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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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.

10 Cool gadgets for guesthouse and hotel rooms

Photo taken by Renate de Villiers at Grande Provence, Franschhoek

Photo taken by Renate de Villiers at Grande Provence, Franschhoek

Here are a few things that customers LOVE to have in their guesthouse or hotel rooms…whether we like it or not:

  1. WiFi – more and more guests feel that WiFi is nonnegotiable, especially in hotels. It has become one of the main deciding factors whether a guest books at the establishment or not.
  2. MP3 docking station and alarm clock
  3. Mirror televisions. Mainly found in bathrooms, saunas and swimming pools at luxury hotels, with high definition technology, digital tuners and touch screens.
  4. RFID. This stands for radio frequency identification and this technology is often used in door locks at hotels. Guests can now use any brand of mobile phone to gain access to their rooms, so losing the room key is not a problem anymore. (As long as you don’t lose your phone!)
  5. Sensors. Housekeeping can now use infrared signals to identify whether a room is occupied or not only by pressing a button. Amazing!
  6. RFID key. This is one thing you might want to get ASAP! It is a card key with a fancy chip that cannot get demagnetized. This saves your guests much effort and frustration.
  7. Check-in via a lobby ambassador with a special iPad. For bigger hotels this is the ideal check-in solution, which also appears quite modern and professional.
  8. Apps that assist you to be your own concierge. Conrad New York Hotel offers its guests the Conrad Concierge App, which allows them to arrange airport transportation and meal times from their Androids, iPhones or iPads. Create your own app and see how much your guests love you!
  9. On-site navigation app. Quite a few overseas hotels and resorts have their own on-site navigation app, some of which can triangulate your exact indoor location and give you directions to different fun and trendy activities to visit in and around the facility.
  10. Business Bar. Some hotels offer guests the option of borrowing an iPad, laptop, e-reader, camera, headphones, wires, etc. from their business bar at a special rate per day. Guests can therefore afford to pack less and worry less about their electronics getting lost or stolen during their travels. Awesome!

So which of these cool gadgets are you planning to install at your tourist destination?

The importance of security at your lodge

We’ve recently returned from a trip to Zanzibar. It was after the first night’s stay that I once again realised how quickly one can either be super impressed with an establishment’s service standards, or absolutely horrified.

Unfortunately, in this case, it was the latter.

I had taken my camera with (with the aim of sharing some great photos with you when we return). The chalets we stayed in were all very neat and consisted of all the necessities for a three star self catering unit. You know – two towels on the bed, some bathroom amenities, mosquito nets (which you can’t go without there), etc.

On arrival I suspected that the lodge should be relatively safe, as all the chalets had windows that were only covered with mosquito nets. There were no actual glass windows, which indicated that they clearly have no problems with theft or other criminal activities. This was until that evening, when they stole my camera bag with my camera and two lenses from the bed while we were sleeping on the other bed in the room. After waking up from some strange noises, we realised something was up and got up to see if something was missing. When we went outside to see if there is a security guard who could assist us, there was absolutely no one to be found. Now – what do you do in such a situation? What if someone got hurt? The lodge manager was nowhere to be found, nor any of the three security guards who had been there earlier that evening. After notifying them the next morning, the lodge manager called the lodge owner, which indicated that he was not able to handle any of this and he realised that he had slipped up.

In Zanzibar it also seems to  work the other way around when it comes to police statements, as the police were not able to come to the lodge – they had to be fetched!

So…Travelling Mystery Guest compiled a few tips with regards to the importance of security at your accommodation establishment, which you might want to ensure are in place:

  • Make sure that your manager is always available and ensure that guests are given his or her contact details for emergencies. If a manager doesn’t want to be bothered in night time, he’s not worth being your manager. That’s where the extra mile comes in when it comes to hospitality.
  • If your lodge is large and needs security guards to patrol the area, ensure that they are on duty at all relevant times. Also ensure that your manager has an eye on them at all times.
  • With a tourist destination theft is always a possibility as tourists carry expensive items like cameras which are easy to spot and unfortunately also easy to sell on the black market within the hour. Make sure that your guests’ rooms can lock properly (doors and windows) and ensure that they are provided with safes to put their valuable items in. (In our case there were no safes).
  • When providing guests with safes, always ensure that the safe is accompanied by proper instructions on how to use it.
  • Be sure to have all contact details of local police readily available. (In this case, the manager also had to wait for a car, as he lent the lodge’s car to another lodge for the morning.) Be sure that your establishment always has some form of transport at hand for any kind of emergency or for in case you need to fetch the police without keeping your guests waiting for three hours!

One thing I could say about this lodge is that the manager was very helpful in booking us into another lodge (right next to them) with very high security gates and 24/7 security guards! Now why would they not have thought of this before my camera got stolen, mmm?