Travel and Tourism

Lessons from #eTAS14. Hire a teenager & talk to your granny.

7th e Tourism Africa Summit.


This summit was a collision of new meets old.

We were told to RETHINK TRAVEL, and I did.

There were three recurring points that shouted at me once I filtered out the buzzwords, technical jargon, slick presentations and statistics.

  • Tourism is about people
  • If you care, customers will share
  • Technology and social media are powerful tools


We were told that customer expectations are at an all-time low. This presents a huge opportunity that can be embraced with a simple mind shift.

Understand that your brand is not about you, it is about what your customer thinks about you, so focus more on your customer and less on your brand.

Go back to the ethics of forty years ago where the customer was king, and great or at least good service was expected and delivered.

In those days your actions created your brand reputation, not clever words and contrived marketing campaigns. A genuine desire for satisfied customers dictated people being seen as individuals. This attitude guaranteed good service, which led to brand loyalty. This is how good relationships are built.

Make your business all about your customer. Be friendly, be human and go the extra mile.

These were the default settings of successful businesses back in the day.

Kindness, humanity and a good work ethic will never go out of fashion. Be generous to your customers. People want to at least feel that they received the service that they paid for, and your aim should be to make them feel that they received more than they had expected.

Do this and they will remember you, recommend you and if you allow them, they will tell the world how wonderful you are.


Social media is nothing more than modern day word of mouth on steroids.

Technology allows us to amplify our customer’s voices and reach the whole world.

You need to create a presence on social media, allow people to know and understand you. Be human, be real and engage with them.


If you are in the tourism industry FREE Wi-Fi is a must.


Make it easy to for clients to share information about who you are, where you are and how great you are via pictures, videos and stories.

Ask for, support and encourage sharing. Engage with your customers when they do share.

You don’t have to tell the world how great you are.

Be great and your customers will tell the world for you.

Customer generated content is authentic and free.

Curated by you for marketing, it is priceless.


On a lighter note, the way I see it is to succeed in the tourism industry in 2014 and beyond you need to do 3 things.

  • Talk to your granny, and learn about old school customer service.
  • Hire a teenager, to create and manage your social media platforms.
  • Focus on your clients, serve them, listen to them, and delight them.


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  • Reply Francoise Armour 6th Sep 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Some things don’t add up here.

    Customer expectations at an all-time low? How was this shown? My experience is that customers are no longer satisfied with mediocrity and shoddy service. Using only technology (seeing as this was an e-summit): Customers are using the internet to prepare themselves for a trip, to research, to fact-check, to make comparisons, etc. and as a result they expect more and more and of a higher quality.

    Going back to old-school service quality and using a teenager to set up and manage social media platforms?? Aside from the fact that reputable companies have never stopped providing top-quality service, this is absurd. We regularly witness companies’ online blunders showing again and again that just because someone knows how to set up a social media platform does NOT give them the smarts and experience to manage it.

    I thank my lucky stars I followed my gut and didn’t cough up the outrageous cost of this ‘summit’ because I see nothing new here.

  • Reply Di Brown 6th Sep 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Francoise. This is my opinion only. A strong message came through that people should be at the center of your business. This was in the context of large companies with a very slick, automated approach. I agree that customers are not satisfied with poor service, the point here is that the expectation of receiving good service is not high. The remark about using a teenager to do your social media is my own comment and not quoted from the conference. The stats show that many travel related business have little or no social media presence, and the point here is that this is a very big missed opportunity. A simple FaceBook page checked daily is a start, and for those who are”afraid” of new technology, any youngster can assist them in setting it up, and explaining how to post, respond and monitor.
    The conference provide a great many ideas, tips and insights. A more detailed, serious post will follow.
    I wrote this post as much of what was spoken about regarding service and putting the customer first was like being at a conference in the 60’s. I had a sense that we have come a full circle. This intrigued and amused me.
    My apologies, as clearly I have not done a good job of conveying my thoughts.

  • Reply Francoise Armour 7th Sep 2014 at 11:16 am

    Don’t apologise, I thought you were summarising their comments/advice.

    Regarding the general idea, it does seem strange that companies still need to be told that people are at the centre of their business but we see it all the time with slick campaigns and no thought to the end-user. It reminds me of interactive websites that are very cleverly put together by show-offs who give no thought to the person on the user side.

    As for the Luddites who refuse to use’s not just fear, it’s resistance to change which is, in itself, a subject worthy of much discussion. I’m currently involved in something where a few of us are being badly affected by those who refuse to ‘get with the programme’ so I know the frustration first-hand, and for our own sakes we’re pushing as hard as we can, with little result. Aside from that specific example, I believe those who are allowing technology to pass them by, deserve to fall behind – there’s only so much urging and prompting one can do.
    This is a transition period – frustrating and fascinating at the same time!

  • Reply Di Brown 7th Sep 2014 at 11:48 am

    Thanks Francoise. I agree. I still can’t believe how many travel related businesses in CapeTown, which is a tourism hub, do not have free wi-fi. It is such a no brainer, yet they have not embraced it at all, and it has been talked about so much for the last 3 years! Scared, complacent, lazy? I do not understand it

  • Reply Firefly - Jonker 9th Sep 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Nicely summarized Di. I would really likes to have seen more “how to” information, but I haven’t been sorry that I went. Very valuable insights shared.

    • Reply Di Brown 9th Sep 2014 at 12:53 pm

      I agree. I will not miss it next year

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