* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging its members to use IT to improve the customer experience, saying that airlines ‘fly people and cargo, not planes‘. Consistency of customer experience is not yet satisfactory for airlines, with little differentiation. Customers would like to use IT to check in online, tag luggage themselves, board themselves, and collect bags themselves, an IATA survey found last year. IATA’s goal is that 80% of passengers have a ‘self-service suite based on industry standards‘ available to them by 2020.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is not known as a Tourism consultancy, so its prediction about our country’s tourism future is a surprise. Its report presents growth of 4% in international tourists 2013, far lower than the 10% growth in 2012. Growth is said to be solid and good, but ‘not fantastic growth‘. Almost three quarters of international visitors to our country are from Africa, the report confirms. Nigeria would become the leading source market for our country, the PwC study predicts. The Guest House category is the fastest growing in respect of room availability. South Africa’s strength is that it attracts leisure as well as business travelers.
* France must be feeling the tourism pinch, having announced plans to become more welcoming to tourists, English speaking ones in particular. The country hopes to increase tourist numbers to 100 million, from the current 83 million. Steps to enhance its image and tourism numbers include visa issues, ‘recover a sense of hospitality‘, use the internet better to promote tourism, work on the perception that Paris in particular is not welcoming to tourists, and crime in Paris. French tourism authorities want to attract visitors on the basis of food and wine, sport and mountains, luxury and artisan work, and urban tourism. More tourist business are to be encouraged to be open on Sundays. Gare du Nord, the railway station at which the Eurostar arrives and departs, is to be renovated.
* British beer sales have increased dramatically in the first week of the 2014 Soccer World Cup, 10 million more liters of beer and 2,5 million more litres of cider sold, at the expense of still wine. Champagne and sparkling wine sales are bubbling too since the start of the soccer event. Good weather as well as the soccer have helped to revive a beer industry that had lost its sparkle.
* Isaac James Baker’s visit to South Africa appears to have blown him away, not only in enjoying surfing in Llandudno, but also in tasting some of our exceptional wines. He lists the following as his wine surprises whilst in the Cape: Weltevrede Bedrock Black Syrah 2012, Nitida Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Eagle’s Nest Viognier 2013, Raats Chenin Blanc Original 2012, Val de Vie GVC 2011, Hout Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013, and Buitenverwachting Sauvignon Blanc Bayten 2013.
* Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt has upgraded its retail identity, and opened a flagship store in the V&A Waterfront. The company is focusing on enhancing the customer experience, being served by ‘friendly and competent staff, and have a product in hand that is superior to (the) rest‘, said its Managing Director Jacques van de Haar. Marcel’s products contain probiotics, making them healthier. Branches have been opened in the Middle East and Botswana, and more outlet openings are to follow locally and internationally.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage