Tag Archives: hotel

The SA Butler Academy grossly misleads its students and hospitality industry clients!

Having had the misfortune to connect with The South African Butler Academy, and its Recruitment Head Adriaan Coetzer last week in respect of their graduate Hettie Novacovic, we have done more homework on this dishonourable and unprofessional butler training and recruitment body based in Cape Town.

A phone call to Coetzer, to chat to him about Mrs Novacovic’s short-lived employment with us, was professional and honest, Coetzer agreeing that Mrs Novacovic had acted unprofessionally by not arriving for work without giving notice, was late for work twice in four days, did not follow instructions about the breakfast serving time or any other instructions for that matter, did not own up to damages she caused to our property which cost us a call-out fee for the pool company, did not want to interact with our guests over breakfast (one couple asked her to leave the table, something we have not experienced in our 17 years of operation!), she refused to shake hands to welcome our new guests, was unable to manage the housekeepers, left to go home midway during guest check-in training, prepared a dreadfully kitsch table for our wedding anniversary guests we wanted to spoil (contrary to my request of how I wanted it to be made special for them), was closed off to any communication with guests and ourselves, documented (unbeknown to us at the time) everything she had seen and learnt with us in the four days on her iPad, and generously took a coffee and a breakfast break herself while the rest of the staff were focused on getting the rooms ready for the new arriving guests.  Coetzer agreed that appointing her was a liability for most potential employers, as she has a husband on pension, who has to be ’employed’ too, but may not earn any income so as to not lose his pension!   He accepted that Mrs Novacovic’s poor work ethic was a very negative reflection on the SA Academy of Butlers and its training standards!  She was dishonest about the rate she quoted for her daily fee, quoting the most qualified butler fee of R800 per 12 hour day, and therefore we reduced her hours to 8h00 – 14h00.  While Mrs Novacovic was not appointed via Guild Recruitment, the placement arm of the SA Butlers’ Academy, Coetzer welcomed the feedback telephonically.

Coetzer promised to have a chat with the butler graduate, having a meeting with her later in the day.  The e-mail response was one of a changed person, making wild unproven allegations, and disputing any weaknesses of Mrs Novacovic, to which he had agreed earlier in the day, which earned him a Sour Service Award! Mrs Novacovic had replied to our Gumtree advertisement for a half day assistant for Whale Cottage Camps Bay, sharing that she was annoyed by Guild Recruitment taking so much of her fee for their placement fee of 20% on the advertised butler rates.  She was therefore applying for jobs directly, and not via the SA Butler Academy recruitment service, an important part of the Academy’s misleading marketing to attract students.

The SA Butler Academy website (and its Facebook page) is riddled with typing errors, and is over-written with extravagant exaggerated claims:

*  It is a ‘non-profit’ training establishment – yet they charge R19500 for local students, and €5000 for international students inclusive of accommodation!

*   It is aimed at ‘hospitality candidates‘, who have a ‘desire to step into a lavish world of Wealth and Fortune‘ – yet Mrs Novacovic has no clue of the hospitality industry!

*   Its Principal is ‘world renowned’ Newton Cross, but a Google search only provides links to his Academy’s website!  Cross has trained as a butler in the UK, worked on some cruise liners, at Fancourt in George, and at Clarendon House in ‘Fresnay’ (sic)! It is claimed that he has worked for Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and ‘George Senior Bush (sic)’.

*   Butler student applicants should be fluent in English, but neither the Academy’s website, its Facebook page, nor Mrs Novacovic’s writing reflects this fluency!

*   The ‘Academy is the finest in the world’, and ‘the finest Private Sector training institute in the world and most certainly in South Africa’, but these claims are not substantiated on the website!

*   The Academy is World renowned for our modern approach to Butler Service in private households, resorts, exclusive yachts and passenger liners‘.  Again, no substantiation is offered.

*   The Mission Statement is the ultimate in exaggeration by the Academy, no substantiation reflected in its website or via Google: “The Academy is tantamount with professional Butler training which prides itself on the highest form of dedicated Butler Training. At The South African Butler Academy you will be taught how to run an effective modern private estate or household with grace and professionalism not just and estate but also a Yacht, Hotel Butler department and Boutique Resorts. The Academy course is 8 weeks of intense Butler training governed by experienced celebrity Butlers who are qualified as professional Butlers. The Academy will provide you with all the skills and certification to perform Butler duties. Our Training standards are exceptionally high and admired by International press and media. We are the world’s number one leading Butler Academy and the apex of all estates and households. Become part of SABA and celebrate service”  (our underlining).

*   The logo (provided cheekily by the Academy yesterday) reflects five stars – however the Academy is not graded by the Tourism Grading Council, and its use of the stars is therefore unlawful, SA Tourism having decreed that the star quality denotion is exclusive to the Tourism Grading Council!

It is the claim We are proud to have a legacy in the market as our clients are kept confidential and above all “disclosure” is our highest priority” (our underlining).  Clearly they may have meant ‘discretion’ or ‘non-disclosure’, which ironically is the most dishonest of all the SA Butler Academy claims, with it publishing the slanderous feedback of Mrs Novacovic on its website, reflecting the unprofessional nature of the Academy and its graduates. Any potential employer of a SA Butler Academy graduate should fear that ‘discretion’ is not guaranteed by The SA Butler Academy or its graduates, and in particular by Mrs Novacovic.

Discretion is the most direct association one would have with a butler, and it is reflected in the Florida-based Institute of Modern Butlers’ Professional Butler Code of Ethics, which highlights Integrity, Confidentiality, Service, Lawful Behaviour, Dedication, Personal Development, Respect, Professional Relationship, and Promotion.  The SA Butler Academy and its graduate Mrs Novacovic have breached this international Code of Conduct in a number of respects.  Interesting is that the SA Butler Academy does not have a Code of Conduct!

At a cost of R19500 for an 8 week course, it would appear that The SA Butler Academy students themselves are being taken for a ride, as this time period is not long enough to teach any student the full theoretical spectrum of hospitality, customer service, staff management, table service, silver service, etiquette and protocol, security, home automation, interpersonal management skills, culinary training, household management, and executive housekeeping, all elements of The SA Butler Academy curriculum, and certainly not at a practical level!

Mrs Novacovic made no effort to learn my job, which she was meant to take over, lurking in the kitchen and washing the dishes most of the time, the most expensive dishwasher we have ever employed!  Our staff are served breakfast during the course of our very busy mornings, prepared by our chef, a different egg type daily, which Mrs Novacovic enjoyed too, and they are provided with lunch too.   I love writing this blog, and do so mainly at night, as there is no way that I could do it justice in writing it while sitting in a busy Reception dealing with the guests that we accommodate daily, e-mail enquiries and correspondence having priority during the day.  We deny Mrs Novacovic’s false and libellous allegations, deplore her attempts to discredit ourselves, our staff, and our guests, and reserve our rights to take action against Mrs Novacovic and the SA Academy of Butlers for defamation.

Needless to say, we would warn any potential butler student, and any potential employer of a butler via The SA Butler Academy’s Guild Recruitment, against any dealings with The SA Butler Academy!

POSTSCRIPT 27/2: We have received feedback from a number of our blog readers and past guests that their comments in support of ourselves have not been allowed on the SA Butler Academy blog, another proof of its unprofessionalism and one-sided presentation of information!

POSTSCRIPT 4/3: The SA Butler Academy has taken note of our comments about its exaggerated claims and spelling errors, having removed all the quotes we featured in the above blogpost.  Profiles of the owner Newton Cross and his partner Adriaan Coetzee have been removed.  An attempt has been made to remove the illegal use of the five stars in its logo!

POSTSCRIPT 4/7/17:  We were summonsed early this year by the SA Butler Academy with an intermediate interdict, demanding the removal of this Blogpost, four years after I wrote it. This came after a written request by the Butler Academy that I remove the Blogpost, which I was not prepared to do. Last week the judge hearing the case rejected the Butler Academy demand. I am extremely grateful to my superb advocate, for this outcome. The Butler Academy is threatening a further legal case, to claim compensation for alleged defamation, a case which is likely to be heard in 2018. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

 

Cape Tourism under the weather, 2011 was ‘worst year’!

Winchester Mansions General Manager and Cape Town Tourism Director Nils Heckscher has told Southern African Tourism Update that ‘2011 was the worst year for many in the industry‘, and that tourism performance is a long way away from the good performance levels last seen five years ago.

Given Mr Heckscher’s roles as FEDHASA Cape Chairman until 2010, and as a Director of Cape Town Tourism currently, as well as his position in running a 4-star hotel in Sea Point, he should have been able to make a difference to the fortunes of the tourism industry in encouraging the management of Cape Town Tourism in particular to come up with more creative marketing campaigns to address the downward slide in tourist performance in the Cape.  Sadly, this has not been seen to date.

The tourism newsletter’s survey about the state of the tourism nation reflected that 57% of tourism players said that they are experiencing a ‘quiet winter’, 29% said it was ‘average’, and only 14% said they were ‘busy’, leading the writer of the article to conclude that ‘recovery is still a long way off‘.

Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk’s regular positive spin on tourism numbers is regularly questioned by the tourism industry, in not reflecting its day-to-day experience.  Heckscher calls for better interrogation of tourism statistics, and cautions against putting all one’s eggs into the Europe basket, recommending diversification into the African continent. Seeing an increase in bookings relative to 2011, not difficult due to it having been a tough tourism year, he is uncertain whether the trend will continue: “Nobody knows and the landscape has changed for the long term. Nothing is like it was and forecasting has become increasingly difficult.”

Large tour operator Tourvest has seen an improvement in tourism from ‘Germanic Europe’, but describes tourism from the UK, the Netherlands, and the southern Mediterranean countries as continuing to be ‘under pressure’.  The poor summer in Europe and the UK makes the company optimistic about the prospect of better bookings for the summer lying ahead.

Cape Town and its environs have suffered a very wet winter, which has not encouraged Gautengers to come to Cape Town with forecasts of snow and wild storms, nor have Capetonians left their warm homes to stay in towns and villages outside of Cape Town, many cancelling their bookings because of the weather.  The usual Italian tourism influx is barely visible, with few Italians travelling in their holiday month this year.

With no visible marketing of the Western Cape by Wesgro since it took over Cape Town Routes Unlimited, questionable marketing by Cape Town Tourism of Cape Town, high airline ticket prices, and no end to the Eurozone crisis and the recession in the UK, the prospects for the tourism summer ahead look bleak. The tourism industry will be largely reliant on local tourists coming to Cape Town, yet there is little sign of domestic marketing by both Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Champagne breakfasts in Cape Town become legal again!

The City of Cape Town yesterday approved the amended Liquor by-law, which originally came into effect in January 2011.  The most silly of the previous clauses, namely that Champagne Breakfasts were not allowed to be served before 11h00 due to alcohol not being allowed to be sold before 11h00, has been relaxed to allow the sale of sparkling wine from 8h00! Winetastings are also allowed, having been prohibited previously.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said that she had to carefully balance ‘many social pressures, business concerns, individual rights and governmental responsibilities’, reports the Cape Times.   The by-law is clear that the sale of alcohol after 2h00 is prohibited, but the consumption of alcohol after this deadline is not prohibited.  The by-law amendment appears to allow nightclubs and other establishments to apply to sell alcohol after 2h00, reports the Cape Argus, especially if the sale is not related to disruptions.

It would appear that the City’s law enforcement’s officials will act when alcohol consumption comes with noise and other disruptions.  A call has been made by City Councillor Anwar Adams for Long Street to be more strictly controlled, given its many clubs and bars, intermixed with mosques and churches. Councillor Ganief Hendricks said the amendments would make Cape Town the ‘drunk capital’, and foresees an increase in the number of alcohol-induced accidents as well as crime.

The tourism claim that Cape Town is a ’24 hour’ city weighed heavily in the amendments made.

The Cape Argus has reported that the number of South Africans driving after drinking is decreasing, according to market research conducted to measure the impact of responsible drinking and driving advertising campaigns, encouraging ‘Drive Dry’.  The newspaper has assisted in the campaign for responsible drinking, by publishing the names of motorists who have been sentenced in Cape courts for drinking and driving.

POSTSCRIPT 3/3: Other welcome amendment to the Liquor by-law is that hotel room mini-bars and Guest House/B&B Honesty Bars may be stocked for 24 hours per day.  Hotels may also serve drinks until 2h00 instead of the previous 23h00, and all night in the room via room service.  Wine estates may trade and do winetastings on Sundays.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@Whale Cottage

Cape Town Tourism: should it defend ‘apartheid’ Cape Town?

I am not politically-inclined, do not belong to a political party, nor do I vote.  I am concerned however when I see the word ‘apartheid’ dragged into tourism communication, either to Cape Town’s ‘benefit’ (e.g. the bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014) or detriment.  I was surprised to see an article on Cape Town Tourism’s website, defending a particularly nasty article in The Observer (a Sunday UK paper with about 1,2 million readers), with a photograph taken from The Promenade in Camps Bay, about Desmond Tutu’s birthday (Desmond Tutu’s dreams for Cape Town fade as informal apartheid grips the city’).

The Observer writer David Smith focused on Archbishop Tutu’s birthday last Friday, celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, the ‘fortress of resistance to racial apartheid‘, as his opening shot!  The article is a lengthy tome of attack against Cape Town, for being the ‘cancer of injustice, racial segregation and bitter division’, for its contrast of ‘opera houses’ (sic), ‘literary festivals’ (sic), ‘internet entrepreneurs’, ‘luxury mansions’, and ‘prosperous California-style wine estates’. It states that ‘millions (sic) of tourists’ arriving in the city will see the ‘other’ Cape Town, with shacks, violence, poverty, and ‘non-white’, resulting in a Cape Town that ‘remains an apartheid city in all but name’, contrary to what Tutu stands for, speaks the article on his behalf. The rest of the article justifies this statement, going back to Jan van Riebeeck as the real architect of segregation.  President Zuma is quoted as having said earlier this year that Cape Town is a “‘racist’ place with an ‘extremely apartheid system (sic)’.  The DA is labelled as ‘a front for the wealthy white elite’.  Andrew Boraine of the Cape Town Partnership has the closing word, quoting Tutu: ‘winning freedom is one thing – using it is twice as hard’. Heavy stuff indeed, and not for the faint-hearted to defend, especially not appropriate for the city’s tourism body to climb into the boxing ring for in our opinion, given only four incidental references to tourism:

*   Staff make up beds in 5-star hotel beds, and then come home to sleep on the floor

*   Staff cook the best meals for guests, and then live off a slice of bread

* ‘ Cape Town is largely for the benefit and entertainment of tourists’

*   Cape Town is the world’s top tourist destination

Had I been the guardian of the city of Cape Town, I would have:

*  Got Archbishop Tutu to speak for himself, and respond, in the unique and direct way only he can (he is not interviewed, and no quotes from him are mentioned, and neither is the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit

*  Got our feisty Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to write the response, the latter’s appointment being an excellent counter to the article in itself.

*   pointed out that the hospitality industry has a Minimum Wage, currently R 2323 per month

*   countered that Cape Town has a population of 4 – 5 million residents that love living here, irrespective of their skin colour

*   corrected the information, in that there is only one opera house, and that one literary festival has taken place for the first time last month

*   highlighted that it is the tourists who have visited Cape Town and seen the reality of the haves and have-nots in our city, as one would see in every city in the world, even in London, and who have voted to give Cape Town the top tourism accolades.

*   highlighted the hospitality sector GM’s, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other management staff, who have reached their professional positions, despite their past.

*  corrected the tourism arrival figure quoted

Instead, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, mistakenly referring to the article being in The Guardian, wrote awkwardly about ‘the juxtaposition between Cape Town’s poor and wealthy communities’,and that the legacy of apartheid ‘is a disjointed physical landscape and economic society..‘, digging a terrible hole for herself and our city as she goes on to write that for many of Cape Town’s residents it is ‘not yet a great place to live’!  None of this has anything to do with tourism at all, and she is the wrong person to challenge a leading UK newspaper, and very clearly out of her depth in defending a past political system.   She writes that Cape Town will be ‘reimaging’ as a ‘more livable space for all‘.  She quotes the city’s World Design Capital 2014 bid, in ‘shedding light on sustainable design’. Mrs Helmbold does get to tourism in her reply, highlighting the size of the industry and its employment of 300000 staff (no source supplied). She writes that the City of Cape Town, with the tourism industry, has embraced ‘Responsible Tourism’, in that tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’.  She concludes that ‘tourism is the lifeline to livelihood”.

I wrote to Mrs Helmbold yesterday, asking her why she had responded, and if she had sent her reply to the newspaper. This was her response:“Cape Town Tourism, as industry association and destination marketing agency for Cape Town, will respond from time to time as appropriate on issues that could affect our industry and/or destination brand. It is important to illustrate the positive role and contribution of tourism to Cape Town’s economy and the commitment from tourism to contribute to making Cape Town a more livable city through embracing responsible tourism principles and practices. We have submitted our response directly to the Guardian (sic) and posted a copy on our industry website where we can direct industry queries about the article. The Guardian has not yet published our response”.

One hopes that Cape Town Tourism’s response is not published in The Observer, and that the tourism body will invite the journalist to Cape Town, to personally showcase the great opportunities in tourism being afforded to all its citizens.

POSTSCRIPT 15/10: We have received the following feedback from Lisa Harlow from the UK: Well I am a Times / Sunday Times reader and still agree with Nick! I wouldn’t worry too much about this report – quite typical of the Guardian and Observer. But more importantly was the fairly recent good coverage of South Africa in the Saturday Telegraph. However, recession still goes on in the UK, and this is more of a hurdle to overcome for tourism. Lets see how successful BA are with their extra Cape Town flights for the summer season…”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club spoilt at Steenberg and Bistro Sixteen82 in September

The members of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club have been very fortunate to have been wined and dined in the past eighteen months of the Club’s existence.  This month is no different, and our visist to Steenberg Vineyards, and to their Bistro Sixteen82, is likely to be a very popular event.   The meeting will feature two speakers, being Anetha Homan, Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards, and Chef Brad Ball of Bistro Sixteen82.

Anetha Homan has been the Sales and Marketing Manager of Steenberg Vineyards for the past four years, and worked at Constantia Uitsig for eight years prior to that. She graduated with a BA Communications at the University of Stellenbosch.  Steenberg’s winemaker is JD Pretorius.  Steenberg is committed to Social Media, having the Totally Stoned Steenberg Blog, which includes wine news and news about its restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Anetha says that Social Media allows Steenberg to communicate with its customers in an informal way, and it allows the wine estate to receive feedback from their customers too.

Chef Brad Ball is destined for great things, and deserves to be in the Eat Out Top 20 restaurant list, and is a strong contender for the newly created Bistro category.  Chef Brad comes from a foodie family, in that his mom managed a catering company.   It was a heavenly Tuna Nicoise that inspired him to apply for his first position as chef, and he was appointed at Simon’s Table in Simonstown 14 years ago.  Two years later he went to London, where he worked with Chef Patron Rowley Leigh, known as the father of modern British cuisine, at Kensington Place. It is here that his love for Bistro-style food was born.  On his return to Cape Town he worked as Head Chef at Olympia Café and Deli, followed by the Post House Hotel & Restaurant in Greyton, Pastis Brasserie in Constantia, and at The River Café.  He started his own catering consultancy before he joined Steenberg Vineyards to open the new restaurant Bistro Sixteen82.  Chef Brad believes in ‘simple is better’, and ‘local is lekker’.   He is inspired by Japanese cuisine and Provencal food. He puts his heart and soul into whatever he does, delivering passion and pizzaz in the food that he serves.  Bistro Sixteen82 is probably best known for its Friday Steenburger, and Beef Tataki.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity.

Anetha and Chef Brad will talk for about half an hour each about the Steenberg Blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun. Anetha Homan will lead bloggers through a tasting of the Steenberg wines, while snacks will be prepared by Chef Brad.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

*   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.

*   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Wednesday 21 September, 6 – 8 pm: Steenberg Vineyards, Steenberg, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com.  Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Restaurant Tip Tax: SARS declares tips tax free

Last week, taxing tips of waiters and other employees, who receive gratuities from customers for good service, was a hot topic on Twitter and other social media platforms, following the publishing of a clarification of the payment of tax on tips by SARS.  Legal views confirm that employers cannot deduct PAYE, the Skills Development Levy (SDL), and UIF from employee income generated from tips, but it also means that the tip income of employees cannot be used as a basis for pension and medical aid benefits.

Business Report wrote that “Waitrons can keep their hard earned tips for themselves and don’t have to worry about the tax man…  According to the last week’s ruling, the transfer of tips handed over to an employer by an employee for ‘safekeeping’ did not constitute a payment of remuneration”.  This view is based on the Group Tips Policy, by which staff pass on their tips to their employers for safe-keeping whilst they are working.  Legal firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr is quoted as saying that the Group Tips Policy sees tips “…as gratuitous payments to which the employees have no entitlement or an expectation of receipt as part of the performance of their duties”, and therefore should not be taxed.

Far more complex is an article by lawyer Stephan Spamer at ENS and candidate attorney Jonathan Sacks, writing on Moneyweb.co.za.    They write that the increased usage of credit cards by customers for safety reasons has led to a large percentage of tips being added to credit card payments, going to the employer instead of the employee.  The employer then has to transfer the tips to the employees.  According to the Fourth Schedule to the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962, ‘gross income’ includes ‘any amount received or accrued in respect of services rendered or to be rendered, including a voluntary award, as well as any amount received or accrued in respect of or by virtue of any employment’.  The lawyers argue that a ‘causal relationship’between payment received and the service provided must exist for that income to be defined as ‘gross income’.  On the basis of this relationship, the writers argue that the tip payment is part of gross income, and is therefore taxable, especially if the expectation at the time of appointment of the employee was to receive tips.  The article becomes confusing when the writers argue that the definition of ‘remuneration’, including ‘all payments and amounts payable, in cash or otherwise, whether or not for services rendered and includes salary and wages, leave pay, bonuses, gratuities, commissions, over time pay and other amounts paid for services rendered as well as allowances and advances’, is similar to that of ‘gross income, but that it does not mean that the employer must deduct the valid taxes and deductions.  They argue that it is not the employer paying the tip – in essence it is the customer paying it via the employer, who just holds the tip on the employees’ behalf, and therefore as this cannot be viewed as remuneration, no taxes and fees have to be deducted from the monies paid to employees.  Employees can, however, request in writing that the employer deduct PAYE to reduced their tax liability.  Given their conclusion that no tax is payable on tips by employees, the writers argue that no SDL and UIF is deductible either. 

Given the complexity and legality of this SARS Tip Tax ruling, we quote an extract of an article on Moneyweb, written by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Employment Law Director Gillian Lumb and associate Pranisha Maharaj: :“The Binding Class Ruling: BCR 027 recently issued by Sars, declared that the transfer of tips (that were handed over to the employer by the employees for safekeeping in terms of the employer’s proposed Group Tips Policy) from the employer’s bank accounts into the employees’ bank accounts does not constitute a payment of remuneration by the employer as contemplated in paragraph 2(1) of the Fourth Schedule of the Income Tax Act. Essentially, this paragraph of the Act provides that an employer who pays or becomes liable to pay any remuneration to any employee must deduct or withhold employee’s tax from such payment. Binding Class Rulings are intended to promote clarity on the interpretation and application of the tax laws to a class of persons who apply for a ruling in respect of a proposed transaction to which it is a party. Accordingly, tips will not form part of the calculation of any benefit calculations for the employees’ remuneration packages, for example pension or medical aid.  The ruling is in line with the Sectoral Determination 14: Hospitality Sector, South Africa  which defines “remuneration” as ‘any payment in money or in kind, or both in money and in kind excluding any gratuity or gift received from a customer for service rendered”.

The new Tip Tax directive by SARS has been back-dated to August 2010, and covers the five year period from that date.  This raises the following questions:

*   Can employees that had PAYE, SDL and UIF deducted between August 2010 and July 2011 receive their tax and other deductions back, from the employer and/or SARS?

*   Can employers deduct the tip income that went through their credit card machines, and was therefore deposited into the business bank account, from their taxable income for the calculation of VAT and income tax?

Interestingly, yet not surprising, the hotel association FEDHASA has not officially published a guideline about this Tip Tax amendment for their hotel and restaurant members!   On Twitter, the FEDHASA Cape Director for the Restaurant sector, Rey Franco, wrote that tips received via credit card are taxable, and that only cash tips received by waiters directly are not taxable.  We believe that, in the light of the above, he is incorrect.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

New owners of V&A Waterfront clock in with R500 million upgrade

The R 9,7 billion V&A Waterfront sale, the largest property transaction in South Africa, by Dubai World to its new local owners Growthpoint and the Public Investment Corportration, has been signed and sealed, and work has already commenced on a R500 million construction project at the Clock Tower, reports the Cape Times.

The Clocktower area of the Waterfront does not attract as many visitors as other sections, as it is further away from the shopping malls, and is not immediately visible to tourists.  Users of the Robben Island ferry and workers in office developments close by are the main users of the shops in this section.  In a four-year project, the new owners of the Waterfront are converting some of the retail space into office space, to create a ‘professional business district’, paying attention to the heritage value of the Clocktower.

A new head office for Allan Gray is also being developed in the Clocktower precinct.  Further developments include the silo building adjacent to the Clocktower precinct, and the collier jetty alongside the Clock Tower retail centre, reports the Cape Argus.  A further R4 billion is to be spent in the next ten years to develop a further 220000 square meters of Waterfront land. No announcement has been made about any further hotel developments for the immediate future, which is good news, given the current over-supply of accommodation in Cape Town.

The V&A Waterfront has become a benchmark waterfront development for many similar projects around the world.  However, one hopes that the new owners will spare a few Rand for the improvement of visible security, and fixing its parking pay machines, which are constantly out of order!

POSTSCRIPT 27/6: The V&A Waterfront will also focus on how it can better be integrated with the city of Cape Town.  “One of the concerns of many Capetonians is that the Waterfront has disjointed itself from the rest of Cape Town.  Many locals see it as an island, where only the foreign tourists go” said Wayne van der Vent, PIC’s property MD.  The company has not revealed its plans in this regard, but it does want to make the link between the Waterfront and the city more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, reports The Times

POSTSCRIPT 7/7: Southern African Tourism Update reports that yet another hotel is to be built in the Waterfront, in the section undergoing renovation, in the Shosholoza Basin, which links the Cape Grace Hotel and the Clock Tower precinct.   Construction for the whole Clock Tower precinct is estimated to be completed by 2013.

POSTSCRIPT 20/7: The Weekend Argus has reported that 5000 Nedbank/BOE and Allan Gray employees will be accommodated in the Clocktower precinct once the construction work has been completed.  The retail outlets in that area of the Waterfront will be adapetd to suit the needs of the staff working there.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town tourism recovery only in 2014, says Cape Town Tourism!

It was depressing to read the article”The Business Case for Tourism and a strong brand for Cape Town” by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, and published on the Cape Town Tourism Blog.  Oddly it has not been sent to its members.  The most disturbing prediction it contains is that the R14 billion Cape Town tourism industry, which employs just short of 300000 staff, will only recover in 2014, in getting back to the 2007 level, the last good year for tourism in Cape Town.  What is disappointing is that Mrs Helmbold does not provide any guidelines to her Cape Town Tourism members as to how businesses should survive the next three years of poor business, nor does she spell out what she and her organisation are doing to market Cape Town more visibly!

To set the scene, Mrs Helmbold writes that international arrivals to Cape Town as well as domestic arrivals have stagnated due to the ‘Global Financial Crisis’, as she calls it, and she estimates a total loss of R 1,5 billion for the Cape Town tourism industry between 2008 – 2014, with zero job creation as a result.  Unlike other provinces, Cape Town and the Western Cape has little Africa-business, with more than 80 % of its business coming from Europe (including the UK, one assumes) and the USA.  Cape Town is a small fish in a massive global tourism pond, with our city’s market share being 0,2 % of world tourism.  She blames SA Tourism by implication for doing too much marketing of wildlife, and too little of the cities in our country :”…many national campaigns are of a tactical nature, which do not necessarily build knowledge and esteem values of our cities”.  The marketing of Cape Town, which is the responsibility of Cape Town Tourism, does “not allow for Cape Town to be compellingly and relevantly portrayed to potential visitors”.  This sounds odd, as Mrs Helmbold is pointing at her own organisation, but she does not explain what constraints there are to marketing the city. She also states that Cape Town’s attributes of being “iconic, complex and multi-faceted” are not evident to tourists.

The rest of the five page document becomes a long and theoretical ramble about how Cape Town should be positioned and at whom it should be aimed: in summary, the marketing of Cape Town no longer should be focused on leisure tourism alone, by highlighting the beauty of Cape Town, but it should incorporate business, investment, academia, and the creative sectors too. All of this appears to have been written to justify to its funders, the City of Cape Town, that unnamed ‘partnerships’ (probably the writers of the document, given its theoretical nature and unusual style for Mrs Helmbold’s writing) are “waiting in the wings for public sector endorsement of Cape Town Tourism’s new 2011/2012 marketing strategy and for the brand execution plan”. 

Sydney is used as an example, in how the 2000 Olympic Games caused a five-year tourism slump to that city, mainly because they stopped marketing themselves, thinking that they had world exposure.  The key learning points for Cape Town Tourism are that cities do not market themselves, they need to be marketed; investment in infrastructure and hosting events create growth and ‘livability’, but may not be relevant to tourists: “lack of marketing induces invisibility and irrelevance, which in itself reduces demand”.

The conclusion of the article seems far too obvious, and one must question why Cape Town Tourism, custodians of brand Cape Town, have not been able to identify the poor tourism and resultant poor industry performance trends, and have not acted proactively to address these problems.  Mrs Helmbold concludes: “If we do not act decisively now our industry and the economic well being of our city and people are at great risk.  If we don’t proactively engage in a new marketing and branding strategy we run the risk of being positioned nonetheless by our competitors, our critics and the media, and most likely to our disadvantage”. The last sentence does not make sense in its wording, nor can one understand why Cape Town Tourism has not changed its marketing strategy to date, having been responsible for the city’s marketing for the past three years already.

As we have pointed out on this Blog, the recent TripAdvisor accolade of Cape Town being ranked in first place as its Travellers’ Choice Top Destination, has seen no tourism benefit at all, and this is echoed by Ms Helmbold: “Although we are considered as one of the new cities to watch for 2020 and continue to rake in travel accolades, it is no guarantee for success or economic growth”.

One must question whether Cape Town Tourism is capable of driving such an important campaign, influencing the revenue of almost all the city’s businesses, all directly or indirectly influenced by tourism, and of its population, dependent on jobs.  Cape Town Tourism’s Marketing Manager until recently was Lianne Burton, a journalist, and not a marketer.  Her departure from the organisation has been kept low-key.  Ms Burton has not been replaced to date.  Mrs Helmbold and her PR Manager Skye Grove are very active on Twitter, but this is rarely about tourism, and far more about their social life. We must question why their time during working hours is not focused on their work and the marketing challenges of our city !  A further concern is the information that we have received that the highly respected PR company that Cape Town Tourism had appointed in Germany, KPRN, no longer does the PR for Cape Town.  There appears to be no visible benefit to tourism in Cape Town of the appointment by Cape Town Tourism of PR agencies in Holland, Germany and the UK.

We wrote to Mrs Helmbold, and asked her some questionsaboutthemarketing of Cape Town.  The first question related to the replacement of Ms Burton.  It appears that Ms Burton left some time ago, but is assisting Cape Town Tourism in a “consultative role” until the end of this month.  A new Executive Manager: Marketing should start on 1 July, she wrote.  Of concern is that Cape Town Tourism also does not appear to have an eMarketing Manager, with a job advertisement posted on Careers24 yesterday, and requiring the person to start on 1 July, not giving anyone time to work out their notice!   We asked about the international PR companies that had been appointed, but Mrs Helmbold was only detailed in respect of the non-renewal of the contract with Kleber Public Relations Network, which has worked with SA Tourism for years.  The company has been replaced by Akomasa Creative Connection in Germany.  Mrs Helmbold did not provide information about the success of the PR campaigns overseas, other than to say that information about it has been presented at workshops, which not all Cape Town Tourism members can attend.  One hopes that Cape Town Tourism can justify its international spend by sending members a detailed report of their international activities to obtain exposure for Cape Town. 

In reply to our question:”What is Cape Town Tourism doing to prevent a bloodbath of restaurant, hotel and other accommodation closures due to poor forward bookings?”, Mrs Helmbold was generalist and vague, and she does not appear to understand that a solution must be found NOW, and not in months to come! This was her disappointing response:

“As I explained in the Paper done on the Business Case for Tourism, the global financial crisis and the subsequent consumer behavioural change has had a significant adverse effect on the tourism industry; demand has diminished, visitor spends have steadied and costs have increased. Our over-reliance on traditional source markets, worse hit by the GFC, places us at further risk. There is not a quick-fix for this problem and no one could anticipate the extend (sic) of the impact of the GFC, of which we are really only now experiencing the magnitude of the impact. This is of course exaggerated by seasonality and as I said before our over-reliance on international leisure visitors from mainly Europe and the US.  

Investing in a strong, multi-dimensional brand is critical. We are pursuing private partners for a few significant brand platforms like international TV productions (BBC, National Geographic), events and campaigns, focusing on our unique strengths as a destination i.e. food and wine. We are focusing our efforts and resources on the “dream” and “conversion” part of the customer journey – assuming that the choice to come to Cape Town is not an obvious one and expensive to get here. We have to reinforce the awareness created during the World Cup, but move to conversion with good value for money offers. From an eMarketing perspective we are adding bookabilitytoourweb-platforms by July this year, starting with accommodation and then introducing it for tours and activities as soon as the new module is built. Through the new marketing alliance with Joburg and Durban we should be able to leverage some of SAT’s marketing spend, this will be a key focus for us in the next 4 months.

Whilst we continue our investment and reinforce our presence in traditional international leisure markets, we are investing in domestic tourism, using mainly some key events as draw-cards and working with the business sector to start changing negative perceptions around our business brand. Both the domestic and business markets are complex issues and will take a long-term approach to turn the tide against seasonality.

We are hosting a series of product workshops within the next few months on value, price, packaging and marketing alignment aimed to assist the industry to become more competitive and mitigate some of the risks faced within these tough economic times.

We will all have to work very hard together, under a powerful and united destination brand, to change the current trends and grow tourism into a more sustainable, year-round industry with a more healthy balance between international leisure, business and domestic tourism.

We are making a few significant changes to our marketing strategy and as soon as the plan is finalised and partners confirmed we will share it with the industry.”

We call for a heavyweight Marketing professional to be appointed, to drive Cape Town Tourism’s marketing of Cape Town. Ms Helmboldhasbeen running “Brand Cape Town” workshops for the past three years, and she is still asking workshops what Cape Town stands for.  Surely by now she and her team should have decided on a unique positioning for Cape Town that would be universally applicable in communication with all the sectors it wishes to attract to Cape Town.  Ms Helmbold’s article sounds like a city marketing organisation that is overwhelmed by the problems its tourism industry is facing, and that does not know the way forward – a very scary situation indeed!

POSTSCRIPT 10/6:  The only response from Cape Town Tourism is this sarcastic Tweet from its PR Manager Skye Grove:  @MariettedTHons le, sit, loop, rol rond op twitter.. tsk tsk.. mar (sic) ek belowe ek sal more bietjie werk.. @SoniaCabano1

POSTSCRIPT 10/6:  Yesterday Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan was reported on Eye Witness News to have urged ‘hotels and industry suppliers to reduce their rates to make travel more affordable for locals’.  He said “I think the industry must really wake up and make themselves more affordable if they want to remain competitive in a very cut-throat industry”. 

POSTSCRIPT 12/6: A business tourism event with a difference was the hosting of the global Playboy editors’ conference, which took place at the Mount Nelson Hotel earlier this week, reports the Weekend Argus .  The group of fifty met for three days.

POSTSCRIPT 13/6: The Bureau of Economic Research sent its results for the confidence in the Services industry today.  Of the service sectors surveyed, Accommodation has by far the lowest Business Confidence Index at only 25% (the next lowest is Real Estate at 41%).  Accommodation bookings are expected to decrease by 56% in the second quarter of 2011, relative to 2010, which was out of the ordinary for bookings due to the World Cup.  For the third quarter of this year, bookings are expected to be down by 23 %.  Trend information supplied showed that the last period of growth for the Accommodation industry was the fourth quarter of 2007.

POSTSCRIPT 13/6:  The provincial Minister of Tourism, Alan Winde, has announced that his plans to consolidate a number of marketing agencies for Western Cape businesses into an Economic Development Agency are back on track, and the Agency is expected to be launched in November, reports the Cape Argus today.  Perhaps this is the agency that can do the business marketing of Cape Town.  However, Cape Town Tourism is no longer on the Minister’s list of agencies which he wants to consolidate, his plans to do so originally causing a huge outcry.  The agencies to be consolidated include Wesgro, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the Cape Craft and Design Institute, the Cape Film Commission, Calling the Cape, the Cape Town Boatbuilding and Technology Initiative, the Cape Music Industry Commission, the Cape Town Fashion Council, and ten others.    

POSTSCRIPT 14/6:  One company that is benefiting from the tourism slump is the Protea Hospitality Group, which is leasing and buying hotels that have ‘over-extended themselves and are now struggling to survive due to the current slump in the local hotel industry’, reports Southern African Tourism Update.  Protea’s CEO Arthur Gillis predicts that ‘many of South Africa’s 80 hotel brands will disappear’.  Gillissaid that he doubted whether there will be a tourism boom ‘unless it gets more bums on airline seats’. He suggests that SAA should fly routes in the interest of tourism, whether profitable or not.

POSTSCRIPT 14/6: Gillian Saunders of tourism consultancy Grant Thornton said about the tourism industry recently: “It’s really tough out there”.  She blamed this on the recession, the strong Rand, increased costs such as electricity and labour, and an oversupply of accommodation, reported the Cape Times.  City Lodge Hotels CEO Clifford Ross said: “It’s probably the worst I have known for 32 years”.  He added that no one “expected the drop-off after the World Cup to be so severe. There will be casualties in the market. Quite a few (hotels) are teetering on the brink”. 

POSTSCRIPT 17/6: Southern African Tourism Update  reports that the Minister is to have also said at the FEDHASA Cape AGM that local tourism authorities should not market internationally, as SA Tourism is doing so already, and that they should focus on local marketing instead.  He quoted the example of KZN Tourism, which has a marketing office in Gauteng.  Was he addressing Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited? 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurant Review:Cape Grace Afternoon Tea sweet, lacks love and care!

We have written about a number of Afternoon/High Tea offerings in Cape Town and the Winelands, including those at the One&Only Cape Town, the Mount Nelson Hotel, Grande Roche, and Grande Provence.  While I have previously been to pop in at the Cape Grace Library lounge, I tried their ‘Traditional Tea’ for the first time on Thursday.   I  found it disappointing relative to the other Afternoon Teas I have experienced.

The Cape Grace hotel introduced a Sugar Buffet about a year ago, and I always enjoyed it, being a beautiful selection of sweet treats, including sweets such as Jelly Tots and Smarties, and each item cost R8.  Now each item costs R12, and the number of treats has reduced dramatically.  Waitress Laeticia told me that it was because hotel guests would help themselves to the sweets, and apparently did not understand that they had to pay for them. 

Compared to the displays of the Afternoon Tea at the One&Only Cape Town and the Mount Nelson, the Afternoon Tea at the Cape Grace looks like a poor cousin, mainly because they do not display all their ‘Traditional Tea’ items – one chooses two of the Sugar Buffet items displayed on the table as part of the Traditional Tea, and the hotel adds three finger sandwiches (one each with cucumber and spring onion cream cheese, egg and aioli and watercress, and smoked salmon, rocket and avocado), specified on the menu, as well as a miniature sultana and orange blossom honey scone and a traditional scone, served with homemade strawberry jam and whipped cream.  The cost of R75 includes a cup of tea.  The Sugar Buffet table contains Pecan Nut tarts, Lemmingtons, Chocolate chip cookies, Blueberry and almond cookies, Oat cookies, Shortbread cookies, Ginger cookies, Koeksisters, Macaroons, Raspberry cupcakes, and three types of fudge – vanilla and nuts, white chocolate and cranberries, and dark Chocolate.  I asked waitress Nqobile to tell me what all the items on the Sugar Buffet display were, and she rushed through them, and was not very clear about what the items were – e.g. the fudge plate, on which the items looked like small slices of cake.  She looked very annoyed when I asked her to call her superior!  

The seven items are put together on a cake stand, brought to one’s table. A sideplate and material serviette with a Hepp Exclusive (the same cutlery brand is used at Azure restaurant  at the Twelve Apostles Hotel) knife was brought to the table.  It was cold in the lounge, with the airconditioning set too cold and a door to the terrace was left open.  No fire was lit.  It took more than half an hour before the stand was served.  The cappuccino itself took some time, and the charge for this was a problem, as it was at the One&Only Cape Town on my first visit to their Afternoon Tea, in that the ‘Traditional Tea’ only includes tea, despite the trend to more coffee drinking.  I was charged in full for the cappuccino, and not just for the difference between the cost of a cup of tea and the cappuccino.  A manager kindly had the cappuccino cost removed.

The Lounge menu also offers other options for the Afternoon Tea: ‘Sugar & Bubbles’ costs R110, and is an unlimited supply of items from the Sugar Buffet table with a glass of Graham Beck Rosé.  Alternatively, for the same price, the ‘Sugar & Spice’ option allows one to eat an unlimited number of items from the Sugar Buffet table, as well as receive hot Malay-spiced sandwich snacks.  I found the service in the lounge disappointing for a hotel that wins accolades as one of Cape Town’s best, and there appeared to be little managerial supervision in the time that I spent at the hotel.   The Cape Grace cannot compete at all with the Afternoon Teas presented by its competitors One&Only Cape Town and the Mount Nelson, with a very small offering, most of which is not displayed in the lounge.  For the few guests in the lounge, and no one else having the Traditional Tea, the half an hour wait to make the three sandwich fingers, and organise the scones and whipped cream, was unacceptable.  There was no attempt to make the display look particularly attractive, as at the One&Only Cape Town, and it makes one think that the Cape Grace is not serious about its Afternoon Tea service.  Even though it only costs about half of that of its competitors, one does not feel that one gets value, as one is only allowed a specified number of items.  The starting time at 11h00 is much earlier than any of the other Afternoon Teas I have tried.

Cape Grace Hotel, V&A Waterfront. Tel (021) 410-7100.  www.capegrace.com (The website has a page for the Afternoon Tea, but the main photograph of the Sugar Buffet is no reflection of what I saw on Thursday – it looked like the display of the Sugar Buffet that I saw a few months ago, when there were more sweet treats as well as the sweets on display, and the bell jars had attractive ribbons on them.  The Image Gallery has no photographs of the Afternoon Tea at all).    Daily.  11h00 – 18h00.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Hotel guests of future want automated service with personal attention!

Contradictory needs of the hotel guest of the future could make it difficult for accommodation establishments to offer their guests the best possible satisfaction, in their almost contradictory need for greater automation, yet they increasingly require personal service.   This is one of the trends identified in the ‘Hospitality Trends and Opportunities 2011″ report prepared by Market Metrix.

In focusing on ‘Key trends that will impact hospitality” in its report, the following four trends are identified for the hospitality industry:

1.  The Generation Y, now 17 – 34 years old, are seen to be the largest consumer group in the USA – this age group is least loyal, most emotional, and least satisfied as guests of hospitality establishments.  They are the most “fickle, unpredictable, picky, fussy guests of all!”.  The report says that due to their young age, this group will be around for some time to come, and therefore one needs to win them over for long term success.   Despite their focus on all things technical, such as electronic check-in, concierge, and room service, this group also wants personal attention and customised service.  This is in contrast to hotels such as Comfort Xpress, which has automated the entire guest stay, to such an extent that the guests do not have to speak to a staff member throughout their stay!  The report recommends segmenting this group into specific target markets, such as sport lovers and music lovers.  Loyalty programs are of interest to this group, but should be customised and personalised, and not be bureaucratic in their administration.

2.   Guests look for experiences  to enrich their travel, and are no longer just seeing a hotel as a place to sleep.  Guest are interested in staying fit and connecting with nature, by going to parks, by hiking, and by doing adventure activities.   Green tourism is an important trend, in that guests want to stay in environmentally-friendly hotels, walk, cycle and use public transport.  Hotels should make bicycle hire a service to offer, and even rent hybrid cars.   It could even extend to arranging for guests to volunteer for a community project.  The history of a region, cultural growth, visits to the theatre, and educational activities are of increasing interest to tourists.  Guest loyalty will result more from emotional connections made than from ‘rational, incentive-based initiatives’. 

3.   Travellers hard hit by the recession are seeking value.  This is the frugal traveller personified, one who looks for deals ‘like a competitive sport’, and therefore the brand loyalty is low.  There is great resistance to rate increases. The key is to offer guests value, which means that expectations are met or exceeded relative to the price paid.   Online searches reflect that guests look for promotions, and discounts on or free parking and airport shuttle services.  A swimming pool is an important feature to offer.

Value is created through five elements, says the report:

    *   The room and what it offers – cleanliness, its size, the comfort offered, the entertainment it has, and the equipment in the room

    *   The physical property – its exterior and public space, including landscaping, cleanliness, architecture and size

    *  Personal Service –   the friendliness of staff, and their attentiveness, professionalism, and personal recognition

    *   Functional Service – speed of service, efficiency, and the check-in and check-out efficiency

    *   Food and Beverage – quality, room service, variety, good prices

Exceptional service is highly regarded by guests, and can represent up to 65 % of the guest’s value perception.  The report recommends spending more time on improving service rather than adding more product features.   The accommodation establishment should try to turn the focus of the guest away from low prices and more on value.

4.   Guests are staying connected more, and technology  can be used to communicate with guests before they arrive as well as during their stay.  For example, the guest receives an e-mail as well as sms confirmation of the booking.  A link to the hotel mobile website is sent to the guests, enabling them to check out the facilities, sport matches to be shown, etc.  Details about shopping, recommended places to visit, events taking place in the area during the guests’ stay, prices one could expect to pay for a taxi, etc are provided.  The cellphone is swiped over a sensor on arrival, and then serves as the room key.  On opening the room door, the curtains open, the lights turn on, and the TV displays a personalised message.   On checking out, guests receive an sms, thanking them for their stay, and requesting feedback.   Later an sms is sent, with another thank you, and a promotional offer for another stay.  “You can’t wait for your next trip!”.

The report states that hotels are slow to adapt to the technology which makes the above possible, and encourages establishments to gather more information about, and to connect with, their guests more quickly.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage