Tag Archives: southern hemisphere

TripAdvisor accommodation survey finds big hotels do best!

On quantifiable measures, the TripAdvisor 2012 Industry Index results of a survey conducted amongst 25517 accommodation establishments around the world from 7 – 14 June, and released to TripAdvisor rated properties yesterday, found that hotels with 50 or more rooms are smarter, and therefore more successful in running their businesses than are smaller establishments.

Questioned about their profitability, more than 80% of accommodation establishments in North America, South America, and Asia reported being profitable, while only 69 % of those in the Middle East and Europe did so. Establishments with 50 or more rooms were more likely to report profitability than smaller ones. The highest optimism about the prospects for the next six months came from establishments in Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, the USA, and India, while those expecting the worst conditions are the Eurozone countries of Greece, Italy, Spain and France, which is not surprising. Not surprising either is that 53% of accommodation establishments indicated that they had reduced their rates for the June – August period (could of course be season related, as would be the case in winter in many Southern Hemisphere countries), and plan to drop rates even further in September and October.

Online booking capability and use of Social Media in marketing were also probed.  The survey found that Bed & Breakfast establishments are very far behind hotels and inns in their online booking facilities (or lack of) offered to guests.  Social Media marketing is applied by 66% of all establishments, but once again hotels with more than 50 rooms are twice as likely to use this form of marketing than are their smaller counterparts.  Mobile devices are most likely to be used to interact with guests in accommodation establishments in China, Turkey, Mexico, Spain, and in the USA, while they are least likely to be used in the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and in France.

Marketing activities of accommodation establishments include offering discounts first and foremost, followed by offering free wi-fi, free parking, rewarding business with points, and offering free newspapers.

The question group that was at the core of the TripAdvisor survey, and led to some irritation, was that relating to the practice of accommodation establishments inviting feedback from their guests, to which 83% of the establishments replied positively.  The proportion of establishments which invite their guests to provide feedback via TripAdvisor is 78%, the survey claims.  The survey probed whether one wanted TripAdvisor to contact one’s guests proactively, to evaluate their feedback, which must have led to an overwhelmingly negative response as the result is not included in the survey report.

The survey concluded with the environmental concern and practices of accommodation establishments, and those in New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, France, Indonesia, Italy, USA, the Caribbean, Australia and India are most eco-friendly in their operations.  Interesting is that one third of the properties admitted that they do not communicate their green practices to their guests. The most common ways in which the establishments contribute to conserving the environment are to use energy-efficient light bulbs, encouraging the re-use of towels and linen, energy-efficient planning, eco-cleaning, and water-efficient toilets.

Interestingly, Africa as a continent, and South Africa as a country, were not mentioned in the results at all.

From feedback received, many guests still prefer to stay in smaller accommodation establishments such as Bed & Breakfasts, for the ‘home from home’ friendliness and more affordable rates.  This is not reflected in the TripAdvisor survey results.

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

TripAdvisor Top Destination Award for Cape Town not benefitting tourism!

While it was evident that the recent TripAdvisor 2011 Travellers’ Choice Destination Awards for Cape Town was not bringing enquiries to Cape Town accommodation establishments immediately after its announcement in May, an e-mail from TripAdvisor, sent to all its accommodation establishment ‘members’ on Thursday, listed the ten “most searched-for destinations on TripAdvisor this month”. Disappointingly, Cape Town does not feature on this list!

The Top 10 most-searched for destinations on TripAdvisor were the following: Singapore, Rome, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York City, Barcelona, Albufeira in Portugal, Kuala Lumpur, Paris, and London.  The list was headlined “Trending on TripAdvisor”.  Only six of these destinations were on the Top 10 Travellers Choice Destination Awards: Rome, Hong Kong, New York City, Barcelona, Paris and London.  Cape Town, Sydney, Machu Picchu, and Rio de Janeiro did not make the most-searched destination cities – what they have in common is that they are all Southern Hemisphere cities, and long-haul destinations for the American and UK markets, probably making up the largest percentage of TripAdvisor users.

One hopes that other recent exposure for Cape Town, in the Telegraph Ultratravel 100 best holiday destinations, and the location for most of the action in the new James Bond book ‘Carte Blanche’, will attract much-needed tourists to Cape Town and the Western Cape.

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

S A Food Bloggers’ Conference a sizzling success!

The first ever Food Bloggers’ Conference in the southern hemisphere was held in Cape Town on Sunday, and was attended by some 60 food bloggers, so dedicated to their craft that they gave up a whole Sunday over a long weekend to attend the Conference.

One of the attractions to attend the Bloggers’ Conference was meeting bloggers and Twitterers that one has read or one follows.  JamieWhoSA, Michael Olivier, Sam Wilson (speaker) and CookSister (speaker) were in the audience.    At the end  of the day, a number of friendships had been formed, and new followers were added to Twitter accounts.

The key lessons learnt throughout the day were the following:

1.   Decide whether you are a cook who likes to write, or a writer that likes to cook.  This will guide one’s writing style and content

2.   Bloggers love an audience, so they must write for them, and not for themselves.  That means that one must research one’s audience, and find out what they like to read and why.  Measurements may have to be “translated” to suit the American market, for example.   Alternative product/fruit/vegetable names may have to be provided for names used in other countries.

3.  “Find your inner voice” – you must love writing to blog.  If you are struggling, change direction.

4.  Punctuation, spelling and grammar accuracy are of paramount importance

5.  Have focus about what you are writing, and it can be as wide or narrow as you like

6.   Keep motivated – 60 % of new blogs close down after one month

7.  Photograph everything you eat or prepare or are served, so that you can use the photographs at a later stage

8.   Take inspiration and motivation from comments, and delete and ignore the negative comments

9.   Evolve the blog, “shake it up” and make it better all the time, to keep it fresh

10.   One’s blog writing is a permanent record on the internet, and therefore can be a reflection of one and one’s brand for many years to come.

11.   Recipes should be treated with reverence, to show respect to women who came before

12.   Not all celebrity chefs can write recipes, e.g. Jamie Oliver, and they have a team of food editors, stylists etc that do that for them

13.   The headline or title of the blog must be snappy, interesting, mouth-watering, evocative and say “bite me”.  It also is important for Google searches, more so than the blog content.

14.  The first paragraph must summarise what the post is about.  It should not be too long.  It should not contain any whining, complaints, excuses or excessive bragging.   It must want to make the reader read the rest of the post.

15.   The picture must go in the top half of the post

16.  Ingredients in recipes should be listed in order of usage, can be categorised in sections, and must be accurate.  The method should be written with precise instructions, to realistic serving sizes, without the use of jargon

17.   Natural light is the best light to use to photograph food.  Use a muslin cloth to soften it if the light is too bright. Avoid using the flash.

18.   Choose a blog template that suits you and your needs, i.e. ability to accept comments, to have RSS feeds, to have links to Twitter and Facebook.  The template will influence what your blog looks like.

19.  Be realistic about the time blogging takes, and the blogging frequency you can keep up with.    

20.  Don’t write about what everyone else writes – be the first to write about a new topic.

21.  Check the appearance of the blog on different computers, as it can be influenced by browsers.   Avoid light type on a dark background.   Check the font size and type.   Avoid clutter.

22.   “You are the heart of the blog, it is about you, show yourself, be yourself” (CookSister). Stay in touch with your readers.

23.   One’s Facebook, Twitter and blog persona must match.  Decide upfront how much to reveal of oneself.

24.   Use YouTube, Ning, BlogHer and Stumble It!

25.  A picture creates read-appeal.  Contrast dark and light colours in styling food for a photograph.  Less is more.  Props must be photographed out of focus.   Tag photographs.

26.   Copyright is a consideration.  Ingredients cannot be copyrighted, but the preparation method can.   Add a copyright sign to the blog and each post.

27.  Do not be too intimidated by a lawyer’s letter re defamation and copyright, but don’t fight it if they are serious.

28.  Free products/meals must be transparent in a review

29.  It’s OK to make money out of one’s blog, as it costs money (e.g. restaurant visits, ingredients) to write it.  Do not slant the blog to sponsors’ products or services if they take an ad.  It will blow one’s credibility.

While many improvements can be made to a Food Bloggers’ get-together in 2011, the Conference was enjoyed by all, and all were delighted by the many give-aways, as well as heavy-weighted goody-bags they received.  It was R 430 well spent.  The Giggling Gourmet, Jenny Morris, served a very generous and delicious lunch in her new Cook’s Playground test kitchen on Napier Street.

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