Tag Archives: Bill Clinton

RIP Nelson Mandela: father of our nation, hero of the world!

mandela-house-statue-whale-cottage-portfolio-225x300On Thursday evening South Africa and the world lost in Nelson Mandela one of its most influential citizens ever, who taught us about the nobility of forgiveness, despite what he suffered for 27 years to make South Africa and the world a better place for all.

No doubt like many others, I could not help but feel sad about the passing of someone whom I had never met, but who feels like a father, and the sadness is even greater, this being the second father I have lost this year. Reading the outpouring of love for Mr Mandela on TV, on radio, on Twitter, and Facebook, the timelines were dominated by the expression of each one who uses the media.  Kfm played tributes and ‘nostalgic’ music, not its normal music mix, like Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over Troubled Water‘ and Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’, and many more songs that related to the specialness of Madiba.

The world’s leaders expressed their sadness, and President Barack Obama was one of the first to express his condolences in the early hours of yesterday morning.  He and his wife Michelle have announced that they will travel to South Africa next week, to pay their respects to the  country and the family.   Books of condolence have been opened in South African embassies around the world, for South Africans and Madiba admirers to express their feelings.  A moving tribute was paid to him by his assistant of many years Zelda la Grange.

Many media interviewees said that the day had been inevitable, but no one was prepared for the final passing. A number of false reports announced Madiba’s passing mid-year, and it is clear that the major international and local TV stations had long before prepared documentaries about the man that had such a hold over the world.

Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster (now Drakenstein) prison in 1990, a month after I had moved back home to Cape Town from Pretoria and Johannesburg, and I was one of many millions watching the TV broadcast of the long and slow walk to freedom from the prison.  The broadcast by SABC was a lowlight of Mr Mandela’s release, his release having been delayed, and the SABC reporter had nothing more to say while waiting for at least an hour than to comment on a leaking tap!  As Madiba’s cavalcade was leaving Paarl, I was one of thousands making our way to the City Hall, to hear Madiba address the nation and the world.  We heard his distinctive voice for the first time.  It was the start of a new South Africa, of tolerance and respect for each other, most of the time.  Not only was Madiba respected for his lack of bitterness, but President FW de Klerk was saluted too for his graciousness in motivating his Cabinet to release Madiba, knowing full well that he and his National Party would eventually lose the ruling power.  For their gentlemanliness both leaders jointly received the Nobel Continue reading →

The SA Butler Academy grossly misleads its students and hospitality industry clients!

Having had the misfortune to connect with The South African Butler Academy, and its Recruitment Head Adriaan Coetzer last week in respect of their graduate Hettie Novacovic, we have done more homework on this dishonourable and unprofessional butler training and recruitment body based in Cape Town.

A phone call to Coetzer, to chat to him about Mrs Novacovic’s short-lived employment with us, was professional and honest, Coetzer agreeing that Mrs Novacovic had acted unprofessionally by not arriving for work without giving notice, was late for work twice in four days, did not follow instructions about the breakfast serving time or any other instructions for that matter, did not own up to damages she caused to our property which cost us a call-out fee for the pool company, did not want to interact with our guests over breakfast (one couple asked her to leave the table, something we have not experienced in our 17 years of operation!), she refused to shake hands to welcome our new guests, was unable to manage the housekeepers, left to go home midway during guest check-in training, prepared a dreadfully kitsch table for our wedding anniversary guests we wanted to spoil (contrary to my request of how I wanted it to be made special for them), was closed off to any communication with guests and ourselves, documented (unbeknown to us at the time) everything she had seen and learnt with us in the four days on her iPad, and generously took a coffee and a breakfast break herself while the rest of the staff were focused on getting the rooms ready for the new arriving guests.  Coetzer agreed that appointing her was a liability for most potential employers, as she has a husband on pension, who has to be ’employed’ too, but may not earn any income so as to not lose his pension!   He accepted that Mrs Novacovic’s poor work ethic was a very negative reflection on the SA Academy of Butlers and its training standards!  She was dishonest about the rate she quoted for her daily fee, quoting the most qualified butler fee of R800 per 12 hour day, and therefore we reduced her hours to 8h00 – 14h00.  While Mrs Novacovic was not appointed via Guild Recruitment, the placement arm of the SA Butlers’ Academy, Coetzer welcomed the feedback telephonically.

Coetzer promised to have a chat with the butler graduate, having a meeting with her later in the day.  The e-mail response was one of a changed person, making wild unproven allegations, and disputing any weaknesses of Mrs Novacovic, to which he had agreed earlier in the day, which earned him a Sour Service Award! Mrs Novacovic had replied to our Gumtree advertisement for a half day assistant for Whale Cottage Camps Bay, sharing that she was annoyed by Guild Recruitment taking so much of her fee for their placement fee of 20% on the advertised butler rates.  She was therefore applying for jobs directly, and not via the SA Butler Academy recruitment service, an important part of the Academy’s misleading marketing to attract students.

The SA Butler Academy website (and its Facebook page) is riddled with typing errors, and is over-written with extravagant exaggerated claims:

*  It is a ‘non-profit’ training establishment – yet they charge R19500 for local students, and €5000 for international students inclusive of accommodation!

*   It is aimed at ‘hospitality candidates‘, who have a ‘desire to step into a lavish world of Wealth and Fortune‘ – yet Mrs Novacovic has no clue of the hospitality industry!

*   Its Principal is ‘world renowned’ Newton Cross, but a Google search only provides links to his Academy’s website!  Cross has trained as a butler in the UK, worked on some cruise liners, at Fancourt in George, and at Clarendon House in ‘Fresnay’ (sic)! It is claimed that he has worked for Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and ‘George Senior Bush (sic)’.

*   Butler student applicants should be fluent in English, but neither the Academy’s website, its Facebook page, nor Mrs Novacovic’s writing reflects this fluency!

*   The ‘Academy is the finest in the world’, and ‘the finest Private Sector training institute in the world and most certainly in South Africa’, but these claims are not substantiated on the website!

*   The Academy is World renowned for our modern approach to Butler Service in private households, resorts, exclusive yachts and passenger liners‘.  Again, no substantiation is offered.

*   The Mission Statement is the ultimate in exaggeration by the Academy, no substantiation reflected in its website or via Google: “The Academy is tantamount with professional Butler training which prides itself on the highest form of dedicated Butler Training. At The South African Butler Academy you will be taught how to run an effective modern private estate or household with grace and professionalism not just and estate but also a Yacht, Hotel Butler department and Boutique Resorts. The Academy course is 8 weeks of intense Butler training governed by experienced celebrity Butlers who are qualified as professional Butlers. The Academy will provide you with all the skills and certification to perform Butler duties. Our Training standards are exceptionally high and admired by International press and media. We are the world’s number one leading Butler Academy and the apex of all estates and households. Become part of SABA and celebrate service”  (our underlining).

*   The logo (provided cheekily by the Academy yesterday) reflects five stars – however the Academy is not graded by the Tourism Grading Council, and its use of the stars is therefore unlawful, SA Tourism having decreed that the star quality denotion is exclusive to the Tourism Grading Council!

It is the claim We are proud to have a legacy in the market as our clients are kept confidential and above all “disclosure” is our highest priority” (our underlining).  Clearly they may have meant ‘discretion’ or ‘non-disclosure’, which ironically is the most dishonest of all the SA Butler Academy claims, with it publishing the slanderous feedback of Mrs Novacovic on its website, reflecting the unprofessional nature of the Academy and its graduates. Any potential employer of a SA Butler Academy graduate should fear that ‘discretion’ is not guaranteed by The SA Butler Academy or its graduates, and in particular by Mrs Novacovic.

Discretion is the most direct association one would have with a butler, and it is reflected in the Florida-based Institute of Modern Butlers’ Professional Butler Code of Ethics, which highlights Integrity, Confidentiality, Service, Lawful Behaviour, Dedication, Personal Development, Respect, Professional Relationship, and Promotion.  The SA Butler Academy and its graduate Mrs Novacovic have breached this international Code of Conduct in a number of respects.  Interesting is that the SA Butler Academy does not have a Code of Conduct!

At a cost of R19500 for an 8 week course, it would appear that The SA Butler Academy students themselves are being taken for a ride, as this time period is not long enough to teach any student the full theoretical spectrum of hospitality, customer service, staff management, table service, silver service, etiquette and protocol, security, home automation, interpersonal management skills, culinary training, household management, and executive housekeeping, all elements of The SA Butler Academy curriculum, and certainly not at a practical level!

Mrs Novacovic made no effort to learn my job, which she was meant to take over, lurking in the kitchen and washing the dishes most of the time, the most expensive dishwasher we have ever employed!  Our staff are served breakfast during the course of our very busy mornings, prepared by our chef, a different egg type daily, which Mrs Novacovic enjoyed too, and they are provided with lunch too.   I love writing this blog, and do so mainly at night, as there is no way that I could do it justice in writing it while sitting in a busy Reception dealing with the guests that we accommodate daily, e-mail enquiries and correspondence having priority during the day.  We deny Mrs Novacovic’s false and libellous allegations, deplore her attempts to discredit ourselves, our staff, and our guests, and reserve our rights to take action against Mrs Novacovic and the SA Academy of Butlers for defamation.

Needless to say, we would warn any potential butler student, and any potential employer of a butler via The SA Butler Academy’s Guild Recruitment, against any dealings with The SA Butler Academy!

POSTSCRIPT 27/2: We have received feedback from a number of our blog readers and past guests that their comments in support of ourselves have not been allowed on the SA Butler Academy blog, another proof of its unprofessionalism and one-sided presentation of information!

POSTSCRIPT 4/3: The SA Butler Academy has taken note of our comments about its exaggerated claims and spelling errors, having removed all the quotes we featured in the above blogpost.  Profiles of the owner Newton Cross and his partner Adriaan Coetzee have been removed.  An attempt has been made to remove the illegal use of the five stars in its logo!

POSTSCRIPT 4/7/17:  We were summonsed early this year by the SA Butler Academy with an intermediate interdict, demanding the removal of this Blogpost, four years after I wrote it. This came after a written request by the Butler Academy that I remove the Blogpost, which I was not prepared to do. Last week the judge hearing the case rejected the Butler Academy demand. I am extremely grateful to my superb advocate, for this outcome. The Butler Academy is threatening a further legal case, to claim compensation for alleged defamation, a case which is likely to be heard in 2018.

See the Blogpost of 29 December 2020 below, which summarises the misleading Marketing allegations against the SA Butler Academy, and which confirms that we won the court case brought against us by the Academy in 2017, in attempting to have this Blogpost removed. It remains on the first page of Google, causing the Butler Academy huge harm due to the negative picture which I have painted about the Butler Academy, and about its untruths.

POSTSCRIPT 29/12/20:  On Sunday 27 December 2020 Carte Blanche broadcast an 11 minute insert on the Marketing misrepresentation of the SA Butler Academy, a program which was instigated by its former 2019 Singaporean student Lin Yang, who is trying to get a refund on her 2019 course fees after being expelled by the Academy on her third day of the course, due to alleged lateness, a tireless warrior in this battle of the past 18 months. She and I, as well as an anonymous student, were interviewed by Carte Blanche presenter Derek Watts, as was Newton Cross and Braam West from the SA Butler Academy. The program left the viewer with the impression that what I had learnt in 2013, when I wrote this Blogpost about the misleading marketing of the Butler Academy,  is still true today! The link below contains a link to the Carte Blanche insert, as well as my summary of the SA Butler Academy misrepresentation story as told by myself and Lin Yang, with another anonymous student too. 

Carte Blanche exposes SA Butler Academy Marketing deception, first exposed on WhaleTales Blog in 2013!

 

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

About Chris von Ulmenstein

 

How reliable are the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards?

Every year around this time, the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards are announced, resulting in a flurry of media releases to praise achievements in various categories.  TripAdvisor sceptics know how easy it is to generate both positive and negative false reviews on the world’s largest travel customer feedback site, and therefore take the results with a pinch of salt.

This year the Cape Grace hotel made it to the number two rank on the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards 2013 Top 25 Hotels in the World category, and is ranked top hotel in Africa.  The Africa list included the Twelve Apostles Hotel at 14th position, the Mount Nelson Hotel at 18th place, The Oyster Box at 19th place, the One&Only Cape Town at 21st place, Kapama River Lodge at number 22, and the Table Bay Hotel at 23rd position.

Ironic for the Cape Grace hotel is that in the same week as the TripAdvisor award ranking was announced, yet another scandal hit the hotel, this time a hotel guest from the UK allegedly having been drugged by having her drink spiked, filmed in a comprising position in her hotel bedroom with her tour guide, and subsequently robbed of all her money, computer equipment, and jewellery over the festive season, reported the Sunday Times.   The hotel shot to ‘fame’ for all the wrong reasons when it was the honeymoon home of Shrien Dewani, who allegedly organised the murder of his bride Anni from the hotel two years ago.  The hotel’s most famous guests to date have been ex-USA President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary, and James Bond, in the latest ‘Carte Blanche’ 007 novel by Jeffery Deaver.

Out of her depth in the wording she used in a media statement, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold is quoted as saying: ‘The Cape Grace has always been an exemplary hotel and a benchmark for the best in Cape Town hospitality. We are so pleased  that it has been recognised in such an authoritative way‘ (our underlining), immediately offending many other top Cape Town hotels!

The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards do not reflect the results of the highly regarded Conde Nast Travelers’ Awards, in which the Steenberg Hotel was voted as the best hotel in Africa in 2011, and was ranked 9th on the continent last year.

It is fortunate that TripAdvisor does not do a similar Restaurants Awards list, as a week doesn’t go by that a restaurateur in Cape Town and Franschhoek does not refer to colleagues posting false positive TripAdvisor reviews about their own establishments, or posting false reviews about restaurants near the top of the list in their city or village, to topple them from the top position.  ‘Reviews’ by aggrieved ex-employees are another source of negative reviews, as are customers who are angry when they do not receive refunds when they contravene agreed cancellation policies.

Anyone that reads and believes TripAdvisor reviews deserves to get what they receive when they make their accommodation and restaurant choices based on this website! TripAdvisor is a particularly important reference guide for tourists from the UK, and it is shame that they allow themselves to be deceived by so much false information.  TripAdvisor would enhance its credibility vastly if it had a review verification system, and demanded a response from the owner or manager of the establishment, before posting any review, to allow both sides of the story to be presented jointly and fairly.

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

South Africa wins 2010 World Cup and becomes Plan B for future FIFA World Cups

The best compliment that FIFA could pay South Africa is the declaration by Jerome Valcke, FIFA Secretary-General, two weeks ago that “South Africa will always be a Plan B for any World Cup”, reports AFP, and an amazing compliment to the Local Organising Committee (LOC), as well as to South Africans across the board, in organising the best “party” in the world and showing the “gees” of our nation to our visitors and to our fellow countrymen.

FIFA praised the country for what it believes will have been a “perfect” World Cup.  “If on July 11, we are on the same level as we are today (3 weeks ago), I would say it’s a perfect World Cup”, he said.  Initial transport problems led to empty seats at the Opening Match in Johannesburg on 11 June, but these problems were quickly ironed out.

The World Cup has made South Africa and the continent of Africa “sexy”.  At the TIME and CNN Global Forum, which was held in Cape Town two weeks ago, and was attended by a large number of the world’s global business leaders, South Africa’s smooth hosting of the World Cup had changed perceptions about the country and the continent, speakers said, reports The Sunday IndependentTIME editor Michael Elliot said that the country is riding an “extraordinary wave of energy and optimism”, and stated that South Africa is “on the verge of tremendous opportunity”.

So how has South Africa benefited from the World Cup?    The benefits have been financial and emotional:

1.   A legacy of infrastructure – I disliked the word “legacy” initially, when I heard politicians justify the billions of Rands to be spent, but now that legacy is concrete, with ten new or upgraded stadiums around the country, fantastic roadworks leading into Host Cities, and around the stadiums, airports of an international standard (almost all, given the embarrassing fiasco at King Shaka airport in Durban), a Gautrain in Johannesburg and a modernised train station in Cape Town, new modern buses, upgraded city pavements, city greening and new city artwork to beautify the Fan Walks.

2.  The “gees” Ke Nako that was the theme of the World Cup grew throughout the World Cup into an unheard of spirit of national pride, surpassing that of the Rugby World Cup in 1995. The nation-building power of sport, first through the rugby match between the Stormers and the Blue Bulls in the Orlando Stadium, and the powerful bonding of South Africans in supporting the Bafana Bafana team, as well as them demonstrating the pride in their country via mirror socks, flags on the cars, and flags on their homes and businesses, has been one of the most wonderful benefits of the World Cup, and is likely to last well beyond the end of the World Cup. For the first time the country became proud citizens of their continent too, in supporting “BaGhana BaGhana”, when they were the final African team to play in the tournament.   Many South Africans doubted their nation’s ability to host an event of this magnitude across nine different locations around the large country, but she has done her country proud.  Locals are already calling for a regular way of displaying unity, by putting up flags, wearing the Bafana Bafana colours, or those of our country’s flag. 

3.  The improvement in South Africa’s image world-wide is the best legacy of all, and perhaps we needed to hear bluntly at the start of the World Cup how dimly we were viewed by the world.   Whilst we hated her broadcasts, Emma Hurd of SkyNews was the wet blanket that reminded us day in and day out about how dreadful life can be for many of our citizens, but even then the TV station changed its tune, its broadcasts became more and more positive, and Ms Hurd’s focus moved more to the soccer and less on the social imbalances.   Maybe it was a blessing that England fell out of the tournament so early on, which led to less interest in the World Cup reporting by the station.   Reporter after reporter has written about how they feared coming to the country, having heard about its reputation of crime, AIDS, poverty, and even apartheid, but all wrote about how pleasantly surprised they were about the spirited and united nation they saw, and about the first class facilities they encountered.   Not only South Africa but Africa benefited in image, as written above already.   Africa has been the step-child of the world, and it was the “social responsibility ” of the world, and FIFA in particular, that saw South Africa awarded the rights to hosting the 2010 World Cup – a tremendous leap in faith for the body at the time, but a dividend that has paid off richly for FIFA President Sepp Blatter and his team, not just in terms of their revenue earned, but also in their image for having the faith and in sticking behind South Africa, denying that they ever had a Plan B and a Plan C.

4.   The control over crime was a surprise even for South Africans.  The cancellation of the contract between the FIFA Local Organising Committee and Stallion Security at the Cape Town and Durban stadiums was no security loss at all, and the police did an outstanding job in handling the security of the stadiums, as well as of the Host Cities in general, with high police visibility, and a marked reduction in crime in general.  Western Cape Premier Helen Zille told the Cape Town Press Club that a BBC interviewer had expressed his surprise to her about not seeing the “expected crime wave”, reports the Weekend Argus.  Never before had such visible policing been seen, not only in and around the stadiums, but generally in city streets and in shopping malls.  One wondered where they had been hidden all these years, and hopes they will remain.  South Africa was not prepared to compromise safety, its biggest vulnerability, and I experienced what I first thought was a crazy safety procedure to have my car security-checked at the Green Point Traffic Department, with a car search, a sniffer dog search,  a search underneath the car, and a personal security check, then a blue light escort into the stadium.   Special World Cup law courts also acted immediately on World Cup-related crimes, and meted out harsh fines and penalties for theft and other crimes, and the incident of the British fan entering the England team changing room, and the subsequent admission of guilt payment by the Sunday Mirror reporter related to this matter, attracted varying reaction to the harshness of the fines. 

5.   Whilst South Africa was shunned as a “rip-off” country for its cost of flights, accommodation, transport  and World Cup packages prior to the World Cup, due to the 30 % commission add-on by FIFA hospitality and ticketing agency MATCH to already high prices of flights, accommodation and transport, the prices of all of these aspects of the World Cup quickly dropped when MATCH cancelled the bulk of its booked rooms, and SAA cancelled the seats MATCH had booked.   It was unheard of that accommodation rates dropped during a world event, but pricing is about supply and demand, and the lower than expected demand necessitated the decrease in rates, which did increase last-minute bookings to some extent.  It was gratifying to see soccer fans book their own accommodation, preferring to book more reasonably priced guest houses.  It is hoped that the world will forget its initial image of our country in this regard.

6.   The biggest surprise for locals was the power and fun of the Fan Walk in Cape Town.  It appeared that this may have been the only city in South Africa to have one.  Despite one’s scepticism of the concept initially, given Cape Town’s winter weather, not even rain could deter ticket holders and even towards the end, on a sunny afternoon, Capetonians without tickets from walking the Walk.    The flags put up everywhere became a trademark, and made Cape Town look festive, and one hopes they will stay, and give a nostalgic memory of the biggest party Cape Town has ever experienced.

7.   South Africa has new tourism icons, the very beautifully designed stadiums becoming tourism assets in their own rights.   The Soccer City, Durban, Cape Town and Nelspruit stadiums in particular are beautifully designed.  Cape Town had a Big Six it marketed – now it has the Big Seven, the Cape Town Stadium added, which became the backdrop to most broadcasts from the city.

8.   If it has not been said above, the interpersonal tolerance between South Africans seems to have improved, and small courtesies towards other pedestrians, motorists and shoppers are manifestations of the wonderful spirit of “South Africanism”.

9.   “White” South Africans have caught the soccer spirit, and the majority never were interested in this sport.   One never thought that locals would rush off in such large numbers to buy their match tickets online, and to queue for tickets at FIFA outlets in Host Cities, even camping outside the doors the night before.  More than 3 million tickets were sold, and about two-thirds went to South Africans.  We all became enraptured with the game, and all learnt new terminology about soccer (although most of us still do not know if it is ‘soccer’ or ‘football’ that we have been watching!).  We got to know the names of new soccer heroes – Diego Forlan, Thomas Mueller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, and many more, for their performance on the pitches.

10.  School children but also adults learnt about geography in terms of the participating nations, so that Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the South American countries of Uruguay and Paraguay could be placed.  Nestle ran a “Children of the World” promotion, with information about different participating countries on their Smarties boxes.   Hopefully South Africa featured on the atlas of children and residents of the world community whilst they watched the many matches in the past month, and saw their countries’ TV stations present documentaries about our country.   We got to know the flags of participating nations. 

11.  Musically, life will never be the same, the vuvuzela being synonymous with the 2010 World Cup, and will no doubt be the “spirit maker” at future sporting events around the world.   Loved and hated, the “toot toot” during broadcasts and live matches were part of this sporting event.  FIFA President Blatter refused to have it banned, when called upon to do so by the world media and by players, who said that they could not hear their coaches and the referees.  The world’s largest vuvuzela was erected on Cape Town’s unfinished highway for World Cup sponsor Hyundai.   Two songs will go down in World Cup history – “Waka Waka” by Shakira, much scorned when it first received airplay on radio, but now synonymous with the event, South Africa, and even Africa – as well as K’Naan’s “Waving Flags”.

12.   It is the future tourism legacy that will hopefully benefit the country, in that it will attract tourists to our country in future.  Due to the improvement in South Africa’s image and the wonderful documentaries about South Africa (for example German TV station ZDF dedicated hours of coverage of South Africa, using our ex-Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss, speaking her best possible German – she is engaged to a German), one can hope for an influx of tourists for years to come, but one must be realistic about the depressed economy internationally, and even locally, said our Governor of the Reserve Bank Gill Marcus last week.

13.  If there is one name we will never forget in the context of the World Cup, it is the by now well-known Paul the Octopus from Oberhausen in Germany, who correctly predicted 5 wins and 2 losses for Germany, as well as the win for Spain against the Netherlands in the Final. He even has a Twitter page @PPsychicOctopus, which surpassed 500 Followers in just four days.

14.   The media coverage for South Africa has been phenominal, many countries sending media representatives not only reporting about the soccer but also doing documentaries about the cities in which they were based.  The BBC had a special Studio built on top of the Somerset Hospital, giving it a fantastic view of a beautiful Table Mountain on the one side, and of the beautiful Cape Town Stadium on the other side.   An hour after the Final last night, ZDF was still broadcasting about South Africa and the World Cup, recapping the highlights of the sport event and of the country.  Even normally cynical Oliver Kahn, who was a co-presenter, praised the organisation, hospitality, friendliness and lack of hooliganism of our host country.  ZDF probably was the TV station that gave our country the most, and most positive, TV coverage.   The Final is expected to have been seen by 700 million TV viewers around the world last night.

15.   The power of the endorsement in terms of VIP attendance at the matches is unmeasurable, and those celebrities that are on Twitter, Paris Hilton and Shakira for example, who expressed their delight, spread the word even further.  Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel, Queen Sofia of Spain, her son Crown Prince Felipe and his wife Letizia, Holland’s Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock, German President Christian Wulff, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Luia da Silva, Charlize Theron, Morgan Freeman, Mick Jagger, Kimora Lee Simons, Leonardo DiCaprio, Andrea Bocelli, Franz Beckenbauer, injured ex-German captain Michael Ballack, Bill Clinton, David Beckham, will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas, Naomi Campbell, Princes William and Harry, London Mayor Boris Johnson and many more attended the matches over the past month.

16.  Despite the winter timing of the tournament, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth’s weather generally played ball.  Cape Town had three rain days during matches, and challenged the perception of Johannesburgers that it rains all the time.  

17.   The smooth logistical running of the World Cup has opened up the country to bid for other events, and the 2020 Olympics is the next event the country has been invited to bid for.   IOC President Jacques Rogge has been in the country for more than a week, and has been warmly recommended the country by his friend FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

18.  Social media marketing received a tremendous boost during the World Cup, and peaked on 11 June, the start of the World Cup.   Only one event challenged interest in the early part of the event, being the engagement of South African Charlene Wittstock to Prince Albert of Monaco.  As soon as the USA and England teams were eliminated, web traffic fell dramatically, partly though due to the problems with the SEACOM cable for those websites that are hosted overseas by their servers.   Yet action on Twitter never let off, and whenever a goal was scored, Twitter crashed. Twitter users followed soccer stars they had not previously heard of, and even Sepp Blatter opened a Twitter page (@SeppBlatter). 

19.   The initial high airline ticket prices encouraged many locals as well as tourists to drive between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and also to other parts of the country, to save on costs, thus supporting tourism in smaller towns and cities that were not Host Cities.  One hopes that this will lead to a rediscovery of the Garden Route, an area that has suffered badly as far as tourism goes in the past three years.

20.   One can be grateful from a business perspective that the World Cup did take place in winter, a normally quiet period, therefore not influencing productivity, or lack of, badly on match days, and on Bafana Bafana match days specifically, which saw shops and businesses close early.   This is compared to many companies that close for their Christmas/New Year break, when Cape Town is at its busiest.

21.   The surprise benefits of coming to the country for the international soccer fans was the beauty of the country, and in Cape Town the fans were surprised about what special beauty the city offers – the mountains, the sea, the wildlife at Cape Point, and the winelands.

22.   Soccer fans that arrived without tickets and locals enjoyed the “gees” at the Host Cities’ Fan Parks, many offering top notch musical entertainment every day, and broadcasting all matches.  In early days the Fan Park on the Grand Parade had to be closed, due to over-capacity.  Other fans went pub-hopping, Long Street being popular for this, with numerous bars and restaurants with televisions.  The V&A Waterfront was another popular destination, and every restaurant agreed to install TV sets for the duration of the World Cup.   Paulaner Brauhaus and other hospitality marquees set up at the Clocktower side of the V&A did extremely well, and I personally queued at the Paulaner Brauhaus for as long as 2 hours for the semi-final between Germany and Spain.   The law of supply and demand forced greedy hospitality marquee owners to radically reduce their entrance fees, where these were charged, from over R 100 per person, to about R 20.

23.  FIFA must be congratulated on their determination in making this an excellent World Cup, and were based in Johannesburg for a number of years, to guide the management of the event.  It gave us great confidence that the event would be a success, even though so many locals were sceptical.  FIFA executives were also ruthless in their deadlines for the completion of the stadiums, and the infrastructure, which was excellent in making everything come together, even if it felt that some work was very much last minute.   FIFA insisted on the police presence and the instant law courts, and they have dramatically reduced crime in the past four weeks.

The World Cup has not been super-perfect, and had some blemishes:

1.  I have written copiously about MATCH, FIFA’s hospitality and ticketing agency, and its ruthless attempt at exploitation of the accommodation industry, which unfortunately backfired badly for the agency, for the accommodation industry and for the image of the country as far as affordability, or lack of, goes.

2.   Many empty seats were visible, especially in the early matches, and were attributed to transport problems in Johannesburg at the first match, and to sponsors not allocating all their tickets.

3.   The inability and thereafter late landing of four aircraft at King Shaka airport in Durban on the day that Germany played Spain was the biggest logistical blunder of the tournament, and left many German fans angry about the costs they had incurred to see the match.   ACSA is offering a reported compensation of R400 per head!

4.    Restaurant business dropped dramatically, and fine dining establishments that refused to succumb to TV sets lost business badly, especially on match days in their cities.  Theatre and general entertainment also suffered, and the popular Jonny Cooper Orchestra closed down a show in Camps Bay two weeks ahead of schedule.   Retail outlets did not gain from the World Cup, and the opposite probably is true.   Sales of the Cape Times and Cape Argus have been said by its management to have been the worst ever in the past four weeks.

5.   The negative media reporting focused on only one theme – the great divide that still remains in South Africa, between haves and have-nots, and the irony of the monies spent on the stadiums relative to the lack of proper housing for all of its population will have to be addressed.   One hopes that the future impact on tourism, and resultant employment, will address this problem.  But it will also mean a new attitude by employees to value their jobs and terms of employment.

6.   The early exit of England in particular was damaging to tourism, as multitudes of fans were standing by to fly to South Africa to support their team.  The England fans were the best for accommodation business, but their bookings were linked to their team’s playing schedule.

7.  The biggest loser of the World Cup probably is FIFA itself, in terms of its image, Sepp Blatter having been booed at the Final and also on another occasion.    FIFA also came under fire about its card-happy referees, the British referee Howard Webb setting the record for the highest number of cards, with 14 yellow cards and one red card during the wild Final match.  The lack of technology to check on the admissibility of goals was also severely criticised.

8.  FIFA’s technology also failed when demand for tickets became so great, that its system crashed on numerous occasions, a dent to its image of perfection and organisation.

9.   The more than 25 000 volunteers that were appointed by FIFA and its LOC, were poorly utilised in terms of their skills and day-job capabilities and were extremely poorly managed.   They were “employed” outside of the South African labour legislation, and had to sign for this in their contracts.   They had tax deducted from their meal allowances when these were paid into their bank accounts.  In Cape Town they were served disgustingly bad food for three days, and were not compensated for it in terms of their meal allowances.   They did not all receive the designated volunteer clothing, even though it was ordered about 6 months ago when the volunteers were appointed.  Volunteers attended three days of training in April plus a morning in May, and were not compensated.   Huge dissatisfaction existed about the forced McDonald’s diet of R 60 per day, which the LOC would not alter at all, the most unhealthy food they could have been fed.  The Green Point branch next to the stadium made a fortune out of this arrangement, yet their service and food quality was shocking – the Volunteer Co-ordinator had to call the branch regularly with complaints.   Volunteers were forced to drink Coke, when many preferred water, Bonaqua being a Coca Cola brand too.   Quotas were set for the amount of water and Coke that each volunteer had to receive.   The Volunteer Farewell Function last week started two hours late, was badly organised, and lunch was served at 15h30, 1600 volunteers having to queue – many left at this stage.  More than a month after starting to work as volunteers, they have not yet been paid, despite a promise that they would be (now they are due to be paid at the end of July!).   Sadly, international volunteers left the country with an image of the poorest organisation of a World Cup relative to their experience of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, a shame given that one third of the volunteers were from other countries around the world, and they will take this message back home with them.  I kept hearing them say that this must be “an African way” of doing things, a perception I tried to correct whenever I heard it.

10.   The FIFA sponsors Budweiser, McDonald’s and Coca Cola were not all positively received.  Budweiser was only served inside the stadiums, and comments via Twitter were only negative about the beer. McDonald’s became a swearword amongst the volunteers, and even the police and media working close to the Stadium must have disliked receiving the poor quality and service for more than a month.   Coca Cola became the butt of jokes about Paris Hilton getting the brand wrong when she was wrongfully arrested for smoking marijuana.   The food sold by concessionaires inside the Stadium was poor.

10.  FIFA also lost face when it fanatically reacted to ambush marketing, and the Kulula.com airline provoked FIFA in its newspaper ads.  Bavaria beer is the best known brand in South Africa, due to FIFA’s reaction to the Dutch brewery’s ambush marketing inside the stadium in Durban.

11.  Corruption in terms of Government departments and municipalities buying huge allocations of tickets has been hinted at, and no doubt further such claims will be written about in the media.

11.  Whilst the occupancy of accommodation establishments in Host Cities close to Stadiums was reasonable in the past 30 days (Whale Cottage Camps Bay at 71 %), the areas in smaller towns barely picked up any benefit in this period.   Sadly, business in May was at its worst ever, and what income was made in June, was offset by the “vacuum-effect” of the World Cup in May.     

12.  Last, but not least, is the anti-climax of the month-long party having come to an end.  The lives of many changed in the past month, with different habits, glued to television sets, children on holiday for 5 weeks, daily beer drinking habits having been developed, and the mundane side of life was set aside for the period.  Reality strikes today!  

POSTSCRIPT 18/7: FIFA gave South Africa a score of 9/10 for the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, reports The Times, up from the 7,5 rating for the hosting of the Confederations Cup last year.   FIFA President Blatter likened the score to a cum laude at university level.  “The greatest memory is the willingness and commitment of South Africans to show the world their ability to host this World Cup with discipline and honour” Blatter said.

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