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May 12, 2009

Ten keys for success in destination e-business

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E-tourism guru Dr Roger Carter

Cape Town CEO Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold and e-tourism guru Dr Roger Carter gave a joint presentation at the Indaba travel exhibition in Durban yesterday entitled “Ten Keys for Success in Destination e-Business”.

Carter, who is based in the UK, has spent 25 years working for national, regional and city tourism organisations. In 1997, he established TEAM, a consultancy in strategy, business planning and operations management for destination management and marketing organisations.  He has been involved in over 200 consultancy projects, throughout the UK and in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia, South Africa, the Seychelles, Estonia, Ireland, and Portugal.

Carter’s 10 keys for success are as follows:

1. Reach as many potential customers as possible
2. Maximise the lifetime value of customers by maintaining the relationship
3. Engage in social networking and user-generated content
4. Create a compelling website experience
5. Maintain high-quality content
6. Generate sales, directly or indirectly
7. Offer do-it-yourself packaging
8. Engage tourism businesses to get their inventory online
9. Demonstrate return on investment – carry out performance evaluation and benchmarking
10. Ensure effective electronic distribution of information to travellers and visitors

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Some take-outs from Roger Carter’s presentation:

“Maximising the dwell time on your site is the name of the game.”

“Maintaining high-quality content is fundamental.”

On destination organisations: “It’s their job to take people to or through the point of transaction.”

“It’s critical for tourism businesses to have their inventory online. And you can’t sell properly online unless you have your inventory online.”

“The next frontier is to get information to people when they are in destination. When they are in destination, they need different sorts of information. Mobile technology becomes very important.”

Carter highlighted two critical points in his list of 10: “Engage in social networking and user-generated content” and “Ensure effective electronic distribution of information to travellers and visitors.”

Du-Toit Helmbold told the Indaba audience how Cape Town Tourism was meeting the challenges of engaging with visitors, in person through the association’s 19 Visitor Information Centres in the Western Cape, on the telephone and also more and more through the World Wide Web.

She also explained that Cape Town Tourism was in the final stages of developing a new custom-built Visitor Membership Management System (VMMS), and how this would work as the single database of visitor information in the future, feeding into different e-marketing tools, including the official tourism website for Cape Town, www.capetown.travel

Du-Toit Helmbold took the audience through the site and Cape Town Tourism’s social networking and e-marketing initiatives. She spoke to each of Carter’s keys to success in tourism e-business with practical examples. On the point “Engage in social networking and user-generated content” she explained, for example, how Cape Town Tourism was using the photo networking site Flickr to attract high-quality, user-generated images for the site, for use on the blog and with information about attractions.

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Cape Town CEO Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold

Some take-outs from Mariëtte du-Toit Helmbold’s presentation:

“What we really need are extraordinary solutions and strategies – these things help us catch windows of opportunity.”

“We need to make sure that the customer is an extension of our marketing message.”

“People are now demanding information at the touch of a button – wherever they are.”

“We have one chance; either the visitor will give us a big tick, or never contact us again.”

“It’s very important for local people to love the site.”

On not updating a blog: “There’s nothing that loses people’s interest faster.”

“On every single page there is a call to action to engage with us.”

Stats from capetown.travel

  • www.capetown.travel was launched in December 2008. Visitor numbers have since grown from 1500 visitors per week in Dec 08, to over 6000 visitors per week in May 09, and continue to grow.
  • So far in May this year, visitors have visited more than 3.7 pages of the site on average, and on each visit have stayed an average of 3 minutes and 59 seconds.
  • Visitors from 112 countries have visited www.capetown.travel so far in May. Most of these visitors have come from South Africa, with the next highest number coming from India, probably for the content relating to the Indian Professional League (IPL) currently being played in South Africa. Visitors from India in May have looked at an average of 6.16 pages, and have spent 5 minutes and 12 seconds on the site on average. (Source: Google Analytics)
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