We will continue to build our brand in india by undertaking interesting consumer and trade initiatives

Posted On Aug 4, 2014

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We will continue to build our brand in india by undertaking interesting consumer and trade initiatives
In conversation with , TnH Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager, South African Tourism, India speaks about her experiences working in India, and South African Tourism’s achievement in the country.

“From the moment I landed in India I was pleasantly charmed by the lively demeanor and vibrant energy of the people around me. However, what caught my attention was that people were so warm and accommodating,” says Slabber. “It is amazing to see a country where people of various cultures, religions and languages living in harmony. I have seen a lot of Africa, Far East, Europe and Asia, but working in India is an experience in itself. This is a completely different world for me and I love every second of getting to know it.” As the Country Manager for South Africa’s national tourism board in India, her core responsibility has been to effectively market the destination to Indian audiences and help further increase the growth of Indian arrivals to the country. “I feel honored to see the growth trajectory in Indian tourist arrival figures in the last four years. The cumulative effort from my team has helped us achieve many awards and accolades in the Indian markets during my tenure as the Country Manager,” says Slabber. Challenges working in India When she started her journey as the Country Manager in India, one of the initial challenges, she encountered was to reach to all the valued trade partners across India. “Since then, we have worked here very hard to reach out to all our partners through multiple initiatives,” says Slabber. “Another interesting thing that I observed was the dynamic needs of Indian travellers in terms of itineraries, foods and adventure activities. We recommended our partners in South Africa to lay special emphasis on these needs of Indian travellers.”

Taking into consideration the diverse demographic needs of the Indian market, South African Tourism in India planned all its initiatives with maximum trade and consumer outreach. “This is because where two or three billboards would suffice markets abroad, Indian audiences would require a barrage of billboards to bring about a similar impact and propagate the same message,” explains Slabber. “The need of more direct flights between India and South Africa is another challenge. South African Airways offers six days a week direct flights from Mumbai to Johannesburg but Indian travellers are on the lookout for more direct flights especially from key markets like Delhi.” When South African Tourism entered the Indian market in 2005, South Africa was perceived as a destination for wildlife lovers. Being a long haul destination, South Africa was also considered expensive, and accessibility was an issue. “Taking all into consideration, we drafted an extensive communications plan to create awareness about us among Indian travellers and change their perception. We showcased South Africa as a multi-cultural, hospitable and value-for-money destination that offers varied experiences,” says Slabber.

Plans for the Indian market India being an extremely critical market for South Africa, South African Tourism has developed an exciting and vigorous plan for 2014 to further enhance its relationships and engagements with the Indian audiences. “We are extremely happy with the response garnered at the roadshows held this January in India which were attended by over 1200 Indian travel agents in Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai in the presence of 65 South African suppliers. We also launched our extensive and innovative cinema and outdoor campaign across multiple cities to target audiences in metros, tier-I and tier-II cities,” says Slabber. ‘Take Me to South Africa with Jonty Rhodes 2.0’ is one of the biggest consumer outreach initiatives of SAT in the Indian market. Through this campaign, SAT invited travel enthusiasts to win an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa with Jonty Rhodes, who dons the role of a travel host and guide on this trip.

The contest this year was designed to ensure a very high level of engagement with the participants with a theme based game where contenders had to cross multiple levels on adventure, wildlife, art and culture and history, before getting their final aggregated scores. SAT also announced its global initiative targeting the family segment called 20 experiences in 10 days, which is one of its fastest growing segments across the world. Through this initiative an adventurous Indian family with children between the age group of 10 – 14 years gets a chance to star in South African Tourism’s global advertising campaign. For travel trade SAT has ‘Learn South Africa’, its popular annual classroom training programme for frontline staff of travel agencies which is being undertaken in South Africa this year, giving the key travel trade an opportunity to ‘Meet South Africa’ and gain hands on training in the country. Apart from trade events like the Indaba and Meetings Africa, South African Tourism will be hosting popular travel agents for familiarization trips to South Africa through the year in association with South African suppliers such that the key influences of the travel market will be able to sell the destination more effectively to the end consumer.

Key segments in Indian market Cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad are mature markets for SAT but it is also witnessing good arrival figures from cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. “We have always marketed South Africa quite extensively in over 30 Indian cities, and in the last two years, we have trained over 2700 travel agents in India. Although we see tremendous growth from the metros, our mini-metros and tier-II markets are giving us incredible value,” says Slabber.

Indian arrivals to South Africa South Africa witnessed an increase of 5.5 per cent in Indian arrival figures in 2013 vis-à-vis 2012. 1 12 672 Indian tourists visited South Africa in 2013. “We are hopeful to seeing a tremendous increase in Indian arrivals this year as well,” says Slabber.

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