Entries tagged with “Discovery”.


In the 2018 Brandz study by Kantar Millward Brown it has created a list of ten most trusted South African brands, a list which includes mainly food products, the 75 year old KOO one of these and right at the top on Trust, and the very new online shopping brand Takealot.com, already ranked third.  None of the country’s largest value brands appear on the top trusted brand list.  (more…)

I have not been fitness-conscious in many years, but in preparation for my Camino walk, I decided to invest in a FitBit, a watch that not only tells the date and time, but also provides information about one’s activity in terms of steps and kilometers covered, calories burned, and one’s heart rate. All the measures are tracked daily and weekly, from the time that one startswearing the FitBit. (more…)

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mainstreet Computers in Hermanus, and its owner Johanns. Recently I laid a charge against Mike Pierce at the Hermanus police station for trespassing, and breaking and entering, and had to provide proof of warnings to Pierce to not enter my property. For that I needed to print out warning emails at the closest copy shop I found. In doing so, I realised that I had left my handbag in my car, which I had left at the house of a friend in Cape Town, and had to ask Johanns if I could return later in the day to pay the R22,5o for the email printouts, being able to borrow the money from a friend. To my shock and surprise, he agreed. It was an amazing sign of trust, even if for a small amount, to a customer he had never met before. (more…)

The Sweet Service Award goes to Lufthansa, for its excellent service on a direct daytime flight from Cape Town to Munich in February. It started with the check-in, where the very kind assistant Alex allocated a window seat to me. He saw me while we were waiting to board, carried my hand luggage, and took me to the front of the queue. Before the boarding had officially started, he walked me to the aircraft, so that I could be the first person on board. He even tried his best to speak German to me, but I told him that I lived in Cape Town. The service on board was excellent, contrary to past experiences of Lufthansa air hostesses. There was (more…)

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

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

A R32 million three-year advertising campaign to promote Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg is in the pipeline, if the three city tourism bodies approve their contribution of R8 million each to the campaign, reports the Daily News.

Designed by controversial Cape Town Tourism’s Australian Strategetic Consultant Ian Macfarlane, the campaign is said to be flighted on Discovery (a client of Macfarlane, as we reported previously, but not mentioned by the newspaper) and on National Geographic channels, with ‘billions of TV viewers’.   The viewership figure is widely exaggerated, Wikipedia reporting that Discovery Channel has 431 million and National Geographic Channel 160 million viewers internationally.

The Daily News refers to Macfarlane’s ‘success with tourism ventures in New Zealand, Australia and Abu Dhabi’. We have previously written about the failure of Macfarlane’s Tourism Australia campaign.  The campaign is said to start in April 2012, meaning that it will not benefit the tourism industry for summer at all.  While it would be noble for the timing of the campaign to address seasonality that Cape Town suffers from specifically, it could be a failure if flighted only in our winter months.

Discovery Channel is said to make an hour-long movie about South Africans’ lifestyles, and National Geographic will produce a 30-minute programme.  For Durban, the joint campaign would counter the loss of 1,9 million tourists in the last five years, translating up to R2 billion, the article reports. SA Tourism will also be requested to contribute R8 million to the marketing campaign.

Information about the presentation by Macfarlane to Durban Tourism about the new joint marketing campaign appeared in The Mercury too last week, but no reporting about the approval of the funds has been seen in Cape Town and Johannesburg-based media, nor national media.  The Mercury listed Macfarlane’s experience with the ‘Pure New Zealand‘, the failed Tourism Australia campaign, his association with Gold Coast Tourism, and marketing for Sydney and Abu Dhabi.  It also mentions campaigns for Auckland and India, which did not appear on Macfarlane’s Strategetic Consultants’ website (and surprisingly contains no information about the consultancy anymore), nor can they be found on a Google search. In The Mercury, Macfarlane is quoted as saying that Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are not well known globally. He is also said to have expressed the view that SA Tourism’s marketing of the country is focused around the ‘Big Five’ and natural beauty, when 78% of the world’s tourists are ‘urban travellers’. His criticism of the marketing by SA Tourism is interesting, given that SA Tourism is expected to be one of the four funders of the joint city marketing programme. Macfarlane said:“Our campaign through this three cities joint tourism marketing initiative aims to put South Africa’s three top urban hubs in the global spotlight. We have negotiated agreements with major channels such as National Geographic and Discovery, which will see a dedicated programme created for Durban, Cape Town, and Joburg (sic), interesting in that the agreement has been negotiated  without clarity of funding from all four the parties. “It’s an unbelievable package that we have negotiated and an opportunity that should not be missed. I am optimistic the cities will secure the funds and hope SA Tourism will come on board”, he concluded.  Macfarlane added that the cities would get more than R32 million in value from the proposed programme.

Today Cape Town Tourism reveals to its members its advertising campaign, designed by its advertising agency Ogilvy Cape Town.

POSTSCRIPT I7/10: I spoke to Phillip Sithole, CEO of Durban Tourism, who was featured in the articles, after trying to reach him six times during the day.  Each time he made me call back.  He was evasive in providing further detail, saying that the campaign is still confidential.  He did not know which of the cities have had their contribution to the campaign approved, and said that they were meeting SA Tourism next month, to discuss it with them.  He said that each city was to get an hour-long programme, which would be flighted regularly over the three year period.  He emphasised the Lifestyle content of the programme, focusing on the urban lifestyle each city offers, including restaurants, entertainment, events, accommodation, education, music festivals and more.  Coverage would not only be on the TV channels but also in the affiliated magazines of the channels.  He became very agitated and defensive when I asked him if he knew about the failure of the Tourism Australia campaign, saying that failure was good, and meant that Macfarlane would have learnt from it!  He said that he believes in the proposed campaign, and supports it.

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

Last week Cape Town Tourism hosted a series of four workshops on “A Strategic Plan for Cape Town Tourism and Destination Brand for Cape Town”, invitations having been sent to Cape Town Tourism members.  The presentation was wishy-washy, and most certainly did not meet the promise of a “Strategic Plan”.  I left the two-hour presentation concerned, and convinced that Cape Town Tourism does not have a clue about Marketing, despite the appointment of an Australian consultant!

What was not previously declared by Cape Town Tourism was that it has appointed Ian Macfarlane of Strategetic Consultants in Sydney, who has worked with the organisation for six weeks already.  One wonders why a consultant had to be appointed at all, if Cape Town Tourism is the City of Cape Town appointed marketing agency of ‘Brand Cape Town’, and had Lianne Burton as its consultant Marketing Manager (we have previously questioned her Marketing capability, being a journalist),  and why a consultant from Australia has been appointed on a five month contract, and at which cost!  Macfarlane was introduced as the ex-Marketing Manager for Tourism New Zealand,  which developed the ‘100% Pure New Zealand’ advertising campaign more than ten years ago, CEO of the Gold Coast Tourism Bureau in Australia, and Marketing Director of Tourism Australia, which launched the controversial campaign ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’, when tourism dipped after the Olympics.  This campaign cost $180 million, and was deemed a failure and withdrawn, being banned in the UK for the use of the word ‘bloody’, and tourism numbers dropped rather than increased, according to Wikipedia!  Macfarlane is an ex-Capetonian, who was once MD of Young & Rubicam Cape Town, and left the country about 18 years ago.  Surprisingly for a marketing consultant, it was hard to find information about him on Google!  

Instead of the presentation by Macfarlane on ‘the strategic plan proposed for Cape Town Tourism’ (the plan should be for ‘Cape Town’ as a brand anyway, and not for the organisation!), as indicated in the invitation Cape Town Tourism members were sent, Macfarlane entertained us with a humorous take on the global tourism scenario.  He said that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reflects an increase in tourism, but that this is not the case, as the body is counting cross-border Asian travel, something SA Tourism has been blamed of as well, in counting shopping visits from neighbouring South African countries.  He spoke about cities winning tourism awards, which is nice for them, but that these do not translate into bookings, as we have seen with the recent TripAdvisor top destination award.  He candidly said that he hasn’t a clue about the future, and that no one knows for sure!  “Times are tough, and friends are few”, he said!  He said that tourism will be successful if many little things are done a little better, rather than doing one big thing.  These were hardly the quips we were wanting to hear about a serious topic, being our livelihood!  He talked about ‘conspicuous consumption’, having led to over-extended consumers, and that a new post-materialism era had begun. This means that consumers are looking for better value, are cutting back on their expenditure, and have become more conservative in spending their money. ‘Urbanisation tourism’ is a trend too, Macfarlane said, in that tourists like to experience the music, museums, art, and entertainment in cities. Bush holidays are on their way out, he added.  He told us that South Africa is not competing that well in a tourism context.  He reiterated that the only visuals one sees of South Africa, in SA Tourism marketing campaigns, is the Big 5, which means that these campaigns miss 70 % of the world’s travellers visiting cities.  While many expected South Africa to fail during the World Cup, it was a success he said, and left an overriding impression of its great cities in which the soccer matches took place.   The marketing of our cities has not been carried through, and now SA Tourism is pushing wildlife tourism again, he said sarcastically!  Wildlife is not unique to South Africa, shared with other African countries, thus not giving our country a unique positioning.

Macfarlane shared with us ‘learnings from the rest of the world’:

*   Visitors are the most important element of tourism, not the suppliers of tourism services.  Visitors are changing all the time.

*  There are no ‘silver bullets’ to fix tourism. A portfolio of events is needed, not one big one.  He sarcastically wished us good luck in hosting the proposed Grand Prix, saying that it had led to a financial loss for Melbourne, and had not grown tourism to the city.

*  If there is no demand, there are no sales, which means that one must get into the mindset of the traveller. 

*  Communication must be on travellers’ terms, meaning that Cape Town should not be packaged aspirationally, ‘badge value’ no longer being important to tourists.

*  There is no correlation between the exchange rate and tourism arrivals, a contentious claim!

*   ‘Destinations don’t sell themselves.  They need a USP (unique selling proposition), representing the sense of the city, touching different people at different times’

*   The ‘mindful consumer’ is tougher, looking for value, wanting to see and do more at no or little cost.  He/she wants to expend energy, cycling being popular, and wanting actively engaging experiences, in contrast to ‘restorative’ ones.

None of the above was a ‘strategic plan’, and was more of a consultant-speak overview of the world!

When Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold introduced the session at the Baxter Theatre, I was concerned when the word ‘Marketing’ was not mentioned at all.  Contrary to the invitation to hear the presentation of a ‘strategic plan for Cape Town’, Mrs Helmbold talked about an ‘intervention strategy’  that was to be an open-forum discussion, to which they wanted input.  It was not clear what Mrs Helmbold was addressing when she took over from Macfarlane.  Much of what she had said at the Brand Cape Town presentation was re-packaged, but with some changes.  For example, the upturn Mrs Helmbold had predicted for 2014 just two months ago is no longer on the table, saying that we will never recover to 2008 levels.   She urged us to become ‘scouters of change’.  Consumers are depressed.  She said it would be suicide if we looked for new markets, such as business tourism and the domestic market, and neglected the 80 % of tourists coming from our traditional European (Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy), UK, and USA markets, contradicting what she had said at the ‘Brand Cape Town’ presentations.  The marketing message for Cape Town must be changed to be relevant to more people.  Most people in the world are in ‘survival mode’, and not thinking of travelling.  “We must speak to people in their mindset, so that they put us on their bucket list”!  In the past 24 months, 118 tourism businesses closed in Cape Town.  No job creation is occurring in tourism, given the reduced tourism growth since 2008.  We are over-reliant on the traditional long-haul market, and should attract more locals, but the international tourism spend is far more lucrative.  The domestic market is the toughest ‘nut to crack’, as it comes with such established preconceptions about a city like Cape Town, e.g. it rains all the time, it is so expensive, it is so ‘racist’, it is so clicky, and it is so far away!  For the domestic market these are realities.  This market should be attracted to Cape Town for short city breaks.

Further highlights mentioned by Mrs Helmbold reflecting marketing activities included:

*  Cape Town should package tourism around events already hosted rather than creating new events. 

*  airfares to the country are high, and discussions are taking place to address this. Increased demand is needed for airfares to drop.

*   Cape Town has some of the world’s best 5-star hotels, but also good value for money B&B’s and guest houses

*    the knowledge for Cape Town must increase, and change.  Here Mrs Helmbold  went down the ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshop presentation route, justifying a broader positioning for the city in being a centre of academia, business and creativity.

The only element of a ‘Strategic Plan’ I picked up was its Vision: “to make Cape Town a ‘must visit’ city”!  This means that visitors must be encouraged to come now and spend more.  Very briefly, some marketing activities were mentioned, too specific to be a ‘Strategic Plan’, including:

*  promotions of the city, with showcases on Discovery (interestingly, the Tourism New Zealand campaign also focused strongly on the Discovery channel) and National Geographic channels, a joint project with the tourism offices of Durban and Johannesburg, as well as of SA Tourism.  Within these programs, city-specific ads and promotional programs will be placed.

*   packaging food and wine events under one umbrella, to establish Cape Town as the Gourmet Capital of Africa (the city cannot lay claim to this, as this accolade belongs to Stellenbosch)

*   tourists must go beyond the usual city tourist attractions, and should be involved in the history of the city, in experiencing the story of freedom in a creative way, and incorporating the Fan Walk.

*   proactive PR

*   do more direct marketing with the consumer via the Cape Town Tourism website, with real-time bookability

*   ‘community-building’ on-line via social media

*  appointment of an ad agency this week, to create a brand campaign, to be launched at the Cape Town Tourism AGM om 17 October.

*   local content about Cape Town is to be created and distributed via the Cape Town Film Commission

*  reviewing and probably reducing the number and location of the Cape Town visitor centres, eighteen being too many.

*   A Brand Ambassador campaign, using Cape Town residents as communication icons, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit, and SABC3 Expresso Show and Kfm presenter Liezl van der Westhuizen.  The day after the presentation, the Cape Argus headline screamed “Tutu: tax wealthy whites”, hardly the brand ambassador needed for Cape Town! 

*  inviting visitors to Cape Town to attend blog club meetings

*  targeting the ‘young black market’

‘Cape Town’ is a brand that is 361 years old, and is a ‘city of villages’.  It still has a very generic image, and stands for a ‘cloud of things’.  The cloud must give the tourist enough reason to come to Cape Town, concluded Mrs Helmbold. 

It was clear to me that there is no exact ‘strategic plan’, let alone a Marketing Plan for Cape Town, which is what we were expecting!  It was a collection of clichés!  A discussion arose around my question about the proposed positioning of ‘Inspiration’, which Mrs Helmbold harps on about for Cape Town, despite it already having been used for Edinburgh and Korea, and even by Pick ‘n Pay!  Mrs Helmbold’s response, saying that it is hard to find something unique to say for Cape Town, and that Cape Town would be packaged ‘as a basket of unique propositions’, despite the appointment of an international consultant, made me realise that she has no understanding of Marketing!  Scary, when one considers that the City of Cape Town has entrusted R30 million of our ratepayers’ monies to Cape Town Tourism to market our city in the next twelve months, with a new Marketing Manager, coming from an advertising agency, and who is only starting at Cape Town Tourism in September!  Oddly, no summary of the ‘strategic plan’ has been sent to Cape Town Tourism members who could not attend the presentations, nor to its media list.

The report about the ‘strategic plan’ by the Cape Argus, with a headline “Cape Town to launch global drive for tourism”, appeared exaggerated relative to the information we heard in the presentation.  The report states that the plan presented by the tourism body was a response to a report by the newspaper about the city’s tourism industry being in crisis, but we challenge this, in that work on the plan commenced seven months ago, coming from the ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops!

POSTSCRIPT 15/8: A lengthy report about the ‘Strategic Plan’ was sent to Cape Town Tourism members after our blogpost was published this morning!

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