Welcoming tips from across South Africa

  • 22 June 2015 | Cassidy Parker
Welcome to Johannesburg. Image by South African Tourism

On a recent #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers' trip around the country, some of South Africa's most respected bloggers, Instagrammers and videographers had the opportunity to experience South Africa like never before. They danced across the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg, white-water rafted with delight in Clarens, soaked up sunrises in the magnificent Drakensberg, and cycled their way through the Cape Winelands.

Every step of the way they engaged with taxi drivers, hotel receptionists, waitrons at restaurants and tour operators who were in a position to enhance their experiences while travelling around South Africa. The words and gestures of these men and women had an enormous impact on the extent to which the bloggers felt welcome. Welcome South Africa caught up with several trade operators along the way, and gathered some tips worthy of sharing.

Front office manager Mfezeko Poni, left, and receptionist Lebogang Kehupetse, right, at the Reef Hotel in Johannesburg believe in the power of a welcoming smile. Image by South African Tourism

At the Reef Hotel in Marshalltown in Johannesburg, Welcome South Africa chatted to front office manager Mfezeko Poni, who has been with the hotel for four years. "This is a home away from home," she says, "especially for guests from out of the country. They need to feel welcome. We are a diverse country, and being welcoming is important."

Poni had three crucial welcoming tips: a smile, a warm greeting, and the assurance that whatever your guests need, you are here to help them.

Mpho Molepo from guest services, left, and deputy general manageer Theo Joubert from the Drakensberg Sun cater their hotel's service offerings to their clientele. Image by South African Tourism

Deputy general manager Theo Joubert and Mpho Molepo from guest services at the Drakensberg Sun in the central Drakensberg near Winterton, agree. "A friendly smile when your guests arrive is crucial," says Joubert. "But it's also about first impressions: a beautifully cared-for garden and an inviting entrance will help your guests feel welcome straight away."

You also need to make sure that you are catering to your target market, advises Joubert. Since the Drakensberg Sun is focused on family tourism, supplying a variety of entertainment options is important.

Bradley Campher, left, and Charles Campher, right, have learnt the power of tailoring their tours to their guests. Image by South African Tourism

Located in Franschhoek, Bikes 'n Wines have been running tours throughout Cape Town's Winelands for several years, employing young cyclists whose passion for bicycles is matched only by their passion for wine and tourism. 

"We get lots of Dutch guests," says Bradley Campher, who has been working for Bikes 'n Wines since 2013. "Speaking Dutch to them and making them laugh makes a big difference in helping them to feel welcome.

"It's also important to remember that this is their holiday, so take your time and make sure that it's is a happy experience."

Are you involved in the tourism industry? What have you done to make someone's day today?