Are you offering what your clients are actually looking for?

As a business owner or manager in any hospitality type establishment, you have perceptions as to what your customers want. Your establishment can actually be doing very well but there are still some factors that could influence your effectiveness and this is something you have no control over. Travelling Mystery Guest takes a look at what can influence your company and how to handle them.office-1209640_1920

Travelling Mystery Guest recently attended Urban Econ’s Tourism Talk, where Karen Kohler was the guest speaker. She had interesting information regarding where to find statistical updates about Tourism. Some of these databases include:

To know the statistics of tourism in the area you live in can help you determine the successful and unsuccessful time frames for your business and businesses similar to yours. More importantly, one should determine why the statistics are the way they are, what influenced them and how to prevent or repeat this. It is always important to take general news into consideration with your own business. Factors like illnesses in your country can have a big effect on your international visitor ratesworld-1264062_1920

Another interesting thing to keep in mind is the perceptions that people have about your location. It might be wise to do research about all the negative images tourists might be seeing about your city. For example, a company has a conference each year in another country and the company pays all the travel costs for participating employees. In the year when they went to Australia, everyone was very keen on going because of the high amount of South-African people who have visited or immigrated to Australia, the continent had a positive image. But the in the year they had the conference in India, many employees didn’t want to go (even with all expenses paid) because of the image that India has. This personal perception could have been created by movies such as Slum dog Millionaire.  So always keep in mind what perceptions are created by any stimuli.

diet-403588_1920

Lastly, something that all employees in the hospitality industry are familiar with is trends. Now, we might be familiar with the concept of a trend, but do we really know what the trends are? It may feel like trends just pop up out of nowhere and when observing social media, it also sometimes seems as if trends disappear as quickly as they appeared. A trend can be very tricky to incorporate into your business, considering their time frames. A good example of this was the banting diet in South-Africa. Every restaurant and shop started to incorporate banting items into their menus but soon there were a lot of debates about the health benefits of this diet. So when incorporating a trend into your business, never make it the entire focus point of your business but rather a feature that you offer.

Trends can really have an impact on your business. For interest sake, some of the trends to look in to is virtual travelling and voluntourism. Also, take a look at one of our previous blog posts about Travel Trends in 2017. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Advertisements

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.

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

Proactive customer care

Why anticipating what your guests would want means more than giving them what they ask…

Proactive customer care can be defined as communication making use of mixed channels that pre-emptively engages guests by providing information before the need arises for the guest to ask. The main goal of proactive customer care is to strengthen relationships, increase loyalty and reduce unnecessary enquiries, ensuring that your establishment delivers a satisfying customerservice. It further enables an establishment to measure guest satisfaction and enables the destination to immediately resolve issues before they expand.

Customer service providers in the hospitality and tourism industry should strive to create a positive first impression. For hospitality and tourism destinations it is important to successfully attract, engage and capture new customers by proactively reaching out to prospective guests. By addressing anticipated questions early in the customer life cycle you immediately start the relationship in a positive way, influencing customers’ future behaviour. Such proactive activities are invaluable to successfully build future relationships between guests and the brand.

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Some examples of proactive customer care include:

  1. Timely reminders:

Increasing guest retention through timely reminders of upcoming events, bookings, and other important reservations.  With the busy schedules of modern day customers, reminders of their appointments are much appreciated. From a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant’s point of view, these reminders not only aid in building guest loyalty, but also reduce the rate of no-shows, cancellations and past-due payments.

  1. Proactive confirmations and notifications:

Increase guest satisfaction by delivering proactive confirmations through the guests’ preferred channels. Also use these channels to communicate important information to guests to improve relationships and decrease the potential for dissatisfaction (pain points within the customer’s journey).

  1. Reduce guest service costs:

Reduce the service costs associated with reaching, satisfying and retaining guests by creating a positive brand image for the hotel, guesthouse or restaurant that will do the selling for you. Influence your guests’ buying patterns by incorporating current trends, designing the perfect unique selling point. Observe what guests do and identify guest expectations from there.

  1. Enable guest interaction:

Enable guests to interact directly with your destination if confirmation details are incorrect, a change to a booking is required or any other queries need attention. Think creatively – initiate new proactive services that set you apart from your competitors.

  1. Opt-in or choose yourself:

Providing prospective and current customers with reliable and relevant communication subscription options, through preferred channels, gives the destination the chance to win over customers at their own choosing. Identify how your customers want to be contacted – through email, direct calls, social media, or SMS – and also at what time and day they’re most receptive.

If you still wonder why proactive customer care is such a big deal, surveys have shown that it means customer loyalty, because customers repay anticipatory service with more loyalty which translates into long term value. The main goal of proactive customer care is to surprise and entice customers with convenient and useful information at the moment that they are most receptive.

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.