It is the intersection and integration between the components of destination marketing and management as well as travel intelligence that create the sustainable synergies that are not available in traditional, fragmented destination marketing approaches.
This is the message of Marketing Executive at Cape Town Tourism, Leigh Dawber, who has played a role in creating marketing models and platforms that not only get visitors into Cape Town, but also support the education and upliftment of the local tourism industry.
She was speaking during the recent Africa Travel Week Virtual 2021 where she unpacked the destination marketing model that Cape Town Tourism had developed and which other destinations could customise to stimulate tourism growth in these trying times.
“We take a destination-first approach as opposed to a city-specific approach to stimulate sustainable and inclusive tourism. Everything we begin and end with starts with our purpose: to improve the lives of Capetonians through tourism.”
She said destination positioning was the golden thread that connected all stages of the tourism value chain. Stages include intelligence and insights (research), source market preparedness (industry), relevant quality product and tourism offering (industry), visitor services and concierge training (visitor), marketing to attract the right visitor (marketing) and a quality visitor experience (visitor).
“In the past, many of our efforts were scattered across different markets such as a trade show here, a media partnership there and a campaign there. This wasn’t affecting any impact and we couldn’t measure our efficacy in a sustainable way. From an internal perspective there were also silos of research, branding, destination management and destination marketing that we needed to optimise to get a better result.”
Source market insights and relationships
A good starting point when using the destination marketing model was source market insights and building relationships, she clarified. “Where do we want to market? What are the levels of demand and readiness? Do we want a whole lot of visitors (quantity) or our spenders (quality) coming to our city? What are traveller affinities and how do we reach them?”
A quality product and tourism offering had a lot to do with industry education and training sessions, she said. “Here you can look at potential accreditation and/or certification such as the WTTC Safe Travels stamp, which is globally recognised and gives visitors confidence to travel after COVID-19.”
In this regard, Dawber also referenced the TravelWise brand that aimed to reduce uncertainty and anxiety, restore confidence and encourage people to visit Cape Town, as well as the partnership with Namola, a visitor safety app.
Market-specific content creation and translation was also important, she added. “Take into account your various audiences – industry, visitor, trade and media – and keep the same message across all audiences as a common thread, but how you inspire them to act will happen differently.”
Ensure you train visitor services and PR concierges in terms of destination positioning and offerings as well as cultural sensitivities. “Here you can bring in sales training and incentives.”
An example is the SMME Marketing Incubator, a training workshop to empower SMMEs by offering fresh current material and providing templates to apply the learnings to their businesses.
The Chef Exchange Programme demonstrates the model in operation with respect to niche market readiness. “To prepare for the Muslim traveller, we partnered with CrescentRating to upskill our restaurants on Muslim-friendly practices and services. We developed the Chef Exchange Programme where local hotel chefs are trained by five-star chefs from Singapore.” Dawber said at the end of the programme, the chefs completed an online assessment to receive CrescentRating accreditation and the winning team got to travel to Singapore for further exposure to this culinary style.
Use campaigns to build foundations
Ad campaigns were only one part of the cycle, she said. “You don’t want to go into a market, run a campaign, exit and hope for the best. Form a foundation from which you can benchmark.”
Here you can work with OTA/conversion campaigns, incentivised fam trips, proactive media partnerships and hosting, as well as trade training and promotion. “We want to build a database through competitions and B2B channels.”
Dawber mentioned the City Twinning marketing agreement with New York's DMO, NYC & Company, as a partnership campaign to grow tourism numbers between the two destinations. It halted during the pandemic, but will resume when the time is right.
“The ROI we generated was 21% and media coverage spanned as far afield as Belgium, Brazil, China, India, the UK, Namibia and Kenya, etc. United Airlines was the conversion partner in support of air access and this helped secure a direct route between New York and Cape Town in 2019. This approach also facilitated Cape Town Tourism running a through-the-line campaign in an international market for first time in our 40-year existence.”
Live up to the brand promise
The marketing does not stop after you get visitors into the city. “We have to ensure the experience they have matches the brand promise.”
This is where visitor information and support on the ground, TravelWise and safety, word-of-mouth recommendations and social sharing come into play.
“Whilst we have travellers in market we also need to collect information based on their behaviour. These insights drive optimisation of activity and assist with pre- and post-effectiveness tracking.”
Dawber described the ‘Love Cape Town’ brand promise as about a culturally rich and inclusive African city in the heart of nature, filled with unique diverse experiences by people of great warmth.
Tapping into its differentiation through USPs and storytelling, the city launched its ‘Township to Terroir’ culinary journey that pairs history with new age to tap into a range of cultures.
“At a time when every destination around the world is going to be competing for travellers, we created a virtual experience that speaks to our destination differentiation and the unique experiences you can only have in Cape Town. Here we connect two seemingly unconnected stories and cultures by showing a food and wine pairing of township cuisine and globally awarded wine.”
The virtual experience is 17 minutes long and interweaves dynamic history, cultures and diversity along the way.