Clarity on the appointment of International Tourism Consultant

In response to the Whale Cottage Blog post dated August 23, 2011, entitled “So who the ‘bloody hell’ is Cape Town Tourism’s new Australian strategy consultant?”, Cape Town Tourism would like to point out a number of inaccuracies in the blog post and contextualise the reasons for the appointment of Strategetic.

The Cape Town Tourism Board approved the appointment of Strategetic in July 2011 for a six month period (until the end of December, 2011) after a Request for Proposals (RFP) was released in June 2011 for “Strategic Support to Cape Town Tourism for the development and implementation of a Cape Town Marketing and Brand Campaign.”

In line with Cape Town Tourism’s procurement policy, the value of the contract did not necessitate a public tender process, but rather a public request for quotations. For the sake of transparency, Cape Town Tourism published an RFP on Cape Town Tourism’s website, on Trade World, and circulated the RFP to consultants on Cape Town Tourism’s database.

Three proposals that met the key criteria with quotations were short-listed and evaluated by the Cape Town Tourism Board. The Board was satisfied that due process was followed, that Strategetic’s proposal best addressed the RFP criteria and that they presented the most appropriate global destination marketing and brand campaign experience - a specific requirement for Cape Town Tourism in light of the need to grow demand in global markets. The business model and fee structure proposed was the most competitive and allows for a risk-share scenario, which ensures greater accountability and will allow for the generation of additional income.

The lead consultant put forward by Strategetic was Ian Macfarlane who has extensive global tourism marketing experience complemented by a good local knowledge and understanding of Cape Town and South Africa, having lived in Cape Town for 18 years and worked in various corporate senior management positions whilst based in the city. To be relevant in the international arena in which Cape Town competes, access to international best practice and expertise, coupled with local knowledge, is very important.

Macfarlane’s verified qualifications and experience include:

  • B. Com., UNISA 1980 - 1984
  • MBA, UCT, GSB, 1985 - 1986
  • M. Phil (applied environmental ethics). U. Stellenbosch) (1996 - 1997)
  • Adjunct Professor: Victoria University Melbourne, Tourism and Hospitality Research Centre
  • Previous Board Member Ehrenberg-Bass Marketing Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2007 - 2010)
  • Previous Board member Tourism Research Council New Zealand
  • GM Marketing Tourism New Zealand (1998 – December 2003)
  • CEO Gold Coast Tourism, Queensland. Australia (2004)
  • Director Marketing, Tourism Australia, Sydney (2005 – 2007)
  • Strategetic Consultants (2007 to date)

Macfarlane has also consulted on a number of tourism projects, including: 

  • Brand and marketing strategy for Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority)
  • Product and experiences development for Alpine regions for Victoria
  • Adelaide: Brand strategy (City of Adelaide)
  • Sydney: Tourism brand and strategy development (Tourism New South Wales)
  • Evaluation of the impact of major events on city brand equity (CRC for Sustainable Tourism)
  • Brand strategy for Sydney Olympic Park (Sydney Olympic Park authority)

It is noteworthy that the entire marketing strategy and subsequent execution of 100% Pure New Zealand was Macfarlane’s work. The campaign is often quoted as the most successful tourism campaign ever, and resulted in market share and visitor increases for its entire duration. It still is being executed some 13 years post-launch, which is testament to its solid strategic foundations. 

Regarding the inaccuracies presented in the blog, the following warrant a response:

  • The blog’s remark that the campaign cost was $180 million is incorrect. This was possibly confused either with the gross operating budget for Tourism Australia, after overhead deductions) or the unsubstantiated political spin, of the time. The budget for the So Where the Bloody Hell Are You campaign was $18m in year 1 (2006) and $10m in year two (2007).
  • The campaign was not banned in the UK and was flighted there for about 12 months.
  • Research on the campaign, undertaken by highly credible companies, show that the campaign was positioned perfectly on-brand and had good audience responsiveness.
  • Given that the campaign was developed largely to achieve publicity for Australia as a top tourist destination, it substantively achieved its goals. In fact, it is still recalled even after Tourism Australia has run a further three campaigns.
  • With reference the suggestion in the blog of visitor declines to Australia as a direct result of the campaign, it must be pointed out that, given the multi-dimensional array of factors affecting arrivals, the suggestion that the campaign alone dampened visitor arrivals is incorrect and without substantiation.
  • Since it was a global campaign, and was used in all markets, the arrivals (which were not one of the defined measures of the campaign) actually increased during and after the campaign (Tourism Research Australia, IVS Annual Reports – 2007 and 2008).
  • With regards to Macfarlane’s proposition that the exchange rate has little to no bearing on tourism arrivals, research on this matter has been conducted by both Strategetic and also by Tourism Research Australia, who published a report substantiating this; Factors Affecting Inbound Tourism; Tourism Research Australia, (June 2011 - ISBN: 798-9218121-43-9). We will be hosting a seminar dealing with, amongst other things, this topic later this year, for those who are interested.
  • .co is a legitimate address; this can be verified by Melbourne IT (either in Australia or US).

In terms of research, it is true that much money is being wasted by tourism organisations undertaking spurious research; obtaining precise measures to support ‘researched based marketing decisions’.  Much of this research is wasteful as it is predicated on product decision-making models. Criticisms of these approaches have been uncovered and substantiated by many esteemed academics. Cape Town Tourism does believe in research, but preference must be given to customer-centric research rather than purely academic research. Macfarlane has extensive experience in the field of research having graduated with a Distinction in Marketing Research (MBA 85/86) and having worked with many research agencies designing research projects and executing them throughout the world.

The fact that Macfarlane has worked extensively with global media companies is an asset to Cape Town’s tourism establishment.

Macfarlane remains contracted to Cape Town Tourism and as an independent consultant, as agreed in his contract schedule, he is able to travel between projects and clients. He returns to Cape Town on September 5, 2011.   

The industry entrusts the strategic leadership of Cape Town Tourism to an industry elected Board who has the fiduciary duty to ensure compliance, good governance and the appointment of a management team with the ability to implement and manage the organisation’s operational plans and activities. Cape Town Tourism welcomes the right of any member to know more about our procedures and motivations behind our appointments, strategies and activities. We are more than happy to answer questions to the best of our ability in furthering our commitment to transparency and accountability and we always appreciate constructive input.

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