Entries tagged with “numerology”.

Looking at 2012, I consulted some Numerology sites, and I was reminded of the prediction that the world will end on 21 December this year, an interesting focus to start the year with, and encouraging one to make the most of this year. Adding up the numbers in 2012, giving a total of 5, the emphasis this year will be one of Change, Change and Change, as one site wrote.  A political change is forecast for the USA, more natural disasters are predicted, and the world economy looks to remain shaky.  We enter the Year of the Dragon later this month, being the 5th and a very powerful sign in the Chinese calendar, signalling change, power, and improvement.

What does that mean for us:

*  Tourism from Europe and the UK will remain depressed.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year’s Eve address last night that this year will be even tougher than last year, but she has promised to do everything in her power to stabilise the Euro, introduced ten years ago today, and to build a stronger bond in the European Union.  The UK market is likely to remain depressed, and no great increase in tourism numbers can be expected, with the exception of February, a popular travel month for Britons who like to get away from a bitterly cold winter, and who like to celebrate ‘Valentine’s Month’ in the Cape.  Bookings for February already look promising for Whale Cottage Camps Bay.  August has become a relatively good tourism month, despite it still being winter, with many Europeans coming on holiday.  This year this period coincides with the Olympic Games in London, which may reduce tourism numbers in the first half of the month.

*   South Africans will remain the foundation of tourism this year, and the summer season will end early, with Easter falling on the first weekend of April. However, there are six public holidays falling on weekdays this year, and these are normally good for tourism business.  A 5-day long weekend, from 27 April to 1 May, could be a last summer highlight for the hospitality industry.

Other predictions we would like to see become reality are the following:

*   Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited being amalgamated in one private sector driven body, to prevent the current duplication of marketing activity and spend, with sharper strategic and marketing thinking.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited will be incorporated into Wesgro in April. There is no sign of the new Cape Town Tourism “You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town” campaign or its effect, which was launched locally with great fanfare at the AGM in October, and internationally at World Travel Market in London in November.  Any work that Cape Town Tourism’s UK trade and media representative may be doing is not bearing fruit.  Its Australian consultant Ian Macfarlane seems to have vanished, his contract having ended last month.  Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is on maternity leave, and one can speculate that no marketing of Cape Town will happen until she returns, if the past month is anything to go by. We would like to see a greater transparency by Cape Town Tourism in how it is spending its members’ and Cape Town ratepayers monies (R40 million), information which Mrs Helmbold has refused to release to date!

*   A new Eat Out editor and Top 10 restaurant judge, given that the current incumbent has lost credibility, and a fairer and transparent judging process.

*   Better support of Cape Town and Winelands restaurants by locals, especially in winter, when unbelievable specials are offered

*   Better service in restaurants, shops, and in any other businesses dealing with the public.  Franschhoek, for example, is fast losing its professional image due to poorly trained staff, often left to their own devices, without any management support.

*   Better ability of businesses to accept service and other feedback, in the interest of improving things, rather than to be defensive and vindictive about it.

*   A longer life for new restaurants, which means that they need to do better research to understand their market and potential diners before opening, and must build loyalty.

*  A reorientation of when the country goes on holiday, and its bosses in particular.  It seems crazy that businesses close on 15 December for 2 – 3 weeks, and that hospitality and tourism bureau management goes on leave, at a time when business is at its peak, instead of in winter, when business is at its poorest!

*   A total revamp of labour legislation (a big dream, I know!), in discouraging employee departures without giving notice, greater checking of employee references, the development of a register of unreliable staff to the benefit of all employers, and a better balance in the rights of employers.  If there is one aspect of business that most owners complain about and are most influenced by in terms of service delivery it is staff. Such changes may lead to higher employment.

*   A better rates dispensation by municipalities, to recognise that most accommodation establishments and other tourism businesses operate at 50 % occupancy at best in winter, yet must pay rates in full.

*   More responsible reporting about the state of tourism in the Cape by the media and tourism bodies, and to not exaggerate its status.

*   More responsible behaviour in terms of the effect that our lifestyle has on climate change, the negative effects of which were well demonstrated in 2011.

*   More kindness and niceness to others, putting the ‘social’ back into Social Media!

We wish all our guests, suppliers, staff, tourism colleagues, friends, and readers a successful, healthy, and bubbly 2012!

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

Today we have reached an exciting milestone on our Whale Cottage Blog, in that this is our 1000th blogpost.  We thank our readers for their support in reading our blog, and for providing feedback, to help us improve as we developed over the almost three years. In numerology, 1000 symbolises multitude and perfection, we have learnt from Google, and we dedicate our next 1000 blogposts to be worthy of this definition.

Highlights have been making the Top 10 on the Most Controversial Blog category of the 2010 SA Blog Awards, achieving a cumulative unique readership of just under half a million in the last 16 months (about 30000 per month on average), and setting up the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club last year.

So what have we learnt about blogging and our blog in the close to three years:

*   Restaurant news in general, and reviews and special offers specifically have attracted the greatest interest on this blog.   Our most widely read restaurant reviews, since we went onto Google Analytics 16 months ago, are for Tokara DeliCATessen, Sotana by Caveau, Gaaitjie, Pierneef à La Motte, and Duchess on Wisbeach.  It was the enjoyment of writing the review of Portofino restaurant, owned by Cormac Keane, that got us started with reviews, and we have written more than 100 reviews since then.  We have seen negative reaction to some of these, and have been banned from the Caveau group of restaurants (including Sotano), the Caviar group of restaurants (Beluga and Sevruga), Opal Lounge, and Café des Arts as a result.  Restaurants generally are poor at Social Media, and only a handful blog and/or are on Twitter.  This means that a restaurant’s information most often is provided by a blog rather than by the restaurant’s own website, which can be to its advantage or diadvantage, depending on the reviews that are listed on the first page of Google.  Other highly read blogposts are the Winter and Summer Restaurant Specials lists, the Table Mountain vote for the New7Wonders of the World, Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock’s visit to Fresnaye in January 2009, and the Disney service training programme instituted just days before the World Cup. 

*   Tourism topics have also attracted attention, probably because there are far fewer writers on this topic.

*    Word spreads quickly if a blogpost is controversial, and brings in new readers to the blog.  Despite all allegations to the contrary, we have never written a blogpost to be controversial.  It is the reaction to it by our readers that causes the controversy. 

*   Comments have become harder to manage, and increasingly cowardly commenters write anonymously to slate the writer of the blog or the subject of a blogpost.  If one deletes such comments, one is criticised; if one publishes them, one is equally criticised!

*   While blog readers enjoy honesty, and probably read this blog for it, those that are on the receiving end of it plus their friends do react with venom, rather than using the feedback to improve their service and quality. The nastiness in ‘unSocial Media’, our new name for it, has been shocking, especially in a campaign by David Cope on Twitter, where anything goes!

*   Blogging has become very competitive, as bloggers chase readership, and want to be the first to review a new restaurant.  Achieving a first page Google listing for a restaurant, for example, can attract readership over time to the blog by new users when they Google the name of a restaurant.    

*   Readership is disappointingly low on public holidays and weekends.  Saturdays have the lowest blog reading numbers, dropping by up to half of weekday readership. Our highest readership of this blog was on 16 June 2010, during last year’s World Cup, when a tag for ‘2010’ was widely linked to this blog, attracting 9000 page views on that day alone. 

*   Although most readers are unknown to the writer, one carries a huge responsibility in shaping people’s opinions through what one writes.   We try our best to remain objective in presenting information at all times.  We have been blamed for wishing to destroy restaurants and new initiatives, yet supply news about restaurant openings and specials all the time.  Attempts were made last year by Michael Olivier (Editor of Crush!), David Cope (The Foodie Blogger) and Skye Grove (Cape Town Tourism PR Manager) to have this blog closed down.  We moved our blog hosting to America, to prevent this. 

*   Information as well as images are most likely to bring traffic via Google to the website, followed by Twitter.   Facebook is far less likely to draw traffic.

*   The weekly Sweet & Sour Service are enjoyed by readers, and many readers read the blog on a Friday, to check who has received the Sour Award, and then catch up in reading the blogposts of the pevious week.  The Spar Sweet/Limelight Sour Service Awards attracted an unusually high readership, and still do.

Looking forward, we plan to continue being honest, no matter what the cost.  We will endeavour to remain relevant, and to remain heard in the increasing Social Media ‘noise’, as more and more blogs are started, and existing ones reinvent themselves.   We will try to write shorter blogposts!   We will continue helping others to become better bloggers, and will endeavour to never stop learning from others too.

Thank you 1000 times for your readership and support!

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