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.



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?

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.



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.


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!

Storytelling for hotels and guesthouses – Part One

Storytelling is a very exciting (and not so new) way of marketing. It has also become a great tool of keeping record in the hospitality industry – especially with hotels, guesthouses and restaurants in mind. Not to mention the opportunities available with this marketing tool.


Storytelling (Photo by: Renate de Villiers. Berlyn Wall. 2014.)

What is storytelling?

According to the National Storytelling Network, storytelling can be defined as an interactive art using words, actions and images of a story to encourage the listener’s imagination.

With that in mind, your hotel or guesthouse (the storyteller) needs to find a way to support your listener’s (your guest’s) imagination. The difficulty of this is that you need to encourage your guests to imagine the correct things about your products and services. Unfortunately this story needs to be true. In business no fiction is tolerated. Your story needs to show guests what you believe in, where you come from and what your passions are. Your story needs to tell your guests why they can trust you.

6 Things to remember when writing your story:

  • Stories are interactive. You are the storyteller and your guests are the listeners. The listener’s response has an influence on the way the story is told.
  • Storytelling directly connects the storyteller (your hotel or guesthouse) with the audience (your guests).
  • Storytelling uses words. Be sure to use the best language / lingo relevant to your target market.
  • Storytelling encourages the activation of the listener’s imagination. Be sure to encourage your guests to imagine realistically (or to make the correct conclusions about your product). Your story resembles your company’s true core, its values and its timeline. Your guests would want to relate to that.
  • Storytelling is a universal thing. It happens in many different cultures, languages and situations. From kitchen table conversations to traditional rituals. Every guest has his own story and somewhere his story will relate with yours.
  • If your hotel or guesthouse is one of those that does not really have much history, doesn’t have a unique feature like a super modern look or something similar, your best storytelling material will probably come from your everyday operational happenings.

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.

March Workshops

Travelling Mystery Guest has quite a few really informative and motivating new workshops for you to attend in March! The company has also taken your busy schedules in consideration and therefore presents the workshops at your establishment at a convenient time for you and your employees. Now tell me that’s not customer service!

Workshops for March

Workshops for March

In March we will be taking a closer look at the most important social media ports and how you can use it to your advantage. You’ll learn more about the importance of storytelling, sharing relevant content with the right audience, engaging with customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and much more.

If you can only attend one workshop in March, but you would like to learn more about the other topics as well, stay connected with us online. You will be able to find regular blog posts on similar topics, as well as some slideshares and other tips on a regular basis – it’s unfortunately just not as much fun as actually attending!

The workshops for March include the following topics (and if you would like us to include additional specifics in the workshop, please give us a shout!):

  • Creating the best content, storytelling and sharing with the right audience
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Facebook
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Twitter
  • Marketing your tourist destination on Google+ and LinkedIn

For bookings and more information about the workshops, what they include, how much it costs and more, feel free to contact us on 079 110 5674 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Also follow Travelling Mystery Guest on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest and stay up to date with our whereabouts.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM – Inevitable in the travel sector

29 January 2014. Johannesburg. Constructive criticism tends to leave a bitter taste in your mouth when the words are spoken. Still, it is one of the things I believe to have been omitted from many parts in the travel industry that has to be brought back in order to ensure quality customer service.

Customers have become educated in more than one way and not knowing about certain problem areas within a tourism or hospitality organization might just be your downfall. In fact, customers are so well educated on such an array of subjects that some have become masters in constructive feedback. Think about it: most people, including you, wouldn’t hesitate to call a waiter back if the coffee is cold or the steak is not prepared to perfection. Especially when a substantial amount of money is being spent.

Constructive Criticism

Constructive Criticism

Like any person, hearing (and accepting) that you’ve done something wrong is one of the hardest things to hear.  Many people immediately react aggressively or impatiently. Others don’t know how to react and decide to ignore the situation (which is, by the way, one of the worst things you could do).

Why have we not been able to teach our employees to handle constructive criticism? Why can’t we handle constructive criticism ourselves? Why are we afraid of hearing things that might in fact assist us in becoming market leaders?

I believe the reason is quite simple:

We’ve come to think that we’re invincible. South Africa is such a beautiful country, that we sometimes feel we can just sit back and let the sunny South do its own marketing and PR with it winning nature’s lottery and all. Unfortunately, domestic and international customers notice our lack of attention to their expectations and with such a wide variety of establishments to choose from, tourists now choose the ones that take their needs to heart. It’s not just about a pleasant holiday anymore. It’s about building relationships with people and places to which you can one day return again. It’s about trust. People are willing to pay more for quality customer service. Fast service is good, but quality service is excellent. Customers don’t remember days; they remember moments.

We need to start listening to our customers and friends from the industry – that is the only way we will be able to identify loopholes in the customer’s journey on which we can act.

Travelling Mystery Guest assists establishments with creating their customer journey map, visits establishments in a customer’s capacity and provides customized, comprehensive and constructive feedback and suggestions on aspects that need attention with regards to the customer’s experience. The company also offers regular workshops on customer service, customer behavior, storytelling and social media and presents these workshops at your establishment.

Workshops for February and March include the following topics:

–          And THAT’s why the customer is in charge

–          Exceeding your customer’s expectations without too much effort

–          Content Creation and Sharing

–          Facebook marketing

–          Twitter marketing

–          LinkedIn and Google+ marketing

For bookings and more information, contact Renate de Villiers on enquire@travellingmystery.co.za or 079 110 5674. Workshop topics and content information will also be readily available here on the TMG blog.