Tag Archives: MBA

Restaurant Review: Melissa’s Mantra Café in Camps Bay magnificent view, new concept!

imageAbout a month ago I bumped into the GM of the new Melissa’s Mantra Café in Camps Bay, which has a magnificent location above The 41 restaurant, overlooking the beautiful Camps Bay beach. The restaurant opened on Tuesday, and I went to try it out, knowing that its GM Ian Smith would be there. The new Melissa’s outlet connects original founder Melissa van Hoogstraaten to her Camps Bay origin.
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Neighbourhood treasure The Blue Café opens in Tamboerskloof, as Deli and General Dealer!

The Blue Cafe Exterior Whale CottageThe Blue Café opened in Tamboerskloof on Saturday, after a few months of renovation, having operated as The Daily Deli for 18 years.  The small building with attitude has a heritage dating back to 1904, and is set to become the new secret food treasure in the hood of Tamboerskloof.  Pricing is very reasonable.

I drove past yesterday afternoon, having seen a Tweet referring to its opening, and met the charming Murray von Hirschberg, co-owner with his wife Jeanne, with input from her mother Lynda Loubser.  Jeanne started working at Melissa’s Kloof Street as a teenager, first as waitress during weekends and school holidays, and then joined them full-time doing product development, having worked there for 13 years, The BLue Cafe Murray and Jeanne 2 Whale Cottageand giving up a dream to study medicine.  She told me that she loved working for Melissa van Hoogstraten.  It is Jeanne’s distinctive handwriting that was used for all price labels at Melissa’s for all the years that she worked for them. Murray told me proudly that Jeanne was accepted to do an MBA at UCT without a base degree, that she received a scholarship to study Organisation Development at Cornell University in the USA, and will start working on her PhD shortly.   Murray was an investment banker in New York, owns a massage company Enmasse, and has launched a unique Enmasse rooibos tea blend, telling Continue reading →

Freedom Day 2014: reflecting on 20 years of democracy!

SA FlagIt was the interview with a Cape Argus reporter on Friday that made me reflect on how far not only our country, but also I personally and my business have come in the 20 years since we voted on 27 April 1994.  The Argus interview was focused on the progress over the past 20 years I have seen personally, business-wise, and politically.

My very first feedback to reporter Dylan was that 1994 was the first and only time that I was allowed to vote, having a German passport.  I do not recall how it was possible for all foreigners (by passport) to be allowed to vote, when it has never been allowed before nor since then.  I loved standing in a queue somewhere in Sea Point, being part of the exciting day that would change our country forever, and how much goodwill there was amongst South Africans whilst waiting patiently in the queues. Little did we know that the rest of the world waited anxiously for the outcome of the election, fully expecting a revolution to take place, unbeknown to us residents, with thanks to the SABC in ‘protecting’ us from this world scenario.

I moved to Cape Town in 1990, and transferred my marketing research consultancy Relationship Marketing from Johannesburg, changing its emphasis to Public Relations for food clients such as Baker Street Snacks, Bonnita (now Parmalat), Aylesbury, and more.  The late John Harrison was a favourite client when he was GM of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.  Even Mark Shuttleworth was a client, before he became famous for selling his Continue reading →

Cape Town Tourism responds to criticism of its Australian “Strategetic” Consultant!

It took Cape Town Tourism two days to formulate a response to our blogpost “So who the ‘bloody hell’ is Cape Town Tourism’s Australian strategy consultant?”. The fact that they have responded to our questions regarding the six-month appointment of Australian ‘strategy consultant’ Ian Macfarlane, and dedicated a detailed reply on their website, and ‘advertised’ it on Twitter, shows that our blogpost has hit a sensitive spot!

The Cape Town Tourism reply (see the full response below) was to point out ‘inaccuracies’ in our blogpost, and to ‘contextualise the reasons for the appointment of Strategetic’, they wrote.  In summary:

*  The Request for Proposal for ‘Strategic Support to Cape Town Tourism for the development and implementation of a Cape Town Marketing and Brand Campaign‘  was announced on its website and on ‘Trade World’ (a digital procurement company, it would appear), and sent to consultants on its database, they write. Three proposals (the two other consultancy names not revealed) were short-listed. The bid by Strategetic Consultants was accepted on the basis of meeting the Request for Proposal the best, they had the ‘most appropriate global destination and brand campaign experience’, and the cost was the most competitive, they write.

*   Ian Macfarlane is knowledgeable about Cape Town, having lived and worked in the city for 18 years, they write.  However, the information about Macfarlane’s studies and appointments do not add up, as there is only a 12 year gap between his completed MBA and Tourism New Zealand starting date.  Also, no Cape Town employers are mentioned for the 1987 – 1998 period, but in our research we found his ‘Bios’ stating that he had worked at Engen (GM of Lubricants Division) and Young & Rubicam Cape Town, neither of these jobs making him an expert about Cape Town, or the tourism marketing of Cape Town.  He has not lived nor worked in Cape Town for 13 years, a vastly different city now!

*    Specific ‘inaccuracies’ in our blogpost are stated as being:

1.  the value of the ‘So where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign, its success (or lack of), and its banning is disputed.  Our information was based on Wikipedia, known to be a reliable source of information, quoting reports by the BBC and Australian media about this particular campaign.  However, should it have contained inaccurate information, reflecting so badly on Ian Macfarlane and Tourism Australia, they would have had the right to request Wikipedia to correct this information – four years or more since the termination of the campaign this has not been done!

2.   The effect of the exchange rate on tourism arrivals, or lack of, is justified through a tourism publication – it goes against the grain of experience of every South African ‘exporter’, which includes our tourism industry!

3.  The www.strategetic.co web address for Ian Macfarlane on his Strategetic Consultants’ business card may be a ‘legitimate address’, as Cape Town Tourism claims, but it does not open to the website of Strategetic Consultants. One wonders why Macfarlane would have such a nonsensical website address on his business card.  It takes one to a page with a heading “Welcome to your new Web Hosting Account”, but requests a password and log-in details!  The consultancy’s web address is www.strategetic.com.au, and one wonders why it is not on the business card correctly!

The last sentence of the last paragraph of the Cape Town Tourism response is a farce: ‘We are more than happy to answer questions to the best of our ability in furthering our commitment to transparency and accountability and we always appreciate constructive input’. It took Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, four days to reply to our five questions, which are contained in our blogpost about Ian Macfarlane.  Subsequent questions relating to the appointment have been ignored, despite three reminders!  Last night, Mrs Helmbold finally responded, writing that she will only respond to our questions on the Cape Town Tourism website, and not by e-mail: To the extent that your questions raise new issues which require a response on our website, we will update our website for the benefit of all our members and to ensure that facts are accurately presented. We will address any further queries from you in the same way”. The City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Grant Pascoe, has not replied to our e-mail, Tweet, and phone call either. The detailed Cape Town Tourism response follows below:

“Clarity on the appointment of International Tourism Consultant

Published: August 25 2011  By: Cape Town Tourism

In response to the Whale Cottage Blog post dated August 23, 2011, entitled “So who the ‘bloody hell’ is Cape Town Tourism’s new Australian strategy consultant?”, Cape Town Tourism would like to point out a number of inaccuracies in the blog post and contextualise the reasons for the appointment of Strategetic.

The Cape Town Tourism Board approved the appointment of Strategetic in July 2011 for a six month period (until the end of December, 2011) after a Request for Proposals (RFP) was released in June 2011 for “Strategic Support to Cape Town Tourism for the development and implementation of a Cape Town Marketing and Brand Campaign.”

In line with Cape Town Tourism’s procurement policy, the value of the contract did not necessitate a public tender process, but rather a public request for quotations. For the sake of transparency, Cape Town Tourism published an RFP on Cape Town Tourism’s website, on Trade World, and circulated the RFP to consultants on Cape Town Tourism’s database.

Three proposals that met the key criteria with quotations were short-listed and evaluated by the Cape Town Tourism Board. The Board was satisfied that due process was followed, that Strategetic’s proposal best addressed the RFP criteria and that they presented the most appropriate global destination marketing and brand campaign experience – a specific requirement for Cape Town Tourism in light of the need to grow demand in global markets. The business model and fee structure proposed was the most competitive and allows for a risk-share scenario, which ensures greater accountability and will allow for the generation of additional income.

The lead consultant put forward by Strategetic was Ian Macfarlane who has extensive global tourism marketing experience complemented by a good local knowledge and understanding of Cape Town and South Africa, having lived in Cape Town for 18 years and worked in various corporate senior management positions whilst based in the city. To be relevant in the international arena in which Cape Town competes, access to international best practice and expertise, coupled with local knowledge, is very important.

Macfarlane’s verified qualifications and experience include:

  • B. Com., UNISA 1980 – 1984
  • MBA, UCT, GSB, 1985 – 1986
  • M. Phil (applied environmental ethics). U. Stellenbosch) (1996 – 1997)
  • Adjunct Professor: Victoria University Melbourne, Tourism and Hospitality Research Centre
  • Previous Board Member Ehrenberg-Bass Marketing Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2007 – 2010)
  • Previous Board member Tourism Research Council New Zealand
  • GM Marketing Tourism New Zealand (1998 – December 2003)
  • CEO Gold Coast Tourism, Queensland. Australia (2004)
  • Director Marketing, Tourism Australia, Sydney (2005 – 2007)
  • Strategetic Consultants (2007 to date)

Macfarlane has also consulted on a number of tourism projects, including:

  • Brand and marketing strategy for Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority)
  • Product and experiences development for Alpine regions for Victoria
  • Adelaide: Brand strategy (City of Adelaide)
  • Sydney: Tourism brand and strategy development (Tourism New South Wales)
  • Evaluation of the impact of major events on city brand equity (CRC for Sustainable Tourism)
  • Brand strategy for Sydney Olympic Park (Sydney Olympic Park authority)

It is noteworthy that the entire marketing strategy and subsequent execution of 100% Pure New Zealand was Macfarlane’s work. The campaign is often quoted as the most successful tourism campaign ever, and resulted in market share and visitor increases for its entire duration. It still is being executed some 13 years post-launch, which is testament to its solid strategic foundations.

Regarding the inaccuracies presented in the blog, the following warrant a response:

  • The blog’s remark that the campaign cost was $180 million is incorrect. This was possibly confused either with the gross operating budget for Tourism Australia, after overhead deductions) or the unsubstantiated political spin, of the time. The budget for the So Where the Bloody Hell Are You campaign was $18m in year 1 (2006) and $10m in year two (2007).
  • The campaign was not banned in the UK and was flighted there for about 12 months.
  • Research on the campaign, undertaken by highly credible companies, show that the campaign was positioned perfectly on-brand and had good audience responsiveness.
  • Given that the campaign was developed largely to achieve publicity for Australia as a top tourist destination, it substantively achieved its goals. In fact, it is still recalled even after Tourism Australia has run a further three campaigns.
  • With reference the suggestion in the blog of visitor declines to Australia as a direct result of the campaign, it must be pointed out that, given the multi-dimensional array of factors affecting arrivals, the suggestion that the campaign alone dampened visitor arrivals is incorrect and without substantiation.
  • Since it was a global campaign, and was used in all markets, the arrivals (which were not one of the defined measures of the campaign) actually increased during and after the campaign (Tourism Research Australia, IVS Annual Reports – 2007 and 2008).
  • With regards to Macfarlane’s proposition that the exchange rate has little to no bearing on tourism arrivals, research on this matter has been conducted by both Strategetic and also by Tourism Research Australia, who published a report substantiating this; Factors Affecting Inbound Tourism; Tourism Research Australia, (June 2011 – ISBN: 798-9218121-43-9). We will be hosting a seminar dealing with, amongst other things, this topic later this year, for those who are interested.
  • .co is a legitimate address; this can be verified by Melbourne IT (either in Australia or US).

In terms of research, it is true that much money is being wasted by tourism organisations undertaking spurious research; obtaining precise measures to support ‘researched based marketing decisions’.  Much of this research is wasteful as it is predicated on product decision-making models. Criticisms of these approaches have been uncovered and substantiated by many esteemed academics. Cape Town Tourism does believe in research, but preference must be given to customer-centric research rather than purely academic research. Macfarlane has extensive experience in the field of research having graduated with a Distinction in Marketing Research (MBA 85/86) and having worked with many research agencies designing research projects and executing them throughout the world.

The fact that Macfarlane has worked extensively with global media companies is an asset to Cape Town’s tourism establishment.

Macfarlane remains contracted to Cape Town Tourism and as an independent consultant, as agreed in his contract schedule, he is able to travel between projects and clients. He returns to Cape Town on September 5, 2011.

The industry entrusts the strategic leadership of Cape Town Tourism to an industry elected Board who has the fiduciary duty to ensure compliance, good governance and the appointment of a management team with the ability to implement and manage the organisation’s operational plans and activities. Cape Town Tourism welcomes the right of any member to know more about our procedures and motivations behind our appointments, strategies and activities. We are more than happy to answer questions to the best of our ability in furthering our commitment to transparency and accountability and we always appreciate constructive input”.

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

Cape Town: City of Inspiration to work at addressing challenges in attracting business!

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