We are approaching our peak season for tourism, and steadily recovering from a tough period brought on by the pandemic. As the country gears up for both local and international visitors, the travel and hospitality industry is finally ready to embrace our first summer in the new normal. But what about the smaller tourism businesses who are still finding their feet, and trying to gain an audience? From leveraging technology to partnering with an experienced company, read on for five things South African tourism operators can do to grow their businesses.
Find your market and meet them there
One of the most important parts of growing your business is finding out who your market is. Once you know exactly who your primary and secondary audiences are, you’ll be able to effectively market to them. For example, there are certain media channels and social networks that appeal to certain demographics more than others. It’s important to do the relevant research, or consult someone that can assist you to find out where your market ‘lives’ online.
You need to then meet your audiences where they are and communicate with them in a way that’s authentic to them.
Broaden your network by working with peers
Strategic partnerships and alliances with peers are key to business success, says Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth who, since their launch in 2014, have formed promotional partnerships with companies such as Airbnb, Superbalist and NetFlorist. It’s one of the smart strategies that’s propelled them from being a small tech start-up to taking their leaderboard place as SA’s largest home services platform, with expansion into Kenya and Nigeria.
“Alliances that complement your activities can be crucial to business growth, helping you to find different routes to market and new audiences. Exposure is imperative for your business, but it can be expensive to always promote your product or service on your own,” says Pandor. “Promotional partnerships are fairly simple, giving you access to a wider client pool and leveraging the trust and brand reputation associated with each company to deliver a higher level of perceived value for customers.
“To help you find the right fit, think about your customers and the kinds of partnerships that would benefit them most. The partnership must be a win-win-win relationship, and hold value for both companies, for it to be worthwhile.”
Partner with an experienced company
Many budding entrepreneurs in South Africa lack guidance or support from bigger players in their respective industries, and this is the same for tourism. It’s even more prevalent in those who own tourism attractions or guest houses in off-the-beaten-track locations, where there aren’t constant streams of tourists as in cities like Cape Town or Durban. It’s also hard to get a foot in the door once you’ve started your business, and putting yourself on the map can be a challenge, to say the least. Enter Jurni, a platform for locals, by locals. Jurni works with local tourism operators around the country to take the businesses online. The platform serves as a booking tool for tourists and, in turn, is a great way for small businesses in remote areas to market their offerings.
“Partnering with an experienced company like Jurni can provide entrepreneurs with invaluable lessons when it comes to growing and marketing their businesses,”says Head of Marketing and Communications and Jurni, Tshepo Matlou. “We’ve found that many entrepreneurs do want to appeal to new markets using technology, but don’t always have the necessary resources and guidance to do so. That’s where we come in.”
Leverage free technology available
What many small business owners may not know, is that there are tons of free resources available on the internet to help you attract new customers. Services like Google My Business offer free listing and easy ways to connect with customers over Google Search and Maps. By creating a profile like this, you can manage the information that people find when searching for your business online. Make sure that all your information is updated, and that the contact information is correct. You wouldn’t want to miss out on any business opportunities just because you didn’t have the right email address or phone number listed.
If you use social media, you should also look into free websites like Canva that have great options for designing social media content. It’s very important to have professional-looking visuals on all your pages, to not only add credibility to your content, but encourage people to engage with it.
Equip your property for work-from-home
With the shift toward remote work, fast and reliable WiFi is more critical than ever before. This year guests on Airbnb have used the WiFi filter more than 288 million times and in response, Airbnb announced Verified Wifi, allowing Hosts to test their listing’s internet connection from the Airbnb app and have their wifi speed verified. With this upgrade, guests can be confident that they won’t miss a Zoom or be unable to binge-watch a series from their listing.
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