Wine and Food Conference to show how to grow Loyalty and Revenue for Cape Tourism

 

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9 billion, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.

Margi Biggs

Commenting on the WTTC findings presented in its recent 2017 Economic Impact Report, Margi Biggs, convenor of the upcoming The Business of Food and Wine Tourism Conference, set to take place in Stellenbosch in the spring, said:

“The good news is that the council has projected the sector’s contribution to domestic GDP will rise by 2,7% in 2017, a very welcome increase given the subdued state of our local economy.”

A seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Biggs contends that travel and tourism can contribute still further to the national GDP, “provided we, as an industry, take note of new trends in consumer spending, behaviour and priorities to make our food and tourism offerings more compelling and more competitive, while upping the standard of our execution and service delivery.”

“If we get it right, the impact will be substantial.  It will help to build skills, create economic opportunities and reduce unemployment, generating greater prosperity for more South Africans.  We have all the right ingredients: beautiful locations, a growing reputation for world-class food and wines, and friendly and welcoming hospitality staff.  We just have to finesse what we are doing with the technology and research we now have at our disposal, while applying new thinking to marketing and problem-solving.”

 

She said the annual conference, now in its second year, would be presented by a selection of international and local tourism specialists and would focus on best practice and how to improve the customer experience. An important feature of the forum would be the various ways in which wine and food impact customer loyalty.

“There is a growing view internationally that customer experience will ultimately drive more loyalty than complicated point-based programmes and schemes. We need to take note.”

Amongst this year’s keynote speakers is CEO of SA Tourism, Sisa Ntshona. His address will explore how the food and wine experience can promote South Africa’s competitive advantage as a tourist destination. Included in the line-up of international speakers are Don Shindle, an expert in customer service and GM of the Westin Verasa Napa in California’s renowned wine tourism epicenter. World-renowned TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female master sommeliers in the world will also be there. Dr Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US will be looking specifically at the impact on loyalty of cellar door visits. The programme will also cover such topics as virtual reality, attracting new markets, and PR trouble shooting.

The conference takes place at Spier on Wednesday, 20 September.

For more information on the conference, or to register online, visit www.wineandfood.co.za.

Early Bird registration is now open at a fee of R2 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate, and ends on 12 June. The standard cost per delegate is R3 950 (excl. VAT), and ends on 18 August.  If you register and pay after 18 August, the cost rises to R4 500 (excl. VAT) per person.

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Staycations – A threat or an opportunity for your destination?

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

There is a lot being written about the word, Staycation, but do we really get what it’s about? Do we realise that Staycations could either be seen as a threat or an opportunity for local businesses?

Staycation

Staycation – Photo taken by Renate Engelbrecht

We often tend to focus all our marketing efforts on guests coming in from abroad – you know, those with the dollars. But then, when last have we really taken a good look at what the customers right under our noses, the locals, are looking for? That family of four driving past your destination every day on their way to school; the couple who just bought a new home around the corner and committed themselves to weekly date nights; the retirees who love to invite their precious grandchildren for a visit, but don’t know where to take them for entertainment…

STAYCATION: A period in which individuals or families stay at home and take part in local leisure activities within driving distance from their homes and sleep in their own beds at night.

What causes guests to revert to Staycations?

  • Economic pressure or recession
  • The rise of fuel prices
  • The increase of tourists who want to reduce the carbon footprint
  • The urge and necessity to save time (travelling could take up to two days, where Staycations require one hour’s travel at most)
  • The larger the family, the less the finances for travel when you take into account the costs of restaurants, transport and accommodation
  • Health concerns may alter travelling plans
  • Work commitments may thwart plans of travelling abroad or even just out of town

How can Staycations be to your destination’s advantage?

  • You can get the locals on your side – the best all year round customers you could wish for!
  • Local businesses can work together, for once, and build a stronger, more steadfast relationship
  • You could wind up with a whole new group of customers, allowing you to broaden customer experiences offered, hence catering for a wider range of clients.
  • It will drive you to get involved in your local community – a must in today’s competitive business environment and economy.
  • It will encourage you to learn more about your immediate and surrounding areas – something we tend to neglect when focusing on foreign tourists.

How can you drive locals, or rather, Staycationers, to your destination?

It so happens that not all towns and cities are ideal for Staycations. This is where you, as a destination, have the obligation to create experiences for Staycationers and keep them from driving to the nearest best town for the day. Yes, you still want to make a buck or two, which is why you need to think clever! You need to find a way to cater for guests who want to relax in a wallet-friendly environment, while still growing your profits:

  • Open your destination’s swimming pool for the public on certain days, offering refreshments and snacks on a budget that might up your sales for the day. Add some water activities, i.e. water aerobics at an hourly fee and increase profits in that way.
  • Put up some alternative activities that may be used by the public at a minimal fee. Think table tennis, volleyball, giant chess, put-put and some facilitated local games like the well-known South African Boeresport. That’ll keep’em busy!
  • Run local tours – not only at your destination, but also in the surrounding areas. Make it interesting and try to educate. Educational tourism is just as much a thing as Staycations. Put together an “Explore your city” package with local businesses like museums, botanical gardens and local breweries, for example, and put a mark-up on it.
  • Host a fun run and have participants enjoy a breakfast buffet at your on-site restaurant afterwards at a discounted rate. Often you will find, if it was a good experience, that these guests stay for longer or they return.

I say, let’s turn Staycations into the best opportunity for destinations yet!

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.

My top 5 bucket list restaurants in Jo’burg

1. Cube Kitchen

With a dash of uniqueness attached to its stunningly beautiful food photography, the Cube Kitchen is definitely number one on my dining-in-Jo’burg bucket list. An intimate 30 seat tasting kitchen, they believe the table to be a source of fun and conversation. They encourage lengthy dinners with lots of wine, food and conversation – as long as you bring the wine (they are not licensed, which is a little sad). But it sounds like my kind of people and I’ll definitely pop in sooner than later. Visit their website here: http://www.cubekitchen.co.za/home

Restaurants

Restaurants

2. Leafy Greens Café

Their slogan, “Eat well, do good” caught my attention immediately. “Leafy G” is committed to producing food that has the lowest carbon footprint (food that it high in minerals and vitamins in its raw form). Therefore the menu also changes according to seasonality. Located in Muldersdrift the restaurant also offers a peaceful escape from the busy city life. Find more information about this vegan-friendly café here: http://www.leafygreens.co.za/

3. Schwabinger Stuben

After recently returning from Germany, I would love to visit this old fashioned, yet cozy Randburg Restaurant. Menu options include the traditional eisbein, schnitzel and German sausages and the atmosphere is apparently true to the classic Bavarian tavern. This restaurant seems to be the ideal down-to-earth dining option with good value for money. Contact them on 011 787 2550.

4. Lucky Bean Restaurant

Apparently, according to Food24, you are lucky if you’ve even just been there. This restaurant seems to have taken traditional South African cuisine to another level with Ostrich Bobotie Spring Rolls and a warm Jozi heart. Find them here: Lucky Bean Restaurant

5. The Good Luck Club

For the occasional craving of Asian food, this spot seems perfect! From creamy coconut juice and slow beers to ‘lucky wings’ with ginger, fish sauce, garlic, parsley and mint, this sounds like the best place to enjoy some Asian cuisine. Visit their website here: The Good Luck Club

PR for your town

I’ve recently read an article on the importance of PR for the city of Johannesburg, which made me think: it is not only Johannesburg that needs more PR. It’s every town and every city that we love here in South Africa. Cape Town might be the Mother City of South Africa, but mainly because of its spectacular natural wonder: Table Mountain. We need to find the reasons why other cities and towns in South Africa are PR worthy and tell it to the world!

Table Mountain - Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

Table Mountain – Photo taken by Renate de Villiers

Johannesburg, for one, like mentioned in the article written by Brand Slut, has many different things to offer and its diverse cultures and its history should be just as big an attraction as Cape Town’s attractions when communicated to the world.

Smaller towns like Matjiesfontein, Parys in the Free State, Clarens, Henley on Klip, Haenertsburg, Paternoster – why are they not on every traveller’s list even though everyone who has been there loves it? Because they lack PR!

Matjiesfontein is one of my favourite towns in South Africa. More like a village, actually, consisting of a gravel main road that separates the train station from the Lord Milner Hotel and the rest of the town. It is in this town that you will find the house where the first South African telephone rang – or so the tour guide told us. So much history and stories lie hidden in this town, yet no one knows of it.

Matjiesfontein - My favourite South African town

Matjiesfontein – My favourite South African town

Clarens has become very popular over the years, offering great outdoor activities in and between the Drakensberg. It also allows the not so active to enjoy arts and crafts, which is becoming a very popular reason for travel worldwide according to research from American Express Travel.

Still, I can go on and on about the awesomeness of all these places, but if its inhabitants don’t share their love and appreciation of the place with the world, no one will know and no one will visit. Let’s get up and do some PR, people!

For bookings on workshops relating to the basics of PR and Marketing for tourism and hospitality destinations, contact Travelling Mystery Guest on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

PS – thanks for the great eye-opener, Brand Slut. Let’s start with Jo’burg.

What German hotels do differently

I’ve recently returned from a tour through Europe – mainly Germany. We stayed in some very fashionable hotels, in small town guesthouses and even in hostels. As a lover of all things hospitality and tourism I couldn’t help but compare their service to that of our own here in South Africa. You’ll be surprised with the following findings:

Breakfast in Berlin, Germany

Breakfast in Berlin, Germany

Very high high-five for SA hospitality

For one, I feel that South Africa’s friendliness in the hospitality industry earned a jump-in-the-air-high-five! It might be that the two cultures’ personalities clash a little, but be that what it is, we get much more smiles from South African receptionists than those in Germany. So, I salute you, SA hospitality peeps.

Make your own bed

One thing that blew my mind was the fact that most establishments, be it a hotel or a hostel, made the beds a little differently than we do. When you walk into the room you will find the duvet cover folded neatly in half and placed on the bed. The pillow cases are all double sized with the unfilled part folded in neatly under the pillow. I suppose they want to really show you that the bedding has been washed.

Coffee (not) in the room

Some hotels offered coffee in the rooms (for the first day). Others encouraged you to use the kitchenette downstairs, but the receptionists tend to watch you like a hawk. Where we get Cremora in most rooms, they provide guests with pourable creamer. Super delicious (and super fattening, I suppose). I’d recommend the small milk containers like those from Parmalat, though. The hostels are another story – most of them provide guests with coffee and tea on the house (as long as you wash your cup). J I must say, I was very impressed with Germany’s hostels. Clean and neat – even the kitchens.

Map on arrival

Most establishments provided us with a map on arrival, circling the exact spot of the hotel to indicate where we are. Some even went as far as to circle some of the most popular attractions, assisting us to identify the things we’d like to see the next day. In Prague (yes, I know it’s not Germany, but it impressed me THAT much!) we got a map that indicated different kinds of attractions – the romantic kinds (indicated with a heart), the historical kinds, the arty kinds, and more. Such a nice gesture showing that they cater for any type of tourist.

That’s why I love travelling – you get some tips from others, but also see what they can learn from you. Keep smiling, South Africa! It’s good to be known for friendliness – that’s one thing that makes people feel welcome and the number one requirement for hospitality.

What to look forward to this month

In essence, I’d say there is a lot to look forward to in addition to Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops… like thunder storms in Jozi, Valentine’s Day, weekend camping (without the thunder storms) and much more. Still, Travelling Mystery Guest also has a lot for you to look forward to, including very exciting workshops on the following topics:

Workshops

Workshops (Picture from Google Images)

And THAT’s why the customer is in charge!

We sometimes tend to think we can sit back and let South Africa do its own marketing with it having won nature’s lottery and all. Unfortunately, with customers becoming more and more educated due to more engagement and involvement via social media, we cannot expect business to fall on our laps. We need to engage with, listen to and learn from our customers. They have the ball in their hands and we need to work on a strategy to ensure that we catch the ball every time. Yes, the customer is in charge. We just need to learn to manage it.

Exceed your customer’s expectations without too much effort

With time mostly not being on our side and the economy being on the down side, it is difficult to see how we can exceed our customers’ expectations without some effort. Travelling Mystery Guest gives hospitality and tourism professionals a few tips on how to identify certain ways in which you can keep customers happy. We need to fall back to the most basic of basics: humanity. We need to remind ourselves that a customer is also just a normal human being and with a little bit of understanding we can keep customers happier than happy. Talk to them like you understand, listen to them like you want to understand and walk towards them as if you are the only one who can help them.

I look forward to all of the above, as well as what you have to say about Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops. I look forward to experiencing true South African hospitality this month and gaining more insight on customer service and exceeding expectations.

Book your on-site workshop now by contacting Travelling Mystery Guest on 079 110 5674 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow TMG on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and stay up to date with the latest happenings.