The vibe from abroad
Mary Tebje, UK Trade and Press Representative for Cape Town Tourism, gives us an international perspective and some marketing tips.
A week ago, I was not planning to write a blog. My head was filled with World Travel Market (WTM) and the work that lay ahead. Little did I know that another of Cape Town Tourism’s media partners would also be on the exhibition stand that day. Before I realised it, Tara Turkington of Flow Communications had persuaded me that the tourism industry in Cape Town would really appreciate a candid view of how the UK market is performing, as well as the view from the UK on Cape Town, South Africa and of course the World Cup.
So a very warm welcome to my first blog for Cape Town Tourism. I thought I would kick off with a report on WTM as it was the best trade exhibition I have attended. Let me qualify this by saying I have exhibited at WTM for more years than I care to admit, but always on the England and London stands.
Herein lies the difference; London is a reluctant exhibitor, and I have always described this area as like the last item on a budget shopping list that really has to make do with the scraps. And boy does it look it. Poor branding, disjointed offer, possibly the worst position in a vast exhibition centre. Selling inbound into Britain, as a mature market, is increasingly difficult as we face many challenges, not least from South Africa and its jewel, Cape Town.
Working on a “foreign” stand was a big eye-opener. The stand design was good, I thought; it had all the ingredients of a strong brand, well positioned in the vastness that is ExCeL London, and a cohesive destination offer. Cape Town Tourism was very busy with trade seeking information on the World Cup. There was no question of whether trade are going to South Africa next year, it was much more about helping them with operational in-destination issues, including internal flights, accommodation, accessibility to the stadium, coach hire, the national train service, and food and beverage options.
I would urge you, as website owners, to include information on as much of the wider destination infrastructure as you can. Many tour operators are looking for reliable suppliers and partners, and some have no experience of Cape Town and the surrounds and are responding to the demand from their clients to put packages together. If you are unable to write this material yourselves, then please put a prominent web link from your site to the Cape Town Tourism website as they have much of this information already: www.capetown.travel.
If we get these sorts of small details right, the trade will be more inclined to send their clients back to South Africa and Cape Town in 2011 and beyond.
If you have any questions or suggestions for future topics, please submit ideas.
Mary runs her own tourism consultancy, MTA Tourism Leisure, and specialises in the development and communication of destinations and the suppliers who are so important in making a sustainable, inclusive product and services offer to visitors.