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Give that little extra - your guests will love you for it

Written by  Staff
| in Toerisme
| August 7, 2015

Let us quickly consider why people choose to travel and sleep in a foreign bed: the most likely reasons are work-related or to escape from their normal routine and to explore a different environment (i.e. a hard-earned vacation).

When people pack their suitcases for a leisurely vacation they hope, and indeed expect, that their accommodation experience would be better than (or at least not worse than) what they are used to at home.

While price still remains the key factor driving most of the budget conscious traveller’s initial decisions, the actual experience of value for money (or not) occurs from the moment that the traveller arrives at the establishment.

According to Erika Theron, academic manager of The Private Hotel School in Stellenbosch, the hospitality industry is such a dynamic environment which presents hospitality business owners with the challenge of staying up to date with trends, and even more so with the expectations and desires of guests. “It is becoming all the more challenging to come up with new and innovative strategies to add value to a guest’s experience so they will spread positive word of mouth and return again and again,” she says.

“Creating value through small or seemingly splendid gestures is truly what most guests are looking for.”

“Creating value through small or seemingly splendid gestures is truly what most guests are looking for. The perceived value of such gestures (think complimentary bottled water in the room, welcoming drink, or small turn-down chocolate on the pillow) is high and yet it need not become a weighty item on your budget.” The feeling of goodwill such an action creates can even outweigh the positive effect of a discount on price.

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Value for money. Everyone craves it – especially when needing to make the budget balance with ever-increasing living costs – and are quick to feel cheated with a worse than expected hospitality offering. How then can one add value to guests’ stay to meet even their unexpressed needs and best of all, keep them returning for more? 

“Your staff are your most valuable asset. If your staff are happy, they will make your guests happy as well.”

Service, service, service! “Efficient, friendly and attentive service is simply non-negotiable,” says Erika. “But offering exceptional, personalised and fast service to your guests will make them feel special. However, I always advise guesthouse owners to go the extra mile – make your guests feel that they are getting more than what they paid for. Achieving this can be simpler than you think with a few small additions to a guest’s experience.”

august2015-tourism-2Erika shares a few practical examples:
• When guests make a reservation, find out whether they are perhaps celebrating a special occasion. If so, surprise them with a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate or even just flowers from the garden. Or if they are stopping over on a long journey, have a snack basket (‘padkos’) available for them when they leave the next morning. No need to spend thousands – simply be creative.  
• Send your guest an e-mail or SMS a day before they are due to arrive to say you are looking forward to their stay and encourage them to communicate any special requests to you.
• On arrival offer your guest some refreshments. If you receive plenty of international guests give them authentic South African goods such as rooibos tea, pinotage, biltong, koeksisters, etc.
• A notice board in your reception area welcoming all the guests by name, or a personalised welcome letter in their room will add the personal touch.
• Attend to guests’ every need during their stay. No request is too large or small. Make guests feel like they are your number one priority.  
• Offer your guests quality bathroom extras such as soaps or shampoo, and welcome it when they help themselves to it when they leave. According to Forbes.com “when guests take their toiletries home with them, it’s a sign you have done a good job picking the right products. You should also be hoping those guests will think of their hotel stay when they use that soap or shampoo later on.” Whatever the product, surprise your guests with something to remember you by after they’ve left.

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“Remember that none of this is possible without your team,” says Erika. “Your staff are your most valuable asset. If your staff are happy, they will make your guests happy as well.

So if you want your hospitality establishment to be a market leader, give your guests more. They will reward you for it by referring more guests and supporting your establishment again and again.”