New City of Cape Town Place Marketing Director Rory Viljoen to put Cape Town on the map!

While many in the Cape Town tourism industry are shaking their heads about yet another change at Cape Town Tourism, the City of Cape Town taking away the role of Destination Marketing from Cape Town Tourism four years after having given it to the tourism body, one can be grateful for two things: that a change can only be better than the little and ineffectual marketing being done by Cape Town Tourism, and that one could not wish for a better Marketing Director for brand ‘Cape Town’ than Rory Viljoen, Place Marketing Director in the new Tourism, Events and Marketing (TEAM) Directorate of the City of Cape Town.

It was a bumpy start to meeting Rory, who has only been working for the City for ten weeks, and is still suffering temporary staff in setting up his appointments.  It was third time lucky, despite a time error, to finally meet him and Daylin Mitchell, the Executive Support Officer for Councillor Grant Pascoe, the Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, in Rory’s office in the TELKOM Tower adjacent to the Civic Centre.

Rory gave little away in the interview, instead turning the tables by asking what should be done in marketing Cape Town.  We discussed the impact of Seasonality on our businesses, and how we have been made promises in this regard by both Cape Town Tourism and the ex-Cape Town Routes Unlimited (now amalgamated into Wesgro); sharing information with the industry; generating coverage in traditional media locally and internationally with Social Media support (and not the other way around, as practised by Cape Town Tourism); Events in the winter months; addressing the lack of airline seats from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Fridays; the extreme airfares to get to Cape Town from international destinations; the confusion that has resulted amongst the tourism industry about the City’s new destination marketing directorate which some mistakenly seeing it to be Wesgro’s new marketing department; the reduced bookings via Cape Town Tourism’s tourism bureaus as tourists are booking most requirements on-line, before they leave or on their iPads; the ‘Mommy’ Tweeting by Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold; the role of the V&A Waterfront in the tourism portfolio of Cape Town; the controversial trip by ten Cape Town Tourism and City of Cape Town executives to Turkey (clearly a sensitive issue, judging by Rory’s body language when the topic arose – he was not part of the delegation); the renewal of Mrs Helmbold’s contract as CEO next year; and much more.

While Rory has chosen to call his portfolio ‘Place Marketing’, he said it is just another name for Destination Marketing.   His private sector experience in marketing Distell’s brands in Africa and Europe, as well as having been South African Marketing Director of Coca Cola during the 2006 and 2010 World Cup soccer championships, shadowing the Beijing and Vancouver World Cups, and his involvement in the European Championships played in Germany and Switzerland, gives him an excellent insight in hosting events, and in creating marketing linkages.  He said that he does not know the Marketing Budget yet (we have seen that the Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate, headed by Anton Groenewald, has a budget of R500 million per annum!), as he needs to finalise his Strategic Plan, translate that into the Marketing Budget, and then appoint the staff to execute his Marketing Strategy.  He said that he likes to work in an organised manner, step by step, ‘every chapter must stand like a book’, he said.  His biggest challenge is to find a measurement of success for his department, currently believing that arrivals at Cape Town International would be the most reliable measurement of marketing success at this stage, despite Cape Town International Service Standards Manager and outgoing Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes warning that there would be no growth in tourism arrivals via our local airport in the next two years.

While Daylin is active on Twitter, Rory and Mr Groenewald are not.  Currently Digital and Social Media Marketing of Cape Town rests with Cape Town Tourism in their new mandate of only focusing on Tourism Marketing (with Visitor Services), but Rory indicated that they are looking to appoint a strong Media person, who will be responsible for Media Relations, Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and the writing of Speeches.  One can assume that the Digital Marketing of Cape Town will move from Cape Town Tourism to the City of Cape Town once the position has been filled.

It will be interesting to see how brand ‘Cape Town’ will be packaged, with a new logo, a pay-off line, and an extensive communication campaign to support new events, the focus being to make the Cape Town Stadium commercially viable by hosting more events there, and ultimately to attract more visitors to Cape Town.

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

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