Talk Tourist7 Where It Counts

With Soccer World Cup 2010 around the corner, and all eyes focused on South Africa as we strive to reach our targets for the event, as well as our Millennium Development Goals, the tourism industry in this country is very much in the spotlight.

Those who may not have realised the potential for economic growth that tourism can bring, are now searching for ways to communicate with tourists in a way that South Africa has never experienced before. More than seven million tourists visited our country last year, and contributed R74.6-billion to our GDP. Each foreign tourist spends at least R1 536 a day here in South Africa, while domestic tourists spend R585 a day, and marketers are looking at new ways of tapping into this lucrative market.

“Tourists do not consume conventional media,” says Rob Nelson, CEO of TBM, leading electronic media and telecommunications company based in Johannesburg. “Statistics show that they don’t listen to radio stations or watch much local TV. There is very little media aimed specifically at tourists.”

With this in mind, TBM has developed a package for advertisers that wish to communicate with tourists where they are actually paying attention. “We have a vast network of plasma screens and TV sets across the country, and many of these are ideally placed to speak to tourists,” says Nelson. “Advertisers and marketers will be able to target tourists `on location` with relevant information.”

Nearly all tourists connect domestically through one of South Africa`s major airports – Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban International – and TBM is currently the largest media owner at these airports. “Satellite-fed plasma screens are located in arrivals and departure halls, restaurants, shops, parking areas and airline lounges,” explains Nelson. “These screens are the only source of flight information, and commercials are flighted with high frequency once every ten minutes.”

Other tourist hot spots where TBM has a network of screens are Rennies Bank and American Express foreign exchange branches. These travel and financial services companies are tourist magnets by necessity, and ideal for getting messages to visitors to our country. Branches are located within busy shopping centres and at major international airports, and American Express and Rennies clients rely on the screens for the latest foreign exchange rates. This information is updated in real time, and it is permanently displayed on the screens alongside the advertising.

TBM has a total of 70 screens in both American Express and Pennies foreign exchange outlets. Collectively, these branches process an average of 308 000 transactions every month. Foreign tourists account for 77% of the total clientele, and corporate clients make up 70% of the local client base.

The screens also feature news headlines, weather reports and the latest sports news in the form of a ticker tape at the bottom of the screen. “Content is delivered to the screens via satellite in DVD quality, allowing for regular updates and short lead times,” explains Nelson.

A major benefit for advertisers is that TBM can deliver content to venues with site-specific, and even language specific local content that adds value to the tourist experience, whether it is in the form of short adverts, or short and long videos.

“We can supply information about what tourists can do in the area, provide local rules and regulations, and give advice on safety precautions,” says Nelson. “All this is enabled by cutting edge Video over IP technology, regardless of where the tourist destination is.

” TBM also has sites at Virgin Active gyms, golf clubs, advertising agencies, hospitals, the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, and Cell C retail outlets.

According to the Hospitality Legislative Review, tourism has achieved steady growth over the past few years, and total foreign arrivals have grown substantially.

Moeketsi Mosola, CEO of South African Tourism says, “The positive trend in foreign arrivals mirrors both the global resurgence of travel that took place last year, as well as the continued efforts of all our stakeholders.” In the organisation’s annual report for last year, he pointed out that tourism accounted for 8% of the country’s gross domestic product “with the potential to soar to 12% by 2014”. He also said that the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament was an opportunity for the local industry to meet and exceed expectations of tourists, and develop a firm platform for tourism growth.

Technology and tourism have become inextricably linked, and as Lungisa Magwentshu, CEO of Trade & Investment SA said, South Africa’s people have the knack of finding fresh solutions that are sustainable and have impact. They manage to come up with solutions that benefit entire communities and help to build a better tomorrow for all around them.

“Our initiatives all build on our goal of using technology to help develop Southern Africa,” concludes Nelson. “Our content production facilities are deliberately below market value, in order to make this advertising and communication as cost-effective as possible, and lower the barriers to entry to allow more people to benefit from its outstanding results.”

Source: African Connexion