COVID-19 has certainly made most of us navigate this world with much fear and trepidation. From the paranoia of going to the grocery store to even the anxiety of leaving our homes out of fear of somehow being exposed to COVID. The tourism industry was undoubtedly hit the hardest with travel restrictions placed upon most / if not all countries across the globe. Since then we have seen a gradual lifting of those regulations and so responsible tourism has taken on an entirely new emphasis as we turn our attention to the most effective ways to enable our economies to recover from the fallout of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
To adjust to the “new normal”, the WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council) together with health experts and other leading associations are working together to achieve effective recovery protocols by developing meaningful action plans that optimise sector-wide recovery efforts, according to the WTTC.
The WTTC aims to publish protocols in phases for the following industries including; Hospitality, Attractions, Outdoor Retail, Aviation, Airports, Short Term Rentals, Cruise, Tour Operators, Convention Centres, and MICE, Car Rental and Insurance. Each set of protocols takes into consideration the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By implementing these action plans the WTTC aims to standardize safe travel by developing new global standards and a stamp that allows travellers to identify businesses and destinations that are adopting world-class health and strict hygiene protocols.
To obtain a Safe Travel stamp, countries and their destinations will have to share their protocols with the WTTC, who will then validate that they are in line with the WTTC guidelines.
By following these protocols companies are eligible for a safety stamp that you can display proudly on your website, thereby providing travellers with confidence that your destination has taken all steps to ensure they travel safely.
Christmas wishes from our team
What’s kept us busy this year
We’ve had a great year preparing a bigger foundation for exciting plans we have for 2020. A big change we underwent was merging our team into our new Durban office, dubbed ResPlex. This merge meant moving 17 families from Richards Bay to Durban and we’re thrilled to announce that they arrived in true superhero style and they’ve all settled in well to the new climate and surrounds.
Our move was pretty smooth but it did not go without a few Kryptonite setbacks which may have affected you. We have still not found a reliable VOIP telephone system – please bear with us and feel free to send any suggestions if you’re a SA local!
Of course, our move meant we also had some key staff out of action which resulted in some slippage in our services during May and June but we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve fixed these gaps and our superhero strength is back!
We grew our talent
We said goodbye to some team and we welcomed others. Added to our team are: Kenton to our data onboarding team, Gareth to our rate setups team, Jerron (with his superman strength) joined our technical team and Michelle leads our new user interface and experience team (UI & UX). On our design front, Ben jumped in to rock our marketing team and Natasha Cross joined us to lead our training programme and team. Clinton is our recent addition who joined our frontline support team, so you’ll be hearing from him soon!
We welcomed future recruits
Not only did we grow our numbers in the office, but also 4 sprogs were born to 3 of our wonder women.
We worked best together
Having our team all in one space has also given us many opportunities to host a bunch of socials including a poker afternoon and new office warming braai, with a team salad competition thrown in. Of course dress up for Halloween is always a hit and a chance to pull out some scary pranks.
We loved travelling
We now service 600 properties in 19 countries, 2 being in Asia. So ResRover and Ntando attended trade shows across the globe including ITB Berlin and WTM London.
We grew stronger with ResPlex Talks
This year we introduced ResPlex talks hosting topics such as The evolution of Development Methodologies and Navigating cultures and customs in Customer Service. This new addition to our staff wellness programme has given us all the opportunity to broaden our knowledge and learn new skills.
We wrapped up the year with a great Christmas picnic
[Above] We celebrated our new-found spot with a festive Christmas picnic in our lush garden. We know that we have a talented crew so we opened the floor for a talent show where some of our talented sang, played the guitar and danced.
[Below] John, Keenan and Alex added some stunning vocals and chords while Mike awed us with his storytelling and magic tricks.
Jerron claimed our ‘ResRequest Strongman’ title in our impromptu arm-wrestling competition.
We wrapped up the afternoon with our tradition of watching annual reviews from each of our departments to remind us of all that we have achieved and experienced this year.
And because of this incredible effort that each of our team contributed – Santa bought us some personalised mugs for Christmas, because every superhero needs a recharge.
That’s what we are, not just a team, but a family. One day we might be the justice league but for today, we are team ResRequest.
Here’s to 2020 – we hope it’s your best year yet! And ours!
With 7.7 billion people in the world – 3.5 billion of us are online and with the digital and social media landscape continuously changing it can be a challenge managing your business whilst keeping your eye on social media. Some businesses in Tourism choose to opt-out of investing resources into social media, however, it should remain an integral part of an overall marketing strategy to see any return on investment and to see tons of guests walking through your doors.
To be successful on social media you need to rely more on a clear strategy than just random postings and hashtags.
In this post you will learn the 5 ways to turn your business from zero to hero on social media:
Step 1: Audit your current platforms
The mention of the word ‘audit’ can run chills down anyone’s spine, however, a social media audit can be a quick and painless process provided that you understand its purpose, to identify what’s working and what’s not.
Create a spreadsheet to help with your research and findings. It just makes it easier whenever you need a quick reference.
Some detective work is required during the process, and so here are some guidelines to assist you:
- Identify all your platforms that your brand is currently represented on.
- Investigate any fake accounts set up under your business name and report them. At the same time verify your business. Why? Because verification makes your brand look genuine and at the same time helps improve customer loyalty.
- Determine your social media mission statement for each platform. Bear in mind your audience, and later we will look at how to identify your audience so we will have to jump in-between the 5 steps to fine-tune the strategy. Your mission statement will look different from platform to platform, for example, our approach on Facebook is to share our culture and any product or industry-related news that’s relevant to our audience on facebook, and on Instagram – to share our culture but in a fun quirky way. Your approach could be different.
Step 2: Identify your Goals
If you were to reach a target, set your sights, take aim, and fire. Having no goals and nothing to work towards to market your business reflects poorly on your brand.
As this phase/step will have a direct impact on your ROI, you should ask yourself:
- What are your objectives and what are you wanting to achieve?
- What are your social media goals? Awareness, engagement, conversions?
- How will measure success? Followers, likes, comments, click-throughs?
Step 3: Create a persona
In this step, you create your most ideal persona based on information from your social media insights and your google analytics. Try and be as specific as possible, the more you define your persona the better.
For example, if you have identified your target market as singles who travel – it would be okay. However, if you have taken it a step further and identified your target market as singles, who live in England, between 25 – 34 years of age and earn over $60 000, primarily uses Facebook and have interests in outdoor activities you will have much more success.
Answer the following questions when creating your persona:
- Job title
- Most active social media platform
Step 4: Competition Analysis
“A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.” – Ovid
Well said, Ovid! Sometimes a competitive analysis is never fun because your competition could be way ahead but at the same time, it helps put things in perspective and helps you finetune your strategy and see where you rank amongst your competitors.
Important points to consider when conducting a competition analysis:
- Find out what platforms your competition uses
- The number of followers on each platform
- Strengths and weaknesses on each platform – you will see here that you could adopt a strategy that your competition implements and fine-tune it to be ahead of your competition
This process should never be overlooked and requires continuous monitoring to make sure that you don’t lose sight of your competition.
Step 5: Using all your findings create a content calendar
A content calendar is usually in a spreadsheet format (although there are other platforms to schedule content like Hootsuite), it is used to schedule content across all your social media platforms.
Why is a social media content calendar important? Because it provides an overview of your content over months, weeks and days. It allows you to visualize how your content according to your overall strategy. The other benefit is to allow you to prepare content around specific days that are important to your brand, public holidays, etc.
This is just the beginning! To be relevant and on top of your competition, it does require you to continuously re-evaluate these steps to be a success. Having a rock-solid strategy now in place, imagine the impact your reach could have on your business!
As a business that follows the Software as a Service model, ResRequest’s team is mainly made up of Developers and Customer Support consultants and we use many tools to help provide a great service for our customers.
Our Dev’s are in their element when nestled in front of multiple screens and have cool tools on hand to work with…
In this article our Dev team share what tools they use to test the product that they build and maintain.
Manual Testing vs Automated Testing
Manual testing is performed by a person carefully executing the test steps on computer software. Automation/automated testing means using an automation tool to execute your test case suite. This way, the actual outcomes of the tests can be compared with that of the predicted outcomes, to help identify issues, bugs, anomalies or limitations.
At ResRequest, we continually strive to improve our awesome suite of products. A lot goes into researching, developing, and delivering a great product. Automated testing is only one of a myriad of ways that we strive to deliver the best product we can.
You might ask: “Surely manual testing is sufficient to deliver a product to the end-user?”. In many cases that’s true, but in today’s competitive world, filled with changing technologies and demanding user requirements, it is imperative to ensure stability.
At ResRequest, we understand that developing quality takes time, and so, we recognise strategies need to be put in place to help keep us ahead of today’s break-neck pace. One of the many strategies we use to help us, in this regard, is automated testing.
ResRequest values automated testing over manual testing, because:
- Manual testing of every possible workflow, field, and scenario takes time and money.
- It is difficult to manually test all different themes, layouts, setups, currencies, etc.
- It does not require human intervention and can be run unattended.
- Executing automated tests can be quicker than doing the same testing manually.
- Automation helps cover bigger areas of an application, which prevents any unforeseen regression issues from occurring.
- Even though we, at ResRequest, love testing and using our products, manual testing can sometimes be tedious and repetitive, and as a result, error-prone.
Why spend time and money on automated testing?
It brings the following to the table:
- Can be a lot faster than manual testing.
- Ensures consistency.
- Improves accuracy.
- Reusable test scripts.
- Helps ensure stability of the final product.
What should be tested with automated tests?
Ideally, it should focus on:
- High risk and/or business-critical areas.
- Test cases that need to be repeatedly/regularly executed are also great candidates to be automated, as their scope should be well understood.
- Testing that is very tedious or difficult to perform manually can also greatly benefit from being automated – computers don’t get bored.
- Testing that is time-consuming should be automated, if it can be done reliably. This helps us focus manual testing on areas that would benefit more from having a little more human touch.
Though automated testing has many advantages, it also has some disadvantages:
- Proficiency in programming and some level of technical knowledge is required to write the automation test scripts.
- Debugging automated test scripts is quite involved. Identifying limitations in the test script requires an in-depth understanding of the technologies used, as well as the application/software being tested.
- Test maintenance is costly, as each update/improvement/feature may require an updated or new test case.
- Automated tests cannot (and should not) entirely understand the end user’s use-case/requirements. The automated test case will simply execute a number of instructions and will not know if the end user’s experience can be improved, by changing the overall workflow of the software it is testing.
- Automated tests can never beat a human tester’s expertise and knowledge of the application it is testing, and should, therefore, be used alongside manual testing and only where needed.
There are many tools and applications that can help with automated testing of a system or software. At ResRequest, we have chosen Selenium for this task.
What is Selenium?
From the Selenium website: “Selenium automates browsers. That’s it! What you do with that power is entirely up to you. Primarily, it is for automating web applications for testing purposes, but is certainly not limited to just that. Boring web-based administration tasks can (and should!) be automated as well.
Selenium has the support of some of the largest browser vendors who have taken (or are taking) steps to make Selenium a native part of their browser. It is also the core technology in countless other browser automation tools, APIs and frameworks.
Selenium’s primary purpose is automating web applications for testing, web-based administration tasks can also be automated as well. Selenium has the backing of large browser vendors who have ensured that it is a crucial part of their browser. Browser automation tools, APIs and frameworks are just some of the platforms using selenium at its core.”
How does it work?
Selenium interfaces to a web browser’s driver, that driver then connects to the web browser to control it. The next step is to instruct Selenium on what to do, and it will take care of explaining it to the chosen web browser, in a way that would make sense to the relevant web browser.
Currently, we use Selenium and automated testing on some of our core products, but we plan to roll this out to as many ResRequest products as possible, in the future. All hail our robot overlords!
We’ve all had them – those cringe-worthy moments when we want to laugh and crawl into a hole at the same time. Somehow these moments are more embarrassing when we are travelling, maybe because we don’t always know who’s watching!
We asked our team for some of their top most embarrassing moments. Put your coffee aside because you may spill it, and see if you can relate to any of these stories.
“I had a connection through Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning. Half asleep, I disembarked the plane in Abu Dhabi and sleepily followed the other passengers into the airport. It was only when I found myself being asked by taxi drivers where I was staying that I realised that something wasn’t right! I was in arrivals and not transit! The surprise gave way to panic as I only had an hour before my next flight. I started trying to find an official to ask how to get to the transfer lounge but it was 1am in the morning and the airport was empty. Finally, I ran into some flight crew and I tried to explain what had happened, they looked confused and pointed further down the hall. I raced off, heart pounding and arrived at immigration. This could not be happening. I had no visa but I was asking to leave the country! I stammered out the story to the gruff immigration officer and he called another officer ove. ‘No visa’, his colleague barked. I tried again to explain what had happened and begged them to let me through as my flight would be boarding by now. Together they started talking fast in Arabic and I wondered how bad the Arabic prison system was. Suddenly I was handed my passport and told ‘Go on. Your flight is boarding’. My legs felt shaky and I felt dizzy with relief that I had made it through. I arrived at the boarding gate just as they were finishing and collapsed into my seat, exhausted. It had been both the longest and shortest hour of my life ever!”
Another flight story on a very different aircraft and an even more nail-biting experience.
“We were travelling to a remote part of Africa from Joburg and were waiting for the plane from the lodge to collect us. The airport was full of commercial planes and a few large charter planes. We then noticed a small, unbelievably small, plane bobbing through between the bigger planes. We had a sinking feeling. Surely not? Could people even fit in that? The miniature plane came to halt and we got a phone call that our charter was ready. We went out to meet our pilot, and of course, he led us to the plane that we had been observing, which seemed even smaller close-up. Trying to suppress our nervousness, we loaded our bags and prepared for take off. The little plane seemed to take forever to lift off and sounded like the engine was taking strain. Finally we were in the air and the pilot tried to engage us in conversation but we were on the edge of our seats, unable to speak. It seemed like every breeze tossed the plane around. Throwing up probably wasn’t the best first impression to make, but it felt very likely! The two hour flight felt like a lifetime and we finally arrived at our destination, white-faced and shaking. ‘How was the flight?’, the lodge manager asked as we disembarked. We smiled weakly, ‘We’re so happy to be here’.”
Off to Europe for a train ride, a long day and some luck.
“Ten years ago, I was returning to London from a small town in Germany called Ahrensburg, and because money was tight, my travelling time was dragged out over 24 hours (2 flights, 2 trains rides, 1 hitchhiked lift and a bus ride) with lots of waiting around in-between them all. By the time I landed in London, I was extremely tired and as soon as I had jumped onto the tube out of Heathrow airport, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I realised that I had missed my stop and travelled to the opposite side of London! Thankfully I still had my luggage, but my chance for a hot shower and a proper bed would have to wait as I had to double back on the tube ride, and this time I made sure I didn’t close my eyes!”
How would you like to be without your luggage for three weeks while you travel around East Africa? This is what happened on one of our team members, and let’s just say, he now always triple checks his flight time.
“I arrived at the airport confident that I had plenty of time before departure. I was travelling to East Africa for three weeks and had quite a hefty bag to check in. I ambled over to check-in and thought I may as well check-in early and then grab a leisurely coffee to pass the time. However, that plan changed quickly as I was told that my flight was leaving in 20 minutes and it was too late to check in luggage. My cries fell on deaf ears and I tried to explain that I had read the flight time wrong. Now, not only was I having to sprint to get to boarding, but I had to leave my bag with everything I needed behind. Needless to say, the first thing I did on landing was to buy some clothes and deodorant. I learnt a stressful lesson and this drama is never to be repeated.”
Travel is exciting and always a big adventure but sometimes there are unpredictable hiccups that make these trips even more eventful. These dramas sometimes make the best stories with valuable lessons attached. What are your most memorable travel adventures?
In computer science, garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) describes the concept that flawed, or messy input data produces poor, unrecognisable output or “garbage”.
Essentially, a system is only as good as the data you put into it. This may seem like a basic principle, but if not followed, it can be a massive exercise to try and clean up the data in your system at a later stage.
From ResRequest’s perspective, “garbage data” can be found in areas such as duplicate contacts, reservations info and poor housekeeping of agent/guest CRM etc. The “garbage data” becomes very apparent when you want to start reporting on this information. If the data being inserted into the system is not “clean”, you will not be happy with the results when you try and use the data.
Here’s an example of data that was not maintained well, on a Standard Reservations Report, compared to managed clean data:
Why would you want to keep the data in the same format?
Not only will your reports look so much better, searching for reservations in your system will be so much easier if the information follows the same format.
Let’s compare how a well-maintained guest contact record compares to an incomplete one on a Guest CRM report:
If you decide to run a mail campaign, to target guests from the USA, the guests who don’t have this info attached to their contact would be left out of the campaign so you would lose potential business due to the information not reaching the right people.
Overall, the benefits of inputting and maintaining neat data in your system are so worthwhile and will save you a lot of time in future!
What tools are available in ResRequest to help keep your data clean?
Replace contact: Deleting contacts isn’t so simple once the contact has been used on a reservation so we’ve given you the functionality to replace a contact with another contact. This means that all the relevant links (for reservations and financial folios) of the replaced contact will transfer to the remaining contact.
Duplicate contact check: When adding a new contact to your system, ResRequest prompts you to check if the contact you’re adding is a duplicate of an existing contact. For example, when inserting the name “John” while adding a new contact, the ResRequest system will display all existing contacts’ named “John”, so the user can determine if it is an existing contact or not.
Although it would be great for the system to prompt you in all areas where data is inserted, at the end of the day, you are the owner of your data and it is up to you to keep the data in your system in good order.
GuestRevu helps thousands of hospitality professionals in over 35 countries spend less time stuck behind their desks by automatically collecting online reviews from dozens of sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com, emailing questionnaires to guests so they can provide valuable direct feedback, and consolidating data to make analysing trends a piece of cake. Listen to your guests, learn from their experiences, and earn their custom and loyalty.
The best part of direct feedback is that you have a chance to resolve any potentially harmful situations before they become reviews on public platforms. By providing your guests with the opportunity to address concerns with you directly, they will often feel that their feedback is being taken to heart, and feel less inclined to vent on social platforms like Facebook and TripAdvisor. Another great benefit is that you can fix problems when you get direct feedback. As they say — prevention is better than cure.
GuestRevu’s partnership with ResRequest PMS makes this process even simpler by automating the feedback collection process, meaning that you’re able to automatically send custom-made surveys once a guest checks out, no manual effort required.
How does it work?
Save time and know what your guests are saying about you publicly by having all your online reviews collected and analysed in your GuestRevu dashboard.
Our integration to GuestRevu is automated so all you need to do is add your guests and their email addresses in ResRequest and GuestRevu will do the rest. For more info on this marketing tool, see our Guest Survey guide.
So what’s the deal?
Instead of adhering to the standard pricing structure, where you’re charged based on the size of your property, GuestRevu is offering an amazing flat rate of R350p/m for all ResRequest properties. That’s an average saving of around R200p/m!
Not only that, but both GuestRevu and ResRequest will waive their setup and integration fees – that’s another saving of around R1,000!
Managing your online reputation and gathering golden guest insights has never been easier, or more affordable. Sound good?
Sign up with GuestRevu here and GuestRevu and ResRequest consultants will be in touch to get you set up.
Scamming is becoming increasingly sophisticated and so have to be more alert and find out how we protect ourselves.
Beware of the latest scam
One of the newest ways that scammers are targeting people is to intercept invoices, edit banking details and send it to “customers” for payment. Recipients of the emails think it is legitimate and pay the money into the scammer’s account.
How can you prevent this happening to you?
Investec recently published an article on this kind of fraud with tips on how to protect yourself.
- Let your current and new clients know that if they even receive any correspondence announcing a change in bank details, advise them to contact you and verify you are banking details before they pay.
- You can also consider leaving your bank details off your invoices and call clients to give them this information instead.
- If you are an individual who is supplying banking details, do not email invoices with bank details. Rather give your banking information directly over the telephone.
- Watch out for phishing scams. What is a phishing email and how to spot it?
- Setup checks on your email like two factor login verification.
We hope that this information is helpful and will be useful in protecting yourself against scammers.