While most of us are in a recovery stage from the initial shock of the lockdown’s impact on the tourism industry, now is the time to get creative and be an ambassador for our region by whatever means possible. Each and every person involved in the tourism sector needs to make a concerted effort to attract South Africans to the Overberg when regulations allow local leisure travel to recommence.

Whilst the jury is out as to whether this will extend to international tourists before 2021, there is a captive audience of SA travellers who need to hear about what we have to offer.

Whether you have a 2-sleeper or 10-sleeper Airbnb, traditional guesthouse, boutique hotel, B&B or self-catering facility, you need to spread the word and start creating an awareness of the Overberg, the likes of which has never been seen before. 

Social media is now the prime tool through which we can reach tens of thousands of people by simply making clever and creative use of platforms like Facebook. As mentioned in a previous article, the mantra “When the going gets tough, the tough go marketing’ has never been more applicable than it is now.

Each and every tourism facility should have its own Facebook page or website. If you don’t and are wondering how you are going to rebuild your guest bookings, it is critical that you create a presence to capitalise on the wave that will come. It is a very simple process to leverage posts from other companies/media/tourism agencies/art galleries and the like that are posting good news stories about the region. These are the posts which you should be sharing with your network of contacts in order to broaden the reach. 

There is a wonderful term in advertising and marketing called ‘Spaced Repetition’, which simply means that the more you see information over a period of time, the more likely you are to remember it. This is what we want potential tourists to experience, so the more they read and hear about the Overberg, the more likely they are to remember it as an option. 

The key tips to spreading the word are the following:

  • From your Facebook page, ‘Like’ the pages or join the Groups of other companies/media/tourism agencies whose posts you want to see. Examples of these are Hermanus Tourism Bureau, Hermanus Online Travel Magazine, Hermanus Western Cape, Village Explorer, My Hermanus, all of the Wineries’ FB pages, all of the Festival FB pages… the list is endless but should be focused on those aspects that will be of interest to tourists. 
  • When you see those posts, pick the relevant ones to share to your network and add a narrative to the post share that personalises it for the reader. The relevant posts are those that will attract the reader to consider making the Overberg their destination of choice whilst overseas travel is restricted. 
  • Those of us who are proactive on Facebook will know that every week we get a link to that week’s edition of The Village News. By simply sharing that link to your contacts, you are increasing the reach to such a degree that you are bound to touch people who may never have considered coming to the Overberg for a holiday.
  • Once you have the hang of it, this process will not take much of your time on a daily basis and the more you are posting from your page, the more you will increase your visibility when sharing posts of interest to tourists.

The point is that in this Covid-19 world we are now living in, it is no longer enough to simply rely on listings on the holiday rental portals, even if your facilities are listed on many of them. 

In the upcoming months there are going to be even more properties listed for holiday rentals, which will yet again have a downward impact on nightly rates because of the oversupply. We are already seeing traditional holiday rental properties being put onto the long-term rental market and in time, potential long-term tenants will be spoilt for choice. 

Even some of the well-known B&Bs are considering this as an option, particularly if their historical guest bookings have been from overseas guests. Whether the rentals will be realistic or not remains to be seen, as traditionally this market has pegged long-term rentals at rates above what is realistic for the majority of accommodation seekers.

This is one of the most exciting times to realign, readjust and reassess your priorities. By climbing on the ‘spread-the-word’ bandwagon and shouting from the treetops just how great our region is, our communal effort can only but bring the desired results. After all, considering how much misinformation and fake news was fed to us all via social media since the start of the pandemic, imagine the impact of truth being fed to all our combined contacts, consistently and repeatedly.

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