I first heard about ‘Dark Kitchens’ when I met Ian Halfon, CEO of Slick Restaurant Group, last week, his company having opened Cape Town’s newest Dark Kitchen on New Church Street in the City centre. Also known as ‘virtual kitchens’, ‘ghost kitchens’, or ‘cloud kitchens’, Dark Kitchens are independent operations creating food for a multitude of brands, such as the Slick Restaurant Group is doing, having opened its operation with five restaurant brands initially, and more planned, all food prepared from one Central kitchen, with obvious cost benefits. Food is ordered online, for delivery to the customer. Continue reading →
My journey of transformation, in losing 45kg in weight over a period of a year in 2017, as well as spiritually in walking the Camino last year, with related changes, has been sensationally documented by Huisgenoot writer Pieter Van Zyl. He wrote the story on the basis of my SwitchBitch Book 1, in which I documented my physical transformation, as well as a telephone interview. I met Van Zyl at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, of which he was an author panelist, last week. Continue reading →
On Friday I needed to travel to Hermanus, and stopped at Terra Madre in Elgin, being overwhelmed by the energy of owner Chef Nicole Precoudis, and her organic-style home-prepared produce, which can be purchased on their farm, online, as well as at an increasing number of outlets in Cape Town, or one can have it delivered weekly to one’s home. Terra Madre is true to its promise of ‘Handcrafted with Love’. Continue reading →
UK wine judge and writer Jancis Robinson spent most of this past week in the Cape Winelands, after a seven-year absence. She spoke kindly about our industry, and offered insights into the UK and USA markets. She wrote from Delaire Graff, where she had attended a Chenin Blanc tasting and stayed over: ‘South African wine is in full ferment. It deserves far more international attention than it is currently getting‘!
Unable to attend two public meetings addressed by Ms Robinson, I have looked for information about her talks, admired by some, and slated by a few.
* The announcement by Virgin Atlantic that it will drop Cape Town from its London route from 26 April2015, at the start of the local winter, comes as a shock to the Tourism industry. The new Immigration Regulations are said to be to blame in part, but the London-Johannesburg route has not been axed, therefore not making this reason credible. It would appear that it is an unprofitable route in winter, due to Cape Town’s terrible Seasonality problem in winter, but word received says that this is a permanent route axing! Tokyo, Vancouver, and Mumbai will also be chopped!
* Better news is that Qatar Airways is changing its three times a week via Johannesburg flights between Doha and Cape Town to five direct flights between the two citiesfrom 3 November onwards. The change is justified on the basis of Cape Town’s popularity as a destination in Africa.
* Minister Derek Hanekom addressed the e-Tourism Africa Summit 2014 in Cape Town today, highlighting how technology has changed tourism information provision and bookings. In 2011 150000 tourists booked via SA Tourism’s online travel agency partners. Two years later this doubled to 285000. He encouraged tourist product owners to offer tourists free wifi, so that they can share their local tourist experiences via Social Media.
Slowly a number of changes are being introduced to the publishing and marketing of ‘Platter’s South African Wines’ since JP Rossouw took over as Publisher of the wine guide about six months ago. Not all the changes may be to the liking of the wine estates, users, and advertisers of the Guide.
For the first time Platter’s has advertised! Yesterday I saw an advertisement for Platter’s in the Sunday Times Food Weekly supplement, advertising the Guide, with its newish parent Diners Club benefiting from it too. The advertisement bears the headline ‘Platter’s Wine Guide discovers the perfect pairing’, being a self-aggrandizing accolade to the marriage between Platter’s and Diners Club! The copy reads: ‘Platter’s Wine Guide, South Africa’s original and most authoritative guide to who’s who and what’s what in the Winelands, has the perfect partner in Diners Club, the world’s original and most prestigious charge card. Platter’s has always been the go-to-guide to discovering, rating, pairing and sharing South African wines. Now there’s a quick and easy way to also enjoy Platter’s on your mobile device or desktop. Filled with the latest wine news, festival alerts, hot picks and competitions, Platter’s has become an even more valuable guide. Whether you are shopping for wine, wanting to learn more, or need help planning a trip to cellars, Platter’s will enhance your journey. No App required. Simply go to www.wineonaplatter.com to subscribe’. The pay-off line is corny and meaningless: ‘When your thirst for knowledge coincides with the means to enjoy it, you BELONG‘! One would hope that Rossouw was not the copywriter of this nonsensical ad, given his past copywriting career! More likely is that the advertisement comes from the Marketing department of Diners Club, the give-away being that it contains the Facebook page address and Twitter handle of Diners Club, but not of Platter’s, a bizarre omission! Continue reading →
* The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraging its members to use IT to improve the customer experience, saying that airlines ‘fly people and cargo, not planes‘. Consistency of customer experience is not yet satisfactory for airlines, with little differentiation. Customers would like to use IT to check in online, tag luggage themselves, board themselves, and collect bags themselves, an IATA survey found last year. IATA’s goal is that 80% of passengers have a ‘self-service suite based on industry standards‘ available to them by 2020.
* PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is not known as a Tourism consultancy, so its prediction about our country’s tourism future is a surprise. Its report presents growth of 4% in international tourists 2013, far lower than the 10% growth in 2012. Growth is said to be solid and good, but ‘not fantastic growth‘. Almost three quarters of international visitors to our country are from Africa, the report confirms. Nigeria would become the leading source market for our country, the PwC study predicts. The Guest House category is the fastest growing in respect of room availability. South Africa’s strength is that it attracts leisure as well as business travelers.
* Travelers in the UK, USA, and Australia use a mix of e-mails (for reminders), mobile apps, and online (to make bookings) before, during, and after their holiday. Surprising is that 70% switch off whilst on holiday, especially the UK tourists. Most of those sharing their holiday information and photographs do so when they return from their holiday.
The largest selection in Africa of beers on tap (16) and bottled beers (99) is available at newly opened Beerhouse, on party mile Long Street in Cape Town. The Beer List states that ‘we see ourselves as (part of) the world beer revolution’, and Beerhouse plans regular events to ‘incubate the ideals of craft’ and to celebrate the world’s oldest and greatest beverage’!
One cannot miss the strong beer yellow painted building exterior opposite Mama Africa. The Beer Hall is upstairs, once a bead outlet. The decor of the beer hall is quite plain, with some TV screens, and framed pictures of dressed up beer bottles in felt, representing traditional dress from around the world. The backs of wooden benches are painted beer yellow, and banquettes have been upholstered in the same colour. While they were renovating the building, they found attractive raw brickwork, and left some of it at the top of the walls. Lovely wooden floors had to be tiled, as the dust was affecting shops downstairs. Interior decorator Justin Plunkett of Joom came up with the theme of 99 beer bottles, after the well-known song ‘99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer. Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall’. Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Telkom in Franschhoek, for fixing a fault on a fax line on the same day, within three hours of logging the fault via their online fault reporting service. It was the first use of the online service, and a sms and e-mail were sent to confirm the fault reporting, and provided a reference number. Such good Telkom service is a rarity. The Telkom technician was not the friendliest staff member we have dealt with, but the fact that the fault was reacted to so quickly was of business benefit. The technician tried to blame the fax machine for the fault, but he had not plugged in the cable correctly! An alarm cable has caused the fault.
The Sour Service Award goes to Ramsay Media, for its poor service in renewing a magazine subscription. The company does not proactively invoice its existing subscribers once their subscription expires, choosing to send a renewal reminder instead. One then has to request that an invoice be sent. Despite the request for a posted invoice, none has been received to date. Communication with Nona and Werner in the Subscriptions call centre was unprofessional and slow. Declining magazine subscriptions are no surprise when the company makes it so difficult and unattractive to renew susbcriptions. A message left three days ago for Werner the CFO has not yet been responded to.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at email@example.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTalesnewsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.