Lights, camera, action!

It’s been a busy year. Here is what we’ve been up to!

Movements

We exhibited and attended a record number of trade shows in 2017 – WTM Africa, Cape Town Indaba, Durban. Our sales team then toured Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania and attended the Sanganai Tourism Expo, Magical Kenya Travel Expo and the Swahili International Tourism Expo. They were all successful endeavours and we enjoyed meeting clients and making new contacts.

 

Team

We said goodbye to Dylan and Ant this year and welcomed Ntando, Sam, Brandon and Keenan to the team. Ntando joined the Sales team, Keenan and Sam take over from Anthony in testing and Brandon assists Walter in technical support.

A few mini-people also joined the ResRequest family this year with two of the ladies giving birth to sons.

Our Durban office was spruced up with a makeover to accommodate the expanding team and the Empangeni office who will be moving to new and improved location over Christmas. Exciting news!

Our mid-year function this year was a movie challenge which got everyone dressed up and in character as they produced a murder mystery short film with hilarious plot twists and some surprise actors!

Give back

This year our Give back formed part of our corporate wellness programme, ResFit. Each team had a budget to select a charity to support. Learn more about ResFit here! Initiatives that the teams supported this year were a revamp and repairs of a local church in Zululand, a collection for the local SPCA and sponsoring designing and producing promotional banners for The Neema Foundation. Team members also did their own Give back activities such as volunteering to fix computers at a school or taking children from a orphanage out for the day.

We can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer!

Horsing about in 2016

ResRequest year

Here’s a short summary of our year and what we got up to.

Movements

ResRequest travels

We attended a record number of shows and conferences this year. Connecting with many of our power users and business partners, as well as new prospects.

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In conjunction with our integration partners, Direct Pay Online and Expedia, we hosted a workshop in Nairobi and connected with Wetu at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

Sales opportunities, implementations, training and consulting projects took us to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, all around South Africa and the Congo.

Team

banner_team-events_xmas

This year we sadly said goodbye to Paula, Nomfundo and Chirlaine. Chirlaine’s farewell coincided with Halloween so the Empangeni office had fun dressing up for her party. They will be missed and we wish them well as they start new chapters.

new people banner

We also said a big hello and welcomed Luzelle and Cheri to our functional support team and Kristen who reinforces the marketing team. Luzelle loves her coffee, Cheri enjoys wildlife and exploring game reserves and Kristen is a keen runner. These key players will strengthen our core.

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Left: A sneak peak of our call centre. Centre: And a 1,2,3,4… Right: Durban gets serious about fitness.

This was the year of activity. We revamped some of our office space and for our mid year team get-together we had a blast trying out a line dancing class and discovered that some of us have two left feet! Some hardcore crew even enrolled in bootcamp to get fit, which has inspired us to launch a ResFit campaign in the new year.

waffle-and-horseplay_wp

To end off our annual review workshops, we had a unique team building experience involving horses in the Midlands Meander. Horseplay taught us about communication and leadership through interaction with horses. Take a look at what we learnt…

We got a sweet treat from Santa and the offices wasted no time in trying out the new waffle makers with office waffle parties. In keeping with the waffle theme, meet our waffle topping team!

Give back

giveback_xmas

Some of the causes we got behind this festive season were the Santa Shoebox initiative for under-privileged children. As part of this initiative, we wrapped shoeboxes and packed them with useful items from the Santa Shoebox list. These gift boxes will be delivered to children across the province for Christmas. We also embarked on a cancer treatment drive for Mike Mthembu, our faithful builder and handyman, with the Youcaring donation platform.

Here’s to an even better 2017!

E-tourism Africa summit takeaways

E-tourism-connectedness

Written by Paula Chaplin

I was blown away by the standard of the recent eTAS conference I attended. The presentations were incredibly interesting and I learned an enormous amount about social media and the new frontiers of marketing and travel.

As far as our clients are concerned – this is what you would have heard… Some of this may be new – and some of it you’ll already know:

Online Travel

  • Online travel is no longer the future – it is happening!
  • Travellers today are egotistical and vocal – they want personalised attention and instant gratification.
  • Travellers are also mobile – 63% buy travel on their mobile devices.
  • Ratings and reviews matter! Properties on TripAdvisor can increase their rates by 11% for every “bubble” rating they get.
  • The most online bookings are coming from UK, Germany, USA and Australia. China look, but don’t book.
  • 72% of travellers who complain on Twitter expect a response within the hour.
  • Travellers want to stay connected and share their travel experience as they go. Free Wi-Fi is a must. (This one leaves me a little cold, personally. I think there’s a LOT to be said for forcing people to unplug and step back into the world around them).
  • As a brand – you need to engage with guests on their channels. If they are talking to you on Twitter – talk back. If they are reviewing you on TripAdvisor – respond.
  • Online Travel Agents (OTAs) are consolidating – and they are wanting to move into experience driven travel. i.e.: Sell activities, packages and safaris.
CRM – customer relationship management
  • CRM is becoming increasingly important as travellers want a personalised experience that sets your property apart from all others.
  • You have to ask yourself – what can you do to know your guests? You can use ResRequest to capture guest data, drive targeted campaigns and create personal experiences.
  • CRM doesn’t work unless you know what you want to do with the data you collect. What you want to do with the information should determine what information you collect.
  • Ask yourself – what do you need to know about your guest in order to give them the experience they want, have them come back again, and rate you highly?

Etas

Social Media
  • To keep your brand relevant – you need to have a social media presence.
  • Printed brochures are no longer necessary.
  • What you need is engagement – exposure to content is not enough. The aim is for it to be liked and shared.
  • In terms of content – simplicity wins. But simplicity is hard to achieve!
  • You can have a different “identity” on each social media platform-  because each will appeal to a different demographic. Vary the type of content on each platform.
  • If you are on Instagram – you need to have an identity. Who are you? What is your purpose?
  • Remember that what is big in your world is not necessarily big in the world. The reach of your message is more important than the relevance to your corporate identity.
  • You need to know who your audience is – and tailor your content to suit them. Don’t be bland in the hopes of appealing to everyone.
  • Once you have identified your demographic – rethink it constantly.
  • Use tools to gauge the success of your content. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
  • You can create or curate content. It doesn’t all have to come from you – your guests will produce the most amazing content so use this!
  • You should have at least a 10% engagement rate – if not, your content is not speaking to your market.

We’re moving into another era of travel and so our marketing methods have to adapt.  In the past brochures, mail shots and static websites were our main marketing materials, however now social media matters. Customers want to spend less time engaging with suppliers – but they want a more personalised experience. They want to do what everyone on TripAdvisor has told them to do in the reviews, but they want to have their own unique experience.It’s going to be tricky to get the balance right. I think what’s relevant to city hotels is not necessarily relevant to us in the safari world just yet. But it’s good to know where travel is going and what people connect with.The best holiday I have ever had was on a beach in Mozambique, where I had to climb a tree to get cellphone signal. It forced everyone to put down their phones and engage with each other and the experiences we were having. But I’m not very active on social media. If I was – that might have been torture. Younger travellers definitely want to Instagram their dinner and brag about their experiences as they enjoy them.

See your business clearly

Written by Paula Chaplin

This is the time of year you start looking forward and trying to gauge what the year ahead will bring. If you happen to be in a region beset by issues (perceived or real) negatively impacting tourism (terrorism, ebola, government unrest etc) – this is probably quite a trying exercise. Unfortunately we can’t help you predict the future – our crystal ball is still downloading…

But what we can help you with is forecasting data in ResRequest – which you can interpret (because no-one knows your business like you do) and try to spot booking and travel trends, which may give you a reasonable idea of what next year will be like.

To that end – we have put together some reports (all of which you can pull out of ResRequest) – and added some graphs (we used Google Spreadsheet, but you could use Excel or Numbers) – to give you an idea of the kind of information you can get from ResRequest, and different ways of viewing it.

The numbers we’ve shown are fictional, and not representative of any company’s actual business. The point of this mailer isn’t the figures – it’s the concept of data interpretation and visualisation.

We show you below how to pull the reports which are feeding these graphs – but your company will be set up in a unique way, possibly with properties, accommodation types or rate types that should be excluded from statistical/revenue reporting. If you want to be 100% certain that you are looking at accurate and relevant data – please get in touch so we can go through it with you.

It’s important to note that our reports are only as good as the data you capture. If you are not capturing data consistently – your reports will not give you an accurate or complete picture of your business.

The information I used to create these graphs was pulled from either the Sales Analysis or, my personal favourite, the Financial Analysis Report. To find this information, and much, much more, I’ve prepared a guide on how to use the Financial Analysis Report. If you prefer that we talk you through this step-by-step just drop us an email. Enjoy!

Future bed nights: comparing previous years

Looking at what your bed nights were like this time in previous years, relative to how the year turned out. (To pull information for this graph: you need to run a report per year and stitch the information together. To see bookings as of 1 Nov 2013 for 2014: Travel Dates = 1 Jan – 31 dec 2014, Create Date = 1 Jan 2000 – 31 Oct 2013. Group by Status, showing Bednights.)

Booking lead time

Look at booking trends – how far in advance do your reservations come in. (To pull this report look at the FAR – Group by Create Date, and look at Arrival Date. Export the report and create a variance column between Arrival Date and Create Date – this is your lead time.)

Revenue compared with Yield

We know you are interested in yield, not just bed nights. By combining your revenue and yield on one chart, you can see pricing trends for each property, or year.

(To pull information for this bar graph, I ran the FAR report, grouped by property, showing net revenue and yield.)

Recognise your top agents

You need to know which agents are your top performers. By plotting your top agents for the last 2 years, and your forecasted agents for the next year, your marketing team can quickly see who to check-in with, or applaud.

(To prepare data for this chart, I ran the FAR report, grouped by agent and sorted by revenue.)

Know where your business comes from

Knowing where your business comes from can be an effective tool as you develop your marketing and sales strategy. Measuring your reservation source shows you which campaigns were the most successful.

(This report was easy because my database had source code information, I generated the results using the FAR report, grouping by source code and sorted by revenue.)

Trending markets

See where your business is coming from geographically by tracking reservation nationality or tracking where your agents are based.

 

 

 

(This was super easy, I ran the FAR report, grouped by the agent postal code and sorted by revenue. The trick to this chart working is that your agents must have their postal (or physical) address details recorded!)