Entries tagged with “business”.


WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Eskom remains a laugh-a-minute, its CEO Tshediso Matona saying yesterday to a meeting of 100 business and agriculture executives that ‘one unexpected event at any of its power stations can push the country to the total failure of the national electricity system that may take weeks to resolve’.  Loadshedding was predicted for late last week, but did not take place.  It has now been predicted for next week. Economists predict that Eskom’s ability to prevent loadshedding will influence the country’s economy.   A shortage of diesel appears to be affecting electricity supply.

*   The City of Cape Town plans to revise its loadshedding schedule, to make it more equitable and fair to all its residents from 1 February.  This comes in response to the claim by COSATU Western Cape leader Tony Ehrenreich that the City’s current loadshedding schedule is ‘racist and unfair’, and plans to take the matter to the Human Rights Commission!

*   Franschhoek wines Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2010 and Chamonix Chardonnay Reserve 2012 are the only two South African (more…)

For the first time since the creation of Twitter seven years ago, Members of Parliament and lawyers who Tweet and Facebook are under threat of being charged for libel, reports The Times.  Codes of conduct in their Social Media communication are being developed, and should be considered for general businesses too.

In Parliament Tweeting by DA members, in particular party parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, appears to have irritated other members of the house with their persistent Tweeting, and on occasion allegedly libelous Travelgate Tweets.  This has resulted in a call for a code of conduct to govern Parliamentarian Tweeting.  The Social Media policy of Parliament may remove the parliamentary privilege of making statements and allegations on Social Media platforms without threat of litigation.

The ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said that  Parliamentary rules and its code of conduct should be revised as a result of the wide spread use of Social Media by members of Parliament, Tweeting on their tablets and phones, in order to preserve the integrity of Parliament. MPs are also to be informed about the ‘legal perils’ associated with Social Media. Cedric Frohlick, responsible for committees in Parliament and for drafting the new Parliamentary Social Media policy, said: ‘If they (Parliamentarians) put information out there, they must take responsibility for it, because if you put information in the public domain about what is happening in parliament, and it is not a true reflection of what is going on, then you must expect that people are going to expose you for giving wrong information‘.  The article refers to Western Cape Premier Helen Zille as a ‘serial Tweeter‘, sharing ‘just about everything with their followers’, including being bitten by a rat when she collected her newspaper.  The parliamentary Social Media code will not affect the frequency and the content of her Tweeting.

The Johannesburg Bar Council has also warned advocates to not make ‘inappropriate statements’ on Social Media platforms, and that they ‘desist from publishing statements that could open them to accusations that they had breached rules governing professional conduct’. Members of the bar are prevented from writing about pending cases on any non-legal platform.

The Law Society of South Africa already has prepared a draft Social Media policy for its 25000 members in law firms, warning that comments about their clients’ cases may be a breach of confidence which could damage a client’s reputation.  Cape Town lawyer William Booth told the journalist that he does not issue statements about his clients’ cases on Twitter and Facebook.  He will only comment to the conventional media, yet does so with caution.

It would be advisable for companies to review their policy on the Social Media presence of their staff, whether in their personal capacity or on behalf of their company.  It appears to still be early days in this regard, most employers not setting guidelines as to the content of Tweets, and the Twitter Bios of their staff containing links to their company websites, yet claiming to Tweet in their personal capacity.  Any company linkage obviously would make the Tweeter and the employer equally liable for libel charges and defamation damage claims.  Siyavula MD Mark Horner’s reaction to the libelous Tweeting of his employee Marthèlize Tredoux was a surprise in his naive reaction, in that as long as she Tweets privately, he can not take action, even if some of her Tweets identify the name of the company as her employer. He also does not appear concerned that his employee is using his company time to write the defamatory Tweets, instead of doing her job.  The University of Stellenbosch head of Accounting had a very different attitude, instructing his lecturer Len Steenkamp to remove his defamatory Tweets.  Short-lived Social Media Manager of Robertsons, cookbook writer Sonia Cabano, lost her job when she used her client’s Twitter account to settle personal scores.  So too Emma Jackson, the V&A Waterfront Tweeter, has used her client’s Twitter account to settle scores. Cape Town Tourism managers, including Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold and Skye Grove, have a link to their employer website.  Grove has reTweeted libelous Tweets, and has written defamatory Tweets too, yet she and Mrs Helmbold have been quick to run to Cape Town Tourism’s lawyers with threatened claims for defamation, without any follow-up action. Grove appears to have been censored of late, and was reprimanded for using Cape Town Tourism lawyers for what was deemed to be a personal matter!

But it is not just the abusive action on Social Media that is a concern for employers.  How appropriate are the challenging Tweets by a chef’s wife about how long he is working, and that he is seldom at home, with the employer’s name mentioned in the Tweet?  Even more difficult is the situation when a well-known employee, who is synonymous with a wine brand, starts following a Pinterest porn page, showing on his Facebook page. Every shared hangover may build a profile of the person linked to a business brand, not what an employer may want to see.  Should one reTweet or share photographs or news about competitors’ brands and so ‘endorse’ them by implication if one is a well-known brand personality?  Are Mommy Tweets and Braai Tweets appropriate for the CEO of Cape Town Tourism, when one is following her for tourism news on Twitter?   Blocking followers on Twitter and on Facebook does not prevent one from reading the posts and Tweets, if one thought that the employer and others would not see them.  Employers have checked the Facebook page and Twitter feed of prospective employees, and have not employed them in some instances, due to what they have seen.  Imagine the abuse on Social Media platforms if an employee were to be disciplined, if they already are abusive towards others on these platforms?  Clients have done the same, and have often avoided using the services of suppliers if discretion is not respected in their Social Media communication.

Incredibly powerful as a communications channel, Social Media in general and Twitter specifically needs a ‘gentleman’s agreement‘ as to how to communicate.  One thing is certain: defaming any person is not only bad manners, but is also libelous, and opens the communicator (and potentially the employer) to legal action and claims for defamation.  Each one of us is a brand, whether linked to an employer or self-employed, and so a profile is built up through Twitter and Facebook about a person, and the brand linked to it, even though one may never have met that person.

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

Last night Cape Town Tourism held its AGM with a record attendance of more than 650 members as well as Twitter-invited guests, the interest being high due to the eagerly awaited advertising campaign the industry was promised.  It was a very fast presentation of the campaign highlights, but not an actual campaign, and received mixed reaction.

Mayor Patricia de Lille set the scene, motivating the campaign by saying that the double dip recession means that new tourism markets must be found, and that we must change how we do business, and which business we attract to Cape Town.  We must draw people to work and live in Cape Town, and not just to visit as tourists. She said that the campaign speaks to our needs, is simple, changeable, gives the city new energy, and repositions it. Chairman of the Board and head of ACSA in Cape Town, Ian Bartes,  confirmed the world economic crisis, and that it has impacted negatively on long haul travel, meaning that Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism must be redefined.  He said that the company has to be made ‘future-fit’, a term used a number of times, and therefore duplication was reduced, the company was restructured, efficiency was increased, and overheads reduced, to drive Cape Town to be the top city in Africa by 2020.  Cape Town must be positioned as the city to visit, to live in, to do business in, and to study in.  Board member Claus Tworeck presented the financial statements, and stated that tourism is not for ‘sissies’.  His figures showed that Cape Town Tourism has received a grant from the City of Cape Town of R40 million for the current financial year, and is aiming to make another R6 million in self-generated income. R18 million is going to salaries (i.e. R1,5 million per month, an extraordinary high salary bill), with R27 million remaining for ‘other operating expenses’, the marketing budget not being split out of this figure.   The Discovery/National Geographic campaign is known to cost Cape Town Tourism R8 million, and a figure of R3 million was mentioned by an advertising agency executive for the budget for the advertising campaign, a figure which seems minimal, and would only buy domestic coverage, as a ‘feel-good’ campaign for Capetonians, it was suggested!  Interesting was the mention by Cape Town Tourism legal advisor Mike Evans of Webber Wentzel, who mentioned financial ‘wrong-doing’ by the organisation’s previous Financial Manager (and Deputy CEO), and that Cape Town Routes Unlimited will close down, and therefore one of the resolutions called for the future exclusion of an ex officio representative of the tourism body, initially planned to allow communication between the two bodies, and to be replaced with a representative of the City of Cape Town, being its major funder.  It was interesting to note that not one question was allowed during the two and a half hour presentation, not quite how an AGM should be run!

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took us through old territory, already covered in its Brand Cape Town and the ‘Strategic Plan’ presentations, justifying its new focus on ‘urban travellers’, making up more than 70 % of tourists, she said. She said there is not enough knowledge about Cape Town, and perceptions about its expense and poor winter weather need to be changed.  The goal is to get back to tourism figures of 2007, and to regain 10% of South African visitors in Cape Town by 2016.  The new VMMS booking system via Nightsbridge is up and running for small accommodation establishments.  A new tiered membership scheme is to be introduced, to attract more businesses as members. She spoke about the joint Discovery/National Geographic campaign with Durban, Johannesburg and SA Tourism, negotiated by its Australian consultant Ian Macfarlane, as if it has been approved, but my call yesterday to Durban Tourism demonstrated that this campaign is far from certain and approved, at least as far as the other areas are concerned.  If run, it would include print articles too, as well as a Discovery-funded film school, teaching young talent about film-making, and using the footage generated for Cape Town Tourism and on Discovery.  A ‘My Cape Town’ campaign was run to instill pride in locals about their city. Mrs Helmbold announced that a new Cape Town clothing range is to be launched, as well as a Cape Town City Card.  A joint Cape Town media and guest relations programme is to be launched with SA Tourism and SAA.

Getting to the advertising campaign, Mrs Helmbold said that it should stimulate demand, disperse visitors across the city, and increase their spend while they are on holiday. The campaign must move away from the stale representation of Cape Town, to one that showcases the real depth of Cape Town, against the backdrop of our ‘home’. The campaign will be launched at World Travel Market in London on 7 November, and Cape Town Tourism will look to partnering with international airlines, to offer packages.  Short city-break packages will be offered, and an (unreadable) Events year-round calendar was flashed on the screen. Historic sites, including the fan walk, will be linked via walks. The number of Visitor Centres will be reduced down from 18 currently, to a ‘handful’, representing 50 % of the budget. The essence of Cape Town is ‘the unexpected city’, no longer focusing on our city’s natural beauty, and that it is the gateway to more beauty in the areas surrounding Cape Town.  Ogilvy Cape Town was challenged to not produce traditional advertising and boring travelogues.  At the core of the campaign is that ‘Cape Town is the urban tonic to put life back into your life’. Visiting Cape Town will create a number of benefits, incorporated in the campaign:

*  ‘Cape Town: I was here for five star menus and I left with a secret recipe’

*   ‘Cape Town: I was here to play and I found a place to work’

*   ‘Cape Town: You go there for beautiful landscapes, and you find beautiful people’

*   ‘Cape Town: I wanted to change Cape Town, but it changed me’

The campaign was described as cheeky, presenting the warmth of its people, representing its proximity, authenticity and intimacy, and highlighting that Cape Town is a city of mind and being.  The pay-off line ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’ is extended into a business application: “You don’t need a conference, you need Cape Town”.

The campaign was presented in a rush, in an audio-visual, with print ads, bus shelter advertising, and more shown.  No mention was made of the campaign budget, the target market, and the cities/countries in which it would be run. As we left the Cape Town International Convention Centre venue, we were handed a yellow envelope, which contained a Campaign Strategy diagram.  In the media release, Mrs Helmbold is quoted as follows: “The marketing campaign is about more than just attracting tourists.  It’s about incorporating business and investment, the creative and innovation sectors and academia into one vision and direction: economic growth , job creation and inclusion to the benefit of all citizens”. In 2008 Cape Town Tourism was tasked by the City of Cape Town to lead a brand positioning process, focusing on that which makes the city unique. Industry workshops were held, and the Cape Film Commission, Accelerate Cape Town, and the Economic Development Programme were involved, to create a city brand for the residents of Cape Town, as well as its tourists, businesses and students.

None of the persons I spoke to after the presentation raved about the campaign.  They seemed luke warm, some stating that too much information about the campaign was thrown at the audience in too short a time. One design specialist could not believe that the campaign was nothing more than an ‘old-fashioned’ print campaign, and he missed the new media connection to it, which should have been the foundation, in his opinion. It was uncertain whether there would be TV advertising, as we were not shown a TV commercial. An ad man, whose agency had been involved in the pitch for the account, said it was nothing more than a ‘feel-good’ campaign for Capetonians, and he seemed a little angry that agencies had been asked to pitch for the account, when it was probably just a tactic to give Cape Town Tourism’s ad agency a shake.

The campaign will make Capetonians even more smug and proud to be living in this beautiful city.  Whether it will make more tourists, businesspersons, students and new residents come to Cape Town to visit and to live here remains to be seen.  Our counter to the campaign: You don’t need an Advertising Campaign, you need Cape Town!

Read the full speech by Mrs Helmbold here.

POSTSCRIPT 18/10: The Cape Times headline today about the Cape Town Tourism campaign, “When a holiday isn’t just a trip, but tripping on Cape Town”, could easily be interpreted to mean something that probably wasn’t intended, and would not be good for the image of the city.  Oddly, the article quotes the Cape Town Tourism PRO Skye Grove as saying ‘that the cost of the campaign has not been determined, but that the body’s annual budget would be aligned to it’. No ad agency would design a campaign without a budget for it, and therefore one wonders why Cape Town Tourism is not divulging this information.  We have written to Mrs Helmbold, asking her for the budget, and to confirm the information about the Discovery/National Geographic campaign budget approval, but we have not yet received a reply from her.

POSTSCRIPT 11/11: I came across this You Tube video ‘interview’ by Cape Town Tourism Communications Manager Skye Grove with her boss Velma Corcoran, the Marketing Manager of the tourism body, at World Travel Market in London over the weekend.  The interview does not give one a feeling of Mrs Corcoran’s ability to market the city, the interview reflecting her lack of confidence and initiative, not making much eye contact with Ms Grove during the interview.  By contrast, a similar interview conducted by Ms Grove with Mary Tebje, Cape Town Tourism’s international media representative in the UK, was far more impressive.  Ms Tebje exudes confidence and sounds very knowledgeable about the UK market, and what it expects from Cape Town as a tourist destination.

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

Cape Town Tourism has been conducting a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops since late last year, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. 

Scanning the external environment, it identified threats such as the economic crisis, global urbanisation, and a greater consciousness about the impact of flying on the environment and climate change.  It also faced the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough business tourism, being the result perhaps of too large a focus on Leisure Tourism in the past, and too little on attracting businesspersons to have their meetings, events and conferences in Cape Town.  Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems.

We have been critical about what we have seen in print about the Brand Cape Town workshops, but a completely different picture emerged in the presentation, which I was invited to attend last week, the last in the process of sharing the outcome of the brainstorm, and in obtaining input to the content of the branding and marketing debate.  To justify the positioning of Inspiration, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold took the attendees through the various ways in which Cape Town inspires its citizens, its local visitors, and its international tourists.  It was an inspiring presentation, and afterwards I felt proudly Capetonian in having learnt a lot more about the achievements of our city and its people.  The following were some of the Inspiration highlights identified for Cape Town in the presentation:

*   Nelson Mandela took his first steps of freedom in Cape Town, and Cape Town should own this historic moment

*   quality education facilities, with four top class universities in Cape Town and Stellenbosch.  Stanford has set up a satellite campus in the city, and Harvard is said to follow suit.   UCT had been voted top university in Africa, and best value for Money MBA in world in a Financial Times survey

*   safe CBD

*   excellent and modern infrastructure, including the airport, the IRT bus system, the station, highways, and the Cape Town Stadium

*   ‘cosmopolitan entry point into South Africa and Africa’

*   Focus on Biodiversity, with the smallest but most bountiful floral kingdom.  Kirstenbosch has won gold or silver for the past 33 years at the Chelsea Flower Show in London

*   Excellent healthcare facilities, with pioneering medical leadership, including Dr Christiaan Barnard’s heart transplant world first

*   One of best value guest house and B&B cities, offering not only 5-star accommodation

*   An historic port city

*   The V&A is South Africa’s leading tourist destination, and has further development plans

*   The Green Point Urban Park

*   A living heritage in the Castle, the oldest building in South Africa

*   A historic showcase of creativity at the Iziko museums and galleries

*   Living contemporary culture with African and European roots, which is not gumboot dancing!

*   Rich music tradition, in goema and Cape Minstrel music, but also current, with Goldfish, Jack Parow, Freshly Ground, Kyle Shepherd, Locnville, Die Antwoord, and Abdullah Ibrahim.  The Cape Town International Jazz Festival has become a world event.

*   Sporting tradition, in hosting the world’s largest timed Argus Cycle race, and the Volvo Ocean Race includes Cape Town, and sportspersons such as Para-Olympic star Natalie du Toit, and the development of the paddleyak

*   A theatre tradition, with Athol Fugard receiving a Lifetime Achievement award at the Tony’s for his plays

*   Africa’s first billionaire and space traveller Mark Shuttleworth, and his Shuttleworth Foundation, supporting IT development.  Development of Silicon Cape.

*   Sustainability Institute of the University of Stellenbosch

*   The Cape Town International Convention Centre is the leading convention centre in Africa

*   The leading builder of twin-hull catamarans

*  The favourite film and photography location, because of the beauty of and good light in the city, and the potential of a James Bond movie being shot in the city

*  Nobel Peace Prize winners such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Past President FW de Klerk

*   Table Mountain, which is a finalist for the New7Wonders of the World

*   Visits by magnificent Southern Right whales, home to penguins

*   Environmentally-friendly Green Cabs, and the opening up of cycle and pedestrian routes in the city 

*   Leading environmental and sustainable city, with all new low-cost housing built with solar geyser panels, and wind-farming in Darling.  ‘Smart Living Handbook’ for sustainability written by City of Cape Town 

*   Three wine routes within Cape Town and 16 on the city’s doorstep, with many boutique wine farms

*   Beer tourism is a new segment, with 40 micro breweries within a 2-hour drive of Cape Town.  Inspiring new BOS ice-tea 

*   Fresh produce markets, with organic foods, outstanding restaurants such as The Test Kitchen and Mzoli’s Meat define Cape Town, and the plan is to develop a Master Chefs Cape Town series.   Having Justin Bonello showcase South African food is a boost for the city.  Charly’s Bakery is a passionate, all-women team, who baked a cake representing Cape Town for the Design Indaba.

*   Cape Town is one of three finalists for World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin, spearheaded by the Cape Town Partnership.  The judges will be in Cape Town from 24 – 27 July, and the winning city will be announced on 26 October. The Design Indaba is a design highlight for the country, with its annual conference and exhibition.  At the last exhibition, attendees were asked to write in support of the city’s bid – this comment summarised what Cape Town stands for: “Cape Town’s people are her most beautiful landscape”.

*    Cape Town has a vibrant fashion scene, designer Dion Chang saying that “The tip of Africa is the tipping point”.

*   Cape Town is at the center of the magazine publishing industry.

*   The city has excellent furniture designers

*   The Joule electric car is being built in Cape Town, the first in Africa.

*   Cape Town has more Social Media users than any other part of the country 

 During her presentation, Mrs Helmbold made a number of statements about our city:

*   Economy based on tourism, finance, infrastructure, food and wine, logistics, and creative industries.

*   Cape Town is at the tipping point, either sinking into oblivion, or living up to the accolades it is reaping

*   Cape Town has been in a brand vacuum since the World Cup – not spending money on marketing the city will lead us to the example of Sydney, which is seeing a steady decline in visitors as it decided to not market the city after the 2000 Olympics

*   A destination is not just a slogan or a logo

*   Cape Town is a city of contrasts, of haves and have-nots

*   Brand Cape Town’s strength is Tourism (Visit), it is neutral on its education and residential facilities (Live and Learn), and weak on its potential as a centre of employment and investment (Work and Invest).

*   Cape Town underperforms in domestic tourism, mainly relative to Durban

*   Conversion of holidaymakers into business tourists is needed for Cape Town, and business visitors must be encouraged to return as holidaymakers, as Cape Town is weak as a Business Brand

*   Cape Town is a ‘challenger brand’ which does not have a long-established history, and stands for freedom, freshness and transformation, attractive to a world that has got tired of visiting boring places. “Challenger brands harness the power of authenticity, locals first, emotional pull, storytelling (Word of Mouse)”.

*   The pillars of Cape Town are Robben Island; its cultural diversity; the food and wine industry; Biodiversity; Table Mountain; Cape of Good Hope; hubs of innovation, creativity, enterprise and government; higher education and skills training; Sports and MICE; and Colour and Light.  

Cape Town Tourism is to assist business-related bodies in the city to market the city with a ‘brand box’.   It has worked with Accelerate, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, Wesgro, Cape Town Partnership, and the City of Cape Town in developing the new positioning for Cape Town, to establish it as ‘one of the top world cities to live, work, invest, learn and visit, in order to drive inclusive economic growth and social transformation in Cape Town’.  The presentation we attended was the last, and the implementation phase will now commence, Mrs Helmbold said.  In question time, FEDHASA Cape chairman Dirk Elzinga stated that great things are happening in Cape Town, but ‘we are not telling the world’, he said.

Mel Miller, former ad agency owner and creative director, and ex Cape Town Tourism Board member, is very critical of Cape Town’s new ‘Inspirational’ positioning, saying that it has been used by Edinburgh (‘Inspiring Capital’) already.  Miller points out that a previous tourism strategy consultant to Cape Town Tourism comes from Edinburgh! 

Mrs Helmbold showed a video presentation by Silver Bullet meant to represent Cape Town.  It was certainly not one of a beautiful Cape Town, but one of a very cloudy looking Cape Town, with a lot of focus on clouds billowing over Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, and what appeared as a fast-speed race through Cape Town.  I was NOT inspired by it, and it did not represent any of the Inspiration that Mrs Helmbold had presented to the audience.

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

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

Mmastsatsi Marobe, CEO of the Tourism Business Council, has said that tourism could be one way in which the South African economy can be stimulated, as reported in Travelwires.

She said that while individual accommodation establishments have seen a decline in occupancy, the IPL cricket and British and Irish Lions Rugby tours are good for the national economy, and demonstrated that South Africa is a viable destination for sport, business and leisure.

She identified a number of tourism trends that can stimulate the economy:

1.   Local tourism is on the up, at the expense of international tourism.  In the UK 20 % of British holidaymakers will travel in their own country this year.

2.   Going on holiday is a means of escapism from the doom and gloom of the effects of the credit crunch.   “Tourism provides a psychological lift to the psyche of the public”.

3.   Green is gold, in that tourists are becoming more discerning in expecting their accommodation to be environmentally responsible.

Marobe called for more young persons to be employed by the tourism industry, as they are the future of the tourism industry.

“…we all have a role to play in stimulating the economy through tourism – keep visiting, keep hosting, and keep investing” concluded Marobe.