Getting off-line guests online

Have you noticed how many of your regular guests are not following you on social media? Some of them might be on Facebook or Twitter without following you, others might have profiles, yet they don’t use it and some might even not have a profile on social media. How do you get off-line guests to follow and engage with you on social media?

Here are a few tips and ideas to think about and PLEASE feel free to share your experience and expertise on this topic – we are here to assist each other! 🙂

Create awareness that you are on Twitter and Pinterest by inviting guests to follow you on these platforms with a small gift like this:

Twitter and Pinterest Biscuits

Twitter and Pinterest Biscuits

Create professional notice cards with details like your Twitter handle, Facebook link, Pinterest link and Google+ name to encourage guests to follow you on certain social media platforms. This will definitely also encourage guests to Tweet about your establishment while they are there, as you provide them with information allowing them to tag you.

Consider having a television screen in the foyer, displaying your Twitter stream all day long. This creates transparency, guests will be able to see that you are active on Twitter and they might also be encouraged to Tweet something in order to see their own name on the screen.

Create social media contests and promote them in printed media. This will allow people who are not following you on social media to consider liking or following your profiles.

Add your social media links or at least just the social media logos to your printed collateral – this will create awareness among guests who fill out your questionnaires, read your information files in the rooms, etc.

On arrival, ask guests if they are on Twitter, request their Twitter handles and welcome them at your destination online too. This will make them feel even more special and they will most definitely follow you back!

Create unique hashtags for certain events at your destination and ask the event manager to remind guests to use the hashtag when Tweeting about the event. Also ensure that your Twitter handle is visible during the event for when people want to follow and tag your destination.

Do you have any additional ideas on how to get off-line guests online? Feel free to comment below.

For more on this topic, book a workshop with Travelling Mystery Guest and lets get all South Africa’s hospitality and tourism establishments social savvy!

Contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

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How to identify customer expectations

Even though customers tend to change and not one customer seems to be the same, they also make things easier for us in terms of identifying their expectations. We just have to learn to identify it. How?

You would have noticed by now that many companies have employed social media managers who are responsible for communicating with customers via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And it doesn’t stop there. Then came LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest…and Instagram and Flickr and I whatever else. The point is…customers communicate via social media. Not just with companies, but also with friends and family. They share stories and ideas via links on Facebook, they mention good (or bad) reviews on Twitter with creative accompanying hashtags and they create dream boards on Pinterest. What does this have to do with identifying customer expectations? Well…let’s look at a few examples:

Facebook:

Facebook gives you the opportunity to learn more about your followers in numerous ways. Your followers will only interact on posts that they find interesting or worth their while. You can also view your page insights, which shows you who your followers are, where they are from, which types of posts they mainly interact on, how many female and male followers you have and more. You can also view your followers’ most basic information like where they are from and some of their interests. This should already give you a good idea of what they are into and therefore you have an opportunity to act on it. No excuses!

Twitter:

To view discussions on Twitter and the people’s tweets and interactions with your brand is sometimes quite interesting. People’s title descriptions usually also say quite a lot about their personalities and what they would enjoy.

Pinterest:

I believe Pinterest to be one of the best ways to identify customer expectations, as this is where people pin everything they would like to have and not necessarily what they have. It includes things they dream about and things they hope for like the perfect wedding dress or the most beautiful presented dishes or creative recipes. If these people are like me, they most probably will never have all these things that they pin to their boards, but it’s never a bad thing to dream. And that’s where you could come in and sweep your customers off their feet! Make their dreams become reality with a popular Pinterest recipe for dinner or plan a contest with a dress similar to the most pinned wedding dress on Pinterest. Identify what your customers dream about and act on it.

Need some assistance in identifying your customers’ expectations? Contact Renate from Travelling Mystery Guest on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za for more information.

Practice here:

Have a look at Renate’s Pinterest page and identify five of her customer expectations from the list below. The first one to identify all five expectations correctly will receive a Customer Journey Evaluation for your destination for FREE!

Renate’s 5 customer expectations:

Does your hotel need a Google+ page?

It is difficult to say yes or no to the question whether your hotel needs a Google+ page or not. The difficulty comes in when we think about the current activity on Google+. South Africans are not very focused on this social media platform, even though it offers quite a few benefits.

If you ask me, having a profile with your hotel’s basic information and posting once or twice per week might just do the trick for now. But that’s just me.

Google+

Google+

What are the benefits of having a Google+ page?

  • It increases your hotel’s search rankings and traffic on Google,
  • Therefore you will also have an increased web presence,
  • And a greater subject authority.
  • Google now devotes more energy to Google+ people and page suggestions than on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, so if you are on Google+, chances that you could be suggested in searches are better.
  • Google has made social media, specifically Google+, an integral part of every business’s SEO campaign. (SEO: Search Engine Optimization)
  • More customer engagement via the Google+ Local social features
  • Direct access to customers that you can connect with them on a more personal level, encourage feedback and ask for reviews.
  • Integration with Google Maps which allows customers to find more information like your hotel’s contact details, address, directions and hours of operation.

If you have a Google+ page, but you have neglected it because you were not sure how to use it, perhaps now is the time to at least update your profile and include the most important aspects into your profile, like:

  • Photos with descriptive captions that highlight your hotel / guesthouse / restaurant
  • A link to your website
  • Links to your other social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and your blog
  • Videos

Even though Facebook and Twitter are the current leaders in Social Media in South Africa, Google+ might soon be the platform with the most SEO value to add due to its standard integration with Google’s search results. It would be a good idea if you start learning more about this platform in the meantime – small steps at a time.

For workshops on the basics of social media, contact Travelling Mystery Guest on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

TMG’s favourite SA hotel Pinterest pages

I wanted to see what guesthouses and hotels are up to on Pinterest. If you think your Pinterest page is also worth being on this blog post, please share the link with me in the comment section. 🙂

Feel free to follow me on Pinterest by following the links below:

Renate on Pinterest

Travelling Mystery Guest on Pinterest

One of the hotel Pinterest pages with the most boards, all relevant to the resort, is that of the Riviera on Vaal Hotel. The same goes for its sister company, Maccauvlei on Vaal: Riviera on Vaal on Pinterest

Riviera on Vaal on Pinterest

 

Maccauvlei on Vaal

Maccauvlei on Vaal

 

 

The Royal Portfolio‘s Pinterest page is very stylish and neat – a definite favourite even though it doesn’t have that many boards:Royal Portfolio on Pinterest

Royal Portfolio on Pinterest

 

 

The Protea Hotels also have quite a few impressive boards on their Pinterest page, even though they only have a few followers:Protea Hotels on Pinterest

Protea Hotels on Pinterest

 

Three Cities Exceptional Hotels also have quite an impressive Pinterest Page (partially due to the amount of hotels in the group, I suppose, but very well planned):Three Cities on Pinterest

Three Cities on Pinterest

 

 

It might be that they don’t engage on Pinterest, but Sabi Sabi is definitely on the right platform to promote their wildlife adventures and experiences:Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve on Pinterest

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve on Pinterest

 

 

Londolozi‘s pins indicate great opportunities for educational and interactive tourism:Londolozi on Pinterest

Londolozi on Pinterest

 

 

The Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel‘s Pinterest page does not have that many pins or followers, but the impressive decor pins make up for it:Daddy Long Legs on Pinterest

Daddy Long Legs on Pinterest

 

Kievitskroon‘s Pinterest page manages to encapsulate their brand identity with regards to healthy living, even though they only have 60 odd pins:Kievitskroon on Pinterest

Kievitskroon on Pinterest

 

 

You will definitely know what Grande Provence has to offer when you visit their Pinterest page- from great cuisine to wedding possibilities:Grande Provence on Pinterest

Grande Provence on Pinterest

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!

Tips from experts in the travel market

And so the first month of 2014 is already behind us and February is well under way. Many experts have had a look at the travel market‘s stats from last year and here is what they were able to identify:

  • According to a survey done by American Express Travel, one of the most popular reasons for travelling is arts and crafts.
  • This is the year for up-selling. With the weakening of the Rand, international travel to South Africa has become even cheaper. Broaden your horizons and up-sell in international countries rather than domestic.
  • According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014 there has been a tremendous growth in international travel in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. If you want to start marketing internationally, I suggest you target these countries first.
  • Leisure travel is outgrowing business travel according to the ITB World Travel Trends Report.
  • The ITB World Travel Trends Report says that city holidays and holiday tours have been the main driving factors in tourism growth worldwide for the last four years.
  • 2013 was finally the year for mobile according to SocialMedia Today. We can expect an increase in enquiry and booking traffic from smartphones and tablets alike.
  • A study done by Expedia Media Solutions have shown that travellers visit at least 38 websites on average before they purchase an online travel package. 2014’s challenge will therefore be to keep websites updated, easy to navigate and with all the information a guest might need.
  • With TripAdvisor now offering meta-search capabilities, hotels will need to have a look at this additional distribution outlet in 2014.
  • Social media has an increasing influence in the search and planning stages of travel. Keep an eye on visual search sites like Instagram and Pinterest this year.
  • There’s a definite growing importance of Google+. Don’t miss out on this one in 2014.
  • Keep a lookout for Millennials (18 – 30-year olds). According to Chris Fair, Resonance Consultancy President, this is a much more ethnically diverse group, making them more interested in international travel. Other characteristics include their interest in urban rather than resort destinations, their likeliness to travel  in pursuit of a favourite interest or activity and the likelihood that they would rather travel with friends in organized groups.
  • The use of social media with widespread sharing of holiday photos has fostered a new trend. Travellers now want unique experiences which they can share with friends and family via social media ports.
Creative Travel - Interacting with locals

Creative Travel – Interacting with locals

  • There’s also been growth in creative tourism as Chris Fair calls it. This speaks of travel that provides a connection with those who reside in the destination. Travellers want to interact with locals.
  • Another travel trend to keep in mind in 2014 is the growth in multigenerational travel. The older the baby boomers get, the more family travel they do and most of these travels are planned around milestone events. These travellers are all about trading memories, convenience and value. Another challenge for destinations this year is to be able to cater for both 6 and 66-year olds.