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

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Destinations need to think out of the box

Highlight what makes you unique and tap into travellers’ expectations.

We recently wrote about business travellers and the growing trend of them looking for destinations that are unconventional and adventurous. Yes, the standard hotel room is still number one on the list for business travellers, but this is mainly because they know they will get what they expect. Hotel groups normally also make this easier, as they have a standard room types, which provide guests with exactly the same whether it is in South Africa or London.

With the bleisure travel trend becoming more and more popular, the demand for more adventurous and unique accommodation options will also increase. This means that destinations will need to start thinking out of the box and tap into travellers’ expectations, which is ever changing and could be quite challenging, yet very exciting!

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

This does not only apply to business travellers, but also leisure travellers. Destinations need to figure out what makes them unique and use that as a selling point. Unique selling points is what gives destinations their competitive advantage. What is yours?

How to identify your unique selling point:

If you are uncertain about what makes your destination stand out from the rest or if you are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my destination offer something different to the destinations in the area?
  • Can we incorporate educational tourism or voluntourism or something similar in our destination?
  • Does my destination cater for a niche group of travellers, i.e. business travellers, travellers with kids, adventure travellers, etc.?
  • Is there a way to incorporate certain activities for travellers at our destination, i.e. yoga classes, meeting rooms, conference facilities, water sports, expeditions, etc.?

These can be guidelines to see where your destination is able to create its own unique selling points, eventually letting the destination evolve and stand out from the rest.

Tools and Trends to use to your advantage:

Keeping up with current tools and trends in the travel industry will guide you to successfully identify certain areas in which your destination is able to exceed guests’ expectations. Examples of these include:

  • Travel apps and the use thereof
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Knowledge on the different types of tourists and their needs and expectations
  • Creative and inventive thinking (thinking out of the box) from employees
  • Customer feedback (always very valuable)
  • Customer Journey Evaluations (done by Travelling Mystery Guest and helps to identify gaps in the customer journey that need to be attended to)
  • Customer Journey Mapping workshops (teaches HODs and staff how departments interlink with each other to create the ultimate customer experience and shows touch points where the destination has an opportunity to WOW the guest. Contact Travelling Mystery Guest for more information and bookings.)
  • Knowledge about Millennials and their travel trends and expectations
  • Seasonality trends
  • Mobile and other technology that can improve the guest’s experience
  • Cultural, sport or leisure events and wellness holiday trends
  • Long family holiday trends
  • Older travellers tend to travel further and longer and look for more adventure
  • Younger travellers drive the trend for activity or sporting holidays

These are only a few of the things you could consider when you want to set your destination apart from the rest and be the best. Find your unique selling points and use it to your advantage. Think out of the box.

Honeymoon Travels

I’ve come to realize that the saying comparing the world to a book, explaining that those who don’t travel, read but a page, is so very true! In the past few months I’ve been blessed with travel opportunities beyond my wildest dreams, starting with a visit to some of our top clients within the BON Hotel Group and ending off with champagne on the beach at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort.

Yup, I got married! And our honeymoon was one for the books. I was taken by surprise with how well my man knows me, kicking off our travels with a visit to one of my favourite parts of South Africa: the Freestate. Many people describe this part of the country as boring, flat and as a place with nothing to do. But that’s just it! Within its “nothingness” lies so many stories, small, beautiful things and the most generous and humble people I know. We stayed at Woudzicht Guest Farm, just off the N3, and what a treat! It is a typical Freestate home with the kind of hospitality we now try to bring back and teach. From “soetkoekies” (sweet biscuits like my grandmother would bake them) and a complimentary bottle of wine, to a delicious cheese platter with the wide, open fields behind us, to a delicious home-cooked stew for dinner and a colourful plated french toast breakfast – this was the ideal kick-off for what was to come.

Woudzicht

On the airport I was informed that Amsterdam was our next stop! I loved the mystery of it all – not knowing where we were going next. We stayed at the Ibis Hotel Amsterdam Central, which was conveniently located and offered good service. In this lovely city we had beer, walked through the red light district, stood in awe of the ‘Oudekerk’, shared fondue, visited a local market, went on a canal cruise and much more.

Amsterdam

Bruges was our next stop and one of my favourites from now on! Lace, chocolate, swans, cobble stone roads – it was the perfect romantic spot. We ate ‘Boem-Boems’ and delicious tomato soup, took a stroll to the lovers’ bridge, wished we could stay in one of the houses bordering the canal, visited the chocolate museum and saw the “Madonna and Child” by Michael Angelo. It might not be so big, but Bruges has a lot to offer!

Bruges

From there we went to Paris. Now, this place boomed with tourists and it was busy at all times, but still an unforgettable and beautiful experience! From the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur and the Moulin Rouge to the Louvre and many other buildings and structures of which the hours and years of workmanship I just couldn’t grasp.

Paris

The end of our honeymoon was an absolute statement of love and happiness: Seychelles. Although it was quite expensive (almost R200 for a glass of South African Sauvignon Blanc) it was still an experience I would not trade for anything. We beach-hopped from the one white stretch of sand to the next. We lay low at the Kempinski Seychelles Resort, reading, snorkeling, sleeping. We hired a car and explored the island on our own. We dined like royalty. It was a feast and definitely a place to visit again.

Seychelles

WATERFORD OF STELLENBOSCH WINS GLOBAL WINE TOURISM AWARD

Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch, widely acknowledged for its commitment to sustainable wine-growing and wine making, has been judged South Africa’s winner of the Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Best of Wine Tourism Awards. It joins seven other wineries across the globe, announced as the best in their respective countries at an awards ceremony in Mendoza, Argentina, last night (November 6).

Waterford Estate

Waterford Estate

The GWC is a network of some of the world’s leading wine-producing areas created to share and promote international best practice in wine tourism, one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors of the tourism industry. Its Best of Wine Tourism judges are drawn from amongst the world’s leading tourism, food, hospitality, architectural, landscape gardening and cultural experts.

South Africa is represented on the GWC network by the Cape Town-Cape Winelands chapter. Other members are Mainz-Rheinhessen (Germany), Bilbao-Rioja (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Porto (Portugal), San Francisco-Napa (United States), Mendoza (Argentina), Valparaiso-Casablanca and (Chile).

As South Africa‘s Best of Wine Tourism Award winner, Waterford has been ranked with other celebrated wineries from around the world. These are Rioja’s historic Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta; the St Emilion estate, Château La Croizille, also steeped in history; the 17th-generation Weingut Dr Hinkel in Framershein; Trapiche, which is Argentina’s biggest wine producer and a multi-award winner; the highly rated Museu do Douro in Portugal, that represents the cultural heritage of the famous wine region and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the acclaimed HALL Wines of the Napa Valley and Chile’s Casablanca Valley Restaurant Macerado at Viñamar that specialises in pairing foods with sparkling wines.

Waterford, a 120 hectare property on the slopes of the Helderberg, took top place in the competition’s sustainable wine tourism and the wine tourism service categories. The winery has often been lauded for its biodiversity-focused vineyard safari experience, as well as for its vintage tastings and wine and chocolate pairings, attracting visitors from all over the world.

Waterford Estate

Waterford Estate

Co-owned by IT magnate Jeremy Ord and one of South Africa‘s most respected winemakers, Kevin Arnold, Waterford has been one of the Best of Wine Tourism Award‘s strongest contenders in past years, regularly achieving high scores across a number of categories.

Babylonstoren, that lies in the Drakenstein Valley between Paarl and Franschhoek, came second. Owned by Naspers chairman-designate Koos Bekker and his wife, Karen Roos, it won both the accommodation and architecture and landscape categories.

Newcomer, Cavalli won the arts and culture category, while Waterkloof won the category for best wine tourism restaurant and KWV won for innovative wine tourism experiences.

Speaking on behalf of the local GWC chapter, André Morgenthal said the Best of Wine Tourism Awards had over the years become an important incentive for wine producers to develop world-class connoisseur experiences for visitors.

Cape Town recently reaffirmed its global popularity as a travel destination, moving from 11th to fourth position in last month’s Condé Nast Traveler‘s annual reader choice awards. The offerings of the Cape Winelands were a significant contributor to public perceptions.

FULL LIST OF GREAT WINE CAPITALS BEST OF WINE TOURISM RESULTS: CAPE TOWN/CAPE WINELANDS

ACCOMMODATION
1 Babylonstoren
2 Grande Provence
3 Steenberg

ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPES
1 Babylonstoren
2 Vergelegen
3 Cavalli

ART & CULTURE
1 Cavalli
2 Vergelegen
3 Grande Provence

INNOVATIVE WINE TOURISM EXPERIENCES
1 KWV
2 Creation
3 Solms Delta

SUSTAINABLE WINE TOURISM PRACTICES
1 Waterford
2 La Motte
3 Vergelegen

WINE TOURISM RESTAURANTS
1 Waterkloof
2 Delaire Indochine
3 Cavalli

WINE TOURISM SERVICE
1 Waterford
2 Steenberg
3 Vergelegen

Diesel and Crème

It’s not every day that you get to drink milkshake at 9am, let alone six Consol bottles of milkshake. But, sometimes you need to let your hair down a little, which is exactly what Diesel and Crème is about.

Diesel and Creme, Barrydale, Western Cape

Diesel and Creme, Barrydale, Western Cape

It was still early when we arrived. Heritage Day had the fires burning early – drums of different shapes and sizes were flashing their flames next to randomly packed half circles of seats. Here and there was a black board inviting guests to indulge in their specialty dishes and drinks and at the back stood trays stacked with Roosterkoek.

But we were there for the milkshakes, because I’ve heard from more than one person that this place makes the best milkshakes in South Africa. Lady in Red, Vintage Villain, Morning Glory, Cookie Shake, Honey Crunch and Very Berry are just a few of the innovative milkshakes to choose from. And we had them all!

Diesel and Creme Milkshakes

Diesel and Creme Milkshakes

The Lady in Red is a Red Velvet cake gone shake, with all the flavours you’d find in a slice of its prototype. If you have ever experienced the taste of a home baked, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownie, you must be well acquainted with guilty pleasures. This is exactly what the Vintage Villain accomplished. The Morning Glory definitely added to the magnificence of the morning and the nearby Tradouw Pass. It presented a bitter sweet taste that had me nostalgic for days. As if the Vintage Villain wasn’t enough of a guilty pleasure, we also had to try the Cookie Shake, which took me back to the Oreo advertisement that says: “Cookies are not good for dogs, but you can have some of my milk.” I wouldn’t want to share it either. With my father being a big fan of honeycomb, I had to taste the Honey Crunch milkshake. Every sip’s crunchy surprises made me wish I could share my shake with dad. The last Consol bottle, filled with sweet flavours and bursts of berries, definitely gave the original strawberry milkshake a reason to reassess.

Diesel and Crème in Barrydale (Route 62, just off the Tradouw Pass) is a vintage visit not to omit from your travels. Its décor and ambiance create a feeling of nostalgia and belonging. Random, vintage children’s toys, jukeboxes and rare bar signs catch your attention around every corner and when the barman cranks up the volume of A-ha’s Crying in the rain and passionately sings along, you remember what life is all about: Making the most of every moment.

The newly added Karoo Moon Motel is filled with unique furniture and flair, ideal for a night’s rest in one of the country’s most beautiful regions.

The entrance of the Karoo Moon Motel at Diesel and Creme

The entrance of the Karoo Moon Motel at Diesel and Creme

For more information on Diesel and Crème, visit their website on www.dieselandcreme.co.za

Restaurants in SA

Being a fan of coffee shops and dining out and evidently landing up as the owner of Travelling Mystery Guest, I’ve visited quite a few restaurants in Southern Africa.

SA Restaurants

SA Restaurants

Most of the restaurants I’ve visited form part of popular franchises, as they are usually the most affordable. I LOVE fine dining, but unless it’s for work, someone else pays, or it really is a special occasion, I don’t often visit them. It’s interesting to see, also, how your perception changes over the years. Staying in a small country town for most of my life, I never had the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of fine dining. In grade 9 my favourite restaurant was Wiesenhof in River Square, Vereeniging! Today, after studying in Pretoria and experiencing life in Cape Town, I’ve learnt that there is much more to dining out.

“Where I was used to vanilla flavoured milkshakes and chicken mayo sandwiches, I can now appreciate pre-planned white, square plates with elegantly placed proteins, foreign vegetables and garnishes that turns food into art.” –Renate de Villiers

South Africa’s restaurant industry is quite versatile, though. Sometimes you really just want to experience the nostalgia that comes with a vanilla milkshakes or chicken mayo toasted sandwich. Other times an elegant white plate painted with food is the perfect fit. It is, however, always about the presentation and the service received and that is what classifies some restaurants higher than others.

Restaurants’ attentiveness regarding customers’ needs and expectations play a very big role in the customer’s journey. This includes:

  • Digital interaction with customers (social media, on their website, blogs, etc.).
  • More health options on the menu (i.e. for people with allergies or intolerances).
  • Waiters’ knowledge about the menu and suggestions regarding wines, different menu options, etc.
  • The restaurant’s involvement regarding social and environmental responsibility.
  • Small things that make big impressions like a compliment in a cup, letting kids put together their own pizzas, something different like a unique teapot, freshly baked bread and now also the popular crafters’ beers.

These are but a few o the things that play a role in South Africa’s restaurants. Where do you fit in?

Get psyched for tourism’s high season

It’s Spring and we are starting to get ready for South Africa’s biggest tourist rush in December, we must also have our marketing strategies in place, prepare our staff for high season, ensure that our destinations are in tip-top shape and that we can handle whatever gets thrown our way.

Hospitality in Spring

Hospitality in Spring

 

I often wonder what different destinations do in order to “set the scene” regarding these things for high season. Obviously everyone has their own way of dealing with it, but surely some things work better than others.

Here are a few things I can recall that always psyched me up for high season:

  • Involving staff in preparations for summer, year-end functions, Christmas and New Year.
  • Quick, short training courses relevant to staff’s departments, encouraging them to go the extra mile and up-sell your products and services.
  • Making staff feel they belong by organizing yearend celebrations for them as well. Combining these with some kind of acknowledgement ceremony is also a good idea.
  • Having staff experience what the destination has to offer first-hand. This just gives them a view from the other side, which makes it easier for them to identify with customers’ wants and needs. It’s good to do this just before high season, as it will still be fresh in their memories.

For me Spring symbolizes new beginnings, growth and beauty. Why not find ways to implement this in your marketing and other destination strategies this month? Have staff come up with fresh, new ideas on how to improve customer service. Involve them in the process – they are the ones on the floor and notice things you might not even be aware of. This is one way of ensuring growth for your destination and its people.

Embrace this new season!