Make it memorable

Make it memorable
Make it memorable

While Gary Kirsten was in India coaching the country’s national cricket team, he met then FNB CEO Michael Jordaan for coffee. The waiter certainly did not fail to recognise Kirsten as he is considered something of a “demigod” in that cricket-mad nation.

But the staffer did not descend into a selfie and autograph fest. Instead, he acknowledged Kirsten’s presence by quietly serving his cappuccino with the letters “GK” outlined on the foam.

The gesture charmed publicity-shy Kirsten, and so impressed Jordaan that he mentioned it when interviewed for Marco Botha’s Coach (Jonathan Ball, R220) about the interface between business mentoring and sporting insights.

Jordaan’s story has two important guidelines for establishments, especially over the festive season:

  • Revise with staff how to deal with unexpected high-profile visitors,
  • Know how to make a visit memorable for every one of your guests.

A celebrity turning up on your doorstep is not as unlikely as you might think, given that Leonard di Caprio shot a film on the KZN South Coast, and Hilary Swank another in the Mtunzini area of the same province. Self-help guru Martha Beck has written about her visits to empowerment projects in the middle of the Karoo. Celebrity visitors to Johannesburg and Cape Town often eat out in the city but also take time out away from the city. SA celebrities visiting friends and family over the festive season could also cause a stir.

Apart from being ready to deal with such visitors, remind staff that treating every guest as special will make their stay more memorable – and this is an investment in future business.

It is relatively easy to spot from an ID number, for instance, whether the person booking the accommodation will be celebrating a birthday during their stay. You can mark this moment by presenting food on a plate with greetings piped around the rim or a small token, such as locally made soaps, a bottle of wine with a greetings label you have created on your printer, or a complementary voucher for your own spa or other activity.

You can even prompt the guest handling the booking to ask for extra services. When you send “Looking forward to seeing you on . . . “ reminder mails, add a note asking whether they will be celebrating any special event during their stay and whether they need your help in organising this.

They might be celebrating a special anniversary, a family gathering or a graduation. Provide a complementary token happily, knowing they are likely to post pictures on social media – don’t be shy to have signs asking guests to tag you on social media so you can make sure these posts also appear in your feed. If the assistance they need is more than token, be clear that you will need to charge for this and make clear how much and what you can provide, or refer them to a local events planner.

Forethought like this will pay off for you with future recommendations.


Marco Botha’s Coach (Jonathan Ball, R220) makes a great year-end way to combine business and pleasure. It applies top sports coaching techniques to business, and especially leadership, situations. You will be interested to know more about, for example, Heyneke Meyer’s people-based approach, Paul Treu’s adoption of creativity techniques, and Gary Kirsten’s collaboration-based take – and inspired to enhance your own management approach as well.