Tag Archives: Hospitality/Recreation

Creative gastronomy in your hostel

Gastronomic events?

The consumers’ attention has to be captured by the development of experiences. When you’re planning something special on the gastronomic level, make sure your guests actively participate in the setting you have staged for them. They can be employed to create a sense of community among your guests. Very well suited for lobby-events!

Meals are in essence sequential: breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between, which provides a natural setting for the framing of a gastronomic event.
Make surprise gastronomic experiences a key- service for your hostel but make it feel like a random and kind event.
Ask guests to provide local recipes for food and drink and invite them into the kitchen.
Why not take it a step furter? Invite guests to cook for other guests. Include a budget and give them a chance to invite other people to their dinner.
Invite local producers into your hotel.
Buy from them for the hostel kitchen and stock.
Have them come over for tastings with guests.

Transform your hostel to a social being-space!

In hostels, guests often use a communal kitchen. Eating with eachother is usually a random act- depending on who is near at that time. Guests are both producers and consumers of the experience. Backpackers are used to the creative and open atmosphere in hostels, aswell as the cheap fees. However, there is a distinct danger that they will primarily see your hostel as being a cool place to stay, but not to participate in! Participation in the creation of experience.

ClinkNOORD-Social-Area-360x180there is a distinct danger that they will primarily see your hostel as being a cool place to stay, but not to participate in

Do your guests cook for themselves in a communal kitchen?

Design a board with recipe cards, emphasising healthy locally produced food.

Reaching the guest with big and rich, full-on experiences, engaging all the senses, is getting somewhat out of fashion. That is to say: we still make them, but tourists increasingly want more “real” and local experiences, lived through the locality and negotiating spaces. Staging such allround and full-on experiences, still apply within settings such as winetasting or a guided visit to the local brewery. You could compare it to the loss of producer generated flow in television. The audience can no longer be captivated on their terms, for the duration of the program (due to commercial breaks), but the viewer can experience a fuller and broader event, within a wider spatial setting. Food is good for tourism experiences as it is often a short detour or entrance to local culture. It brings locals and tourists together.in a shared cultural experience.

Anyone interested in placemaking and the more anthropological side of tourism will know that food bonds  us with place, identity and culture. A very important role to play, considering the growth of the ‘network society’.

Misconception: Gastronomic events are not for small hostels and they are a bit elitist.

Definitely untrue. This perception of elitist and toffeenosed events. is largely due to the producers of consumer- and tourist-experiences- FOR the consumer -who aimed at the more discerning connaisseur. Nowadays, eating and drinking is very much a broadly accepted and enacted activity. Not in the last place because of new collaboration methods and modes of co-producing experiences. On the consumption side of things, the ‘foodies’ don’t really go for the haute cuisine anymore. Nevertheless, one has to remember that food and gastronomy is highly bound by culture, which automatically creates a sense of both inclusion and exclusion.
Democratising both food and travel has led to a huge amount of food travel websites. Still, they do look or more rare and foreign foods, prefably not easily accessable by the large public, therewith establishing and maintaining there foodie lifestyle plus being able to spread it among other groups.

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Our Community Kickstart program is an in-depth workshop-format that truly prepares your community for success in food and drink tourism.
Our Community Kickstart program is an in-depth workshop-format that truly prepares your community for success in food and drink tourism.

Some links!

Will travel for food

Eat your world: foodblog

Intrepid Travel: Tours for foodies

World Food Travel Association

Foodtourist

Servicedesign and guest citisenship

Recovering poor service on the workfloor

As could be read in earlier blogs, even if you are a small hostel, a familiy-run bed and breakfast, a low-budget accommodation: It is inexcusable not to think thoroughly about the services you provide. Simply NOT doing something, does not constitute a service! Nor does leaving things out, because it is your hostels policy not to provide too much guest-services for not being economical or simply too much work for the staff you have or don’t have.

Loyalty

Your guest really is perceptive enough to see the contours of the `deal’ that he is presented with. Chances are he was already familiar with it, before he even came to the hostel. That is- however -not the same as guest loyalty. He is simply providing behaviour that ties in with his side of the bargain! As written in earlier blogs, low prices are not the only thing the backpacker chooses your hostel for. The matter of ambiance is hugely improtant (see the post on creativity). Not only does a creative ambiance give the guest a good feeling on a personal level, it also creates a space for him, in which to interact with others, causing him to use the interaction with fellow-guests and space, as an interface for social interactions.

Service provided by guests

Many hostels employ volunteering travellers and backpackers as their staff. See also the post on volunteering abroad. It is important to give your volunteering traveller a good deal aswell, always making sure you remain on the giving side of the deal. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your volunteer to maintain certain standards and behaviours in handling guests. Instructing them, providing scripts, making sure they read a servicedesign manual you might have created. But make sure you discuss these things before they arrive. Furhermore, motivate them beforehand to apply if they have the personality traits ands skills you require of them, to communicate your servicelevel with. But again, make sure you remain on the giving side of the deal.

Contrary to popular belief, the loyalty of your guest can still be maintained and be put to good use, if they are happy with your service recovery effort. If something goes wrong, make sure you correct it and use the dimensions:

  • Competence
  • Excitement
  • Sincerity
  • Sophistication and
  • Ruggedness.

In short, make sure there is room for your guest to experience empathy for you and your efforts. When you have recovered their satisfaction, make sure the guest experiences this in a full recovery of the expected services, including all dimensions- tangible and intangible.

Loyal guests usually attribute errors to unstable factors, over which the supplier has little control. In the case of volunteering staff, guests are more likely to accept service-recovery, but it is important to understand that volunteers are often part of the group, with little to no distance to the guests, and therefore likely to choose the side of the peer-group rather than playing the role of experienced hostel manager. And who can blame them? Ashforth and Mael (1989) found that social identification lead persons to perform activities that are congruent with their identity and support institutions that embody that identity. So the volunteer-employee might be just the person to handle these things. If handles correctly, they will identify with the hotel organisation.

complaints

Guest behaviour after service-recovery, is much more likely to be a guest-citisen- also known as customer voluntary performance, varying in behaviour from using less towels as to have less costs for the hostel, to helping out during breakfast and giving advice to other guests.

So the production of your service is very much a joint effort with volunteers, paid staff and ofcourse your guests, which includes a good briefing of volunteers before they arrive.

Interested in putting everything into practise and see welldevised concepts turn into proper, unforgettable experiences? Contact me!

Renk van Oyen

Contact me

Creative hostel?

How creative are you? And your staff?

Hostel guests are primed for gaining new experiences. They have to be actively approached by the hostel staff. Creativity is a very important trait to have for them.

Contrary to cheap and affordable hotels, hostel customers usually seek for a bit more than just a low price. They also want social interaction. Due to the communal character of the hostelpopulation on location, it is easier to control the social situations There is a desire to meet and socialise, with other travelers and with the locals.

Hostels’ customers have usually travelled themselves, have been in other hostels aswell and are familiar with them. They themselves form creativity by their active participation in hostel events. Guests without the urge to communicate that much in hostels but are mostly in search of cheap accommodation, may not engage in efforts to get them participating. This can have a direct effect on the internal use of space and group-agility.

The key element for hostel is ambience.

Your role is everything

Role 1: hostel owner aiming at profits without taking efforts to create a specific marketing environment. Remember, the low cost of stay, is not the defining trait for guests to come and stay at a hostel, you have to provide additional services.

Role 2: The caring and participating hostel owner. They care about ambiance. Many hostel owners have travelled extensively themselves before opening a hostel. They are more familiar with other hostel culture and other travelers. The caring hostel owner is an active participant in creation and is able to weave this into the daily running and operations of his hostel.

So what if you’re in a bad mood? Or your staff is hungover? Being creative and affording to meet your guests, cannot be left to mere chance or spur of the moment. It needs to be an integral part of your servicedesign. This means you have to think it through and know what you’re talking about. It does NOT mean (I can hear you think it… 😉  ) it is veigned and masked performance. Creativity is both spatial and eventual in charactre. Creativity in hospitality includes approaches to space organisation and an active role on your part to build interactions in behavioural and in the marketing environment.

mymarriotthotel

Interwoven wit custumer experience management. Does that mean it’s all rather fakey? Absolutely not. As long as you’re sinsere and know what you’re doing, where you’re doing it and why.

If it is a family run hostel, it has the capacity of being the most welcoming place possible. However, beware of the wear and tear! Showing routine behaviour to your guests is a killer!

Most hostels do not give a lot of comfort in their design and organisation of space. This is compensated by other traits. The use of themed design or familiar decorations, gives an extra affordance to the internal space of the building. It gives guests an extra- albeit conceptual -livingspace, in which they are invited to move around in and make use of.

Four managerial directions:

(Irina Borovskaya, Mariya Dedova Creativity in hospitality industry: study of hostels.)

Targeted recruitment

Segmentation of customers

Organization of space

Organization of communications

Great expectations

Becoming strangely aquainted

There are numerous ways of ensuring your guest have a good time. One of the mistakes you could make, is to try and standardise staff-behaviour too much.
Travel is by all means a sense-making process. Travelers construct te touristic experiences by learning, understanding and feeling the places they have visited.

How strange or astranging is arriving in a hostel full of other cultural influences? Travelers construct a touristic experience by getting to know the places they visit, through interaction, understanding and sensing the embedded culture of a place.

The places they visit and cultures they encounter and experience, are connected to them by “stakeholders”, such as tourists, the government, original inhabitants and minority groups. The touristic experience is mediated through representation by stakeholders or by their being part of the tourism context. Backpackers themselves are certainly stakeholders in the sense that they meet eachother regularly and word of mouth is a big source of information for them.

Check-in

The length oIf the service-encounter at the check-in area can define the service quality in a negative way, if the service is not mediated in a proper way. Short check-in moments can actually be perceived as loose and easy in a nice manner. But not every type of information can be conveyed in that period of time, without giving off all the wrong signals. A longer check- in moment can be really irritating if the check- in desk is too high and there is nowhere for the guest to sit down. It creates a distance between the staffmember and the guest that is hard to correct later. If the check-in moment is short, be careful you only give out information that has a high service level. In Little Havana hostel in Krakow for instance. you were given a long waifer sheet for you to sign with all the restrictions the hostel wants to impose. It would have been better to bring some towels to the room with the waifer discretely tucked away in an envelope.

For backpackers and long time travellers especially, the actual proces of checking in at the desk is not a hugely significant event. However you must realise that the actual act of arriving and leaving at a venue, still holdsa large ritual value. The act of distancing oneself from newly befriended people and the actual physical shift in location when they left home to travel, has been compared to a rite of passage. The mediated environment of homeness in a hostel, can act as a new ‘fire-up’ for the rest of the travel. It is therefore important to make sure their departure is not only noticed but noticebly marked at check-out.

The eventmaker in your hostel can be a powerful mediator, in the right context. They link the tourist to the surrounding strangeness and translates the strangeness into a cultural idiom, that becomes shared and familiar to the visitors. Make sure you give your guests the opportunity to explore. Prefably experiences that are local and experienced through the eyes of the guests.

A tourism experience contains primary and secondary products and services. Although some may be seen as more significant than others, without te smaller or supporting experiences, the peak experience does not happen. If it ails in the supporting experiences, the main or key experience is in danger, no matter how strong the peak experience is.

It is neccesary to identify also the daily routine experiences, experienced by the guest. As guests are continually informed by the world around them, throughout the day he will be continually fed information and new impressions on your hostel; through the media, through other guests and travelers, through leaflets and pictures. It is not possible to deliver a continuous produced “flow”.

Further reading:

The Social Affordances of Flashpacking: Exploring the Mobility Nexus of Travel and Communication

Richards, Greg -Tourism trends: The convergence of culture and tourism

Richards, Greg – Backpacker tourism: the contemporary face of youth tourism