the exact time of their visit was and verify the situation with your employees. Always apologise to your customer. You might not always believe that their specific problem could occur at your establishment, but try to see the complaint as an opportunity to ensure that the problem is resolved and that it doesn’t happen again.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Anywhere is an adventure

Some people are born with wanderlust and they will explore all the places on this beautiful earth before a single grey hair appears on their head.  Other people are afraid to take the risk of experiencing the unknown abroad. Being any one of these two people is perfectly fine. Adventure can be found anywhere. Travelling Mystery Guest assists hotels, lodges, guesthouses and even restaurants to identify the type of people to attract.

Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. But a customer doesn’t always have to go to the ends of the earth to awaken the joy of discovering the unknown. Something new and interesting can be found right around the corner of where they are. Taking only South Africa into consideration, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape lies right next to each other on a map but they present a traveller with two different worlds.

There is not a place on this planet not worth exploring. Every new destination they visit and everything you do for your customer can change them. People get caught up in work and routine and sometimes they forget to look up and enjoy their surroundings. Unexpected places and people can provide us with a new experience.

The cultures of the world can now be found almost everywhere. Different restaurants provide entirely unique experiences. Guests tend to create bucket lists of things they would like to do and see. Destinations must find ways to become one of the top 10 attractions customers want to experience. Identify methods through which your destination can offer customers trendy food experiences or exciting events that they would like to add to their calendars.

Set up a list of local places and visit a different one each month. Join events that are presented in your location, especially if it is something you wouldn’t normally do, like going to acoustic music concert or a book reading, to learn what your guests will be experiencing when visiting there.

There is a certain magic that happens when the earth awakens. Getting up early and watching the sun rise holds the promise of a new day. Guide your guests to put on their adventure goggles and break your routine. Encourage them to eat ice cream for lunch just because they can. Do something out of the ordinary to make yourself also realize there’s more to life than just living.

Customers  don’t need a reason to go anywhere. You need to create the need. Be the one thing they need to see before they head back to their home. Create memories that will make them want to come back.

 

Understanding the Gaps

There are five gaps in the service quality gap model. For a business to be able to close these gaps and deliver excellent customer service, you first need to understand the gaps, what causes them and how to deal with them. Travelling Mystery Guest guides you through these five gaps:

  1. The customer gap: The gap between customer expectations and customer perceptions

Customer expectations are the things customers expect to receive and are influenced by factors such as lifestyle, personality, demographics, advertising and experience with similar products. Customer perceptions are based on the interaction of the customer with the product or service. (Touch points, as discussed in our Customer Journey Mapping workshop). In an ideal world, the customer’s expectation should be exactly the same as their perception. Although customer expectation is largely influenced by things you have no control over, one way to prevent this gap is to avoid false advertising. Do not advertise a service or product you can’t deliver, not only will the customer be disappointed that you can’t provide; they will also be angry that you misled them. Be sure to deliver what you promise.

2. The Knowledge Gap: The gap between consumer expectation and management perception

This gap is basically the difference between what the customer expected to receive and how the management thought they wanted it. Usually this is because companies are trying to meet the wrong needs. This can be solved by going back to the basic step of market research. Your company’s target market should be clearly defined and their needs should be researched extensively. Post-service-research must also be conducted. Management should ask:

“Were our predictions correct?”

“Did we satisfy our customer?”

“If needed, how must we change?”

Only the customer can answer this.

3. The policy gap: The gap between management perceptions and service quality       specification

According to Kasper et al, this gap reflects management’s incorrect translation of the service policy into rules and guidelines (standard operating procedures and training) for employees. A simple example would be that the kitchen staff is not allowed to use their cell phones in the kitchen area, but this rule is not clearly communicated and may result in bad customer service because of hygiene problems. This problem is very unnecessary and management should provide all rules, even if they seem self-explanatory.

4. The delivery gap: The gap between service quality specification and service delivery

This is basically bad employee performance. Management may know what the customers require, but if the employees (who work directly with the customers) are ill equipped to manage customersneeds, bad service comes to light. This is also an unnecessary gap that can be prevented by proper training, which should be implemented from the start. Bad service reflects poorly on management. Having good human resource policies is also very important for regulating your staff.

5. The communication gap: The gap between service delivery and external communications

A good example of this is false advertising. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. The prevention of this gap is solely the responsibility of the business. You are setting a high level of expectations for your business just to create customer disappointment all by yourself. Rather be efficient and subtle when advertising and exceed customers’ expectations. For example: Don’t advertise your pool as a ‘luxury swimming center with temperature control and amazing views’, rather say, we have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, then provide a photo of both and be sure the pool is clean. Through this you are not setting the customer up for unrealistic expectations. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Brainmates [online], also available from: brainmates.com (accessed 25/02/2017)

 

 

 

 

 

How to improve your company’s customer satisfaction

 

Customer service is the main focus of any hospitality business. Whether you manage a hotel, guesthouse or a restaurant, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t return. Here are some skills required to improve customer service:

  1. Patience

Patience should be exercised on every level when working with customers. Some people are very hard to work with. Nevertheless, handling them with patience enables you to better understand your customer’s problems and needs. One moment of patience can build a lot of respect towards your entity, not only from the person you are currently assisting, but any other observer that sees the way you treat your clients.

  1. Attention

It’s true that you won’t understand your customers if you’re not paying attention to them. When helping a customer, they can clearly see whether you are paying attention to them or not and that is a big indicator of good or bad service. It’s also wise to pay attention to what customers are not telling you verbally. Some people are very shy when it comes to giving feedback, so observing their body language and subtle responses will enable you to determine their true feelings towards your service.

  1. Training

Knowledge is power and when customers come to your business, they expect a certain level of knowledge about the service you provide. Money spent on training will definitely not be wasted. There is, of course, theoretical knowledge that can be learned, but improve your worker’s skills by giving them practical knowledge and skills. Expose them to stress factors and difficult situations before sending them into the industry. This will be very useful when they are facing a difficult client.

  1. Communication

From personal experience, it is really upsetting when a customer informs a staff member about a problem and the staff member refrains from responding immediately. When staff members discuss the problem with one another in a language the customer can’t understand and only give explanations 10 minutes later, the customer feels uncomfortable and uninformed. Every minute you leave the customer wondering what is going on, is a minute for them to decide they are never coming back. Teach your staff to communicate clearly and within the required time. Even when they don’t have the solution, they should keep the customer informed by indicating that they will make an effort to find out.

  1. Determination

Customer service is not something you can slack on. If a customer walks away from your business saying “the product we received was great, but the service was terrible”, then they are not satisfied even though you partially fulfilled their requirements. Bad service is something the customer always remembers and which inevitably determines their final experience. If something goes wrong in your daily schedule, customer service is what will save you from bad reviews.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

Ciotti, G. 2016, 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs, [online] also available from: www.helpscout.net, accessed 13/02/2017

 

 

 

TMG Package

We are running a special until 1 May 2016 which includes a customer journey evaluation, destination review and a few destination marketing photos. Book now!

For more info, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za

TMG Package April 2016

Honeymoon Travels

I’ve come to realize that the saying comparing the world to a book, explaining that those who don’t travel, read but a page, is so very true! In the past few months I’ve been blessed with travel opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, starting with a visit to some of our top clients within the BON Hotel Group and ending off with champagne on the beach at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort.

Yup, I got married! And our honeymoon was one for the books. I was taken by surprise with how well my man knows me, kicking off our travels with a visit to one of my favourite parts of South Africa: the Freestate. Many people describe this part of the country as boring, flat and as a place with nothing to do. But that’s just it! Within its “nothingness” lies so many stories, small, beautiful things and the most generous and humble people I know. We stayed at Woudzicht Guest Farm, just off the N3, and what a treat! It is a typical Freestate home with the kind of hospitality we now try to bring back and teach. From “soetkoekies” (sweet biscuits like my grandmother would bake them) and a complimentary bottle of wine, to a delicious cheese platter with the wide, open fields behind us, to a delicious home-cooked stew for dinner and a colourful plated french toast breakfast – this was the ideal kick-off for what was to come.

Woudzicht

On the airport I was informed that Amsterdam was our next stop! I loved the mystery of it all – not knowing where we were going next. We stayed at the Ibis Hotel Amsterdam Central, which was conveniently located and offered good service. In this lovely city we had beer, walked through the red light district, stood in awe of the ‘Oudekerk’, shared fondue, visited a local market, went on a canal cruise and much more.

Amsterdam

Bruges was our next stop and one of my favourites from now on! Lace, chocolate, swans, cobble stone roads – it was the perfect romantic spot. We ate ‘Boem-Boems’ and delicious tomato soup, took a stroll to the lovers’ bridge, wished we could stay in one of the houses bordering the canal, visited the chocolate museum and saw the “Madonna and Child” by Michael Angelo. It might not be so big, but Bruges has a lot to offer!

Bruges

From there we went to Paris. Now, this place boomed with tourists and it was busy at all times, but still an unforgettable and beautiful experience! From the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge to the Louvre and many other buildings and structures of which the hours and years of workmanship I just couldn’t grasp.

Paris

The end of our honeymoon was an absolute statement of love and happiness: Seychelles. Although it was quite expensive (almost R200 for a glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc) it was still an experience I would not trade for anything. We beach-hopped from the one white stretch of sand to the next. We lay low at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort, reading, snorkeling, sleeping. We hired a car and explored the island on our own. We dined like royalty. It was a feast and definitely a place to visit again.

Seychelles