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 in  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:

Restaurants:

  • 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

Proactive customer care

Why anticipating what your guests would want means more than giving them what they ask…

Proactive customer care can be defined as communication making use of mixed channels that pre-emptively engages guests by providing information before the need arises for the guest to ask. The main goal of proactive customer care is to strengthen relationships, increase loyalty and reduce unnecessary enquiries, ensuring that your establishment delivers a satisfying customerservice. It further enables an establishment to measure guest satisfaction and enables the destination to immediately resolve issues before they expand.

Customer service providers in the hospitality and tourism industry should strive to create a positive first impression. For hospitality and tourism destinations it is important to successfully attract, engage and capture new customers by proactively reaching out to prospective guests. By addressing anticipated questions early in the customer life cycle you immediately start the relationship in a positive way, influencing customers’ future behaviour. Such proactive activities are invaluable to successfully build future relationships between guests and the brand.

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Some examples of proactive customer care include:

  1. Timely reminders:

Increasing guest retention through timely reminders of upcoming events, bookings, and other important reservations.  With the busy schedules of modern day customers, reminders of their appointments are much appreciated. From a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant’s point of view, these reminders not only aid in building guest loyalty, but also reduce the rate of no-shows, cancellations and past-due payments.

  1. Proactive confirmations and notifications:

Increase guest satisfaction by delivering proactive confirmations through the guests’ preferred channels. Also use these channels to communicate important information to guests to improve relationships and decrease the potential for dissatisfaction (pain points within the customer’s journey).

  1. Reduce guest service costs:

Reduce the service costs associated with reaching, satisfying and retaining guests by creating a positive brand image for the hotel, guesthouse or restaurant that will do the selling for you. Influence your guests’ buying patterns by incorporating current trends, designing the perfect unique selling point. Observe what guests do and identify guest expectations from there.

  1. Enable guest interaction:

Enable guests to interact directly with your destination if confirmation details are incorrect, a change to a booking is required or any other queries need attention. Think creatively – initiate new proactive services that set you apart from your competitors.

  1. Opt-in or choose yourself:

Providing prospective and current customers with reliable and relevant communication subscription options, through preferred channels, gives the destination the chance to win over customers at their own choosing. Identify how your customers want to be contacted – through email, direct calls, social media, or SMS – and also at what time and day they’re most receptive.

If you still wonder why proactive customer care is such a big deal, surveys have shown that it means customer loyalty, because customers repay anticipatory service with more loyalty which translates into long term value. The main goal of proactive customer care is to surprise and entice customers with convenient and useful information at the moment that they are most receptive.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING WORKSHOP – Back by popular demand

We all dread it when customers confront us about a bad experience. Whether it is a mistake from our side or due to unforeseen circumstances, an unhappy customer is a customer we don’t want.
Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshop, Customer Journey Mapping, is back by popular demand and the company will be hosting another three of these workshops at different venues in South Africa before the end of the year. The first will take place in Pretoria on 2 September 2015 at the CSIR, just off the N1. On 21 October 2015 the workshop will be held in Johannesburg at Eagle’s View Guesthouse, followed by a visit in Bloemfontein at De Oude Kraal on 4 November 2015. Bookings can be made by contacting Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

More about the workshop:
The workshop focuses on teaching delegates to create a map of the customer’s experience through their company, whether it is a restaurant, hotel or other service provider. Mapping out the customer’s journey assists line staff and managers to understand the customer’s way of thinking, eventually teaching employees to think like the customer. This leads to staff being able to think further than the here and now and encourages them to go the extra mile. It decreases customer frustrations, motivates staff and creates innovation within the workplace, because employees need to think out of the box in order to get into their customer’s shoes.

The Customer Journey Mapping Workshop helps employees to think like a customer. It helps them to understand why customers often react in certain ways and provides employees with a tool to prevent certain gaps within the customer’s experience. It might also even instigate a few new ideas and standard operating procedures within the customer’s journey that could improve the customer’s experience.
Get to know your customers on a whole new level by attending this exciting workshop. For bookings and more information, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.
IMPORTANT: These workshops can take a maximum of 15 delegates and therefore companies and individuals are urged to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Follow Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook (facebook.com/TravellingMysteryGuest) and Twitter (@TravellingMG) to stay up to date with their latest workshops and travels.

Our best workshop yet!

It’s been a blast hosting Travelling Mystery Guest‘s Customer Journey Mapping Workshop at the HPC‘s (at the University of Pretoria’s sports grounds, LC de Villiers) conference venue this past week. Not only did the HPC offer the perfect workshop environment, they also offered some really yummy snacks, more than enough coffee and tea and a delicious cooked meal for lunch.

Customer Journey Mapping Workhsop #HPC

Customer Journey Mapping Workhsop #HPC

The workshop itself seemed to not only inspire the delegates, but it also made them aware of gaps in their customers’ journey at the different establishments. The delegates were from all over the industry, including hotel management, restaurant hosts and cashiers, as well as guesthouse owners and managers. Next time around, we’d like to see all HOD‘s from these companies attend, as it will assist them in understanding the roles of the different departments within a customer’s journey.

We’d like to thank the HPC for their comfortable and professional facilities, as well as the delegates who made it such a positive day.

 

Some of the comments received:

“You’re doing a good thing. Keep it up!”

“You are doing a great job. Excellent. Thanks!”

“Excellent!”

This was a very enjoyable and informative day! Thank you.”

If you’d like to attend this workshop, feel free to contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za and we’ll make it happen!

Reception Checklist:

The reception area (with the exception of the security gate) of any hotel or guesthouse is the very first impression as part of the customer’s journey guests experience at your venue. With that in mind, we’ve put together a checklist of things you might have to keep in mind for your guests’ arrival:

Hotel Lincoln (Photographer: Jenna Leigh Kutcher)

Hotel Lincoln (Photographer: Jenna Leigh Kutcher)

1. Smiles and friendliness
2. A welcoming body language
3. Porters, offering assistance with luggage from the parking area.
4. Luggage trolleys (optional, but ideal for larger venues)
5. Neat, professional appearance of all staff members.
6. Name badges for all staff members.
7. Additional seating for when guests need to wait a while.
8. Welcome drinks and snacks (optional, but always impressive)
9. Fact sheets of the venue
10. Additional information about the surrounding area and things to do
11. Maps of the facilities, if it is a large hotel complex
12. Branded confirmation letters, writing pads, pens, envelopes, etc.
13. Booking options for on-site spas, restaurants, golf courses, etc.
14. Key cards / keys for rooms
15. Key card holders (branded)
16. Luggage storage facility
17. Luggage storage tags (branded)
18. A general safe for guests’ larger personal items.
19. Safety deposit procedures in place.
20. Rate your stay / rate your dining experience cards
21. Dental kits
22. Sewing kits
23. Sanitary kits
24. Shoe mitts
25. Additional shower gel, shampoo and body lotion
26. Additional wrapped soaps
27. Additional shower caps
28. Cell phone chargers for all the different cell phones
29. Two point plugs and universal plugs
30. Matches
31. Candles (if there is no generator, which should be seen as a necessity in South Africa these days…)

 
Can you think of anything else? Perhaps you’ve stayed at a hotel that had some additional items that impressed? Let us know by commenting below.

 

Sources: The EveryGirl

15 Hospitality Tips for 2015

So, we’ve given you our thoughts and observations from 2014 and today we’d like to share some of our hospitality tips for 2015 with you:

 
1. According to a report by Deloitte, China and India will continue to be the key hospitality markets to cater for in 2015.
2. Understand your “customer’s journey” very well. This will assist you to know what customers need or want.
3. Get to know your customers in order for you to be able to serve them what they want the next time around. If you have a guest who comes down to the bar every evening and orders a Coke, tomorrow you will be able to take out the Coke and serve it to him as he sits down. He wouldn’t even have to ask for it.
4. Couple your service with an experience. Most customers, these days, like to have an experience wherever they go. Even a small trick with a napkin might have them in awe.
5. See what you can do to couple your service with cycling this year. This sport has increased tremendously, allowing for some great tourism and marketing opportunities.
6. Peer2Peer dining is an interesting trend that has emerged overseas which might not be a bad idea if implemented correctly.
7. You’ve got to be mobile. With wearable technological devices increasing, there is no turning back on this anymore. Hotel groups like Marriot, Hyatt and Hilton are currently working with companies like Checkmate to develop this mobile service even further, which means mobile is now a necessity in the hospitality industry.
8. According to a poll done for the Hotels.com mobile app, tourists upload holiday photos within ten minutes of arriving at a destination. Ignite Hospitality refers to them as “Braggies” and let’s face it, the “selfie” is here to stay. Keep in mind that people will be taking selfies at your destination too and they would want to link and share it with you. Be sure to be on social media!
9. Social Wi-Fi will be a trend in 2015, moving away from the original Wi-Fi login process, customers will now rather be encouraged to log onto destinations’ Wi-Fi through their social networks, allowing the destination to gain more access to the customer to build a better and stronger database.
10. Social reviews (Facebook, TripAdvisor, etc.) will only be increasing in 2015. Be sure that you have processes in place regarding responses to bad comments, maximizing good reviews, etc.
11. Stay active on social networks. Being on social networks is good, but you’ve got to interact and show customers that you are available on a daily basis.
12. Create your own mobile apps, allowing guests to order before they arrive. People tend to be impatient – ordering before they arrive will prevent them from waiting for their food, but it will also protect you from them changing their minds and going elsewhere when they arrive.
13. Food trends predicted for 2015 include reduced sugar and protein boosters. Customers want a “well-being feeling” and we need to cater for that.
14. Customers are experimenting with many local breweries and prefer beers and wines from micro-breweries and smaller boutique wineries. Guests would rather drink a beer that is promoted with the line: “We recommend this local beer, produced at a brewery just down the road.”
15. Sustainability is one of the big trends, whether we like it or not. Many customers prefer supporting establishments that make an effort to make their business more environmentally friendly. Consider looking at a few ways in which you can incorporate environmental and social responsibility in your business.

Become a MYSTERY GUEST with TMG

Don’t we all just love to talk about what this restaurant did wrong and what that hotel didn’t do? We tell this to friends and family, share it on every possible social media page, run to TripAdvisor and Hello Peter, yet nothing really gets done. You might get your money back or a chat with the general manager, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Now you have a chance to make a difference!

Become a mystery guest

Become a mystery guest

Travelling Mystery Guest invites you, the South African customer, to become a mystery guest with the company in order to gather more information about customer expectations in the hospitality and tourism industry. This, however, does not mean that you can just sit back and relax – the information you gather from your experience will be crucial to Travelling Mystery Guest’s findings which will be shared with the establishments visited in order to assist them on improving customer service.

In a nutshell the following will be expected of you:

  • Attend an in-depth training session on how to become a mystery guest for Travelling Mystery Guest (Pty) Ltd.
  • Sign an agreement with TMG, indicating that all information gathered is the property of the company.
  • Have permanent access to internet and social media.
  • Have your own transport and contact methods.
  • Have experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.

What’s in it for you?

  • A great new experience and the opportunity to explore your local environment.
  • Some insight on the hospitality and tourism industry’s challenges.
  • 10% commission on every establishment you visit.
  • 10% on every TMG workshop booked in response to your visit.
  • In-house training on customer service and the procedures to follow as a mystery guest for TMG.

What’s in it for Travelling Mystery Guest?

  • More accurate recordings of a customer’s journey at an establishment, assisting us in giving restaurants, guesthouses and hotels the best possible feedback on their customer service.
  • The opportunity to really make a difference in the industry.
  • Some great new friends.
  • An increased database.

Interested? Send your CV to Renate at enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

 

Terms and Conditions:

Only South African citizens may apply.

You may only become a mystery guest if you have your own transport, contact methods and constant internet access.

The application process may include further interviews.

Your participation may be terminated with immediate effect should you not adhere to Travelling Mystery Guest’s operating procedures and standards.

You may not participate as a mystery guest for the company if you have not completed Travelling Mystery Guest’s training and signed an agreement with the company.

All documents, photos, databases and other information gathered in the process will belong to Travelling Mystery Guest and the reproduction or reuse thereof will be illegal.