Should I have a company / personal profile on LinkedIn?

Needing or not needing a company profile on LinkedIn is not necessarily the question. The question should rather be: what do you want to achieve with your profile on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

Looking at LinkedIn, we all know by now that it is a professional platform on which people and companies can interact on a professional level about industry related topics. It is not a social platform, like Facebook, which is mainly used to stay in touch. LinkedIn is used to link people for business purposes rather than social purposes.

You need to decide whether you, as the owner or manager of the hotel or guesthouse, would like to “get linked” with other people in your industry or if you would like people to follow your hotel’s brand. The problem with the brand is that the brand needs to already have gained a certain amount of popularity in order to even be visible on a platform like LinkedIn. Interacting via the company profile is also much more difficult than from a personal LinkedIn profile. Your company profile would for instance not be able to link with people, even though people can follow the brand. The only interactions possible for a company profile would be to follow other brands (company profiles). The usage of the LinkedIn company page is therefore very limited and I would therefore prefer to have a personal profile instead. Why?

  1. I will be able to interact with fans of the brand in person.
  2. Fans will interact more easily with a person than a brand.
  3. It gives conversations and discussions more credibility as it can be traced back to someone specific.

Be careful:

With a personal profile related to a certain brand (i.e. your hotel) you need to ensure that the brand’s promise, values and beliefs are always visible throughout. If you decide to have a personal profile on LinkedIn with the aim of promoting your company, it is important to remember that the profile will then only be used for business purposes and not for socializing. (Not that LinkedIn is meant for socializing in any case). You will have to have a clear policy with regards to personal profiles on LinkedIn whenever they are linked to your brand.

For Travelling Mystery workshop bookings and tips on the basics of LinkedIn marketing for hotels and guesthouses, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Why your guesthouse needs to be on Facebook

Have you ever wondered why your guesthouse might need to be on Facebook? Are you afraid of opening a Facebook page or do you just not have enough time to manage it?

Facebook

Facebook

I have found that guesthouses seem to have a very low presence on Facebook even after many seminars, blog posts and discussions on the matter. Reasons for this might be due to ignorance, social media incompetence, the lack of time (or effort), the lack of consistency, a lack of understanding with regards to the benefits of social media or just no interest in the matter.

Unfortunately, in our ever changing industry (and fast changing world) social media has become a necessity, as this is the main platform being used by customers to engage and interact with brands.

Your guesthouse (the brand) needs to think like your customer (the guests) and interact with them on a level they will understand through a medium / platform that is most convenient and user friendly for them. In order to do so, we need profiles and pages on at least Facebook and Twitter, as these are the main social media platforms from which guests plan their trips, do research on certain accommodation establishments, ask for quotations and more information and even book accommodation.

I believe these five reasons should encourage each and every guesthouse owner out there to immediately open (or re-open) a Facebook account:

  1. It gives you a competitive advantage against other guesthouses who are not on social media.
  2. It creates more awareness online for your brand as more people will be able to see your presense on Facebook.
  3. It gives you the opportunity to share your story (which forms part of your brand identity) with your fans.
  4. It gives your regular guests and other guests the opportunity to engage with you in a more convenient way than usual.
  5. It shows that you are willing to adapt to your customer’s needs, which will encourage them to stay at your establishment rather than the not-on-facebook-guesthouse around the corner.

For assistance on starting your guesthouse’s Facebook page and for the basics of managing a Facebook page, book your Travelling Mystery workshop by contacting Renate 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!

10 Steps to creating your own customer journey map

Do you sit with information about your guests, but you don’t know how to use it? Do you sometimes wonder which areas of service you should focus on? We’ve got the solution for you!

Customer Journey Mapping

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a tool which will assist you in identifying what your customers experience at your establishment, what their likes and dislikes are, and which areas of customer service you should focus on. It’s something that any company in the tourism and hospitality industry should spend time on, as that is the one thing that will help you to get to know your customers better. You will be able to identify the different touch points between the guest and your establishment and the guest’s experience at each touch point. The ideal get-to-know-your-guest tool.

Here are ten easy steps put together by Travelling Mystery Guest to assist you in creating your own basic customer journey map. This map can become quite intense if you really put some effort into it – the steps below are just some guidelines to put you on the road: (PS – we also offer workshops on this topic. Contact us for bookings.)

  1. Before you start jotting down the map, you need to have a meeting with all relevant stakeholders of the business in order to decide which questions need answering, which business decisions you’re facing and what you hope to learn from the map. Then decide on a framework to work from. With the different touch points as a framework, you will be able to identify all the different areas where guests interact with your establishment during their customer journey.
  2. Gather intelligence. This part is the difficult part, as this is where you need to gather as much data as possible in light of your objectives. If you want to know which social media pages your guests prefer to use, you will need to do online research, interview your guests, delve through previous surveys that has been done and observe followers online. It is also here where you need to identify your different target markets, i.e. business tourists, leisure tourists, kids, etc.
  3. Put the information that you’ve gathered in a visual form. Remember: You need to visualize it from your guest’s perspective – focus on what the guest is doing, thinking, feeling, interpreting and buying. These will eventually form your touch points on the map.
  4. List general patterns that are relevant to the specific guests’ journey through your establishment (i.e. they mostly book via a travel agent, they mainly eat breakfast very early in the morning, they always ask for two point plugs, they usually book single rooms, etc.)
  5. Now identify additional journeys that represent other types of guests (i.e. the journey of a business guest and the journey of a leisure guest) and repeat steps 1 – 5.
  6. Identify areas where the customer journey between different target markets starts to differ. Also identify the “road blocks” that impact different customer groups in different ways.
  7. Add moments of truth (detailed interactions) at each touch point. For example: At the touch point, Company Website, the moment of truth would be that the website needs to provide ample information, needs to lead customers to additional pages like Facebook and the blog, needs to be easy to navigate, etc. These are things a guest would expect from your website. It will shape their perception of your establishment and perhaps even convince them that they need your service.
  8. From the moments of truth, you need to identify the areas where your company is not living up to standard. Spot the areas where you see opportunities for better engagement with your guests.
  9. After looking at the current customer journeys of your different target markets, now also create a map of the ideal customer journey. Ask yourself where the opportunities lie to exceed your guests’ expectations.
  10. Socialize your map with the relevant stakeholders. Consider the differences between the current customer journey map of your establishment and the ideal customer journey map and from there develop a road map for improvement. Be sure to include all relevant departments of the business in this map discussion in order to ensure that everyone understands the mission: exceeding customer needs.

Thanks to my sources: Antje Helfrich and Marc Steiner from Openview.

The different kinds of hotel guests

I love watching people. In fact, I think human beings are one of the most interesting and terrifying things at the same time. How many times do we tend to say that we wish we could understand someone else?

My point is – no one is the same. No one thinks in the same way and therefore no one acts or reacts in the same way. This goes for hotel guests (your customers) as well.

Types of guests

Types of guests – Image from: http://www.lifehacker.com

I’ve done some research on the kinds of hotel guests you can expect to arrive and came up with the following:

The Free Independent Traveller

Tourism specialists don’t call him FIT for nothing. FIT’s are fit to do everything themselves. It’s all about making their own decisions, bookings and, yes, mistakes. Even though travel agents have much more knowledge on certain topics, FIT’s (currently one of the fastest growing types of tourists) have found that the internet allows for many travel planning opportunities. More and more bookings are done via Facebook these days, so be sure that you have someone who checks your social media pages on a day-to-day basis. These guests can be anything from budget travellers to glamour seekers. Be sure to identify their likes and dislikes as quickly as possible and make suggestions accordingly. Note to self: Identify guest’s favourite social media port and send them links to things they might want to see in your area. With FIT’s it is all about internet savvy and engagement through the right channels.

The Foreign Free Independent Traveller

Pretty much the same kind of guest as your FIT. The only difference is that when it comes to foreign countries, the help of a travel agent might still be called upon. They still, however, compare different places and prices – remember that the I-pad has become number one on many travellers’ packing lists. All it takes is the press of a button. These guests need some assistance and tips from your side. Be creative and give them a customized map of your area with everything you know they’d like to see. Think foreign.

Group Inclusive Tourists

These “groupies” tour in groups in order to save some money. The group doesn’t necessarily have the same common interests, but the travel costs are lower. Obviously these guests won’t be your big spenders, so keep them happy by keeping them comfortable.

Single Ladies

All the single ladies, all the single ladies….put your hands up for these girls who have taken the travel industry by storm. Everywhere I go I see promotions for ladies travelling on their own. Way to go for not letting singleness stand in the way of you wanderlust! Many establishments have special promotions running for this guest type – so many great opportunities here! Focus on keeping them safe, helping them meet new people and pampering them and you’ll be sure to gain a few extra guests!

These types of guests can be segmented even further – check out our next post on the different guest segments.

Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment or connecting with Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

March Workshops

Travelling Mystery Guest has quite a few really informative and motivating new workshops for you to attend in March! The company has also taken your busy schedules in consideration and therefore presents the workshops at your establishment at a convenient time for you and your employees. Now tell me that’s not customer service!

Workshops for March

Workshops for March

In March we will be taking a closer look at the most important social media ports and how you can use it to your advantage. You’ll learn more about the importance of storytelling, sharing relevant content with the right audience, engaging with customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and much more.

If you can only attend one workshop in March, but you would like to learn more about the other topics as well, stay connected with us online. You will be able to find regular blog posts on similar topics, as well as some slideshares and other tips on a regular basis – it’s unfortunately just not as much fun as actually attending!

The workshops for March include the following topics (and if you would like us to include additional specifics in the workshop, please give us a shout!):

  • Creating the best content, storytelling and sharing with the right audience
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Facebook
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Twitter
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Google+ and LinkedIn

For bookings and more information about the workshops, what they include, how much it costs and more, feel free to contact us on 079 110 5674 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Also follow Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest and stay up to date with our whereabouts.

What to look forward to this month

In essence, I’d say there is a lot to look forward to in addition to Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops… like thunder storms in Jozi, Valentine’s Day, weekend camping (without the thunder storms) and much more. Still, Travelling Mystery Guest also has a lot for you to look forward to, including very exciting workshops on the following topics:

Workshops

Workshops (Picture from Google Images)

And THAT’s why the customer is in charge!

We sometimes tend to think we can sit back and let South Africa do its own marketing with it having won nature’s lottery and all. Unfortunately, with customers becoming more and more educated due to more engagement and involvement via social media, we cannot expect business to fall on our laps. We need to engage with, listen to and learn from our customers. They have the ball in their hands and we need to work on a strategy to ensure that we catch the ball every time. Yes, the customer is in charge. We just need to learn to manage it.

Exceed your customer’s expectations without too much effort

With time mostly not being on our side and the economy being on the down side, it is difficult to see how we can exceed our customers’ expectations without some effort. Travelling Mystery Guest gives hospitality and tourism professionals a few tips on how to identify certain ways in which you can keep customers happy. We need to fall back to the most basic of basics: humanity. We need to remind ourselves that a customer is also just a normal human being and with a little bit of understanding we can keep customers happier than happy. Talk to them like you understand, listen to them like you want to understand and walk towards them as if you are the only one who can help them.

I look forward to all of the above, as well as what you have to say about Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops. I look forward to experiencing true South African hospitality this month and gaining more insight on customer service and exceeding expectations.

Book your on-site workshop now by contacting Travelling Mystery Guest on 079 110 5674 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow TMG on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and stay up to date with the latest happenings.

TMG Special Promotion

You might have noticed that Travelling Mystery Guest’s (TMG’s) website is up and running at last and that we are currently running a promotion to celebrate our launch.

Travelling Mystery Guest Promotion

Travelling Mystery Guest Promotion

The special is aimed at all tourism and hospitality establishments in South Africa, including restaurants, guesthouses, B&B’s, boutique hotels, hotel groups, lodges and any other establishments in the industry. Be one of the first ten establishments to book a mystery guest visit from TMG and receive 25% discount on our full package. This includes a pre-evaluation of your advertising, websites and social media, a mystery guest visit which takes into account the whole customer journey from arrival to departure and even the quality calls thereafter. It also includes a customized constructive report, giving you feedback and tips on how to improve your customer service to ensure that your guests return. It’s all about walking the talk – providing the customer with exactly what you say you do.

To book your mystery guest visit, contact Travelling Mystery Guest on 079 110 5674 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. This special is valid until 31 August 2013.

For more information, visit our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.