Tech-savvy Cape Town Tourism to court more mobile and social media travellers

Tourism and technology have always made for good bedfellows, particularly when it comes to the use of social media platforms and mobile phone enablement.

When travel went online it experienced fewer barriers than most sectors as direct consumer exchanges, site aggregation, booking services and even airline ticket purchasing could easily be facilitated through online channels. This was largely because the end user was coming to the product rather than waiting for a commodity to be delivered to them. As tourism rapidly grew so did the ability to research, book and share the travel experience, often in real time, further feeding a global wildfire of desire to travel.

Cape Town Tourism earmarked digital marketing as a key area for development before the 2010 FIFA World Cup, overhauling its website and social media sites to manage the spike in curiosity. Since June 2011, the Cape Town Tourism website has seen one million unique visitors and the official Cape Town Tourism Facebook fan page, I ♥ Cape Town has grown to more than 250 000 fans, while regular tweets and blogs have earned Cape Town Tourism a place (in 2011) as one of the top 25 most influential tourist boards and DMO’s online (rated by influencersintravel.com). As Cape Town shifts its brand position to appeal to the new urban traveller, technology is set to play an even more significant role.

An integrated marketing campaign with National Geographic, launched earlier this year, sees Cape Town and Durban feature across National Geographic platforms for a period of 14 months between April 2012 and June 2013. This will include a one-hour documentary about the two cities, a series of TV vignettes focussed on the unique sounds of each city, an array of international National Geographic magazine editorial, online editorial on National Geographic’s website, as well as a social media and digital campaign championed by digital nomad, Andrew Evans.

In March this year, Cape Town Tourism launched the new Cape Town Toolkit, which is a digital toolkit that showcases and sells destination Cape Town. The toolkit includes diverse itineraries, high-quality images and information about Cape Town that allows registered users in the travel, tourism and marketing trade to access promotional material and resources at the touch of a button. Users can select specific elements, download packaged information and put together customised itineraries, using Cape Town Tourism collateral. Users are also able to share content in accordance with Cape Town Tourism’s new marketing theme: “You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town!”

In addition, in September 2012, Cape Town Tourism will be launching a digital Facebook campaign which will speak to the rapidly growing social media market and which will connect more would-be travellers than ever to Cape Town. Cape Town Tourism will also be collaborating with four top international travel bloggers on an international destination marketing campaign during August.

By March of this year there were 835 million Facebook users (Internet World Statistics), while 79.8% of the world’s population owned a mobile (cellular) phone as of last year (Gartner) and by 2011, the global smart phone penetration sat at 27% of the population (Visionmobile). China recently surpassed the USA as the number one country by volume of smartphones. In fact, according to eMarketer, adults now spend more media time on mobile devices than newspapers and magazines combined.

People are using smart phones to browse the web, check information, compare costs and services, navigate, purchase and share. A study (by Tradedoubler and Forrester Consulting) focused on Sweden, Germany, France and the UK found that 53% of smartphone users are now buying goods and services on their devices, while 71% are researching potential purchases via their handsets. In the USA alone, mobile was responsible for $2.6 billion in travel booking value in 2011. This number is projected to exceed $8 billion by 2013. (PhoCusWright January 2012).

The potential for e-commerce aside, digital platforms represent massive potential for marketing at a fraction of the cost of a global television or print campaign. It’s with a smart-spend attitude that Cape Town Tourism has chosen to invest significantly in the digital media platform to promote its “You Don’t Need a Holiday, You Need Cape Town” campaign.

Says Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, “Digital media and social platforms are truly changing travel – and the behaviour of travellers – as they dream, experience and share. Cape Town provides us with an endless supply of alluring, interesting and authentic material, which we use on our own platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and web) and through strategic alliances such as the one we recently undertook with National Geographic’s digital nomad, Andrew Evans. It is through these windows that people are starting to see Cape Town, digital windows that are immediate, relevant and honest.”

For further information, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove on +27 21 487 6800, email skye@capetown.travel or visit www.capetown.travel.

Released for Cape Town Tourism by Rabbit in a Hat Communications, Tammy White, +27 21 448 9705, +27 73 202 5041, tammy@rabbitinahat.co.za.

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