Welcome, Ilka

Not too long ago, Travelling Mystery Guest was just a dream to me. I can blissfully say that the journey is getting even more exciting and awe-inspiring by the day! Hence, I am over the moon and jumping for joy, because today I have the privilege of introducing you to Travelling Mystery Guest’s very first, officially appointed employee: Ilka Steyn!

Ilka Steyn

Ilka Steyn

Welcome, dear Ilka, to Travelling Mystery Guest. May your travels with TMG be both motivating and inspirational.
Ilka will be assisting TMG with some fine marketing tactics, some new, innovative ideas for our blog and she will also help out with our social media management facilities.
Her 5 favourite things to do are:
1. Cycling
2. Being creative, whether it be writing or crafts
3. Reading
4. Playing with and walking her dogs
5. Spending time with loved ones and friends
Her favourite wine is Beyerskloof’s Pinotage and her favourite restaurant: Papa’s at Duncan Yard, Pretoria.
Keep an eye out for her first blog post: 10 of the worst things to say to a customer

Eighty Ate – A new Cape Town favourite

There are not many restaurants out there that understand the makings of a perfect salad. Eighty Ate Restaurant at Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel does!

Eighty Ate Restaurant, Cape Town

Eighty Ate Restaurant, Cape Town

I visited this restaurant, across from the Company Gardens in Cape Town, earlier today and could not resist sharing photos and urging all my friends to put it on their Cape Town to-do lists. So now I’m even blogging about it, urging you to put it on your to-do list too!

The menu offers a great variety of out of the ordinary, mindbogglingly mouthwatering meals with specially chosen wines you rarely see in supermarkets.

A fresh, inviting restaurant with stunning flavours and huge potential!

Book your table on 021 423 1260 and see for yourself.

Photoblog: Forum Homini

I recently had the privilege of staying at Forum Homini Hotel and dining at their on-site restaurant, Roots. What an extraordinary venue! I would, however, suggest that you do not go alone. It’s a place for relaxing with friends and loved ones, for enjoying views and for indulging in unusual, yet spectacular combinations from the menu.

If you are ever in the Cradle of Humankind, this is one of the more upmarket hotels and restaurants I would recommend:

Forum Homini - Room number 6

Forum Homini – Room number 6

Forum Homini's interesting interior

Forum Homini’s interesting interior

Sherry in the room

Sherry in the room

From inside

From inside

Each room has its own little garden.

Each room has its own little garden.

A relaxed atmosphere, watching the sun set.

A relaxed atmosphere, watching the sun set.

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

We want to know the story

Isn’t it true that you always want to know the story of the destination you visit? I want to know where the restaurant’s name came from, where the photos on the wall were taken and who the old “tannie” was who’s recipe is used in the signature dish.

We all want to know.

One place that got the message loud and clear is OJ’s, a small, quaint restaurant that could easily be mistaken for a take-away shop on route through one of the Freestate towns, Heilbron. From the outside it doesn’t promise much, but believe you me, on the inside it’s a completely different story – literally.

Do you remember the time when all South African cars had yellow coloured number plates? The time when towns could still be identified just by looking at one’s car? Well, that is where OJ’s’ story begins. OJ was Heilbron’s number plate code. Today these number plates are part of the name and décor in one of Heilbron’s finest restaurants. It tells stories of days gone by and paintings of old cars with OJ number plates hang proudly against the walls. The menu has also been carefully planned – catering for the farming community that it is, but also for those who appreciate that extra touch. Still, the community can identify with its story, which is why many of them will keep coming back.

OJ's

OJ’s

Tips on how to tell your story:

  • Use the town’s history as a theme and a timeline.
  • Involve the community.
  • Be creative and use old things to create new things.
  • Include the theme in your décor, your name and your menu items.
  • Add items to the menu which you know the community will enjoy and then just give it an extra touch to make it look more appealing.

So…what is your restaurant or destination’s story?

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.

Tell your story

People have been fond of stories for centuries. They can identify with it. Stories have been told over the years in order to explain, educate and entertain. Back then, people and children could sit and listen to the stories that were told. Today stories need to include visual content in order to draw attention.

Storytelling

Storytelling

Isn’t this ideal for a guesthouse, hotel or restaurant? Many of these destinations have some kind of history to share, a great view, some unique dishes or a reputation for the best service in town. Why not share this story with the public in the form of stories and images? It is such a great tool for content creation and really not difficult.

Ways to do it:

  • Create a story book for kids that tells the story of your destination and what the readers will be able to see here.
  • Share tidbits of your story on social media with photos of way back when…
  • Create videos of the happenings at your destination.
  • Teach your staff about your story and encourage them to share it with guests.
  • Have annual concerts or performances at your destination and tell your story through plays and music.

These are but a few of the millions of creative ideas you can use to tell your story. An exciting exercise for anyone who likes to explore new, creative opportunities.

Need some assistance on how to kick off your storytelling campaign? Contact Travelling Mystery Guest on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

 

How does a ‘Customer Journey Evaluation’ work?

Similar to mystery guest visits, Travelling Mystery Guest offers destinations “Customer Journey Evaluations“. But how does it work?

Customer Journey Evaluations

Customer Journey Evaluations

Firstly, let’s have a look at what a customer journey is all about. If you think about it, it is actually self explanatory: It’s the journey of a customer at your destination, whether it is a restaurant, guesthouse or hotel.

Travelling Mystery Guest‘s customer journey evaluations include the following:

1. Mystery Guest Visit:

A mystery guest is sent your to your destination to experience the journey you offer to your customers firsthand. Travelling Mystery Guest has developed its own list from which its mystery guests explore your destination‘s offerings. This includes your website, the service levels you promise and what is experienced, the ergonomics of your establishment, communication of staff, etc.

2. Report:

A full report is written about the customer journey that was experienced, including congratulations on what you have achieved, suggestions on what can be improved and tips and ideas to assist you to focus on your advantages.

3. Qualitative Data:

Travelling Mystery Guest also includes qualitative data in the report, which allows destinations to measure their performance and growth over a period of time.

If you are interested in a customer journey evaluation for your destination or if you would like some more information, contact Renate de Villiers: enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

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 keep guests entertained over weekends

It’s hard to keep everyone happy and entertained over weekends – especially if you don’t know them well. Travelling Mystery Guest has identified a few tips and ideas on how you can keep guests entertained over weekends at your destination:

  • Provide them with a booklet that includes all the possible attractions in the area.
  • Give guests the option of having a family picnic in the hotel / guesthouse’s garden.
  • Hold quiz nights at your restaurant.
  • Rainy day? Provide guests with board games in the rooms – this is the ideal time to spend some quality family time!
  • Organise a town or city tour for your guests and show them all the hidden gems of your surrounds. Have some of the locals join in on the fun and educate guests about your environment and the locals living there. You can even create your own customized tourist attraction map.
  • Hold art weekends where guests have the opportunity to take part in pottery or painting classes.
  • Hold family cook-offs for the families staying over.
  • Organise a local organic market for one weekend per month at your destination. You’ll be sure to have a few walk-ins too!
  • Have local musicians perform at your venue.
  • Hold movie nights (with just a white sheet, a few cushions and popcorn you can get quite far, trust me!).
  • Think karaoke evenings for kids, or even guitar hero and Wii. Kids can keep themselves busy with this for hours!
  • Provide guests with a list of local restaurants (be sure that they are tried and tested… you don’t want to refer them to a dodgy, horse-meet-selling restaurant) – except if that is what they want? You can always suggest a restaurant-hopping evening for them: entrees at one restaurant, mains at a second and dessert at another.
  • Make up mystery baskets and invite families to cook their own dinner. Just make sure that you have enough space to do this. Another option is to take it outside – have them make a “potjie” or have a braai.

Do you have ideas you’d like to add? Feel free to comment below!

Happy weekend everyone. 🙂