Modern Inn-keeper

Once upon a time, a man contacted Midlands reservations, a small booking office for accommodation establishments in the KZN Midlands. He wanted a place that was quiet but that would offer good food and great service but it also had to allow for privacy.

The reservationist asked what dates he had in mind and for how many people, to which he replied “It’s for one person and I’d like it to be as soon as possible.”  The reservationist then asked how many nights he was wanting, to which he replied, “For as long as it takes.” A little unsure, the reservationist needing a more definitive answer prompted the man by stating most folk tend to stay on average 2-3 nights but should he want to explore the Midlands Meander, he should consider staying at least 5 nights, to which the man responded, “It’s not for me, its for someone who’s been hurt, has walked a long journey, has no relatives nearby and needs to find her way again.  I’m not sure how long she will stay; a week; possibly two, hopefully longer.”   The reservationist had a better idea and suggested she check availability and revert back to the man with available options.

The reservationist made the first call but the owner said she was unwilling to book a room indefinitely in case she had other bookings come along, the second call went better and that was marked as option 1, the third call was much the same as the second call, however, the manager said that for every night extra the room was booked for, there would be a 10% discount off the nightly charge, that was marked as option 2, the last call went so well, the reservationist was sure the man would book that option, but as protocol is what it is, all three options were offered.

A venue was booked and the man paid the venue upfront for the first week, asking that should their guests wish to stay longer,a bill should be sent after every two days.  Both the Midlands Reservations consultant and the inn-keeper were curious as to who this mystery guest would be.

A few days later a lady arrived at the venue. Her clothes were modest and in good condition, her make-up was perfectly done and she seemed to be well presented. The Inn-keeper warmly welcomed  the new guest and showed her around the main areas and then down around the garden to the room entrance, there; on the dresser; was a welcome card next to the information pack.  The Inn-keeper pointed out the room amenities and briefly mentioned the on site facilities, referring to the info-pack on the dresser for details.

Being an efficient woman, the lady unpacked her clothes into the wardrobe, sat on the edge of the bed and bgan reading the welcome card she had snatched from the dresser.

She skim-read it, but then the words “as long as you’d like to stay”, caught her attention, she re-read the words, carefully; purposefully.  Slightly unsure, she made her way back to reception.  The inn-keeper was busy fluffing up cushions in the library when the new guest approached.  The lady began, “The card said you would include a laundry service free of charge for the duration of my stay, that I could extend my stay as long as I gave you two days notice, that room service would be at no extra charge, that I could call on you for a cup of tea or a guided walk into one of the nearby plantations, that making a simple meal or a favourite meal would be no trouble at all?” The inn-keeper smiled, yes, you are my guest and your stay has been taken care of, you should take all the time you need to find your way again, my staff and I are here to make sure you have a safe and pleasant stay, that whilst you are here you find healing and know, that although you are our guest, we shall treat you as family.

The lady stayed 12 nights and 13 days.  It took 7 days for her to stop talking about her work and grievances, on the 8th day, she helped the waitress fold napkins and enquired about her, on the 9th day she and the cook were exchanging recipes, on the 10th day she disappeared into the plantation before breakfast and came back ravenous for dinner, that evening she sat in the library with the inn-keeper and told the inn-keeper that she would like to return home in a couple of days, but wanted to explore the Midlands Meander before that.  Instead of sending her out with a packed meal; the inn-keeper designed a trip with vouchers for places to stop, sample their products and simply enjoy along the way. Each evening the lady returned with a smile on her face and recounted all she had seen, done and felt.  Other guests planned day-trips for themselves after listening to her enthusiastically chatting to the staff as though they were family, calling them by name and commenting on who would have enjoyed which activity that day.

The inn-keeper sent the bill with these words: “It was a pleasure hosting your guest, I trust she has regained her strength, had a well-deserved break and is walking a new road.”

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Raising the bar

The reason why we raise the bar; is to improve the guest experience, get better feedback and increase sales.
It is one thing to say Raise the bar, it is another to implement it, but this can be set out in simple ways so that both managers and staff find a natural way to raise the bar in the hospitality or travel and trade industry.
It should come as no surprise that performance improvement will result inn a better guest experience.

This is true on every level, for example, if we consider the beginning … in reservations; whether that be online, telephonic or face-to-face, the way a reservation is conducted will and can deliver the beginnings of a great experience.

Each venue is unique and to ensure the marketing and offer guests receive stands out above the rest, ideas and themes are only shared between the owner/manager and myself.

Should you require advise or ideas on how to improve guest experience and at the same time, improve staff performance, book a session by clicking here.

Skål International

Skål is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry. Its members, the industry’s managers and executives, meet at local, national, regional and international levels to discuss and pursue topics of common interest.

I am currently a member of The Pretoria Skål club in South Africa, after being transferred from the Midlands Skål club where I valued the encouragement and amicable from the various members.  The international friendship and close personal contact of Skål must be experienced to be appreciated.

Skål is all about  “Doing Business among friends”. Skål is not a community organisation like Rotary or Lions; rather it benefits and develops the professional sector, while assisting the community at large. Skål is an Association of Tourism Professionals, which encourages and creates a network of professionals around the world. It promotes seminars and conferences to strengthen the industry’s professionalism.

Through participation in local activities and events at all levels, members meet industry colleagues from around the world. Here, in an atmosphere of amicale, ideas, opportunities and industry matters, in general, may be shared on a personal and business level.

Travel managers, following an educational tour of Scandinavia, founded the first Club in 1932 in Paris. The idea of international goodwill and friendship grew and, in 1934, the “Association Internationale des Skål Clubs” was formed with Florimond Volckaert as its first President, who is considered the “Father of Skål”.

Skål International today has members in over 500 Clubs throughout 90 nations. Most activities occur at local level, moving up through National Committees, under the umbrella of Skål International, headquartered at the General Secretariat in Torremolinos, Spain.

Membership of Skål is open to managers or executives directly involved in tourism management, sales and promotions, in specified travel and tourism businesses, including: transportation (airlines, cruise lines, railways, ferries), travel and tour operators and agencies, tourism organisations, governments and non-government tourism councils, hotels, convention centres, travel media; etc.

Young Skål is open to junior executives and tourism students entering the industry. This is a way for us to welcome these young persons into the world of Skål International and make them familiar with it’s values, friendship, peace, solidarity and promoting common, local and international interests in the tourism industry, thus ensuring that once a managerial position is reached, the young skålleague will continue to support the movement strongly, its ideals and principle and being  a leader, to proactively transform the environment in which he/she lives.

About

I have attended travel shows such as INDABA and WTM both as an exhibitor and as a buyer, I read travel blogs and pay attention to the travel and trade industry.

I grew up in the hospitality industry, having had the privilege of being a daughter of a hotel manager, then working in a central reservation office with my mother learning the art of making reservations before the age of 21. I extended my career by managing a luxury lodge, however my general management skills were quickly polished when I bought Midlands Reservations (predominantly operating as a central booking office for The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands) in 2004. I built my first website and enjoyed 3 years of being a micro Travel Agent! I sold it, then bought it back for a family friend, who runs Midlands Reservations.

My passion lies in brazing conservation and tourism; in that way helping guests enjoy their time at every destination as well as taking something back home to think about. I try to ensure that guides are able to communicate with tourists by encouraging them to enter conversations, to share stories and simply to boost their confidence.  I have had the privilege to share my experiences with other hospitality staff members including how to host guests, housekeeping, meal preparation and presentation. During 2010 I completed a project in the Lower Zambezi Valley – at Mvuu Lodge as a consultant in a skills transfer programme.

My studies of Nature Conservation have allowed me to assess the impact of tourism on the natural environment and I enjoy creating awareness of how tourism can work for conservation when given the chance.  As a lecturer at Bhejane nature training, I had the privilege of passing what I have learnt from the hospitality industry and applying my exposure to various nature conservation projects onto students and nature guides of the future.

I worked at a Leading Hotel of World property and played an intricate role in Reservations, advising the Sales and Marketing team, running operations, hosting private events and training staff across all three properties at Thanda Safari.

Now I assist owners and managers of B&B’s; Guesthouses and small lodges with their sales and marketing strategies as well as service level improvements. Although I have been tagged as a business match maker, I prefer to say I work with folk in the travel and tourism trade to help make a difference in their role as an SMME manager or owner.

Should you wish to meet with me, please send me your request by clicking here.