Gaining more guests

Many hotels, guesthouses and restaurants offer more than just food and accommodation to their guests these days. It not only gives them additional exposure, but also helps them gain more guests.

Customers tend to change frequently regarding their needs, expectations and even emotions. By experimenting with some additional offers, we might be able to identify some new expectations more easily and even gain competitive advantage.

Outdoor Movie Night

Outdoor Movie Night

(Image found on babble.com)

 
Have you noticed how expensive it has become to watch movies at the cinema? Not to mention the price of popcorn, slush puppies and other snacks. Why don’t more venues use this as an opportunity? People love to go back in time and to experience some nostalgia every now and again. Why not give them a venue where they can watch movies in the garden while enjoying a box of homemade popcorn?

 
Dinner Theatre is another thing that draws many guests’ attention nowadays. It might be a little more expensive than going to the cinema, but the value for money is just so much more worth it. Spoiling your guests with a dinner theatre every now and again will keep them excited about your establishment and curious about what’s happening next. Those guests who only came for the performance now also have a chance to experience your venue and mention it to their friends.

 
Internal and relationship marketing has become key in the tourism and hospitality industry. We need to find ways to impress current guests all over again in order for them to spread the word. We need to think out of the box. Surprise your guests with something creative and new every now and again, build relationships with them and see how they do your marketing for you!

Stay or dine for free with TMG

It’s always fun to stay or dine for free. Especially when you can enjoy dinner at a restaurant you usually can’t afford or if you can stay at a hotel you’ve always dreamt of experiencing.

Stay or dine for free

Stay or dine for free

Travelling Mystery Guest is looking for people to assist with the evaluation of customer journeys at restaurants, guest houses, hotels and lodges, which will allow you to stay or dine for free. Even though this opportunity has its perks, it also comes with a few responsibilities and you will be required to have some knowledge regarding customer service in the tourism and hospitality industry.

If you feel you have the required knowledge and skills to evaluate a destination’s customer journey, to complete the evaluation sheet sensibly and to report back to Travelling Mystery Guest with constructive feedback and suggestions about the destination, contact us today on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. We would love to hear from you!

Terms and Conditions

  • We will need your CV and a cover letter. (Please send it to enquire@travellingmystery.co.za)
  • This is not a full time job, but rather an opportunity to stay or dine at no cost. In return for this, Travelling Mystery Guest will require you to complete the customer journey evaluation sheet as accurately and relevantly as possible.
  • You will be required to sign an agreement, in order for Travelling Mystery Guest to protect its copyright on all documents.
  • You will be required to attend a crash course on Travelling Mystery Guest’s evaluation process. This will most possibly take place in Johannesburg or Pretoria.
  • Travelling Mystery Guest’s evaluators’ list is divided into South Africa’s different provinces. You need to be able to visit destinations in your own province. Travel costs will be covered by the company, given that you have adhered to the necessary requirements stipulated in the agreement.

For more information on Travelling Mystery Guest’s services, internships and possible holiday positions, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za

Small things with big impact

On my travels, locally and abroad, I’ve noticed that there are numerous small things that make a big impact in the hospitality industry.

“Sometimes doing something ordinary a little different makes a bigger impression.” –Renate de Villiers

Here are a few things that caught my attention at different guesthouses, restaurants, hotels and other venues:

A normal cup of coffee becomes more special with a hint of nostalgia:

Koeksister

Koeksister

What could have been a normal champagne birthday celebration became a special champagne picnic at the Kamonande Game Reserve in Limpopo:

Picnic

Picnic

Not just the ordinary glass of champagne, but one with an edible hibiscus flower:

Champagne with Hibiscus

Champagne with Hibiscus

A common dinner at a fancy restaurant gets new meaning with entertainment in between. Dinner theater is becoming more and more popular as customers search for new, exciting things to do.

Waiters with some extra skills (like magician tricks or surprise elements) make a much better impression than the usual “can I take your order” attendant.

What small things does your restaurant or tourist destination do to make a bigger impact on your guests?

Let us know your thoughts and ideas by commenting below, or send us your comments via Twitter (@TravellingMG) or Facebook.

For more info about Travelling Mystery Guest, contact Renate on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Business or pleasure?

Is your establishment’s target market mainly guests who visit on business or pleasure?

As a hospitality and tourism industry expert, you probably don’t need me to explain to you why it is necessary to know your target market. The problem is, we get so used to our target markets, that we sometimes forget that they are also people, and people change.

As our environment, whether it be our technological or our physical environment, undergoes certain evolvements, we tend to change with it eventually. Therefore, as an accommodation establishment, restaurant or venue, it is important to keep up with trends in the industry.

Here are three trends TMG noticed feature in certain sections of the hospitality and tourism industry that you as a professional in the industry probably need to consider:

Environmental Responsibility:

This is not only a trend, but also a necessity. It has come to TMG’s attention that many travellers prefer accommodation at establishments that prove to be environmentally responsible. Guests are even willing to give up certain levels of comfort for this.

Kids entertainment:

Guests travelling for pleasure normally include families. Families often require some entertainment for children, which includes jungle gyms, swimming pools, and possible movie nights for when parents want to enjoy a romantic dinner. It is also important to remember that parents are well educated on this subject and therefore your establishment is automatically expected to provide them with service that will exceed their customer expectations. Think educational and try to include outside activities for kids. Take them on treasure hunts or short kids’ hiking trails. Use your environment and be creative.

Wi-Fi:

Businessmen are often on the road and with the fortunate evolvement of cell phones, computers and emails, many people unfortunately do the work of three or more by themselves these days. Wi-Fi has always been a luxury and not too long ago only top hotels and restaurants provided the service. Today, however, more and more hospitality and tourism establishments are adding this to their list of services and these establishments are the ones who become popular amongst business travellers especially very quickly. If business guests form part of your establishment’s target market and you do not provide your guests with Wi-Fi, you will need to revise your list of services.

For more tips and ideas on how to exceed your customers’ expectations, perhaps you should contact TMG and attend one of our workshops? Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

Become a MYSTERY GUEST with TMG

Don’t we all just love to talk about what this restaurant did wrong and what that hotel didn’t do? We tell this to friends and family, share it on every possible social media page, run to TripAdvisor and Hello Peter, yet nothing really gets done. You might get your money back or a chat with the general manager, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Now you have a chance to make a difference!

Become a mystery guest

Become a mystery guest

Travelling Mystery Guest invites you, the South African customer, to become a mystery guest with the company in order to gather more information about customer expectations in the hospitality and tourism industry. This, however, does not mean that you can just sit back and relax – the information you gather from your experience will be crucial to Travelling Mystery Guest’s findings which will be shared with the establishments visited in order to assist them on improving customer service.

In a nutshell the following will be expected of you:

  • Attend an in-depth training session on how to become a mystery guest for Travelling Mystery Guest (Pty) Ltd.
  • Sign an agreement with TMG, indicating that all information gathered is the property of the company.
  • Have permanent access to internet and social media.
  • Have your own transport and contact methods.
  • Have experience in the hospitality and tourism industry.

What’s in it for you?

  • A great new experience and the opportunity to explore your local environment.
  • Some insight on the hospitality and tourism industry’s challenges.
  • 10% commission on every establishment you visit.
  • 10% on every TMG workshop booked in response to your visit.
  • In-house training on customer service and the procedures to follow as a mystery guest for TMG.

What’s in it for Travelling Mystery Guest?

  • More accurate recordings of a customer’s journey at an establishment, assisting us in giving restaurants, guesthouses and hotels the best possible feedback on their customer service.
  • The opportunity to really make a difference in the industry.
  • Some great new friends.
  • An increased database.

Interested? Send your CV to Renate at enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

 

Terms and Conditions:

Only South African citizens may apply.

You may only become a mystery guest if you have your own transport, contact methods and constant internet access.

The application process may include further interviews.

Your participation may be terminated with immediate effect should you not adhere to Travelling Mystery Guest’s operating procedures and standards.

You may not participate as a mystery guest for the company if you have not completed Travelling Mystery Guest’s training and signed an agreement with the company.

All documents, photos, databases and other information gathered in the process will belong to Travelling Mystery Guest and the reproduction or reuse thereof will be illegal.

Things we tend to forget

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.

Things we tend to forget

Things we tend to forget (Photo taken at The Wardrobe Guesthouse, Pretoria) – http://thewardrobeguesthouse.co.za/

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 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.

Top 8 Hotel Pins

Here are my top 8 hotel pins from hotels based in South Africa – these are the things that will draw a customer’s attention when researching South African accommodation. Do you have pins like these? Please feel free to share them with us in the comment section below…

1. Surprise – Giraffe Hotel:

2.  South African Sunsets – Phinda Private Game Reserve:

3. Romantic Destinations: Lion Sands, Sabi Sands:

4. Destinations with a view – Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa:

5. Impressive attractions – Labyrinth at The Edge, Hogsback in the Eastern Cape:

6. Serenity – Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the Drakensberg, Kwazulu Natal:

7. Something different – The Outpost Lodge, Kruger National Park:

8. Beach Picnic Options – Oyster Bay Lodge:

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.

Storytelling for hotels and guesthouses – Part One

Storytelling is a very exciting (and not so new) way of marketing. It has also become a great tool of keeping record in the hospitality industry – especially with hotels, guesthouses and restaurants in mind. Not to mention the opportunities available with this marketing tool.

Storytelling

Storytelling (Photo by: Renate de Villiers. Berlyn Wall. 2014.)

What is storytelling?

According to the National Storytelling Network, storytelling can be defined as an interactive art using words, actions and images of a story to encourage the listener’s imagination.

With that in mind, your hotel or guesthouse (the storyteller) needs to find a way to support your listener’s (your guest’s) imagination. The difficulty of this is that you need to encourage your guests to imagine the correct things about your products and services. Unfortunately this story needs to be true. In business no fiction is tolerated. Your story needs to show guests what you believe in, where you come from and what your passions are. Your story needs to tell your guests why they can trust you.

6 Things to remember when writing your story:

  • Stories are interactive. You are the storyteller and your guests are the listeners. The listener’s response has an influence on the way the story is told.
  • Storytelling directly connects the storyteller (your hotel or guesthouse) with the audience (your guests).
  • Storytelling uses words. Be sure to use the best language / lingo relevant to your target market.
  • Storytelling encourages the activation of the listener’s imagination. Be sure to encourage your guests to imagine realistically (or to make the correct conclusions about your product). Your story resembles your company’s true core, its values and its timeline. Your guests would want to relate to that.
  • Storytelling is a universal thing. It happens in many different cultures, languages and situations. From kitchen table conversations to traditional rituals. Every guest has his own story and somewhere his story will relate with yours.
  • If your hotel or guesthouse is one of those that does not really have much history, doesn’t have a unique feature like a super modern look or something similar, your best storytelling material will probably come from your everyday operational happenings.

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.

10 Cool gadgets for guesthouse and hotel rooms

Photo taken by Renate de Villiers at Grande Provence, Franschhoek

Photo taken by Renate de Villiers at Grande Provence, Franschhoek

Here are a few things that customers LOVE to have in their guesthouse or hotel rooms…whether we like it or not:

  1. WiFi – more and more guests feel that WiFi is nonnegotiable, especially in hotels. It has become one of the main deciding factors whether a guest books at the establishment or not.
  2. MP3 docking station and alarm clock
  3. Mirror televisions. Mainly found in bathrooms, saunas and swimming pools at luxury hotels, with high definition technology, digital tuners and touch screens.
  4. RFID. This stands for radio frequency identification and this technology is often used in door locks at hotels. Guests can now use any brand of mobile phone to gain access to their rooms, so losing the room key is not a problem anymore. (As long as you don’t lose your phone!)
  5. Sensors. Housekeeping can now use infrared signals to identify whether a room is occupied or not only by pressing a button. Amazing!
  6. RFID key. This is one thing you might want to get ASAP! It is a card key with a fancy chip that cannot get demagnetized. This saves your guests much effort and frustration.
  7. Check-in via a lobby ambassador with a special iPad. For bigger hotels this is the ideal check-in solution, which also appears quite modern and professional.
  8. Apps that assist you to be your own concierge. Conrad New York Hotel offers its guests the Conrad Concierge App, which allows them to arrange airport transportation and meal times from their Androids, iPhones or iPads. Create your own app and see how much your guests love you!
  9. On-site navigation app. Quite a few overseas hotels and resorts have their own on-site navigation app, some of which can triangulate your exact indoor location and give you directions to different fun and trendy activities to visit in and around the facility.
  10. Business Bar. Some hotels offer guests the option of borrowing an iPad, laptop, e-reader, camera, headphones, wires, etc. from their business bar at a special rate per day. Guests can therefore afford to pack less and worry less about their electronics getting lost or stolen during their travels. Awesome!

So which of these cool gadgets are you planning to install at your tourist destination?