Cape Town Tourism downscales its marketing campaign due to funding constraints!

Last week Cape Town Tourism invited its members to attend a Marketing feedback meeting, to share with them what the organisation has done in terms of marketing since it launched its Marketing Strategy with fanfare at its AGM six months ago.  It was also an opportunity for Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold to reconnect with her members, still being on maternity leave, which is due to end next month.

The highlight of the meeting was the re-introduction to Cape Town Tourism of Anton Groenewald, the new Executive Director of Tourism, Events, and Marketing at the City of Cape Town, reporting to Mayoral Committee member for this portfolio Grant Pascoe. While Mr Pascoe has been an ineffective figure head of this department since he took over this portfolio, Mr Groenewald has a good track record of a tough no-nonsense approach to the management of public tourism monies.  He worked for the City of Cape Town ten years ago, and was instrumental in the closing down of the previous Cape Town Tourism, and the creation of the new amalgamated Cape Town Tourism.  Mr Groenewald left the City of Cape Town to take over the management of the Argus Cycle Tour, and thereafter the FNB Big Walk, and was most recently working in the office of the Premier of the Western Cape, giving him a good all-round management and public service experience. He mentioned that the Cape Town Stadium is one of the key assets he will manage for the city, and is the toughest one of all.  Since May 2011 the City has been supporting Cape Town Tourism, when Councillor Pascoe was elected to the Mayoral Committee. Mr Groenewald emphasised that his department is City-focused. His role will be to enhance the co-operation and collaboration between the City and Cape Town Tourism. He will also connect with the tourism industry directly, not explaining in which regard he will do this, but if it is to receive feedback, it would be most welcome. Cape Town Tourism receives the largest chunk of the City’s R426 billion budget, at R42 million per year currently, he said.

Enver Duminy, the acting-CEO in Mrs Helmbold’s absence, shared that the past six months have been tough in terms of budget, and that they had to ‘bite the bullet’, ‘put their money where their mouth is’, and ‘think out of the box’.

Mrs Helmbold provided the background, repeating what members had heard before in that Cape Town now is positioned as the ‘City of Inspiration’, going beyond its ‘Natural Beauty‘ positioning of the past. She reminded us that the new pay-off line for Cape Town is ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’, which was prominently displayed in the slides and banners on the stage of the beautifully renovated Fugard Theatre.  She acknowledged that the past six months were not easy, due to the funding shortage, but she did not explain the reason for the funding problem, having been very confident at the AGM last year, when the campaign was introduced to the industry. She recapped, stating that the main marketing goal is to increase the demand for Cape Town, not only in terms of tourism, but also its business and education sectors.  She said that Cape Town had ‘nothing to be ashamed of’, and in fact is on a par with or exceeds its competitors.  She mentioned that most of our business comes from the USA, the United Kingdom, and Germany, saying that these countries were all seriously affected by the recession, showing that she is misinformed, given how well Germany is doing, and what great numbers of German tourists have come to our country in this past summer.

The Cape Town Tourism marketing campaign was designed to attract the domestic travellers to take a short break in the city, as well as attract international visitors, offering them a broader economic and business tourism proposition.  The marketing approach is three-pronged:

· Increase demand

· Increase their spend when the tourists have arrived in the city

· Capitalise on the greater number of arrivals in benefiting the tourism industry.

The ‘Inspiration’ communication campaign presents Cape Town as a thriving and vibrant city against a ‘jaw-dropping backdrop’. Mrs Helmbold admitted publicly for the first time that ‘Inspiration’ is not a unique differentiator for Cape Town. The campaign ‘juxtaposes the usual with the unusual’, and is built on ‘stories of our own people’, she said, adding that Cape Town is packaged as ‘an unexpected city wanting to be discovered’. The New7Wonders of Nature and Cape Town winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, as well as other impressive media accolades and awards, were good for Cape Town, and the past summer was better than expected.  But she added that they had not achieved the advertising budget to ‘spearhead the full campaign’, meaning that they had to re-prioritise, with hard work lying ahead.   Mrs Helmbold took credit for the media coverage for the New7Wonders of Nature and winning the 2014 World Design Capital bid, little of which was generated by Cape Town Tourism!  The organisation has redesigned its website, and achieves 500000 visits, especially from Brazil, she said.

Velma Corcoran has been the Marketing Manager for the past eight months, and she impressed with her professional and charming presentation of the marketing activities of the past six months, and those lying ahead, designed to counter seasonality and to grow tourism demand.  She showed the audience a video entitled ‘An Unexpected Cape Town’, which mixed footage of Cape Town with grainy out-of-focus unattractive stills shots of the city, which was launched to the travel trade and media at ITB in Berlin last month.  It has been put on You Tube, and has had 30000 hits to date.  An Events Calendar was compiled, and 20000 copies printed quarterly, but its print run has not been enough, and will be increased to 50000.  Cape Town Tourism has been involved with the Volvo Ocean Race, Design Indaba, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Beer Festival, and the Toffie Pop Festival, mainly having a stand at each event.  At the Design Indaba, for example, they had an interactive stand, with 1000 tiles which visitors had to attach to the wall.  They also hosted YFM during the J&B Met, and 30 international journalists during the Cape Epic, the media interest being greater for this event than for the Argus Cycle Tour and Two Oceans Marathons combined, Mrs Corcoran told the audience.

To counter the perception that Cape Town is expensive, events packages have been put together with Mango and Thompsons, providing an airline ticket, accommodation, and tickets to the event at very affordable prices. At the Cape Town International airport the new campaign message is visible in the Arrivals and Departures sections.  Cape Town Tourism has also just had the campaign erected on the exterior of its offices in Burg Street. The refreshed website has simplified navigation, and the content a website visitor will see is determined by the country from which one is visiting the site.  A Cape Town Tool Kit was also developed, allowing access to an ‘on-line hub of images and itinerary ideas’, which the trade, the media and Cape Town Tourism members can access. A Brand Ambassador campaign, to teach the Cape Town Tourism staff about marketing, has also been launched.

Mrs Corcoran said that they will be going to Indaba next month, sharing space on a new Western Cape Pavilion with thirteen product owners representing expected and unexpected aspects of Cape Town. A Three Cities Alliance has been established with Johannesburg Tourism and Durban Tourism, through which they share with SA Tourism what they have achieved, and to prevent duplication of activities. Mrs Corcoran had to admit that Johannesburg Tourism was not able to fund any planned joint marketing campaigns, and therefore it left Durban and Cape Town to jointly take on an amended National Geographic campaign, and to drop the Discovery campaign, which had been announced at the AGM as the most important marketing activity its Australian marketing consultant Ian Macfarlane had organised. Mr Duminy told me at the meeting that Mr Macfarlane has completed his contract with Cape Town Tourism, while Mrs Corcoran said he is still working with them! His name was not mentioned at all during the presentation! The National Geographic campaign has the potential of exposure in 173 countries in 37 languages, with 20,3 million online unique visits, as at February 2012. National Geographic will work with Cape Town and Durban, ‘the first urban tourism collaboration of its kind in South Africa’, said the Cape Town Tourism media release about the joint campaign, which for Cape Town will feature Boulders’ Beach, Robben Island, District Six, Woodstock, Bo Kaap, Table Mountain, the city’s wine routes, as well as its design, innovation, and inspirational strengths:

· Sending ‘Digital Nomad’ Andrew Evans to Cape Town (he has just arrived) for a two week period, and he will Tweet (@Wheres Andrew) to 14000 followers and blog (receiving 2,8 million unique visitors per month) about his visit.

· A TV crew will document Andrew’s visit

· 60 second ‘vignettes’ will focus on the ‘sounds of the city’, e.g. the Noon Gun, ghoema music, with exposure to 11,4 million viewers in the UK, 3,9 million in Germany, 7,4 million in the Netherlands, and 4 million in Africa.

· Advertorials will go into the National Geographic magazines, with a joint readership of 600000, in the USA, China, India and Australia

· On-line travel guides will gain exposure for 12 months, from July 2012 – May 2013.

· An one-hour documentary about Cape Town and Durban will be featured six times on the National Geographic channel between December 2012 – June 2013.

A domestic campaign ‘Discover why Cape Town warms up in winter’ will run in airline magazines, while ads with members’ special winter offers will run on Five FM, the Sunday Times, in-flight magazines, and on the Cape Town Tourism website.  Four top international Travel Bloggers have been invited to Cape Town, and will address a travel bloggers’ conference in August.

Comparing the Marketing presentation of last week with the promises made at the AGM in October – one should question why the joint venture with the Johannesburg and Durban Tourism bodies for the then planned Discovery and National Geographic campaigns was announced at the AGM before any agreement had been signed, the organisation losing face in the inability of Johannesburg Tourism to participate in what was planned as a R24 million campaign, each city to have contributed R8 million – the planned reduction in the number of Visitor Information Centres, the planned tiered membership program, the City Brand Ambassador campaign (which was to have included Archbishop Tutu and TV and radio presenter Liezel van der Westhuizen), and the Nightsbridge accommodation booking system were not addressed in the Marketing presentation last week.

POSTSCRIPT 1/6: Other than having attended Indaba, no marketing action is visible from Cape Town Tourism over the extremely poor winter period.  The organisation has only Tweeted once about the 8 Nation Under 20 soccer tournament taking place in Cape Town now, seemingly seeing it as a non-event, as do most Capetonians and the city’s news media.  Last night the Twitter account of Cape Town reported on a  dinner at Harbour House in the V&A Waterfront, and a few days before that the husband of Velma Corcoran, the Marketing Manager of Cape Town Tourism, wrote a blogpost for the Cape Town Tourism blog about the Gugulethu Wine Show, which took place last weekend! Cape Town Tourism’s Tweets are identical tot he Tweets by its Communications Manager Skye Grove.

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

6 replies on “Cape Town Tourism downscales its marketing campaign due to funding constraints!”

  1. lolla says:

    Chris, very interesting. I am surprised that they let you i though!

  2. Nice to hear from you Lolla.

    Interesting that you ask – of course there was a story to my attendance, which I had intended to not bring into the blogpost.

    Here goes: Not having been invited to attend via the Cape Town Tourism media list, I e-mailed Enver Duminy requesting permission to attend. He replied that they were oversubscribed by 30 persons. I wrote to say that I would stand. He wrote back to say they they were definitely very oversubscribed. I then called Cape Town Tourism, asked to make a booking, and it was accepted immediately, in the name of ‘Mary McDonald’ of the ‘Table Bay Hotel’. I then called Anton Groenewald’s office and the City of Cape Town’s PR department, to ensure that there would not be any drama about my attendance. Not being able to reach any of these, I called Rabbit in a Hat, the PR agency for Cape Town Tourism, and the CEO Tammy White received Skye Grove’s (!) blessing for my attendance, saying that if I had a seat booked, I was welcome to attend. My ‘Mary McDonald’ name tag was awaiting me on arrival, and I wore it proudly, of course leading to a number of questions about it, including by Ian Bartes, the Chairman of Cape Town Tourism! Enver apologised prior to the presentation, stating that his staff had misled him about the booking numbers.

    Someone’s head should have rolled about this: if a media person requested attendance, they should have said yes immediately, and asked one of the staff to give up their seat! They clearly did not want me there!

    Ian Bartes did say that it was time to put the bygones behind us, so I threatened to apply for membership again!

    Chris

  3. lolla says:

    Chris, you are truly my favourite reality show! Love it and good for you.

  4. Oh, how funny Lolla – what a giggle!

    All the politicking I get exposed is a comedy – I love it. ‘Reality show’ is a new dimension, but a perfect description, reflects the true nature of the ‘professionals we are supposed to respect!

    Chris

  5. Francoise says:

    Being a newcomer to this scene I knew hardly anyone at that function but spotted this distinguished lady standing alone … I approached, peered at the name tag (wasn’t the font ridiculously too small on those huge labels?) and said “Hi Mary. Oh, you’re from the Table Bay, what do you do there?” And of course I was given an instant free insight to this organisation! lol.

    Thanks for this summary, very handy, and even more so to get your viewpoint on it.

  6. Merci Francoise.

    Welcome to our blog, and to the politics of Cape Town Tourism. I enjoyed our chat.

    Au revoir

    Chris

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