Face to face, or ‘in the air’

2016-08-18 06:00

TODAY’S tourism transactions are ever becoming internet- based. The customer prospect looks on a website to identify where to stay or what package to purchase and then often books and pays directly with the product or with an e-agent.

If one considers the boom in things like Uber for transportation or AirBNB for accommodation a whole new dimension to competitive pricing and services becomes evident.

It is clear that tourism and leisure-reliant businesses, which do not embrace the new communications and transaction technologies, may well stumble at the opportunity starting blocks and as such we advise our tourism members to expand their marketing and business reach by getting into that sphere of services marketing.

This does not mean that the face to face engagement is obsolete. At the many promotional expositions we attend we find that show attendees do wish to speak to the product owner to get a sense of the integrity and personality not only of the tourism product, but also who their host may be.

Furthermore, in a world saturated with options I am of the belief that agents selling experiences and tourism services have to get firsthand knowledge of a destination and the enterprises within it. For this reason, we continue to host these market influencers via familiarisation trips down here.

Shortly we, in conjunction with SA Tourism, will be hosting a series of speed-marketing events whereby some 30 travel agents will have one on one business meetings with our members in an effort to secure business down here and afford the agents to get a real feel for our tourism sell.

The tourism trade, as well as the travel media, are integral in maintaining our brand presence and new business opportunities for mainly holiday, business, adventure, cultural and event-related tourism.

I believe there is a comfy home for both the techno trans-actor and the consumer who prefers personalised recommended travel options from agencies in the know. Either way, a prudent tourism practitioner will continue to adopt both options in addition to maintaining strong direct relations with existing and past clients.

After all word of mouth is still be biggest seller of recurring and new business in the hospitality sector - that is why websites like Trip Advisor are such an important reference tool for potential clients.

Tourism is a people-orientated industry so I do not foresee “robohosts” replacing the warmness that our South Coast hospitality fraternity imbues - not in my lifetime anyway.


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