Upselling: A useful tool in the hospitality industry

Upselling, also known as suggestive selling, is an ideal tool in the hospitality industry, as it not only gives staff the opportunity to create larger sales, but it can also be used to create greater customer satisfaction.

 
Yes, many times, the word “upselling” can leave a bitter taste in your mouth due to sales people nagging and nagging you to buy certain products. I believe that those sales people just haven’t had the right training – especially when it comes to the hospitality and tourism industry. In our industry, it’s all about the customer experience and customers definitely don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches. Still, they do expect staff to tell them a little more about services offered, the current specials or things that they might be interested in.

 
Upselling, when used correctly, gives you the opportunity to get closer to your customer. To get to know them better.

 
Interestingly enough, we tend to use the word upselling incorrectly sometimes. Let me explain:

 
If a guest buys a room for R1200 per night and the reservationist offers the guest a better room with a view and an en suite bathroom at R1500 per night, that’s upselling. Cross-selling, on the other hand, is when you sell products that are different, but related, to the product that has already been bought. An example: If I buy a room at R1200 per night, the reservationist offers me the option of adding a spa treatment at the spa next door at R600. With upselling, the price of the product being bought is increased. With cross-selling extra items are added to the original product to increase the sale.

 
Keep in mind that it’s not a race, but rather a route to follow to help the customer get more value from your business, eventually creating more loyal customers who are sure to return time and again.

 
Groovehq.com mentions a few reasons why upselling and cross-selling are so positive:
1. When done right, it builds deeper relationships with customers.
2. It’s easier than selling to new customers and helps you grow.
3. Upselling increases customer lifetime value.

 
Teach your employees how to use upselling and cross-selling effectively by attending Travelling Mystery Guest’s upcoming workshop on this topic on 4 July 2015 (combined with 3 July 2015 workshop on communication) or 8 July 2015. For more information, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

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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.

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.

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.

Things we tend to forget

Source: Uploaded by user via Travelling Mystery Guest on Pinterest

Visiting guesthouses and hotels on a regular basis makes you realise how many things we tend to forget when preparing a room for a guest.

Owning an accommodation establishment does not necessarily make you an expert on what to put in the rooms; in fact, we tend to overlook a few things due to being so used to the establishment’s offerings. As we know by now – no customer is the same and no target market either. A business traveller might need a two point plug next to his bed as well as at his desk in the room. A family room might be more comfortable for leisure travellers when there is bubble bath for the kids or a pack of cards to play with in the room when the weather is not so pleasant. It is about going that extra mile that everyone speaks about.

Here are a few things TMG noticed many establishments tend to forget to add to their guest rooms. Take note and maybe consider adding this to your rooms for the next guests to increase customer satisfaction and to give them a better experience of your establishment. It might be small things, but isn’t it true that it’s the small things that count?

  • Two point plugs in the rooms for a hairdryer (if there is none provided in the room), cell phone chargers, laptops, etc.
  • Information files in the rooms, providing information on local attractions, restaurants, coffee shops and shopping facilities.
  • It is always great to have a minibar in the room – just remember to stock it before the guests arrive and be sure to explain the payment procedures to your them. This service is a preferred service by TMG for business travellers, as they are the ones who might work late in the evenings.
  • Have a look at the lighting in the rooms. This is a big issue, especially for business travellers, at many South African establishments. Be sure that there is ample lighting at the desk area and next to the bed for working and reading purposes, as well as at the mirror areas where ladies might want to do their make-up.
  • Make sure about the correct height for the desk and chair where your guests visiting for business might want to work during the evening. You don’t want to tire them – in fact, you’d like them to feel comfortable and at home, right?
  • Also have a look at the position of all electric sockets in the rooms. The places guests would like to have electric sockets are mainly beside the bed and at the desk area, as well as close to a mirror.
  • Speaking of mirrors – remember that women (and many men too) need a mirror at a comfortable height for blow drying their hair, checking their outfits and doing their makeup. Should there only be mirrors in the bathroom, be sure that the area is secure for an electric socket for things like hairdryers and shavers. This is not the ideal, though. Rather add another mirror in the room itself.

Any more things you’ve noticed guesthouses or hotels tend to forget? Share your views and tips with Travelling Mystery Guest by leaving a comment.