The South African domestic market is being driven by young black women, and tourism businesses need to better understand how to market to this demographic.
This formed part of an in-depth discussion by panellists during a webinar hosted by SATSA this week.
Based in Mpumalanga, SATSA Co-Vice Chair, Oupa Pilane, noted that he had seen the domestic market being driven by female travellers, most of whom were between the ages of 24 and 35.
Discussing the many adventure attractions along the province’s Panorama Route, Pilane said the client base had changed. “Before COVID, many of the clientele for the adventure activities were white whereas now it has changed with around 53% of travellers being black. We have also observed that the black market travels in larger numbers over weekends while the white market traditionally travels more during the week.”
He also noted that many of these travellers were interested in taking pictures to share on social media. “They are all about Instagram. They want to take beautiful pictures and they want beautiful backgrounds,” he said.
SATSA’s Eastern Cape Chapter Chair, Mandisa Magwaxaza, agreed with Pilane and said she had seen similar patterns.
“Our findings are very similar, although our market has always been the younger black market. We have also observed mostly ladies who are travelling, looking for experiences that they can share online as Oupa said. We also noticed a lot of enquiries from young families. As kids moved on to online schooling more and more young families were looking to get out and go on safaris or take their children camping,” added SATSA Access, Inclusivity and Diversity Board Committee Co-Chair, Phaka Hlazo.
The panellists said they had all seen South Africans looking for value-added experiences. “They are less focused on expensive accommodation. While they want somewhere that is comfortable, they are more focused on booking activities,” said Pilane.
Magwaxaza agreed. “We have definitely noticed the packaging. It would help for products to collaborate with their neighbouring businesses – experiences collaborating with accommodations to create new experiences together so that people get more value. That’s what South Africans want – value.”
She added that marketing these packages to the South African market presented a challenge. “How do you reach 50+ million people that speak 11 official languages? Because what we understand as ‘the South African market’ is very diverse within itself.”
She encouraged tourism businesses to work alongside social media influencers. “Learn from them, learn how to speak to this market in a meaningful way,” she said.
Pilane agreed that when it came to social media marketing there was still a lot to learn. “My daughter told me that our social media looks forced and that it doesn’t relate to her. She said that it’s about being authentic and natural, and that’s what gets people’s attention.”
Although when venturing into social media, Hlazo recommended not getting in over one’s head. “Don’t feel the need to use every platform available. Use what you know works for you,” she said, responding to questions about platforms such as TikTok or Snapchat, Hlazo also encouraged businesses to make the most of user-generated content. “When people are visiting your product, taking pictures and posting them to Instagram, are you using those images to promote your business?”
More important than the platform businesses use to market is the content of that marketing, it needs to be inclusive, according to Magwaxaza.
“Something we’ve heard a lot from South Africans is the importance of seeing themselves represented in tourism products.” She said this could mean including multiple languages in your marketing and signage, and also including diverse groups of people in the imagery you use for marketing.