The importance of social networking and online booking

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold and E-Tourism Frontiers CEO Damian Cook yesterday presented feedback from the recent ITB travel and tourism show in Berlin, during an e-tourism workshop and Joint Association Members’ Meeting Session (JAMMS) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Both speakers highlighted the fact that travel (particularly aviation) is not going to become any cheaper, considering the scarcity of the world’s oil supplies. Therefore, it is important for the tourism industry in Cape Town to start focusing more on yield than on arrivals. Du Toit-Helmbold revealed that Brazil, Russia and China are the new “big spenders”, according to statistics quoted at ITB. She added that while members should continue to focus on key markets, they should bear in mind that China now has a middle-class population of 400-million people and that India has 150-million people in the same class.

Cook pointed out that approximately 56% of travel is now booked online, which is why accommodation providers and tour operators need to step into this space as soon as possible.

He added that 30% of online activity is now taken up by social networking and reminded those present that Facebook now has more than 500-million users, which is why more companies are choosing to advertising on this site, instead of Google, as they have done in previous years. Platforms such as Facebook pages also give businesses the opportunity to grow their online presences organically and to interact with clients and potential clients.

User-generated content is vital in modern marketing, with websites such as TripAdvisor playing a huge role in determining the reputation of a destination or an establishment. Cook referred to the Battle of Kruger video on YouTube, which was has been viewed more than 59-million times. Because it was filmed and uploaded by a visitor to the Kruger National Park, it didn’t cost a cent, but generated exceptional publicity for the destination.

Cook said a good recent example of viral marketing (regardless of whether it was user-generated or planned) is the Cebu Pacific airlines YouTube video, which you can watch below.

Coming up for Cape Town Tourism

Du Toit-Helmbold announced to members that a new data management system will be introduced next month. As a result, additions to this website in the near future will include online bookings, real-time availability for accommodation providers, online brochures and search options across mobile platforms.

Du Toit-Helmbold said that increased bookings for members are a big priority for Cape Town Tourism in the coming financial year.

Read more of Du Toit-Helmbold’s notes from ITB in Berlin:

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