Sorting the sheep from the goats – no kidding

I don’t know how many animals you have had turn up in your accommodation?   

Apart from an inquisitive python sliding into the bedroom of our relief managers in the middle of the night; we generally only receive visits from neighbouring cows and horses or more prosaically for our foreign guests, the odd kangaroo, wallaby or possum. However one of our musical guests ended up being serenaded in the orchard by a bagpipe loving snake. All true and not by a Fakir in India but by a guest in the hinterland of our beautiful Sunshine Coast who enjoyed playing this great instrument.
However up at the information centre, there in our day book appeared the following: “Three goats from next door came into the centre. No questions, I think they were kidding around”. Kidding or not, they returned next day and received the names of Billy, Bob and Butthead – the last of which decided that my friend Maree was definitely approachable at the computer.
Sometimes on our travels we come across the family pet. The most unusual one was to be found in the Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa when a pet otter slid on to my lap during breakfast. Another time I was woken in the middle of the night by an enormous crab that had got itself stuck in the waste paper bin; maybe it had got out of the kitchen to avoid being served up for breakfast in this idyllic Caribbean resort?
Back to goats, or rather sheep and goats. Most of us appear to be experiencing either a difficult time or one which is very unpredictable – so let’s divide the sheep of fortune from the goats of misfortune. As one colleague from Noosa who has a good knowledge of what is going on at the other end of the coast queried, “If it wasn’t for weddings where would we be? Indeed. Many of us get 20% or much more of our market from weddings and anniversaries. Our wedding market is certainly assisted by having the top Australian wedding venue just up the hill, with several more nearby for us to chauffeur guests to. As one guest booking in for their first wedding anniversary wrote in our booking form “king sized bed and breakfast in bed”. Pampering is in.
So tick that box. However on the other hand – or is it the goat side? – not all wedding guests are that well behaved, whether staying in hotels, motels, cabins or houses to let. Websites such as Stayz have come out with a Holiday Rentals Code of Conduct. The more it is impressed upon guests that they too have a level of responsibility when staying in paid accommodation the better. Bad behaviour affects other guests and puts the costs up for everyone.
Maintaining this theme, we now come to our destination and visitors experience of what we offer. A Swiss couple, booked in through an excellent inbound travel agents, found that they had to wait half an hour for someone to turn up at the car rental place in Brisbane despite their having had a booking. The agent did not tell them exactly how to reach us (the GPS was awaiting their arrival here), so they ended up at the local pub from which we collected one very tired and unhappy couple. The wife spoke no English but fortunately there was a helpful German speaker at the bar who rang us.
Then also this month, an English couple on honeymoon came to us earlier than anticipated, having checked out of a so called 4¼ star apartment up the coast due to the state of the apartment – pictures of the dirt and shabbiness were shown to us off his smart phone.
Both with bad visitors and the bad service there needs to be a proper database and some sort of system so as to ban certain types of visitor (there is an emailed system between information centres in our area) and also to improve tourism product that is affecting the image and performance of our destination. I for one am fed to the teeth with complaints about our tourism product and service particularly from foreign guests at a time when we are struggling to get more of them here.
Taking this thought to its logical conclusion, Gen X and Y through the Baby Boomers to the Grey haired Nomads, all these visitors rely more and more on the Internet and what is posted there. Due to social media, there is no editorial or even check for illegal information on what is now public information.
Many guests have complained to me about incorrect or misinformation on sites they have visited and then experienced a greatly inferior product upon their arrival. It goes from the top down, the standard of journalism today with immediate deadlines, sites from TripAdvisor down where we and many of our close colleagues have suffered image problems from deliberately misleading and mischievous comments. Only last night I was given a case where a TripAdvisor client complained that the view from their room was over the parking lot – and nothing else. Having stayed in that room myself I know that to be totally untrue, the view from the bed and all windows is superb, looking out across the beautiful Obi Obi Gorge.
So here you have it; get the goats out of our industry. Until next time.

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