Team 1000 Hills were hard at work at this year’s Travel Indaba, held in the ICC / DEC from Tuesday 10 until Thursday 12 May – clocking in between them probably close to 120 one-on-one meetings and interviews over the three days.
1000 Hills was part of the Durban Tourism CTO exhibit: the nine regional CTOs, as well as Durban initiatives such as Green Corridor and Moses Mabhida Stadium, each had a branded meeting booth to conduct interviews with interested tourism service providers over the three-day event.
1000 Hills was ably represented by James Cele from Durban Tourism, and CTO members Paul Paine, Shelldon Wells, Carl de Heer and Illa Thompson, who worked in shifts and were supported by three tourism mentees from the area: Jacqui Short, Amini Mlaba and Phila Buthelezi.
By all accounts it was a great event – with quality meetings, networking opportunities and media exposure. As well as meeting tourism colleagues, we were able to put faces to the names of our fellow CTO and Durban Tourism reps.
We were situated in-front of an enormous screen which looped videos of the area – many of which came from our area, with members being well represented on the screen.
I am personally always slightly surprised and secretly very chuffed at the interest 1000 Hills has at platforms such as the Travel Indaba. The brand of 1000 Hills is becoming a familiar and recognised entity, and always attracts ample interest among tourism professionals looking for less obvious, more authentic and geographically expedient products.
We had the opportunity to share maps, literature, and tourism guides with tour operators from China, India, Germany, Brazil, Tanzania, USA, Ghana, Lesotho, Nigeria, Australia, Ireland, Vietnam, Zambia, and plenty from throughout South Africa. We were able to explain to them what we consider to be our assets, advantages, activities and attractions.
As we are a networking body representing our members, it is always difficult to quantify the success of these connections, as we as a CTO don’t benefit from them directly, because our role is to share contact details of the people we meet with our members, but the sense is there were some very eager and serious delegates we met who would like to do business with us and establish meaningful relationships with our members.
There was much discussion as to how we fared as a destination looking at the criteria of being “authentic” and “sustainable”- two of the often-quoted buzz-words at Indaba.
Searching for new routes.
Tour operators who want to remain globally competitive and offer tours to South Africa need to extend the range of products being offered beyond the staples of the Kruger National Park and highlights of Cape Town – hence looking for new routes and products.
The sense is that destinations operating in isolation are at a disadvantage compared to those who are part of a geographic package and pre-determined route. In developing new opportunities for members, it is increasingly important to collaborate rather than work in isolation: in most cases, a bouquet of attractions to an area is stronger than a single one. Which makes CTOs well placed to engage in the national and international travel markets as by definition, they represent a range of products all typically working together anyway.
And now that the Travel Indaba is over, the huge task of sifting through the pile of business cards to follow up on all the conversations and negotiations begins….