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.

Advertisements

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.

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:

Challenges in the hospitality industry

Any industry has its ups and downs and so the hospitality industry in South Africa also has certain challenges to face.

Hospitality Solutions

Hospitality Solutions

Travelling Mystery Guest has been observing a few challenges which need to be addressed – let us know if you agree and what your thoughts are:

  • Economy: South Africa’s economy has taken a knock and local business has decreased tremendously. But, this gives us the opportunity to look at other possibilities like targeting international tourists. Have you given that any thought yet?
  • Working hours: The hospitality industry has always been known as one of the industries with long and irregular working hours. Have you ever given thought as to how we can change this or work around it? I know of one restaurant that has decided to reduce is operating hours to ensure that its staff get enough personal time. This ensures that they have more energy and loyalty to the company, allowing for great customer service. Yes, it’s less time to make money, but trust me, with such loyalty from staff you can move mountains!
  • Shift work: Staff working different shifts makes it difficult to arrange staff meetings, etcetera. How do you work around this?
  • Transport for staff: Most staff working in South Africa’s hospitality sector use public transport. Do you as a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant provide staff with additional options like on-site accommodation, transport allowances or in-house transport options?
  • In-house training: Many of the smaller hospitality establishments and even some of the larger companies neglect to pay attention to training their staff on a regular basis. Training not only forms part of basic customer service, it also provides staff with the feeling of belonging and self actualization. If you, as a manager, can’t find the time to train staff, get someone to do it for you. Travelling Mystery Guest offers customized workshops and presents the workshops at your establishment. No effort, no need to organize additional staff, no need to plan transport – we come to you.
  • Bad customer service: Is this due to the lack of training or is it just attitude? Either way – something’s got to be done. If it’s a lack of training, make a plan and train your staff. Lack of attitude – if you hired them, you have the right to fire them. Make this clear and don’t just say it – act on it.
  • The lack of loyalty: I’ve noticed that many people are not in the hospitality industry for the love of it, but merely because that’s the only job they could get. We need to find a way to make our staff love the industry. We will never be able to exceed customers’ expectations if our staff don’t have the right attitude. Management needs to find a way to make staff love what they do. Get to know your staff, place them in the right departments, train them on things they are interested in and build on their strengths rather than focusing on what they can’t do right.

Do you have any comments or ideas? Would you like to add other challenges to the above? Feel free to comment below.

Travelling Mystery Guest is planning a brainstorming session on the challenges in South Africa’s hospitality industry and solutions to consider for the end of May. Let us know if you would be interested in attending, and we’ll add you to our contact list for further details. Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow the hashtag #HospitalitySolutionsSA and let’s encourage South Africa to overcome the challenges we face in the hospitality industry.

What is a hotel wheel?

You know how we all studied in school – creating brain maps, rhymes and pictures to remember certain things? Well, the hotel wheel has a similar function in that it assists us to understand how all the different departments are interlinked within a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant setup. Obviously for a guesthouse and a restaurant the wheel won’t be that big, but for hotels it becomes quite intricate.

To show you what I mean, let’s have a look at a simple example:

A hotel wheel consists of the different departments within the organization, including the bookings department, front office, reception, guest relations, the restaurant, the swimming pool area, entertainment, housekeeping, security, guest relations, etc. When we imagine these departments working together to keep the wheel turning, we realize that many of these departments need others in between before they can actually do what customers expect from them. For instance: Reception can’t check guests in without security’s okay, nor can they check guests in if the bookings department has not done the booking. Housekeeping can’t be sure to provide guests with the perfect room setup if the bookings have not been completed properly.

A rough sketch of part of your hotel wheel might thus look similar to the example below:

Hotel Wheel

Hotel Wheel

Obviously no hotel’s wheel would look exactly the same, as no one runs their business the same way. Still, there are certain key areas with key departments that will always be included.

Would you like to create your own hotel wheel in a creative way, which you can use to teach your employees how the different departments interlink? Contact Travelling Mystery Guest today for an interactive workshop hosted at your establishment! Call Renate on 082 336 1562 or email her on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Workshops for April

In addition to TMG’s current customer service workshops and the four social media sessions to attend, we also offer the next couple of workshops in April:

Create your own hotel wheel

We get creative in April and create our own hotel wheels. This is the process that keeps a hotel going – from security checks at the gate, reception, porters, room and restaurant service, through to guest feedback and departure. This process becomes quite intricate when you spend some time thinking about it – it might even end up looking more like the inside of a watch with all the different departments interlinking with each other. This is a great exercise to do with staff that needs to understand the inside of your business.

Create your guesthouse / hotel / restaurant’s own customized customer journey map

While the hotel wheel mainly focuses on the different departments of your business and how they interlink with each other, the customer journey map focuses on the customer’s journey through these different departments. The customer journey map teaches you more about your customers, including different target markets and their expectations, as well as your establishment’s shortcomings and what you should focus on to exceed customer expectations.

(Don’t forget that Travelling Mystery Guest specializes in customized customer journey evaluations. Contact Renate for a quote on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562).

Identify problem areas within the hospitality and tourism industry in South Africa

No industry is without problem areas – the same with the hospitality and tourism industries of South Africa. We look at some problem areas that TMG has encountered and identified and brainstorm about it. This session is mainly to see where the industry is lacking and what keeps it from exceeding its customers’ expectations. Come with an open mind, a pen and paper and let’s get to it.

Identify solutions to the problem areas in our hospitality and tourism industry

This is a follow up session to the one above. During this session we will brainstorm and discuss different solutions to the problems we’ve identified. From small things within your own organization to bigger things within the industry – we cover it all.

Book your workshop with Travelling Mystery Guest today – we come to you! Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. You can also follow her on Twitter (@TravellingMG and @RenateTravel) and Facebook: Travelling Mystery Guest. Also find TMG on LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.

For more workshops, have a look at our list of workshops here: TMG Slideshare