Mobile first is no longer a nice to have. This was the sentiment at day two (16 April 2015) of World Travel Market Africa, a trade show and conference for African tourism that wraps up in Cape Town today.

Leading a panel who were discussing Mobile and the Visitor Journey, Digital Tourism Think Tank’s CEO, Nick Hall pointed out that businesses whose websites were not optimised for mobile were missing a big opportunity to communicate effectively. This impacted negatively on the ‘real life’ experience of a product or event, as well as the online experience.

Panelist Alana Witte of Revinate said that there was a real opportunity for hotels to use mobile to enhance the customer experience, even before the visitor arrives. They should be able to indicate pre-arrival whether they want room service, what newspaper they would be interested in reading and whether they want a room service breakfast.  Establishing communication in this way was also an oportunity for hotels to systematically gather data and feedback from their customers.

Iain Manley of Voicemap said 2015 is the year of the native app, and that news agencies were now looking to publish straight to app, leaving web out altogether. Whilst this is still the domain of early adopters – and app noise is high – this area of development is one to watch.

Cape Town Tourism’s Executive Marketing Manager, Velma Corcoran said that when entering the mobile domain, being clear is more important than being clever. “Simplicity is key and it’s vital that you are speaking to a visitor need. Those getting it right use mobile to solve real world problems. Uber is an example of this. Cape Town is a notable hub for innovation,  with user-intuitive apps such as Snapscan, gometro and apps against Ebola all coming out of the Mother City.”

Talking best practice for blogger campaigns in the travel industry;  Cape Town Tourism’s Corcoran joined panellists Michael Bean, Business Director of Brand’s Eye – a digital analytics tool, Keith Jenkins – founder of iAmbassador – a blogger placement programme and Mariette du Toit-Helmbold – owner of digital marketing company, Destinate to discuss the role of bloggers in destination and product marketing.

The panel agreed that authenticity and independence were the key elements of a compelling and credible blogger campaign. Corcoran said that Cape Town Tourism no longer focused on bloggers alone, but on influencers – bloggers, instagrammers, photographers and locals amongst others. Cape Town Tourism was working with these influences to tell the story of the destination.

Brands Eye pointed out that there were lots of different ways to measure online campaigns, but increasingly people were valuing engagement rather than reach as a measure of influence. It is also important to look at the broader reach that the followers of followers could give.

Corcoran added that increasingly bloggers were becoming content generators, and if they were able to provide excellent content, destinations would pay for it. Du Toit-Helmbold added that there was a difference between bloggers and ‘blaggers’ (defined as bloggers who were in it for the fun and freebies). Serious bloggers presented their strategy and statistics well, provided compelling ideas to destinations and ultimately delivered great content.

In other news, the winners of the African Responsible Tourism Awards were announced:

Best for beach tourism: Chumbe Island
Best blog: The Good Holiday
Best destination for responsible tourism: Gansbaai
Best for engaging people and culture: Coffee Beans Routes
Best for poverty reduction: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve/Grootbos Foundation AND Transfrontier Parks Destinations
Best for resource management: Chobe Game Lodge
Best for wildlife conservation: Marine Dynamics

Overall winner:
Gansbaai

Cape Town Tourism would like to congratulate all the winners of these awards and also acknowledge the success and contribution that the organisers and exhibitors of World Travel Market Africa have brought to the destination in 2015.

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