Anywhere is an adventure

Some people are born with wanderlust and they will explore all the places on this beautiful earth before a single grey hair appears on their head.  Other people are afraid to take the risk of experiencing the unknown abroad. Being any one of these two people is perfectly fine. Adventure can be found anywhere. Travelling Mystery Guest assists hotels, lodges, guesthouses and even restaurants to identify the type of people to attract.

Adventure is defined as an unusual and exciting or daring experience. But a customer doesn’t always have to go to the ends of the earth to awaken the joy of discovering the unknown. Something new and interesting can be found right around the corner of where they are. Taking only South Africa into consideration, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape lies right next to each other on a map but they present a traveller with two different worlds.

There is not a place on this planet not worth exploring. Every new destination they visit and everything you do for your customer can change them. People get caught up in work and routine and sometimes they forget to look up and enjoy their surroundings. Unexpected places and people can provide us with a new experience.

The cultures of the world can now be found almost everywhere. Different restaurants provide entirely unique experiences. Guests tend to create bucket lists of things they would like to do and see. Destinations must find ways to become one of the top 10 attractions customers want to experience. Identify methods through which your destination can offer customers trendy food experiences or exciting events that they would like to add to their calendars.

Set up a list of local places and visit a different one each month. Join events that are presented in your location, especially if it is something you wouldn’t normally do, like going to acoustic music concert or a book reading, to learn what your guests will be experiencing when visiting there.

There is a certain magic that happens when the earth awakens. Getting up early and watching the sun rise holds the promise of a new day. Guide your guests to put on their adventure goggles and break your routine. Encourage them to eat ice cream for lunch just because they can. Do something out of the ordinary to make yourself also realize there’s more to life than just living.

Customers  don’t need a reason to go anywhere. You need to create the need. Be the one thing they need to see before they head back to their home. Create memories that will make them want to come back.

 

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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.

Staycations – A threat or an opportunity for your destination?

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

There is a lot being written about the word, Staycation, but do we really get what it’s about? Do we realise that Staycations could either be seen as a threat or an opportunity for local businesses?

Staycation

Staycation – Photo taken by Renate Engelbrecht

We often tend to focus all our marketing efforts on guests coming in from abroad – you know, those with the dollars. But then, when last have we really taken a good look at what the customers right under our noses, the locals, are looking for? That family of four driving past your destination every day on their way to school; the couple who just bought a new home around the corner and committed themselves to weekly date nights; the retirees who love to invite their precious grandchildren for a visit, but don’t know where to take them for entertainment…

STAYCATION: A period in which individuals or families stay at home and take part in local leisure activities within driving distance from their homes and sleep in their own beds at night.

What causes guests to revert to Staycations?

  • Economic pressure or recession
  • The rise of fuel prices
  • The increase of tourists who want to reduce the carbon footprint
  • The urge and necessity to save time (travelling could take up to two days, where Staycations require one hour’s travel at most)
  • The larger the family, the less the finances for travel when you take into account the costs of restaurants, transport and accommodation
  • Health concerns may alter travelling plans
  • Work commitments may thwart plans of travelling abroad or even just out of town

How can Staycations be to your destination’s advantage?

  • You can get the locals on your side – the best all year round customers you could wish for!
  • Local businesses can work together, for once, and build a stronger, more steadfast relationship
  • You could wind up with a whole new group of customers, allowing you to broaden customer experiences offered, hence catering for a wider range of clients.
  • It will drive you to get involved in your local community – a must in today’s competitive business environment and economy.
  • It will encourage you to learn more about your immediate and surrounding areas – something we tend to neglect when focusing on foreign tourists.

How can you drive locals, or rather, Staycationers, to your destination?

It so happens that not all towns and cities are ideal for Staycations. This is where you, as a destination, have the obligation to create experiences for Staycationers and keep them from driving to the nearest best town for the day. Yes, you still want to make a buck or two, which is why you need to think clever! You need to find a way to cater for guests who want to relax in a wallet-friendly environment, while still growing your profits:

  • Open your destination’s swimming pool for the public on certain days, offering refreshments and snacks on a budget that might up your sales for the day. Add some water activities, i.e. water aerobics at an hourly fee and increase profits in that way.
  • Put up some alternative activities that may be used by the public at a minimal fee. Think table tennis, volleyball, giant chess, put-put and some facilitated local games like the well-known South African Boeresport. That’ll keep’em busy!
  • Run local tours – not only at your destination, but also in the surrounding areas. Make it interesting and try to educate. Educational tourism is just as much a thing as Staycations. Put together an “Explore your city” package with local businesses like museums, botanical gardens and local breweries, for example, and put a mark-up on it.
  • Host a fun run and have participants enjoy a breakfast buffet at your on-site restaurant afterwards at a discounted rate. Often you will find, if it was a good experience, that these guests stay for longer or they return.

I say, let’s turn Staycations into the best opportunity for destinations yet!

Travelling off the grid – Why a digital detox is necessary

Written by: Esrida Brits

Open your mind, pack lightly and leave the phone at home.

We should all look at our friends and family and earnestly ask – “When was the last time you switched off?” When was the last time that you refrained from using any electronic connecting device for 24 hours? If the answer is “I cannot remember,” a digital detox should be on the cards for them. The world looks a lot better when it is not through a screen!

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

As cell phone towers continue to pop-up, and Wi-Fi spots become commonplace, escaping the digital world becomes harder and harder, even impossible, and ever more exclusive. It is becoming an expression of privilege and of wealth; unattainable for the mere mortal traveller.  This perception is a shame, as off-the-grid travelling is the only way you can still experience the original intended thrill of adventure. The sense of excitement and strangeness; of being in a different, new place. The feeling that travellers once took for granted. Cutting the digital umbilical cord in the form of a digital detox is the first step towards adventure – escaping from the familiar.

A digital detox can be defined as down-time, time spent away from any technological devices like smartphones or computers, and is widely regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress, increase focus and develop social interaction in the physical world. If we don’t allow ourselves the chance to reboot and recharge, we cannot be surprised if we burn out, become inefficient or lose our creative edge. In short, a digital detox is exactly what we need to stay productive and balanced in our wired world.

60% of all travellers confessed that traditional tourism holidays do not leave them rested and relaxed. Luckily, more and more destinations are realising the need for this “digital break-away” and are striving to provide guests with exactly that. Some destinations even have, as part of their rules, a strict “no device” policy where all guests must switch off their mobiles, smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers for the duration of their stay. These destinations use their “digital zero” rule as their defining factor, something that provides a unique selling point that sets them apart from the rest. They attract like-minded travellers who not only want to experience the destination’s uniqueness, the people’s culture and the feel of freedom, but who also want to re-summons focus and clarity into their lives.

These destinations are creating and planning enjoyable activities that guests can engage in during their digitally switched off time. Activities can range from cooking demonstrations and classes to outdoor activities such as hiking or swimming. The lack of constant distraction from a screen tends to allow guests to immerse themselves in the activity, leading to more enjoyment and richer memories to look back on. The disconnectedness also tends to free people’s minds, permitting them to think about the important things in life and can even encourage them to make big changes to relationships, careers, health and fitness.

So what are you waiting for? Switch off. Go and do something amazing – off the grid.

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.

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

Notes on SA’s restaurant industry

The hospitality industry is not an easy industry to be in. It’s long hours, often unthankful customers and not necessarily great pay. Still, many people are in the industry for the love of serving others, being hospitable and enjoying the opportunity of meeting new people every day. The industry can get you down sometimes, though, and I believe that this is one of the main reasons customers don’t always get the service they expect. I’ve made a list of the main things I have noticed are not being done professionally in many South African restaurants:

 
Up-selling
Staff are often uncertain about menu items and specials and do not have the confidence to up-sell the restaurant’s services to its customers. Train employees to know the business and to believe in it and they will sell it to your customers.

 
Communication
It’s often the case that guests are not kept in the loop of things while waiting for their order at a restaurant. Remind employees to keep their customers informed regarding waiting times and current specials.

 
Personal Neatness
There is a certain standard in the hospitality industry regarding personal hygiene and personal neatness. Make sure that your staff know what this standard is and that it should be adhered to at all times.

 
Pulling out the chair
It doesn’t happen very often that a waiter pulls out a chair for a lady, but if it happens, it makes her feel special and welcome. Remind staff to make guests feel welcome with small, professional gestures like this.

 

Have a great Easter and keep striving towards customer service excellence!