This Tourism Week. 23 November 2012

This week:

Mind your manners: winning with e-mail 

Books: Two great checklists for the kids this summer holiday 

Mind your manners

So what about owners and managers of guesthouses, hotels, lodges, and such who take their time to answer e-mail enquiries, or fail to answer them at all?

Vanessa Steyn established Guesthouse Guru in December 2011 in order to provide smaller establishments (guesthouses, boutique hotels, B&Bs, lodges, hostels, backpackers, etc.) with easy solutions for managing their daily routines, and as a way of bringing the guesthouse community together.

“How can everyone complain about times being tough, and that no business is coming in – but they just ignore it when they get enquiries?” she wrote. “I’ve found this inPretoria, Centurion, Nelspruit, Beaufort West and so on, so it’s not just one or two establishments that are doing it.”

So I asked her to write something about it for This Tourism Week:

I regularly receive enquiries for accommodation, and then ask establishments for quotations according to the guest’s requirements.

Even if I mention that it’s urgent, I sometimes receive replies up to five days later, and sometimes not at all.

At association meetings, owners get together and complain how occupancy has dropped. In every newsletter I receive, I read about establishments that feel forced to reduce their rates, and some that are forced to close down.

Times are tough. The economy isn’t at its best. I would think that every query would be jumped at as a chance to catch more business.

If reservations are ignored, or not considered very important, guests move on to the next establishment.

When I send an enquiry, I prefer to have a reply within an hour. Are there really people out there who are willing to wait five days for an answer?

Times are changing, very few people pick up the phone to make enquiries, and more and more of us are doing business online.

I understand that owners of smaller businesses have to do everything, so they can’t be at their computers 24 hours a day – but with the mobile technology now available to us, how can we not answer online enquiries and emails?

Before we complain about business being quiet, we should first check if we’re giving our best. Be hands-on. Ensure your reservationists or office personnel are responding to quotes; copy emails to your phone; check that quotes have been followed up.

It’s bad manners to postpone responding – and it’s bad for business, too.

Send your quote and hook your guest!

Contact Vanessa at Guesthouse Guru or visit

Books: Find 50 at the Seashore / Find 50 in the Game Reserve

We’re almost there: a few more days, and the whole country’ll be on the move.

If you’ve ever been away on holiday with the kids – or if you’ve accommodation by the sea or in the bush and you welcome children – you’ll know how important it I to keep them stimulated. 

Find 50 at the Seashore and Find 50 in the Game Reserve are simple, fold-out pamphlets that provide quick visual keys and short (30 word) descriptions of the selected species.

My 5-year-old grandson and I have started using ours – but I have a gripe: they’re made of board which encloses a paper fold-out. But the printer has scored the paper instead of creasing it, and almost from the start the scoring started to rip apart. I’ve had to put tape over the score marks to keep them together.

Still, if you’re looking for a really lekker pillow gift for your younger guests – or for an unusual memento to stock in your gift shop – I’d recommend these beauties.

Buy them at the BarefootBookshop:

Now go away on holiday. It’s in the economy’s best interest

With best Barefoot Wishes – M

MARTIN HATCHUEL, Barefoot Writer

Specialist writer for the tourism industry

Social media & advertising

Media management

Responsible tourism 
Cell +27(0)84 951 0574
Fax +27(0)86 614 8853
Skype: reefgod
PO Box 2690 Knysna 6570

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