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)

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Trends for 2017

I love watching things change in the travel and hospitality industries. Never a dull moment. Whether it is decor trends that change, or the plating of food, every year has some new, evolving trends that either shock us or surprise us. Wall colours, ways of travel, types of accommodation preferences, types of travellers and their expectations…here is what is being predicted for 2017:

Travel experiences

Travel experiences (Image cred: pixabay.com)

  1. EXPERIENCE. More and more travel experts say that travellers want experiences with some kind of purpose, especially when it comes to wellness and cultural education. Travellers want to have digital detox options and they want to experience different indigenous cultures. When I say experience, I mean travellers really want to experience certain things like working on farms, taking lessons from local artists and trying out local cuisines.
  2. CONSERVATION. Another trend that is growing quite quickly, is the trend of travelling with the purpose of conservation. Conservation of not only the planet, but also cultures, wildlife and more.
  3. MORE DESTINATIONS IN ONE TRIP. Travellers don’t go to one destination and stay there for two weeks anymore. Instead, they make the most of their time away from home and fit in as many destinations and experiences as possible. In South Africa, this is a huge trend as travellers want to see, for example, Cape Town and the Kruger National Park all in one trip.
  4. EXPERIENCE DRIVEN TOURS. Tour operators say that travel to Africa is booming. Travellers now want the true African Safari experience and less luxurious spa experiences. Things like walking safaris, canoe trails and fly camping should do the trick. Experience driven tours that encourage travellers to move at a slower pace while on holiday are a must in your planning for 2017 if you want to “wow” your customers.
  5. COMBINATION TRIPS. “High-low” safaris are also becoming very trendy in the travel industry, where travellers rough it with walking trails or canoeing and then end off their trip with a few days at a luxury lodge. Combination trips are definitely something to look into. Gosh PR also mentioned this at the THINC Africa Conference, hosted by HVS earlier this year, where they explained that UK travellers want something from both worlds in one trip. With South Africa having so many stunning beaches, we need to tap into this travel market, providing tours that combine safaris and beach holidays to travellers from around the world.
  6. LIVING ROOM-LIKE SPACES. With regards to decor, hotels have living room-like spaces to look forward to – moving away from the traditional front desk.
  7. CULTURE INSPIRED DESIGNS. Culture-centered designs where there is not much difference visible from the indoor spaces to the outdoor spaces is not necessarily a new trend, but it has increased in popularity.
  8. BOHEMIAN FOR BUDGET. Bohemian simplicity has become a popular design trend to follow, especially for budget hotels, with high-touch furnishings, but simple, environmental finishes.

References:

http://www.greenspot.travel

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com

http://www.travelweekly.com

http://www.goshpr.co.uk

Destinations need to think out of the box

Highlight what makes you unique and tap into travellers’ expectations.

We recently wrote about business travellers and the growing trend of them looking for destinations that are unconventional and adventurous. Yes, the standard hotel room is still number one on the list for business travellers, but this is mainly because they know they will get what they expect. Hotel groups normally also make this easier, as they have a standard room types, which provide guests with exactly the same whether it is in South Africa or London.

With the bleisure travel trend becoming more and more popular, the demand for more adventurous and unique accommodation options will also increase. This means that destinations will need to start thinking out of the box and tap into travellers’ expectations, which is ever changing and could be quite challenging, yet very exciting!

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

This does not only apply to business travellers, but also leisure travellers. Destinations need to figure out what makes them unique and use that as a selling point. Unique selling points is what gives destinations their competitive advantage. What is yours?

How to identify your unique selling point:

If you are uncertain about what makes your destination stand out from the rest or if you are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my destination offer something different to the destinations in the area?
  • Can we incorporate educational tourism or voluntourism or something similar in our destination?
  • Does my destination cater for a niche group of travellers, i.e. business travellers, travellers with kids, adventure travellers, etc.?
  • Is there a way to incorporate certain activities for travellers at our destination, i.e. yoga classes, meeting rooms, conference facilities, water sports, expeditions, etc.?

These can be guidelines to see where your destination is able to create its own unique selling points, eventually letting the destination evolve and stand out from the rest.

Tools and Trends to use to your advantage:

Keeping up with current tools and trends in the travel industry will guide you to successfully identify certain areas in which your destination is able to exceed guests’ expectations. Examples of these include:

  • Travel apps and the use thereof
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Knowledge on the different types of tourists and their needs and expectations
  • Creative and inventive thinking (thinking out of the box) from employees
  • Customer feedback (always very valuable)
  • Customer Journey Evaluations (done by Travelling Mystery Guest and helps to identify gaps in the customer journey that need to be attended to)
  • Customer Journey Mapping workshops (teaches HODs and staff how departments interlink with each other to create the ultimate customer experience and shows touch points where the destination has an opportunity to WOW the guest. Contact Travelling Mystery Guest for more information and bookings.)
  • Knowledge about Millennials and their travel trends and expectations
  • Seasonality trends
  • Mobile and other technology that can improve the guest’s experience
  • Cultural, sport or leisure events and wellness holiday trends
  • Long family holiday trends
  • Older travellers tend to travel further and longer and look for more adventure
  • Younger travellers drive the trend for activity or sporting holidays

These are only a few of the things you could consider when you want to set your destination apart from the rest and be the best. Find your unique selling points and use it to your advantage. Think out of the box.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING WORKSHOP

Travelling Mystery Guest

Travelling Mystery Guest (Pty) Ltd

Knowing your customer’s expectations is a difficult task. Often it seems almost impossible. It’s very rare to find two customers whose expectations are exactly the same. Still, there are certain expectations that are inherent to a customer’s experience, which is why a customer journey map is so ideal!

A customer journey map helps you to:

  • Think like a customer
  • Get to know the different customers
  • Understand the importance of interlinked departments
  • Look at things from both sides
  • Identify gaps in the customer’s experience
  • Fix the gaps in the customer’s experience
  • Identify additional ways to improve the customer’s experience
  • Stay on your toes
  • Motivate line staff

We offer customer journey mapping workshops all over South Africa (and even abroad) to assist hotels, guesthouses and restaurants to improve their customers’ journeys through your destination.

Interested? Contact us on (+27)82 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za and we’ll come to you!

Journey Mapping Workshop

It’s not always easy to know what your customer expects, which means you are not always able to provide them with the best possible service. If you knew what they might need or expect within the next few minutes, you’d be able to assist them without them having to request assistance.
Travelling Mystery Guest invites you to attend the upcoming Customer Journey Mapping Workshop on 3 June 2015 at Eagle’s View Guest House and Conference Centre, Roodepoort. Here you will be able to create your own customer journey map, identify different types of customers and their possible expectations. We’ll get into your customer’s shoes, put on our thinking caps and jot down the various touch points where you can “wow” your customers.

Journey Mapping Workshop - 3 June 2015

Journey Mapping Workshop – 3 June 2015

Journey mapping helps you to identify “touch points” with the customer where you have the opportunity to “wow” them. A few of these touch points include engagement on social media, guests’ arrival at the hotel’s security gate, guests’ checking in process at reception and many more. These touch points can also differ from customer to customer. A business man’s expectation during the check-in process might be for it to be as quick as possible, where a family on holiday might expect welcome drinks and welcome kits for kids on their arrival.
For more information, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za
Book now by completing the form HERE or pop Renate an email.

How to identify customer expectations

Even though customers tend to change and not one customer seems to be the same, they also make things easier for us in terms of identifying their expectations. We just have to learn to identify it. How?

You would have noticed by now that many companies have employed social media managers who are responsible for communicating with customers via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And it doesn’t stop there. Then came LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest…and Instagram and Flickr and I whatever else. The point is…customers communicate via social media. Not just with companies, but also with friends and family. They share stories and ideas via links on Facebook, they mention good (or bad) reviews on Twitter with creative accompanying hashtags and they create dream boards on Pinterest. What does this have to do with identifying customer expectations? Well…let’s look at a few examples:

Facebook:

Facebook gives you the opportunity to learn more about your followers in numerous ways. Your followers will only interact on posts that they find interesting or worth their while. You can also view your page insights, which shows you who your followers are, where they are from, which types of posts they mainly interact on, how many female and male followers you have and more. You can also view your followers’ most basic information like where they are from and some of their interests. This should already give you a good idea of what they are into and therefore you have an opportunity to act on it. No excuses!

Twitter:

To view discussions on Twitter and the people’s tweets and interactions with your brand is sometimes quite interesting. People’s title descriptions usually also say quite a lot about their personalities and what they would enjoy.

Pinterest:

I believe Pinterest to be one of the best ways to identify customer expectations, as this is where people pin everything they would like to have and not necessarily what they have. It includes things they dream about and things they hope for like the perfect wedding dress or the most beautiful presented dishes or creative recipes. If these people are like me, they most probably will never have all these things that they pin to their boards, but it’s never a bad thing to dream. And that’s where you could come in and sweep your customers off their feet! Make their dreams become reality with a popular Pinterest recipe for dinner or plan a contest with a dress similar to the most pinned wedding dress on Pinterest. Identify what your customers dream about and act on it.

Need some assistance in identifying your customers’ expectations? Contact Renate from Travelling Mystery Guest on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

Practice here:

Have a look at Renate’s Pinterest page and identify five of her customer expectations from the list below. The first one to identify all five expectations correctly will receive a Customer Journey Evaluation for your destination for FREE!

Renate’s 5 customer expectations:

What makes a customer change?

Experts say that our customers are constantly changing. I suppose it is true, as customers are people and people change. But why? What makes customers change? Here are a few reasons for change:

Technology

Like we have different generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X and Y and more) we also have different technologies that the generations are comfortable with. Some parts of certain generations adapt, others not. They say generation Y is the Twitter generation. Boy, would I like to see my mother Tweet! It’s two different generations growing up with different technological habits. For many of our parents television was a luxury. Today we stay up to date with news via Twitter. It’s quicker, allowing for a faster pace and more knowledge on a wider variety of subjects, which means our customers want faster service and are more educated than ever with a pace that increases daily.

Life stages

Loyal customers, those people who return time and again, also change. We need to be sure to change with them in order to keep them loyal. A teenager who came to drink a milkshake at your restaurant close to the university will become a student who would like to enjoy a beer at the same spot a few years from now. It’s about getting to know your customers and giving them special attention. The guy who attended a party at your establishment yesterday might bring his wife and children to your restaurant a year from now. It’s about remembering.

Social Responsibility

Customers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of social responsibility. If they can be part of your initiatives toward having an impact on your community, they might support you even more.

Green considerations

More and more travellers prefer to stay at hotels and guesthouses that take their environmental responsibility seriously. Do you?

Environmental Responsibility

Environmental Responsibility

Previous experiences and expectations

People experience things and then set a certain standard with which they are comfortable. They also hear about places and attractions from friends, which creates a certain expectation. Be sure to live up to that!

Increased health requirements

There has been a tremendous increase in food related illnesses and allergies. We need to be aware of these things and cater for them too.

Economy changes

This one I don’t even have to mention, because we all know what it takes to keep afloat in trying times. Our customers feel the same. We need to be willing to amend and change with them to show them that we care and we understand. We need to learn to put our customers first – even when it comes to financial stability. They are the ones who will keep your business alive if they feel that they matter.

Travelling Mystery Guest offers workshops on customer service, the customer’s journey and more. For bookings, contact Renate de Villiers on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 079 110 5674.