SAT marketing must be measurable, says trade

May 21, 2014

Members of the trade welcomed Treasury’s allocation of R100 million to SA Tourism’ Sho’t Left campaign, which is geared towards domestic tourism. However, while the trade greeted the allocation with optimism, the need for SA Tourism to better link marketing inputs to discernible outputs was also highlighted.

Last month, Treasury announced that R100 million would be allocated to Sho’t Left, R70 million towards marketing SA on the continent and R800 million to marketing the destination around the world.

David Frost, SATSA CEO, said he applauded SA Tourism investment in domestic tourism, which he says is in line with best practice. Frost explained that international tourism was built on domestic tourism. Faiz Noordien, Owner at Legend Tours, agrees. “Globally, mature tourism destinations ensure that their domestic tourism component forms the bedrock of their overall tourism industry,” he says.

Noordien also argues that there has been insufficient investment in domestic tourism in SA’s recent history.

Martin Jansen van Vuuren, Director at Grant Thornton Advisory Services, agrees with the split between domestic, regional and international marketing allocations. However, Van Vuuren suggests that marketing initiatives need to be better geared towards conversion, rather than general awareness, which cannot be measured. According to him, SA Tourism should work towards marketing specific experiences, even if it cannot market the offerings of specific tour operators

Frost also suggests that there is a need to better link the investment in tourism marketing to output so that the effectiveness of campaigns can be measured. He argues that when SA Tourism reports on budget allocations, it needs to show how these link to measurable outcomes so that the success of marketing campaigns can be properly assessed – in terms of actual ‘bums in beds or seats’.

For example, Frost says, the arrival figures for 2013 showed that there was a 12% increase in visitors from Germany. He says it would be helpful to know what SA Tourism did differently in its marketing in the 2012-13 year, or whether the increase in arrivals was purely based on the weakening of the rand against the euro.

The budget allocation for international marketing should be adjusted to account for the depreciation of the rand, adds Van Vuuren. “R800 million does not buy you the same as it did last year,” he says.

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