The private sector of South Africa’s travel trade needs a kick up its collective backside.
I know I’m generalising here, but the industry seems to be suffering from a terminal case of apathy. There are exceptions of course, but I still find that many tourism establishments don’t have a clue about what service excellence really means. Either that or survival instinct has kicked in and they don’t find the time for staff training and a concerted effort to make their guests feel welcome.
The word ‘Welcome’ literally means ‘to receive with pleasure and hospitality into one’s company or home: a welcome guest’.
The South African travel trade can’t continue to point fingers at the public sector. Sure, the recent debacle concerning immigration regulations was unfortunate, but the TBCSA and SATSA are addressing this issue. It is encouraging to note that President Zuma’s State of the Nation Address specifically mentioned inter-governmental/business relations and to create an enabling environment for the travel and tourism trade. Certainly, the National Department of Tourism and South African Tourism are playing their part.
South African Tourism’s consumer insights show that personalised and authentic experiences are what tourists to our destination increasingly seek. They want to meet the real people of South Africa, spend time with us, eat the food we eat, be part of our culturally rich lifestyle and feel welcomed.
South African Tourism’s Welcome Campaign, launched in 2005 to encourage South Africans to be good hosts, has a wealth of information and marketing resources that the travel trade can tap into.
Visitors to the website (www.welcome.southafrica.net) can click on the knowledge centre, and find content that provides insight into the needs and desires of Indian, Chinese tourists; videos that give insights on wine pairing and general wine etiquette; and a video that helps you learn more about adventure tourists. All this and much more is available for download.
Also available on the website is the Welcome Toolkit, which gives tools to assist in welcoming guests. The toolkit includes Welcome letters and gift ideas, a Welcome video, a Welcome corporate identity guide and Welcome logo downloads. All these tools are available for free. South African Tourism urges the trade to download and use these resources to their advantage.
The Welcome website also offers numerous useful tips on how best to welcome visitors from all over the world. More than 9000 people have already visited http://welcome.southafrica.net, and some have shared their stories about the “little things” they do to make a guest feel like South Africa is a home away from home. South Africans are invited to share the “little thing” they do on the Welcome Wall, and to get measured on the “cool, warm, hot” Welcome Result gauge.
A monthly ‘Welcome to our Family’ product and trade newsletter is distributed by South African Tourism. Subscribe at: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/y/C333103A196AD20A
South African Tourism recently launched the SA Specialist Programme − a knowledge resource on South Africa and its attractions, aimed at selling the destination and enhancing earning potential. The course is free and the study material required to pass the course can be found online at http://saspecialist.southafrica.net/za/en
The bottom line is that there is a wealth of information and tools available that can be used to train staff on how to welcome guests. A universal attitude to making tourists feel welcome and special is the only way that South Africa will succeed in competing against other long-haul destinations – it’s up to the private sector to make this work.
In the July edition, we feature the Great White Shark under our Attractions section, provides the latest inbound travel and hotel occupancy statistics in the Business section and in celebration of Botswana’s Okavango Delta listing by UNESCO on 22 June we publish a hyper-linked list of all World Heritage sites in Africa.
Our Property Review this month features Hotel Verde in Cape Town, who are definitely not apathetic when it comes to welcoming guests. Part 2 of our Wine Appreciation series delves deeper into wine knowledge with Labels, Styles and Viticulture.
Under Marketing, we provide tips in how to create Brand Ambassadors and our Niche Tourism section looks at Voluntourism.
We also have two reader competitions in this edition and don’t forget to post your comments online to win yet another prize.
Enjoy your read.
Yours in Tourism, Des Langkilde.