Tag Archives: S A Tourism

South Africa wins Olympic Games with Stellenrust Fairtrade ‘London 2012’ wines!

Brand ‘South Africa’ and ‘Fairtrade‘ will be in the lips of hundreds of thousands of Olympic Games supporters for the next three weeks, being branded on two of the three official ‘London 2012’ wines produced for the 2012 Olympic Games, reports Winemag. The Chenin Blanc and Rosé wines (made from Pinotage, Shiraz, and Merlot) come from Stellenrust, the largest Fairtrade-certified wine estate in South Africa, one of the largest family-owned wine estates in the country, and ‘a very successful winery’, according to its Platter entry.

For the first time in Olympic history, the International Olympic Committee contracted with Bibendum, a London-based wine merchant, which was awarded the title ‘European Merchant of the Year 2012’, to source 650000 litres of 2012 vintage wines, for sale at the Olympic Games venues in London.  The third wine is not Fairtrade-certified, and comes from Brazil’s Seival Estate, being a Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Gamay Nouveau blend. The Brazilian wine reflects the country hosting the Olympic Games in 2016, and its emergence as a wine producing country.

The wines are to be sold at £4,80 (R62) for a 187 ml recyclable PET bottle, and at R250 for a 750 ml bottle. One million bottles each of the Rosé and Shiraz Tempranillo will be available for sale, as will be 1,2 million bottles of Chenin Blanc.  A total of 9 million tickets have been sold to Olympic Games spectators.

In addition to the marvellous branding benefit for the country and its wine industry, an excellent outcome of this win for the Stellenbosch wine estate is that R450000 will go its staff, for allocation to social upliftment projects, which will be overseen by the Fairtrade Foundation in the UK, reports The Times.

WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and SA Tourism couldn’t have wished for a better free marketing opportunity to give the world a taste for South African wines and for marketing South Africa as a tourism destination

POSTSCRIPT 5/8: The Fairtrade ethical logo is attracting increasing custom, reports the Cape Argus, internationally its brands having generated sales of € 5 billion in 2011.  In the UK the spend on Fairtrade brands increased by 12% last year relative to 2010.  Locally, Fairtrade sales more than tripled to R73 million last year.  Cape Chamber of Commerce President Michael Bagraim said that the Fairtrade certification could help give local products a competitive edge in international export markets.  Wine and coffee are the Fairtrade products that have sold best locally, South Africans having bought 255600 bottles and 3,5 million cups of coffee certified by Fairtrade.  Woolworths Cafés, operated by TriBeCa, sell Fairtrade certified organic coffee.

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

Mayday, Mayday – Cape hospitality industry ship is sinking!

The signs are everywhere – doom and gloom where one goes in the hospitality industry – restaurants are close to empty, accommodation establishments cannot pull in guests, and the enquiries and bookings just are not rolling in, the 50 % deposits for accommodation establishments being an important means of surviving the winter. Bookings generally are a barometer of the summer season lying ahead.   The next few months will see a bloodbath of closures, as hospitality businesses run out of cash.

It is sad to see the day-to-day reality of close to empty hotels and guest houses, with a trickle of businesspersons keeping things going, and of seeing top restaurants in Cape Town and in the Winelands standing empty for weekend lunches and dinners, not to mention the poor weekday trade.   This scenario is despite fantastic winter specials  offered by close to 100 restaurants in the Cape and Winelands, and accommodation rates that drop by close to half from May to August.  Chats I have had with owners of restaurants and hospitality establishments in Cape Town and Franschhoek paint a picture of gloom, all saying that this May is far worse than last year’s.  Last May was not great, falling into a pre-World Cup vacuum.

Disturbing is to read headlines, such as in Business Report yesterday, crying “Hotels fill more rooms, but special offers hit profit”.  Referring to now two-months old figures for March, it writes that the occupancy in 3-, 4-, and 5-star hotels rose relative to March a year ago, but that revenues ‘are down steeply and some are making a loss’, especially in 4- and 5-star hotels, due to rates cut to meet those of 3-star hotels in some instances.  However, the ‘South African Hotel Review’ oddly showed lower occupancies for 3-star hotels than for more luxury hotels.  Many hotels are for sale, and being converted into retirement homes.   Protea Hotels says that it regularly receives requests for this largest local hotel group to take over the management or to buy their properties.  The hotel group understands the financial pressures on establishments, and their inability to cut its expenses, such as taxes and municipal costs, as these are fixed.

This scenario is echoed in the STR Global report, an international hotel data tracking company, which shows that 5-star hotels in Cape Town dropped their rates by 11% on average in the first quarter of this year, thereby increasing occupancy by 9%, to achieve an average occupancy of 63%, reports South African Tourism Update.  Sandton hotels dropped their rates by 9% on average in the same period, and achieved an average occupancy of 52%.   The Average Daily Rate for a 5-star hotel room in Cape Town was R1867, the survey found, compared to R1407 for Sandton’s 5-star hotels.   Nationally the 5-star hotel occupancy rose to 55% in the first quarter, but Average Daily Rate dropped by 9% to R1629, and Revenue per Available Room dropped by 6 % to R893.

In complete contrast, the Business Report  lead article optimistically trumpeted in its headline report yesterday “Consumers now in better shape”, when most hospitality owners will say that the recession has hit South Africans hard for the first time.   The newspaper report bases its sensational headline on the good financial results posted the day before by Famous Brands (with low-cost restaurant chain brands Steers, Wimpy, Debonairs and Mugg & Bean), which opened 111 outlets until February 2011, and plans to open a further 176 outlets in the year to come, and has an objective to double the size of its business by 2013.   The company benefited greatly from the World Cup.  The Lewis Group as well as Verimark also posted good results.

What is of the biggest concern for the summer season lying ahead is that the UK market is extremely quiet, with only a few enquiries trickling in from a handful of regular guests.  Agents and tour operators report how cash-strapped British consumers are, and that they are just not travelling, due to the austerity measures and tax increases imposed by their government, and the strong Rand.  The forecast is for the hottest UK summer in years, which is not good news for Cape Town.  A small consolation is the increase in the number of BA flights, to two per day, between London and Cape Town from October, reports the Cape Argus.  The eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano appears to have had no effect on business locally, due to the low numbers of international arrivals this month.

The South African hospitality industry will be largely dependent on the South African domestic market, and the promised SA Tourism advertising campaign to encourage locals to travel in their own country has not yet been seen.  It is sorely needed.  So too is some advice and comfort from our tourism bodies Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, who are not communicating with their members, other than to list winter specials.

The recent accolades that Cape Town and South Africa received from TripAdvisor members and Telegraph readers, respectively, earlier this month appear to have made no impact on enquiries and bookings at all.

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

Earth, Wind and Fire and all that jazz blows at Cape Town International Jazz Festival!

The 12th Cape Town International Jazz Festival, taking place in Cape Town from tomorrow, is estimated to inject R475 million into the economy of Cape Town, to contribute R685 million to the GDP of South Africa, and has created 2000 jobs, reports the Cape Argus.  The headline act is Earth, Wind and Fire, and 42 artists will perform at the Jazz Festival, half of them from Africa and the rest from other countries.

Last year the International Jazz Festival attracted 34000 jazz lovers over two days, making it the single largest event in Cape Town, said Joey Pather, the CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, inside and outside of which the Jazz Festival takes place.  President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the economic importance in terms of income and job creation of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival during his State of the Nation address in February. 

The attendance is expected to grow when the Convention Centre expands its capacity.   Sponsorship of the Jazz Festival has been under pressure, especially last year, due to the World Cup, but 95 % of the tickets have been sold to date.   More visitors to the Jazz Festival are from Gauteng, with the Western Cape surprisingly having the lowest number of Jazz Festival attendees.   About a quarter of all attendees are from overseas.

The spokesperson of the Western Cape Department of Tourism said that the direct benefit of the International Jazz Festival is R 43 million, spent on flights, hotels, restaurants, shopping and other expenditure. The CEO of S A Tourism, Thandiwe January-McLean, praised the contribution of the Jazz Festival: “South African Tourism takes great pride in supporting this world-class event that has helped showcase our country as a (sic) unique lifestyle and musical destination”.

Some of the acts performing at the International Jazz Festival include Youssou N’Dour, Gang of Instrumentals, Chad Saaiman, Mathew Moolman, Lloyd Jansen, Hugh Masekela, Larry Willis, David Ledbetter and the Clearing, and Bebe Winans.  Some ‘concept bands’ will be created especially for the Jazz Festival, such as the ‘Tribute to Oscar Peterson’ concept band, which will consist of Jack van der Poll, James Scholfield and Hein van de Geyn, and play Peterson’s repertoire.  Guitafrika is another concept band, and consists of beloved local guitarist Steve Newman, Eric Triton from Mauritius, and Alhousseini Mohammed Aniviolla from Niger.   The Cape Town Tribute Band will be put together to do exactly that, paying tribute to the many jazz musicians who passed away in the past year, including Tony Schilder (‘Montreal’), Winston Mankunku, Robbie Jansen, and Hotep Galeta (‘Harold’s Bossa’).   The fourth concept band includes bassist Victor Masondo, and will see him perform live – he was recently invited to perform at the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival in Washington.   The ‘concept bands make the festival unique.  People have the opportunity to see bands that they are unlikely to see somewhere else or in their lifetime” said Rashid Lombard, the creator and Festival Director of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town.   www.capetownjazzfest.com  25 -27 March.  Book at Computicket.

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

New R1/2 million marketing slogan for South Africa hits trash can!

Don’t you just love it when you read that a R140 million tender, which included coming up with a new international marketing slogan for South Africa, generated a slogan that is not any more creative than the previous boring slogan, and is not original, in having been used in other countries!   Now it has been canned!

Last week the government approved the new slogan “More than you can imagine…” for South Africa, reports the Cape Times.   The contract was handled by the International Marketing Council.  The slogan will be used not only by the International Marketing Council, but will also be adopted by S A Tourism for its marketing of South Africa as a tourism destination.   The new slogan replaces the meaningless slogan: “Alive with Possibility”, as it had slipped in its popularity rating to 64%, it is reported.

The only problem is that the slogan is not only totally generic, not creatively and uniquely defining what makes South Africa special, breaking a cardinal marketing rule in finding a positioning that differentiates one from the competition, but also is not unique to our country.   Other uses of the same slogan have been in Portugal, the state of Maryland in the USA, the county Clackmannanshire in Scotland, by a training company in Australia, and in an advertising campaign in the USA!

Themba Maseko, a cabinet spokesperson, said the cabinet did not know of the slogan’s use elsewhere: “When the cabinet approved the slogan, it was not aware it had been used by other countries.  Our understanding was that thorough research was conducted before the recommendation was made to cabinet.”  The International Marketing Council CEO, Miller Matola, defended his Council’s slogan choice on the basis that it has not been used for any other country!

Now the government has canned the slogan due to its use elsewhere, reported the Sunday Times.   “Once it had been brought to our attention that the slogan was not original, we had to investigate”, government spokesperson Vusi Mona is reported to have said.   Bodies that had been consulted in the development of the slogan included the Departments of Tourism and Trade and Industry, Nedlac, S A Tourism, and the provinces.  Excluded from the consultative process was the tourism industry! 

The slogan development is part of a four year R140 million contract to market South Africa via the International Marketing Council, and cost R470000 to generate.

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

South Africa positioned as world’s leading adventure destination

In the wake of the World Cup, which exposed South Africa to 1,26 billion TV viewers around the world, South Africa will be marketed by S A Tourism as the world’s leading adventure destination, said the Chief Marketing Officer of S A Tourism, Roshene Singh, at a presentation to tourism leaders at the Harbour Bridge Hotel in Cape Town yesterday.

The country’s R 800 million marketing budget will be focused on a number of different international and domestic marketing campaigns, which began prior to the World Cup, and are one year programmes designed for different target markets, to continue the positive momentum created by the World Cup to improve the country’s global competitiveness.   Those travellers that did not visit South Africa in June and July will be encouraged to feel that they missed out, and will be enticed to visit our country, given the country’s top infrastructure, great experiences and welcoming people.   Existing advertising campaigns with CNN, BBC World, SkyNews, EUROsport, Global Cinema, Conde Nast Traveller, Vogue, Vanity Fair and the Financial Times, combined with cinema advertising, social media marketing (including a Blog and Twitter), online media, Public Relations and websites, will continue in the next year, creating a reach of 1,4 billion consumers.  South Africa’s 130 embassies around the world can play a far greater role in marketing the country, it was said.

Domestically, the focus is on Sho’t left, which kick-started the ‘Fly the Flag’ and ‘Welcome’ campaigns, as well as a ‘Thank You’ campaign to thank South Africans for being proud hosts.  From next month, being Tourism Month, attractive travel packages will be rolled out for the next six months, to encourage South Africans to travel in their own country, supported by advertising on etv and all SABC TV stations.  Travelling will be built into the storyline of ‘Rhythm City’, an etv soapie, an outdoor billboard campaign, Twitter and Facebook communication, a mobi site on mobiles, and sponsorship of the travel sections of You, Huisgenoot and Drum are further means of boosting domestic tourism. Tollgate promotions, shopping mall promotions, and joint promotions with Thompson Holidays, Computicket, Flight Centre and Kulula, amongst others, have been planned.  Domestic tourism is the ‘bread and butter” of the tourism industry, said Singh.

Next month a new advertising campaign breaks, consisting of four commercials, following four couples who visited South Africa during the World Cup, each of the four couples having enjoyed 20 experiences in 10 days.  An Indian couple goes shark diving, bungie-jumping, motorcycling and enjoys good food. An American couple raves about the wonderful people they met here, the sunset safari they enjoyed, and the beauty of the country, saying that they will come back.  A British couple jumps down a “foefie slide”, goes shark-diving and kayaking, sees a rhino close-up, and expresses surprise about the many different parts of the country.  A Nigerian couple watches African dancing, has dinner in an aquarium, with sharks watching them, plays golf, enjoys wellness spoiling, and they say that their visit has made them fall in love with each other all over again.

To focus on the Adventure positioning of South Africa, the “Adventurers Wanted’ campaign with National Geographic seeks an “Adventure Ambassador” in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the USA.  Collectively, they will form an “Adventure Tribe”, and will enjoy an ‘adventure of a lifetime in South Africa’, which will be filmed by the magazine.

Asked when the boring, unexciting “It’s Possible” payoff line for South Africa will be replaced, it was promising to hear Singh indicate that the International Marketing Council is focusing on changing its positioning for South Africa, to “inspiring new and different ways”, which means that S A Tourism will adapt its payoff line to be aligned with that of the country.

Social media marketing will become a stronger focus, especially via Facebook.  Expedia, Tripadvisor and WAYN.com are websites on which South Africa will be featured.  All communication will reflect the “warm, friendly, welcoming, exciting, amazing, awesome, ubuntu, people, place, culture destination by deploying authentic WOM (word of mouth) ambassadors”.  The major message of communication campaigns will be “triumphant, excited, passionate and celebratory”.  It will say “We did it! Thanks for coming, see you again soon.  We made 450 000 new friends …. and you have made 48 million new friends”.

Country specific campaigns planned  by S A Tourism are as follows:

*   Africa:  A “Thank You” campaign in Botswana, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, President Zuma thanking fellow Africans for their support in making this the best World Cup ever and for showcasing the best of South Africa, via newspaper and radio advertising.

*   Germany:   Promotional and sponsorship campaigns, around celebrities sharing their travel tips and experiences of South Africa

*   Italy:   Italian travellers share their South African experiences on blogs, billboards, ads, etc, focusing on food, design and adventure.

*   France:   focus on adventure and nature, via a mix of above and below the line media

*   Netherlands:   Blog competitions, and treasure hunt promotion

*   India:   “Super Six” promotion, plays on the country’s cricket interest and our Big Six.  Multi-media focus.

*   China:   Travel fairs, photography promotion, social media.

*   United Kingdom:   “1001 things you did not know about South Africa” promotion with Lonely Planet, advertorials in Times and Conde Nast media groups’ publications, travel offers sent to 1,8 million Travelzoo subscribers, a travel road show to sustain the momentum by motivating agents to sell South Africa, a partnership with Emirates in an advertising campaign, and many more activities for this market.

*  USA:   Direct mail to Conde Nast database, promotion with National Geographic, and advertising campaign, inviting Americans to “go places you’ve never gone before, take the journey”.

*   Brazil:   Media invited to South Africa, to experience the country.  The SABC has been invited by Brazil to assist with the broadcast of the 2014 World Cup.

The visuals shown for the marketing campaigns have a strong focus on wildlife, the giraffe featuring most strongly to communicate this strength of South Africa.  Disappointingly, little of Cape Town is shown, Table Mountain, Blouberg and Boulders’ Beach being the most featured Cape Town images, and Cape Town was most prominent in the Chinese and Japanese communication programmes.

The Olympic Bid for 2020 is on S A Tourism’s agenda, said new S A Tourism CEO Thandiwe January-McLean, who took over the helm six months ago, having previously been the South African Ambassador to Portugal.  Dirk Elzinga, new Chairman of FEDHASA Cape, reminded SA Tourism that Cape Town has added on 25 % more hotel rooms in the past year, and that the city needs help in improving occupancy via events and conferences, which receive little focus from the marketing body, he felt.

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

South Africans Sweet and SkyNews Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to all (OK, almost all) South Africans who have embraced the World Cup starting today, for decorating their cars, homes and businesses, for being helpful, welcoming and friendly to tourists, for tolerating lack of parking, traffic congestion and parking tickets in the city, and in the Green Point and De Waterkant areas in Cape Town, and for becoming soccer fans, in short, doing our country proud. 

The Sour Service Award goes to SkyNews and its Johannesburg-based reporter Emma Hurd, who keeps finding yet another negative story to tell about South Africa, especially its townships, in the run up to the World Cup.  Ironically, S A Tourism sponsored SkyNews sport broadcasts for almost a year!   The negative reporting has created a growing backlash against the TV station amongst South Africans, and on Twitter in particular, leading to a less than flattering @emmaturd Twitter account having been created about her! 

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 info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.

R 2 billion World Cup coverage for brand “South Africa”

The value of the coverage for brand “South Africa” could exceed R 2 billion in the 30 day period of the 2010 World Cup, writes respected marketing consultant and writer Chris Moerdyk, reports bizcommunity.com.

Moerdyk calculated the brand exposure value as follows: for each of the 64 matches the broadcasters have to allow FIFA 14 minutes of airtime, of which the soccer body has promised 2 minutes will go to marketing South Africa.  With 28 billion cumulative viewers expected to watch the soccer tournament around the world, according to FIFA, the value of South Africa’s exposure is R 1,5 billion.  In addition, the 30 minute opening and closing ceremonies, newspaper and magazine coverage, TV coverage in the form of pre-World Cup documentaries on BBC, SkyNews, CNN, and ZDF, as well as the soccer players and their fans posting comments on Facebook and Twitter, will add at least a further R 500 million in value.  Brazilian soccer star Kaka wrote on Twitter “Just arrived in South Africa … Amazing atmosphere!!”, a country endorsement said to be “priceless” in value.

Moerdyk quotes other figures by highly regarded local media planners Dick Reed and Heiner Kuehnel, who question FIFA’s optimistic TV viewership figures for the World Cup, saying only 125 million soccer fans will watch each match, giving a total cumulative TV audience of 8 billion, an advertising TV exposure value of R 800 million, and therefore a reduced total exposure value of R1,3 billion.

Whichever calculation method is used to estimate the TV viewership, even the lower value of exposure will exceed any marketing budget S A Tourism or the International Marketing Council will have ever spent on marketing brand “South Africa”.

It is interesting to note that locals are becoming vocal on Twitter in criticising SkyNews for its negative reporting about South Africa.  The TV channel has been happy to accept S A Tourism’s advertising budget for the past year, and will state that its editorial independence is separate to its advertising income!

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

Bon Appetit comes to the Cape

The authoritative Bon Appetit magazine, which is an important source of food information for its American readers, recently brought a delegation of readers to the Cape in conjunction with the USA offices of S A Tourism and AuthentEscapes, and was hosted by Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

Heading the Bon Appetit group was Victoria von Biel, the publication’s executive editor.  A welcoming reception was hosted for her party at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl.

In March the publication featured Cape Town, with a pic of Camps Bay beach and the Twelve Apostles as its main photograph.   It recommended the restaurants Biesmiellah, Bizerca Bistro, The Foodbarn, Bukhara, Anatoli, Caveau, and the Olympia Cafe and Deli as its “picks”.  One hopes that the magazine’s restaurant recommendations will improve after the latest visit. 

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio www.whalecottage.com

Cape Town to be marketed in Germany and UK

The best tourism news in a long time is the announcement by Frankfurt-based Kleber PR Network that it has been appointed to market Cape Town, reports DeinTouristNet.

Kleber PR Network has good experience of marketing South Africa in Germany for the past 15 years, having been the PR company in Germany for S A Tourism for many years, until the local national marketing body appointed Ogilvy as its new advertising agency, with an affiliated PR company, therefore relinquishing its relationship with Kleber.  

Whale Cottage has accommodated S A Tourism journalists over the years, and can vouch for the knowledge of and passion for Cape Town and the rest of South Africa of the Kleber PR Network executives. 

Hanna Kleber, CEO of Kleber PR Network, said: “Kapstadt hat jede Menge Potential und wir freuen uns darauf, die Stadt mit gezielten Maßnahmen weiter im Urlaubs- und Businessreise-Markt zu etablieren.   Mit seiner traumhaften Lage an zwei Weltmeeren, dem spannenden Mix aus Nationalitäten und Kulturen und einer landschaftlichen Vielfalt, die ihres gleichen sucht, hat sich Kapstadt in den letzten Jahren als eine der großen internationalen Lifestylemetropolen einen Namen gemacht. Im Zuge der FIFA Fussballweltmeisterschaft 2010 – wird die Stadt zudem als wichtige Austragungsstätte im Fokus der Öffentlichkeit stehen.” (Kleber PR will further enhance Cape Town’s presence in the leisure and business tourism markets, and will position the city as a lifestyle metropole, being very much in the focus for the 2010 World Cup.)

One wonders why Cape Town Tourism does not communicate such exciting news to its members.  WhaleTales recently criticised the lack of visible marketing by Cape Town Tourism and by Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but neither of the two bodies responded to this criticism.  

The appointment of a PR company to market South Africa’s top tourism asset is fantastic news, and would delight its members, especially at a time when membership renewals are due!

Communication with Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, has confirmed the appointment of the Kleber PR Network for the marketing of Cape Town in Germany, and she also communicated that a PR company has been appointed in the UK.  A similar appointment is expected in The Netherlands shortly.

Read the full report here

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

Woolworths Sweet and Google Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award  goes to Woolworths in Regent Road in Sea Point, for trusting a customer with payment for a trolley-full of groceries on the day that Woolworths had a technical problem in accepting payment by credit card.   A small sign, not visible to customers entering the store, stated that the store could only take payment in cash, which meant that most customers arrived at the till with their trollies, wanting to pay with their credit cards.   An imprint was done of the card, and the customer was asked to sign the credit card slip when next in the store, given that she is a regular shopper at the store.

The Sour Service Award goes to Google and its representative in South Africa, New Approach Marketing, based in Johannesburg.  About once a week a heavily British-accented person calls guest houses, starting with the insulting introduction to the effect of: “Hello ma’m, I am calling from Google.  Have you ever heard of our company?”.  This is enough to get one’s back up.   When one questions where they are calling from, the caller gets defensive, especially when one has a caller with such a distinctive British accent claiming to call from Johannesburg.  Any questioning of this has led to a torrent of abuse, including a lady caller, who decided to call back to add to the verbal abuse of her male colleague, by calling the recipient of the call a racist and referring to our countryfolk as “blimming South Africans”!  The call centre staff are rude, and never allow one to finish a sentence, that it would be a surprise if they sold anyone Google adwords.  A more gentle salesperson later in the day explained that New Approach Marketing is representing Google in South Africa, and can get guest houses in Hermanus in the top 10 of Google for searches on “B & B in Hermanus” and similar, in “8 – 12 weeks”, on a “no contract” basis, at the cost of R 1 300 per month + VAT + R 265 set up fee.   He explained the broad Manchester dialect in that 30 of his colleagues have come from the UK to set up a branch of the company in Johannesburg, to train South Africans to take over the call centre eventually, and will move to Perth and to Canada, to set up similar operations there.   As a company was calling on behalf of  S A Tourism a few months ago, the caller was asked if the calls are being done on behalf of S A Tourism – his diplomatic but evasive answer was “not as far as I am aware”.  The content of the call was reported to George, the manager of New Approach Marketing in Johannesburg, and he promised to investigate.   His response was that it must be a competitor company calling directly from the UK, also representing Google, that made the abusive calls!

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 info@whalecottage.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website.