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Guesthouse owner: Are you a technophobe or a digital diva?

Written by  Staff
| in Toerisme
| November 20, 2015

Clearly positioning your guest establishment is vital as this often determines the expectations and consequent  satisfaction of your guests.

Think of a couple booking your honeymoon suite only to find absolutely no special or romantic element in the room, with single beds pushed together and no chance of privacy.

Similarly, business travellers simply expect to be able to use their various technological apparatus in the comfort of their rooms. If you have guest accommodation on your farm, you might still have an excuse for not offering connectivity, but “carefully think what character you want your establishment to portray, and then go all out and offer your guests even more than they expect,” says Marius Stols, lecturer at The Private Hotel School in Stellenbosch.

CONNECTED OR TECH DETOX

In today’s society, technology is an integrated part of life - sometimes even more so for social reasons than for business purposes. Most of your guests will by now be fluent on at least Facebook and Instagram and we all know the value of word of mouth. How you respond to your guests’ needs when it comes to technology will be an indicator of the type of guest you are catering to.

If connectivity is still a far-off dream on your farm, market your guesthouse for its digital detox properties and consider taking it further still, with no television sets in the rooms. On the flip side of the coin, a recent study by hotels.com showed that the two amenities travellers want to see become standard at all hotels are complimentary breakfast and … yes, Wi-Fi. In South Africa we still find that even some large hotel chains or guesthouses have limited connectivity - like in lobbies or small business centres - or charge for Wi-Fi vouchers. 

If you thrive on technology, go the extra mile like Room Mate Hotels, headquartered in Spain. Guests staying at any of their properties throughout Europe and the Americas do not only have access to free Wi-Fi while at the hotel, but throughout the entire destination city. This is made possible by giving the guests a complimentary mobile router.

The Lanesborough Hotel in London is another prime example of embracing digital. Each room is equipped with a tablet which allows the guest to communicate with the hotel for ordering room service, checking the guest account, even downloading international newspapers. Guests are not restricted to using the tablet, but are able to download an app to their own mobile device that mirrors the functionality of the tablet. Guests will soon be able to use their mobile phones to unlock their rooms, connect to the in-room entertainment systems, and communicate live (via text) with the property.

FACE-TO-FACE OR DIGITAL

It is all very well to take technology to its extreme for comfort, but what about personal contact with your guests, you might rightly ask. For some guests a long stoep chat with you about the farm and weather might be part of the package of a farm-stay holiday, but for some anonymity completes the picture of a breakaway from everyday life. There are, however, different ways of drawing guests into a relationship with your establishment.

Conrad Hotels and Resorts, member of the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, is making use of Instagram to drive reservations. When clicking on an Instagram photo of a Conrad property the viewer is directed to their bookings page. Some of the photos that are posted are professionally taken, but many photos are taken by guests who then share their experiences with the Instagram community. Having guests share their experiences via social media is real-time word of mouth, and their pictures literally speak a thousand words.

“There is no one ultimately right answer to how to address guests’ needs in the context of technology.”

“There is no one ultimately right answer to how to address guests’ needs in the context of technology,” says Marius.  “Just realise that tourists’ and travellers’ technology needs do evolve and it is up to you to ensure these needs are met, or to decide that you position yourself differently and then proudly pitch your establishment in that way – offering quite the opposite of connectivity.”