Are you offering what your clients are actually looking for?

As a business owner or manager in any hospitality type establishment, you have perceptions as to what your customers want. Your establishment can actually be doing very well but there are still some factors that could influence your effectiveness and this is something you have no control over. Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at what can influence your company and how to handle them.office-1209640_1920

Travelling Mystery Guest recently attended Urban Econ’s Tourism Talk, where Karen Kohler was the guest speaker. She had interesting information regarding where to find statistical updates about Tourism. Some of these databases include:

To know the statistics of tourism in the area you live in can help you determine the successful and unsuccessful time frames for your business and businesses similar to yours. More importantly, one should determine why the statistics are the way they are, what influenced them and how to prevent or repeat this. It is always important to take general news into consideration with your own business. Factors like illnesses in your country can have a big effect on your international visitor ratesworld-1264062_1920

Another interesting thing to keep in mind is the perceptions that people have about your location. It might be wise to do research about all the negative images tourists might be seeing about your city. For example, a company has a conference each year in another country and the company pays all the travel costs for participating employees. In the year when they went to Australia, everyone was very keen on going because of the high amount of South-African people who have visited or immigrated to Australia, the continent had a positive image. But the in the year they had the conference in India, many employees didn’t want to go (even with all expenses paid) because of the image that India has. This personal perception could have been created by movies such as Slum dog Millionaire.  So always keep in mind what perceptions are created by any stimuli.

diet-403588_1920

Lastly, something that all employees in the hospitality industry are familiar with is trends. Now, we might be familiar with the concept of a trend, but do we really know what the trends are? It may feel like trends just pop up out of nowhere and when observing social media, it also sometimes seems as if trends disappear as quickly as they appeared. A trend can be very tricky to incorporate into your business, considering their time frames. A good example of this was the banting diet in South-Africa. Every restaurant and shop started to incorporate banting items into their menus but soon there were a lot of debates about the health benefits of this diet. So when incorporating a trend into your business, never make it the entire focus point of your business but rather a feature that you offer.

Trends can really have an impact on your business. For interest sake, some of the trends to look in to is virtual travelling and voluntourism. Also, take a look at one of our previous blog posts about Travel Trends in 2017. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Top 5 Reasons to attend the next World Travel Market

Travelling Mystery Guest recently attended the World Travel Market at the CTICC in Cape Town. Here are our top 5 reasons for attending the next one:

  1. Meeting up with friends from the industry. In an industry that revolves around interaction with people, meeting up with old friends from the industry is one of the biggest gifts! In addition to the blessing of having friends in the industry, they also know other friends in the industry that they can introduce you to and visa versa. That brings us to the next reason for attending:
  2. Networking. These types of events are always ideal for making new contacts, creating leads and strengthening relationships. The Tourism and Hospitality Industry is one of those industries where it is best to meet your clients face to face. We like the human-to-human interaction – that’s why we do what we do. This also makes it easier to contact potential clients afterwards.
  3. Seeing what’s out there. Whether it is new opportunities, huge, scary competition or possibilities for collaboration, you get to see what is out there and you are given the opportunity to talk to different people face to face.
  4. A pool of people to tap into. Tourism and Hospitality professionals from all over the world attend this event and this provides you with a golden opportunity to tap into this pool of professionals if you play your cards right.
  5. Never too old to learn. In an ever changing environment, we all struggle to keep track with the latest technology, trends and tactics. The World Travel Market hosts numerous talks on a variety of subjects and you can sit in and take in as much as you like. We especially enjoyed the talk on the current state of travel blogs, hosted by Keith Jenkins, from Velvet Escape Travel Blog and iAmbassador.

So, be sure to save up for the next World Travel Market – it definitely is worth your travels and your time.

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

How to improve your company’s customer satisfaction

 

Customer service is the main focus of any hospitality business. Whether you manage a hotel, guesthouse or a restaurant, if your customers aren’t happy, they won’t return. Here are some skills required to improve customer service:

  1. Patience

Patience should be exercised on every level when working with customers. Some people are very hard to work with. Nevertheless, handling them with patience enables you to better understand your customer’s problems and needs. One moment of patience can build a lot of respect towards your entity, not only from the person you are currently assisting, but any other observer that sees the way you treat your clients.

  1. Attention

It’s true that you won’t understand your customers if you’re not paying attention to them. When helping a customer, they can clearly see whether you are paying attention to them or not and that is a big indicator of good or bad service. It’s also wise to pay attention to what customers are not telling you verbally. Some people are very shy when it comes to giving feedback, so observing their body language and subtle responses will enable you to determine their true feelings towards your service.

  1. Training

Knowledge is power and when customers come to your business, they expect a certain level of knowledge about the service you provide. Money spent on training will definitely not be wasted. There is, of course, theoretical knowledge that can be learned, but improve your worker’s skills by giving them practical knowledge and skills. Expose them to stress factors and difficult situations before sending them into the industry. This will be very useful when they are facing a difficult client.

  1. Communication

From personal experience, it is really upsetting when a customer informs a staff member about a problem and the staff member refrains from responding immediately. When staff members discuss the problem with one another in a language the customer can’t understand and only give explanations 10 minutes later, the customer feels uncomfortable and uninformed. Every minute you leave the customer wondering what is going on, is a minute for them to decide they are never coming back. Teach your staff to communicate clearly and within the required time. Even when they don’t have the solution, they should keep the customer informed by indicating that they will make an effort to find out.

  1. Determination

Customer service is not something you can slack on. If a customer walks away from your business saying “the product we received was great, but the service was terrible”, then they are not satisfied even though you partially fulfilled their requirements. Bad service is something the customer always remembers and which inevitably determines their final experience. If something goes wrong in your daily schedule, customer service is what will save you from bad reviews.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

 

Ciotti, G. 2016, 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs, [online] also available from: www.helpscout.net, accessed 13/02/2017

 

 

 

PACKAGES FOR 2017

packages

Travelling Mystery Guest

Travelling Mystery Guest has launched a few exciting packages for tourism and hospitality destinations in South Africa. These packages combine a few of the company’s popular services, like Customer Journey Evaluations, Workshops and Destination Marketing Photography to provide our clients with even more value for money.

Bookings for 2017 are already open. Contact us today for more information or to book us for a visit at your destination.

Have a look at the packages below:

PACKAGE 1
CUSTOMER JOURNEY EVALUATION & VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT

This package includes both a Customer Journey Evaluation (mystery guest visit with customized quality assessments, complete and constructive feedback and measurement) and a one hour photo shoot for your destination, of which the images are available to your destination for website and social media content.
R2250.00 for Restaurants
R2750.00 for Accommodation Establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 2
VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT, BLOG REVIEW & PHOTO BLOG FEATURE

This package includes one hour’s photo shoot of your destination’s physical aspects and experiences, as well as a review on Travelling Mystery Guest’s blog and a photo blog on Travelling Mystery Guest‘s photo blog, TMG Photos.
R1000.00 for Restaurants
R1250.00 for Accommodation establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 3
HOST A WORKSHOP AND ATTEND FOR FREE

Host one of Travelling Mystery Guest‘s full-day workshops of R950.00 per delegate at your venue for a minimum of 10 pax and have one employee attend the workshop for FREE. Delegates may be from your own destination, sister companies and/or other destinations. Workshop marketing and gaining delegates will be both Travelling Mystery Guest and the venue’s responsibility and the package agreement will not be binding until a minimum of 10 delegates (including 1 delegate attending for FREE) have been confirmed. Food and beverage costs are not included in the price per delegate.
Terms and Conditions Apply.

*Travel, accommodation, F&B and other customer experiences, i.e. spa treatments and safaris are not included in the package price.

nuusbrief-image

Travelling Mystery Guest

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

Knowledge is Power

“Knowledge is power only if man knows what facts not to bother with.” Robert Staughton Lynd.

True hospitality can only take place when you know and understand the unique expectations of each potential and existing guest, and how to exceed those expectations. Doing this requires knowledge of your customers: their wants, their needs, their preferences as well as how their expectations change. In the fast paced hospitality and tourism industries, this change happens constantly. Once you know these things, you will be able to focus your sales and marketing efforts on certain critical areas.

Knowing your customer” means gathering important information about your customers and using this information to keep your customers fixed to your brand. Knowing your customer can add value to almost every aspect of your organisation. In the hospitality industry, specifically, this knowledge carries immense power. Managers can use customer knowledge to ensure the atmosphere and ambiance is relaxing, waiters can use customer knowledge to know which dishes to recommend to their customers and chefs can use the information to assist in menu and recipe developing. This makes customer knowledge the most powerful of all information that an organisation can accumulate.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a typical customer, and all customers do not aggregate in order to announce what all of them want. In many cases, the customer might not even be aware of what he/she wants. Therefore, the first step in getting to know your customer is to start developing a database which collects and records useful information about them, such as birthdays, anniversaries, special requests, important dietary requirements, basically any pattern that might be significant, so that you will be able to tell your customer what he/she wants and needs. Once you have this knowledge, you can further use it to get full clarity on your value proposition.

Do you have the power of understanding your customer? A few helpful questions:

  • Why are customers interested in visiting your business?
  • Which needs are they trying to satisfy?
  • Why are customers going to your competitors?
  • How are your customers’ behaviour and needs changing?

Each question should represent an opportunity for you and your destination. If you have the knowledge about your customers’ behaviour and needs, you should know how to deliver a valuable and memorable product and/service.

We all know the saying “knowledge is power” and it has never rung truer. Businesses that can and are willing to meet expectations with true hospitality by means of customer knowledge will have the power to form lasting relationships with their customers, which in turn will transform customers into lifelong guests, giving you competitive advantage.

©Esrida Brits

Top Hospitality Observations in 2014

In 2014 I’ve seen small garden café’s and large hotel groups. I’ve seen professional and less professional hospitality staff and I’ve been in the back office of many a destination. Here are my top 10 observations from 2014 – take it, use it and take 2015 by storm with new angles, new excitement and new plans:

Consistency is king ©RenatedeVilliers

Consistency is king ©RenatedeVilliers

  1. Why would a hotel room be perfect if housekeeping’s offices behind the scenes are unorganized? Like in life, beauty comes from the inside.  Start there.
  2. Consistency is king. When a guest is served a biscuit with his coffee today and not tomorrow, he will be disappointed. Don’t set a standard you can’t keep up with.
  3. Too few restaurants see the importance in gluten free and other healthier alternatives on their menus. If you ask me, a whole menu section dedicated to that might put you at the top of the list for many customers.
  4. Waitrons need additional communication skills and self-confidence. It seems that many waitrons would rather say nothing and only check their tables once, in order to protect themselves from difficult customers. It’s true that customers are difficult, but a waiter with self-confidence has less trouble than those who serve with fear.
  5. Branding still triggers the memory. Many establishments don’t use branded coasters, swizzle sticks, plates and other tangible items, probably mainly due to cost. Still, seeing the branding image at the entrance of a destination, again at reception, in the room or at the restaurant table and on the bill burns the memory into the customer’s brain. It’s one of the first things he will recall when someone asks for a referral to a restaurant or destination.
  6. Loyalty makes the destination. I’m not talking about customers’ loyalty. I’m talking about employees working for the destination’s loyalty. If staff don’t have the same reason for serving customers than what the destination promises, they might do more damage than good.
  7. First impressions really do last forever. If a guest is not greeted on arrival, not assisted with his luggage or not made feel welcome by a great atmosphere with audible background music, he might just not want to return.
  8. Small things have big impacts. Noticing your regular guests’ preferences and acting on it before they need to request it, makes a big impression. A fresh flower on the bed, bath salt in the bathroom, the guest’s favourite chocolate or hot chocolate on a cold winters’ night – those things make them feel at home.
  9. It’s a human thing. Guests don’t want to feel like numbers. They want to feel like friends. Being able to meet the chef or the general manager, exchanging a few short sentences and getting to know the people who play an integral role at the place they dine and stay, make guests feel important.
  10. At the end of the day, experience is all that matters. The thing with experience is that everything is interlinked: service standards, tastes, textures, ambiance, conversation, views, smells, sounds… That’s why every employee in the company needs to understand the whole restaurant / hotel wheel to see where they fit in and to ensure that they are able to meet those standards.