Entries tagged with “word of mouth”.


The winner of the Flagstone SwitchBitch promotion is a family, Georgia Eccles Schoeman, her mother Patricia Eccles, and husband Robert Baerveldt, for their clever word play in motivating why they should win the Flagstone hamper of wines with cooler bag, and a copy of SwitchBitch.  (more…)

Rupert & R Tasting desk Whale CottageI have visited almost every winery in Franschhoek, but never Rupert & Rothschild, its tastings having been by appointment only in the past ten years since we have operated Whale Cottage Franschhoek.  It was a set of Facebook photographs of Hein Koegelenberg, brother-in-law of co-owner Johann Rupert, that attracted attention to the new Tasting Room, which opened on 1 July.

The farm Fredericksburg was owned by a French Huguenot, and was established in 1690, and taken over by the late Dr Anton Rupert and the late Baron Edmond Rothschild in 1997 when they established their partnership.  The owners shared a commitment to preservation and conservation.  Grapes are harvested by hand, and the berries are hand-sorted after destemming, to generate the best quality juice.  Intervention during the wine-making process is kept to a minimum.

I popped in yesterday, and found a very elegant yet informal and friendly Tasting Room, with a beautiful setting overlooking the Simonsberg mountain and the vineyards of the wine farm.  From the R45 between Klapmuts and Simondium one cannot see any buildings on the wine estate, being set back far from the road.  The Tasting Room door is locked from inside, so one of the staff must go to the door to press a button to unlock it, which is not clear when one arrives, and appears unfriendly if the staff do not get to the glass door quickly enough.  One enters close to the Tasting Desk, seating about 20 tasters on both sides of the desk (more…)

The annual Tourism Destination Conference, organised by Cape Town Routes Unlimited on behalf of the Western Cape Department of Tourism, on “Elevating our Destination’s Global Profile”, was held in the Waterfront yesterday, and had a sobering message for tourism players – South Africa, and the Cape with it, has become too expensive!   Tourism players were encouraged to relook their rates, and contain their costs, to see how they can offer better value.  Ironically the theme of the Conference focused on global marketing, but more than one speaker encouraged the industry to invest in domestic marketing, rather than international marketing, even at provincial level. 

The Conference was intended to provide “a platform for the tourism industry to engage on relevant topics that could enhance our destination’s competitve advantage to contribute towords industry growth”, Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan  Winde said ahead of the Conference.  Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Calvyn Gilfellan added that “Platforms such as the Cape Town and Western Cape Destination Conference are critical to ensuring that everyone in the industry is working towards a common goal: the enhancement of the Western Cape tourism industry”.

Western Cape Minister  Winde said pertinently that Cape Town is not cheap, and despite the oversupply of accommodation, the resultant effect of the law of demand and supply in leading to lower rates is not evident in the Cape.  He said that a comparative study of hotel prices locally and internationally will be conducted by FEDHASA, the hotel association.  Winde said that the focus of his department’s marketing is to increase the market share of the Western Cape, which has been overshadowed by KwaZulu-Natal.  Africa as a source continent is vital for Cape Town, but there are no direct flights between Cape Town and major African cities, all African tourists having to fly via Johannesburg.  Asked how a region like the Garden Route, which is suffering extremely low tourism numbers, can improve its performance, the Minister encouraged players in regions to work together, to attract tourists, Cape Town residents in particular.  He mentioned the example of Knysna and Franschhoek, who are ‘tourism twined’ now, and are going on marketing trips to Gauteng and to the USA, to benefit both towns.  The recently created Cape Country Meander passes on its visitors to the next towns, and includes Elgin/Grabouw, Bot River, Caledon, Villiersdorp, and Greyton.  The recently signposted Cape Whale Coast route shows how tourism players can work together to share more broadly their tourism success.   Minister Winde said that many players in tourism are insular, and think they are ‘the centre of the universe’.  To meet President Zuma’s goal of 5 million jobs to be created by 2015, the tourism sector would have to grow four to five times.  But he said the responsibility cannot be placed on corporates alone to achieve this goal, and that small and medium sized businesses must show growth, to achieve growth in employment.

National Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, encouraged the tourism players to evaluate what Cape Town can do more to allow it to compete with the best in the world.  South Africa had its best ever tourism performance last year, with 8 million foreign arrivals, and a 15 % growth.   Now the country needs to capitalise on the top of mind awareness that was created for it through the World Cup, and meet the goal of 15 million arrivals by 2020, and to increase tourism’s contribution to the economy from R190 billion in 2009, to R499 billion in 2020.  Awareness needs to translate into sales, he said.   Tourism is now one of the six cornerstones of economic growth and job creation, and the success of the tourism industry must lead to the greater economic benefit for the South African population.  Minister van Schalkwyk urged the provincial tourism marketing bodies to focus more on domestic marketing, given the restricted marketing funds.   The Minister indicated that the traditional markets of the USA, the United Kingdom and Europe are the largest source countries of tourism, but are still strongly influenced by the recession.  He highlighted the importance of Africa as a tourism market, showing a growth of 4 – 7 %.  The tremendous potential shown by the Chinese market has been recognised, and direct flights between Beijing and Johannesburg will be introduced by SAA later this year.  SA Tourism will allocate a share of its marketing budget to attract Chinese tourists.  The Minister also said that whilst 50 airlines service South Africa currently, more are needed to fly to the country, so that supply and demand can drive down the cost of flying to this destination.   Airport tax increases were identified as a deterrent to tourism growth.

The biggest challenge that Minister van Schalkwyk threw to the industry was ‘green tourism’.  By going beyond talking about sustainability and biodiversity, and taking the lead in creating low carbon cities, a competitive advantage can be created for South Africa.   “…as the world changes around us, it is imperative that we as a travel and tourism industry in South Africa stay one step ahead.  This will mean challenging ourselves in terms of how we understand the environment, our responsibilities, our markets and our consumers.  It means innovative and strategic thinking in terms of how we plan for the future, as well as the flexibility to adapt to rapidly evolving circumstances” he concluded.

Peter Bacon is an industry player, and was a previous CEO of Sun International, and currently is the Chairman of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa.   He said that South Africa is doing better than most long-haul destinations in respect of tourist arrivals.   It was good to hear him say that Cape Town is the ‘jewel in the crown of S A Tourism’.   Cape Town does not suffer a decline in demand, explaining the decline in accommodation occupancy, he said, it is suffering from an oversupply of accommodation created by the opening of six hotels in the last two years.   Coupled to this is that corporate demand for accommodation is down severely, as businesses come to grips with their policies on company travelling.  It was Bacon who said that South Africa’s image has changed from being a  ‘low cost, high value’ destination to one that is ‘high cost, low value’.  Overall average tourism spend is down compared to the past, and the average tourist stay is two days shorter.   He urged the industry to package Cape Town ‘beyond the beach’, and to address the poor value image.  He did understand that rising costs, especially those for electricity, make it difficult to cut rates, but South Africa must be competitively priced, and our destination is not!   Bacon also urged that domestic marketing take the foreground.  Bookings are increasingly on-line, and he urged the accommodation industry to be where the bookings are, on Hotel.com, Expedia.com etc.  Cape Town, and South Africa with it, is a world class destination, and its tourism marketing must be aligned.  He also requested event organisers to not program events in the Cape on the same days – e.g. the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and the Cape Epic taking place this past weekend.  He said: “We need to package our destination and the diversity of its attractions and experience more effectively.  We need to address the value proposition by differentiating South Africa from other long-haul destinations”.

The presentation by Dr Nikolaus Eberl, a branding consultant to the World Cups in Germany and South Africa, was one that attracted me to attend the Conference, but it was disappointing that he went back to the past, focusing largely on the success of the World Cup, and then showed video clip after video clip of Hawaii’s cliff-diving industry, neither addressing the topic of the Conference.  He did remind the audience that South Africa’s World Cup FIFA score of 92 %, 4 percentage points higher than Germany, was an exceptional performance record, and that South Africa could be Plan B to Brazil!   What did make the World Cup such a success was the ‘ubuntu’ of the South African nation, radiating its friendliness and care to visitors and locals alike.  An interesting case study presented was that of the Harley Davidson Club, showing how a ‘brand community’ can be created around a product or service that consumers naturally concentrate around, mentioning the example of the now dead polar bear Knut, who received a world following in the Berlin Zoo.   He talked about creating Brand Ambassadors, which is what visitors to Cape Town become, through word of mouth and social media communication, and this can lead to a ‘brand community’, he said.  

Although the most eloquent speaker, the City of Cape Town’s Pieter Cronje’s talk disappointed in not revealing which other mega events are lined up at the Cape Town Stadium or elsewhere in the city, other than Neil Diamond’s concert in April. He did say that the city would bid for the Olympics, but not for 2020, as Cape Town’s public transport system is not yet ready to handle such an event.  He also indicated that Cape Town has seen an increase in the number of event proposals since the World Cup, which will be good news for the tourism industry if they are staged.   He said what all in the room know already – events create money for the economy, and benefit all tourism players.

With tourism contributing 10 %  to the Western Cape economy it has a significant effect on economic growth and job creation.   The Conference had a contradictory outcome, in that its theme was global marketing, yet its message was one of domestic tourism marketing first.

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

Two local Cape hotels have made it onto The Telegraph “50 best hotels in the world” list, which the paper published on 31 December.  Writers of the Telegraph  Travel section selected the top 50 hotels, and divided them into three rates brackets.  The two Cape hotels both featured in the £150 – £300 per room per night price range, the mid price range.

La Residence  in Franschhoek is a very low key property locally, with little visible advertising.  Its business comes from international advertising and word of mouth.  Its biggest claim to fame is Elton John, the famous guest who comes to stay whenever he performs in Cape Town, and he always thanks the owners, Liz and Phil Biden, during his concerts.   When La Residence moved to its new site in Franschhoek, John was consulted as to what he wanted in terms of decor for “his” room.   Surprisingly, “his” room is not any larger than the other rooms that face the dam outside.  “His” room has an Indian decor style.   Every room is unique in its decor, created by interior decorator Ralph Krall.

The article describes La Residence as follows: “An 11-suite extravagance on the slope of Franschhoek, the Cape Village that is probably South Africa’s prettiest.  No expense has been spared.   Each of the suites has its own decor theme, from Buddhist retreat to French decadent, while the public areas are a riotous collection of Louis XIV furniture.   Persian carpets, plus objets, art and fabrics from India, Indo-China, France and Italy and everywhere else.  And it works thanks to the impeccable taste of Liz Biden, the proprietor”.

Grootbos  is located outside Hermanus, just beyond Stanford, before one gets to Gansbaai, and is known for its focus on conservation, not only of fynbos, but also of whales at De Kelders close by and other sealife, such as penguins, on Dyer Island.  The article writes as follows about Grootbos: “Found on one of the finest whale-watching coastlines, this five-star retreat offers unadulterated luxury without the guilt.  Every effort has been made to assimilate these fabulous private lodges – complete with all mod cons, state-of-the-art bathrooms, four-poster beds and unsurpassable views – into the environment.  And what an environment: a 1750-hectare reserve that is home to more than 740 different species of plants and the impossibly white sands of Walker Bay”.

Some of the other hotels that made the Telegraph Top 50 list include Mama Shelter in Paris, Mykonos Grace Hotel in Mykonos, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Place in Budapest, Villa Marie in Saint Tropez, The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai,  Four Seasons George V in Paris, Four Seasons New York, Four Seasons Istanbul, The Dorchester in London and The Carlyle in New York.

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

Arnold Hoon and his actress wife Annelise Bosch opened their 4-star Ah! guest house in Paternoster almost four years ago, and accommodate guests in three bedrooms.  They prepare gourmet dinners for their guests, as well as for any other visitors in Paternoster, for up to eight guests in total.  It was the best all-round restaurant experience I recently had in Paternoster, and this was the second visit for a meal, after having been impressed by Arnold’s creativity on a visit in January.

The wooden table looked beautiful, with a selection of 16 different candles in holders lining the centre of the table.   The serviette was laid in the center of the place setting, unusually knotted.   The fun part of Arnold’s table is the luck of the draw, in who one gets to meet at the table, and sits next to.   On our January visit we shared the table with very entertaining Cape Town advocates and their friends, while on the latest visit I met a lovely couple from Hermanus and their friends from Worcester, and Trevor Richardson and his wife from Durban.  The other luck of the draw is the menu, as one has no choice on the items on the menu, which costs R 225 for the 4-course dinner.  However, Arnold is a most accommodating host, and does his homework when one books, to check on any food allergies or dislikes, and will make something especially.

Arnold ran a catering company in Johannesburg before falling in love with Paternoster.   He has an amazing ability to remember his dinner and guest house guests when they return unannounced, a reflection of the personal care that he takes.  Nothing seems to be too much trouble for him and Annelise, and the care they put into their dinners they also put into their beautifully presented three-course breakfasts.

One can order a bottle of wine with the meal, and pairing each course with a different wine is not the main focus of the evening.  Arnold supplies West Coast wines in the main.

Arnold’s dedicated yet seemingly relaxed preparation of the meal takes place while one chats around the table.  I arrived a little late, and the other guests were already seated and eating their mussel and Guinness soup, one of Arnold’s specialities, and often requested by past dinner guests.   Mussels were on my food-dislike list, and therefore Arnold prepared a special dish just for me, a courgette soup served with a beautiful stack of smoked star-shaped angelfish samoosas.  The highlight of the meal was a Three Cheese Salad, with beetroot, fresh pear, gorgonzola, labna, parmesam shavings, and brittle, served with a soy and sesame seed wholegrain mustard dressing.   Everyone at the table loved the crunchy brittle, and the gorgonzola in particular.  Our main course was a red wine and mushroom risotto served with tubes of calamari stuffed with oxtail – an usual combination of elements but very tasty.   For dessert we were served a vanilla semifreddo with a slice of dried fruit and nut baklava, on top of which was a slice of port-soaked fresh fig, drizzled with mint syrup.  An heavenly end to an ah! evening.

Ah! Restaurant, Ah! Guest House, 1 Mosselbank Street, Paternoster.  Tel 082 464 5898.   www.ahguesthouse.com (The website is disappointing in not providing a sample menu or winelist, with very few food photographs in the Image Gallery.  However, Ah! Restaurant is one that one would get to hear about by word-of-mouth in the main).

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

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

The World Cup was an unprecedented success, in terms of its organisation and the tremendous goodwill it caused amongst locals as well as international soccer fans.  In addition, and having a longer lasting effect, is that the above-the-line media as well as social media impact of the World Cup set new records for this event, not just for South Africa, but for the soccer body FIFA too.

 

*   3,2 million soccer fans attended the 32 matches around the country, and about one third of the tickets were bought by about 350000 international visitors – the word-of-mouth feedback to their friends and family is the most credible marketing South Africa could wish for, and is free-of-charge!

*   Highest TV coverage ever was achieved, and reached an unprecedented 700 million viewers for the Final alone 

*   The online coverage was the most dramatic, because much of it was a new way of communicating to soccer fans and about the World Cup, reports the Weekend Argus:

     +   BBC News online ran 120 stories, and the Washington Post 48 stories during the World Cup, both being influential online newspaper services

      +   The FIFA.com website had 150 million unique visitors during the World Cup, three times as many as in 2006. 

       +   South Africa’s unique identity, personality and character was woven into the soccer reporting by the international online media, and so the country’s ability to manage the tournament, and our unique vuvuzela and makarapa became world terms on blog posts, Twitter, comments to blog posts and online articles, and on Facebook.

       +   The value of the online coverage was just short of R30 million, based on 148 million persons communicating about South Africa in the context of the World Cup online, calculated by BrandsEye, a local online agency.   This value was created by soccer fans and the media for free, and did not cost South African Tourism a cent in coverage!

       +   Just more than half of the mentions (58%) about the country came from the USA, a surprisingly small 10% from the UK, and only 8% from South Africa.

       +   The mentions were analysed in terms of degree of positivity, and 55% were “strongly positive”, 40% were factual or neutral in terms of content, and 5% were negative.

       +   Twitter played an important role in spreading the word about South Africa, not only via celebrity (e.g. Paris Hilton has more than 2 million followers) and soccer star Tweets, but also Twitter accounts with huge numbers of followers (e.g. Sports Illustrated, with close to 285000 followers).

In June traffic to the Whale Cottage website almost trebled to 129000 unique visitors, due to the World Cup, but also due to the engagement of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock, as the blog contains a post about the couple attending a New Year’s party in Fresnaye 18 months ago. 

It has also been reported that the great World Cup coverage for South Africa has raised the bar for the marketing of Brazil.  The 2014 World Cup host country has started its marketing already, by launching an international marketing campaign four years ahead of its tournament, a first in the history of the FIFA World Cup, says Dr Niklaus Eberl, an internal branding consultant for the German and South African World Cups (no doubt for Brazil to come too!).

In Business Day Dr Eberl was reported as saying the the Brazilian tourism agency Ambratur has launched an ambitious marketing strategy, which plans to double the number of tourists to Brazil (to 10 million per year, the same target as that of South Africa) and treble the value of tourism in the next ten years.  The “Brazil is calling you” campaign aims to reach 400 million consumers in 100 countries, with a budget of $30 million this year alone.   Brazil’s President Lula da Silva said: “The success of our African brothers represents a tremendous challenge to the Brazilian people.  We are learning from them to ensure that we will present a World Cup as beautiful as 2010”.   The Brazilian marketing budget is said to make that of South Africa look like “small change”!   Brazil is planning to spend five times the R30 billion of South Africa on its infrastructure.  The country also wants to equal or better South Africa’s 90 % score from FIFA for its handling of the World Cup.

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

Never in the history of World Cup soccer has a “player” made world TV and newspaper headlines as has Paul the psychic octopus.   We nominate him for the Golden Ball Award for being the most on-the-ball player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having correctly predicted Germany’s four wins and two losses.  

Paul lives in an aquarium in Oberhausen in Germany, but is British-born.  He started duty in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, but made an error when he predicted that Germany would win against Spain.   He was a little known player then, especially due to his incorrect prediction.  But since the start of the 2010 World Cup he has been spot-on with the results of each match, predicting Germany’s wins over Australia, Ghana, England and Argentina, and its losses against Serbia and Spain.  

All eyes will be on Paul as he predicts Germany to take 3rd place against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth today.   He has also bravely stepped out of his league in predicting the winner of the World Cup Final to be Spain, in its match against Netherlands tomorrow.

Poor Paul is being heavily taxed, in that he is now being asked to predict all sorts of other things, such as whether German coach Joachim Loew will renew his contract.

Paul has become such a talked-about VIP that he has his own Twitter page now (@PPsychicOctopus), and boy can he Tweet non-stop, usually putting some “biped” down when he/she make comments he does not like, and just in general, when he feels like it.  He is a cheeky opinionated chap!   He attracted 422 followers in just 2 days, and is hoping for 1000 by tomorrow.  He picks up almost every mention about himself on Twitter, and then replies to it. He has been featured on CNN, ZDF, BBC and SkyNews, and made the front page of the Cape Times and Germany’s Bild, and no doubt many more international and local newspapers.

While I am having fun, I am awarding some other unofficial 2010 World Cup awards:

Goldie Locks Award: goes to Diego Forlan of Uruguay, who has beautiful blond hair kept in place with a blue aliceband, and has the most beautiful blue eyes, for sure the most beautiful soccer player in the World Cup (on the other hand, Wayne Rooney has already been selected by the media as the ‘ugliest’ player of the soccer tournament)

Golden Trend Award:  Cristiano Ronaldo receives this award, for his black nailpolished toes, as seen on German TV station ZDF yesterday

Golden Coach Award:  superstitious German coach Joachim Loew wearing his beautiful blue jersey at every match in which Germany played, and refusing to wash it to not break the luck of his team, that is until it lost against Spain this week.    He was by far the best looking coach of all teams.

Golden Moneybags Award without a doubt goes to FIFA and its President Sepp Blatter, for taking all its money out of South Africa, untaxed as per its contract with the South African government, especially all the MATCH booking monies.  Ticket sales will have largely been received by credit card in Switzerland anyway.

Golden Service Award goes to the 25 000 or so volunteers at 10 stadiums and at the Fan Parks in Host Cities, as well as at airports and FIFA-designated hotels, who worked for a pittance of R 100 per day, irrespective of how long their working hours were.   Volunteers were specifically forced to sign away their rights to protection under South Africa’s labour legislation, such is the power of FIFA!   Volunteers were not even allowed to receive a copy of their 4-page contract.  Volunteers were the machine that made the running of the World Cup smooth and largely incident-free, in offering Spectator Services, Language Support, Transportation, Accreditation, Hospitality, IT and Telecommunications, and many more services to make the World Cup happen.   The ridiculously low “stipend” has to be taxed, at least 30 % being deducted, even for the meal allowance when it was first paid into the bank, while FIFA patted itself on the back for its 25 % increase in its media and marketing income for this World Cup, and announcing that millions of dollars will be paid to Football Associations and its executive.

Golden Aches Award goes to the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), for forcing its 25 000 volunteers around the country to spend half of their R 120 daily meal allowance at a McDonald’s close by, for the past 40 days.  The Green Point branch, which is right at the Stadium, made a fortune from the Cape Town LOC for daily vouchers to the value of R 60 – it could easily be R2 million – out of a blind loyalty to the fast food company’s sponsorship of the World Cup.

Golden Handcuff Award goes to the S A Police Services for safeguarding South Africa and the soccer fans, and for taking over the security services when Stallion Security staff striked in Cape Town and in Durban at the start of the World Cup.   They were patient, dedicated and worked in the pouring rain in Cape Town at three of the matches, and in cold winter conditions for the other five matches, as well as on non-match days, checking bags and other belongings, keeping everyone inside the Stadium safe.

Golden Key Award goes to FIFA and the LOC, for forbidding its volunteers to criticise the two bodies whilst they were on duty, as per the volunteer contract.   What they did not understand was the power of word-of-mouth, aggrieved volunteers talking to each other and posting comments on the Cape Town Volunteers blog  www.ctvolunteers2010.wordpress.com.    E-mails were sent to other volunteers, and one even approached the Weekend Argus about the McDonald’s forced-diet, that uniforms were not supplied to all volunteers in the 5 weeks of them doing duty, prejudicing some in not working inside the stadiums and therefore not seeing all the matches, and that transport problems meant that volunteers stood in the rain and cold waiting for transportation to take them home after matches.

Golden “Gees” Award goes to all South Africans, who become ‘Proudly South African’ in the past month, becoming soccer fans (who was it that said that ‘White’ South Africans do not support soccer and do not watch local matches?) in addition to loving rugby; who went to watch the Stormers and the Blue Bulls play at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (I mean, have you ever?!) and loved the “gees” there just a short while prior to the start of the World Cup; for walking the Fan Walk  (153 000 in Cape Town last Saturday alone) and calling for the Fan Walk to become a permanent feature, locals requesting Capetonians to walk it once a month; for the loyal support for Bafana Bafana, a team we scorned and mocked prior to the World Cup, but who did us proud; and made us proud Africans, supporting BaGhana BaGhana when this was the last African team left in the tournament.

Golden Liquid Award goes to the beer producers and all the staff at pubs and restaurants around the country who made sure that soccer fans remained liquid, either to celebrate or commiserate their teams’ performance!   Vaughn Johnson’s Wine Shop sold 10 000 beer cans in the 4 hours prior to the England versus Algeria match in Cape Town, he says.

Golden Balls-Up Award goes to ACSA Durban for damaging the image of the country when flights bringing German and Spain fans to Durban on Tuesday after the match had finished, due to a congestion of aeroplanes at the new King Shaka airport in the city, reportedly due to private jets clogging up the parking bays and refusing to move their planes, the FIFA one being one of them!  Not surprisingly FIFA and the LOC have distanced themselves from any responsibility for this mess-up.     

Golden Fans Award goes to all the wonderful soccer fans, both local and international, that became infected with the “gees” of the World Cup, who got to endure the vuvuzelas and even bought their own, for dressing up in wigs, painting their faces, and proudly wearing their country’s flags – I can see a whole new fashion trend in proudly-South African colours.   They brought their dollars, pounds and Euros, and bought beers, ate at restaurants (manly pizzas, burgers and steaks), stayed at good value guest houses and did some sightseeing locally.    They showed up FIFA’s MATCH by making their own accommodation bookings (at non-MATCH guest houses) and by buying their own match tickets, instead of falling for MATCH packages.

Golden Rip-Off Award goes to MATCH, the hospitality and ticketing agency of FIFA, which conned the accommodation industry for a second World Cup, promising good accommodation returns, forcing establishments to give 80 % of their rooms, promising not to cancel rooms as it did in Germany four years before, and for adding an unjustified 30 % commission to accommodation rates, giving South Africa an unfortunate image of “rip-off pricing” in the European and English media, thereby keeping soccer fans away from the country.   As if this was not bad enough, the unfortunate accommodation establishments that signed with MATCH received the majority of their rooms back, just a few weeks before the start of the World Cup.

Golden City Award goes to Cape Town, which to date has had the highest number of goals scored (22) of all stadiums, and has achieved the highest occupancy of stadium seats, said Cape Town Stadium Venue Manager Terral Cullen at a Volunteer Farewell Lunch earlier this week.  The Stadium was moved a few meters and a new one built, for the benefit of the view from it onto Table Mountain.   Ironically it was not the mountain that became the focus of the world media, but it was the Stadium itself that formed the backdrop for report after report about our beautiful city and the matches that were taking place.  Even the sport commentators would refer to the beauty of the city during their match commentary.   President Zuma claimed it as the best World Cup city, and FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said the Cape Town Stadium had the best pitch and was the most perfect stadium, so much so that the Olympic Committee has requested Cape Town to bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.  What an accolade!   Sepp Blatter has taken IOC President Rogge around Cape Town, and personally has recommended the city.  We know that what President Blatter wants, he gets!

Golden Card Award goes to the World Cup referees who loved the red and yellow ones, waving them at players at great regularity, and influencing outcomes of matches as a result – Klose and Mueller’s red and yellow cards were examples for the German team.

Golden Flop Award goes to all soccer players who collapsed every time another player bumped into them – from a distance many of them looked like primadonnas, hoping for a free kick whenever they flopped onto the grass

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

The World Travel Trends Report 2009, launched by market research company Euromonitor at WTM (World Travel Market) in London earlier this month, acknowledges how tough 2008/9 has been for the tourism industry, but highlights positive trends that create optimism for the tourism industry for 2010, reports bizcommunity.com.

Euromonitor identified the following tourism trends:

1.   The “grey market” (travellers 60 + years) is recession-resistant as far as its travel plans go, and is undeterred about the recession, poor exchange rates and airport taxes.

2.   USA President Barack Obama has made Africa an attractive continent to explore, especially for African-Americans who want to trace their roots and visit their countries of origin.   There are 41 million African-Americans living in the USA.

3.  Golf tourism in Asia is expanding, and is a major source of income for Thailand, growing at 10 %, ahead of the tourism industry growth rate, and valued at $ 800 million.

4.   Women-only hotels are being established in the Middle East, the first being the Luthan Hotel& Spa in Saudia Arabia.   Egypt and Iran are also developing such hotels.

5.  Given the over-supply of rooms, by as much as 25 %  in the UK, a new concept called “pop-up hotels” has been launched in the UK, which can be built at short notice to meet demand.   Travelodge opened such a hotel in Uxbridge last year, and plans to build 20 more in the next ten years.   These hotels only have to meet occupancy targets for a set period of time, and create an opportunity for PR and word-of-mouth marketing.

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