Tips from experts in the travel market

And so the first month of 2014 is already behind us and February is well under way. Many experts have had a look at the travel market‘s stats from last year and here is what they were able to identify:

  • According to a survey done by American Express Travel, one of the most popular reasons for travelling is arts and crafts.
  • This is the year for up-selling. With the weakening of the Rand, international travel to South Africa has become even cheaper. Broaden your horizons and up-sell in international countries rather than domestic.
  • According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014 there has been a tremendous growth in international travel in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If you want to start marketing internationally, I suggest you target these countries first.
  • Leisure travel is outgrowing business travel according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report.
  • The ITB World Travel Trends Report says that city holidays and holiday tours have been the main driving factors in tourism growth worldwide for the last four years.
  • 2013 was finally the year for mobile according to SocialMedia Today. We can expect an increase in enquiry and booking traffic from smartphones and tablets alike.
  • A study done by Expedia Media Solutions have shown that travellers visit at least 38 websites on average before they purchase an online travel package2014’s challenge will therefore be to keep websites updated, easy to navigate and with all the information a guest might need.
  • With TripAdvisor now offering meta-search capabilitieshotels will need to have a look at this additional distribution outlet in 2014.
  • Social media has an increasing influence in the search and planning stages of travel. Keep an eye on visual search sites like Instagram and Pinterest this year.
  • There’s a definite growing importance of Google+. Don’t miss out on this one in 2014.
  • Keep a lookout for Millennials (18 – 30-year olds). According to Chris Fair, Resonance Consultancy President, this is a much more ethnically diverse group, making them more interested in international travel. Other characteristics include their interest in urban rather than resort destinations, their likeliness to travel  in pursuit of a favourite interest or activity and the likelihood that they would rather travel with friends in organized groups.
  • The use of social media with widespread sharing of holiday photos has fostered a new trend. Travellers now want unique experiences which they can share with friends and family via social media ports.
Creative Travel - Interacting with locals

Creative Travel – Interacting with locals

  • There’s also been growth in creative tourism as Chris Fair calls it. This speaks of travel that provides a connection with those who reside in the destination. Travellers want to interact with locals.
  • Another travel trend to keep in mind in 2014 is the growth in multigenerational travel. The older the baby boomers get, the more family travel they do and most of these travels are planned around milestone events. These travellers are all about trading memories, convenience and value. Another challenge for destinations this year is to be able to cater for both 6 and 66-year olds.
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What makes one guest different from the other?

Being in the hospitality and tourism industry one meets hundreds of different guests – not one being the same. I sometimes wonder what makes them different, yet choose the same home away from home.

Even though choosing the same hotel or guesthouse to stay at, not one guest has the same expectations or interests. Some of it may be the same, but I’ve never met any guest who had the exact same “customer DNA” than another.

Here are a few things that differentiate one guest from the next. Keep it in mind for when your next guest arrives and see if you can understand them better when you know a little more about where they come from…

Culture

In South Africa alone we have more than 11 different local languages and even more different cultures. With such a rainbow nation, it is only natural to have different kinds of guests and that is just domestic! When we look at guests from foreign countries the gap becomes even bigger. Understanding foreign languages, cultural habits and lifestyles become a challenge in many ways, but also food to a true lover of hospitality and tourism.

Levels of Education

Whether we want to know it or not, the level of education plays a very important role in a guest’s manner of dealing with certain situations. Professionalism, understanding, knowledge and communication skills are but a few characteristics that will differentiate a man with a degree from a man who has never finished high school. There are exceptions to the rule and therefore it might be better to rather refer to experience than education. Someone with more experience will evidently be more professional, understand better, know more and communicate better.

Age

Experience also comes with age. Therefore an older person will have better communication skills than a youngster. They will obviously also have different expectations and needs and therefore it is important to be able to cater for both guest types.

Sex

Men and women have been said to come from Mars and Venus respectively, so why would we treat them as if they have the same needs and expectations? Women enjoy the finer things in life while men are mostly happy with a braai and a beer. Once again there are exceptions to the rule.

Different personalities

This can be related to many things – where they grew up, who their friends are, genes, culture and more. This just means to say, once again, that not one guest is the same.

Interests

People have different interests. Some enjoy arts and culture (which is one of the top reasons for travel in 2014 according to a survey done by American Express Travel). Others like nature and sports or even history. Getting to know what your guest’s interests are might make understanding them a little easier.

Responsibilities

A parent will be a different kind of guest in comparison to a student for example. Parents are much more careful and considerate, while students can sometimes act impulsively and appear to be a little more selfish (in a good way…or bad).

Life stories

Everyone has a story. Your hotel or guesthouse too. Some people like sharing them, others don’t. Some people are happy with their stories, others not so much. Some have just gotten married, others just lost a loved one. Knowing these things about your guest might help you to give them the best customer experience they’ve ever had.

Share in your guest's stories

Share in your guest’s stories

I once read somewhere about a business traveler who carried a photo of his daughter with him everywhere he went. He stayed at one hotel quite often and left the photo on his bed side table during his stay. One evening when he returned from work the photo had been framed and put next to his bed. The cleaner thought it well. On departure he asked the receptionist who had framed his photograph and she explained that the cleaner had noticed him carrying the photo with him everywhere he went and that she wanted to help him protect it. He then told the receptionist that the girl in the picture was his daughter who recently passed away.

Get to know your guests. Share in their stories. Make them feel at home.