Travellers are the new marketers


The World Travel Market (WTM) Africa Bloggers sessions presented an exciting and valuable opportunity for bloggers to network and engage with the most blogger friendly exhibitors at WTM Africa, from hotel providers to exclusive game lodges and adventure activity providers.

WTM Africa which concluded on 3rd May at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) joined forces with director of Travel Bloggers Unite, Oliver Gradwell to bring a dedicated travel blogger programme with travel bloggers that offered guidance on how the industry can best utilise bloggers as a marketing resource. This was the key insight shared at two special blog-focused conference sessions held at the inaugural WTM Africa on 2-3 May.
According to social media specialists, the story of a destination has become the unique selling point in selecting a travel or holiday destination and through telling this story, destinations can create interesting information potential travellers and tourists will actually pay attention to, helping you stand out from the crowd.

The traditional travel decision-making process of awareness to interest, interest to desire and desire to action has morphed in the social media world. Travel decision-making is now influenced by reach, engagement, activation and nurturing.

Speaking at WTM Africa, founder of Destinate Mariette du Toit-Helmbold says, “Destination Marketing Organisations need to entrust their citizens and visitors to share the “authentic” story of a destination. Travellers have a deep need to connect emotionally with a destination and they want to get into the flesh and blood of a destination,” she explained.

“Travel bloggers, travellers and citizens share a trustworthy message about a destination. Press junkets look like a junket. Travel bloggers should simply be pointed in the right direction to find their own stories. These stories must be more than pretty pictures. People can smell fake miles away,” she added.

Mariette highlighted how Cape Town had successfully used travel bloggers, travellers and citizens to elevate the destination’s status through its #LoveCapeTown campaign that generated over 37m impressions, reached 1.2m people and generated a return on investment of 21:1.

The #LoveCapeTown marketing campaign that was launched in 2011 generated unprecedented engagement of a destination’s locals that it was cited as one of the most impressive blog trip campaigns ever run. “The engagement of locals in the campaign led to Cape Town’s authentic story being revealed. And this type of content helps to change people’s perceptions about a destination,” continues Mariette.

“Destination marketers need to work on their stories, be personal and engage. Be brave enough to let your personality shine through,” she concluded.

In addition to the dedicated blogger education sessions, bloggers and exhibitors were also given the opportunity to take part in an exciting ‘Blogger Passport’ initiative. This enabled bloggers and exhibitors to engage with one another and proved to be extremely popular. “We were extremely pleased with the blogger programme at WTM Africa” comments WTM Africa Marketing Manager Kate Shepherd. “The education sessions provided valuable insights into how tourism businesses can work and engage with bloggers and were very well attended and we were extremely pleased with the Blogger Passport initiative, we will certainly be looking to develop the blogger programme in the future.”

WTM Africa concluded on 3 May with over 350 exhibiting companies and 500 qualified buyers attending, and over 5 300 pre-scheduled appointments bringing the world to Africa and promoting Africa to the world’s leading source markets.

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Issue 63


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