South African tourism: 4 marketing basics that get your business noticed

South African tourism: 4 marketing basics that get your business noticedThere are two things that will always be true about tourists: they want unforgettable experiences and they’re eager to part with their money. This makes tourism lucrative for businesses, especially in South Africa where it is a billion-rand industry that accounts for 4.5% of the employed population. That said, success in South African tourism isn’t guaranteed. Much like any other business owner, you must ensure that your customers can find you and choose you over your competition. You can start with these marketing fundamentals.

Have a prominent online presence

The search engine is the Yellow Pages of the internet age. And the same question that was asked about businesses that weren’t listed in the Yellow Pages 25 years ago can be asked about businesses with no online presence today: how do your customers find you? A website is non-negotiable and SEO (search engine optimisation) is highly recommended, because even the most beautiful website is pointless if your customers can’t find you with a quick Google search.

You can also use PPC (pay-per-click) marketing as a more direct and targeted method of getting your business out there. Facebook and Google offer easy-to-use PPC marketing services that allow even beginners to execute effective concentrated ad campaigns that can be targeted according to age, gender, interests, geographical location, job description and associated brands. This gets you closer to your ideal customer and puts a modern twist on the old sales axiom “fish where the fish are”.

The most important part of attracting tourists to your business online is making it as easy as possible for them to secure bookings. With a solution like NightsBridge, your business is connected to several booking services, it gives you visibility on platforms such as and Expedia. NightsBridge also turns your business’ website into a full-suite customisable 24-hour booking portal and payment management system, making it an invaluable asset for any business in the South African tourism industry.

Make reviews work for you

Websites like, TripAdvisor, LekkeSlaap and Trivago have become the modern-day versions of word-of-mouth in South African tourism. Each of these services places a large emphasis on user-generated reviews and ratings that have a significant influence on how people choose where to stay when they travel. But they can also function as marketing tools and as a simple way for businesses in South African tourism to manage customer feedback.

Start by encouraging your customers to review your business, perhaps even by offering discount vouchers for every customer’s first review. The more reviews your business gets (among other factors), the higher your ranking in Google Places. You shouldn’t be deterred by the possibility that some of the reviews might be negative. Every negative review is a chance for your business to redeem its reputation, prevent a customer from boycotting your business, and perhaps even win over a few new ones.

Offline, getting yourself rated by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa also helps to establish your credibility among consumers (and gets your business valuable tax benefits).

Don’t underestimate email marketing

Many say that email marketing is quickly going the way of cold calling. The research suggests the opposite. The 2017 Email Marketing Industry Census by Adestra and eConsultancy, that surveyed 1 200 marketers worldwide, reveals that email marketing produces the highest ROI of all marketing channels – and it has been doing so for the past three years. A possible reason why people think email marketing is dead could be because most marketers haven’t evolved their strategies and their marketing emails are no match for spam filters and dwindling attention spans.

So what’s the right way to do it? There’s no formula but there are some success stories you can learn from. OneDayOnly, for instance, use cheesy (but still funny) subject lines and themed promotions to get people to open their daily newsletter – an impressive feat. YuppieChef marketing emails show that they have a clear content plan and their emails are as visually appealing as their deals are irresistible. Uber sends post-trip emails to all consumers with their receipt and a reminder to rate their driver. This gets people used to the act of always opening Uber emails so that when Uber sends emails that are more marketing-related than transactional, users are still likely to open them and engage.

Offer them a little something extra

What sets your business apart from its competition? If you struggle to answer that question, you’ll struggle to attract customers. Distinguishing your business from the rest can often be the final factor that solidifies a potential customer’s choice. So what can you offer that no one else can? Perhaps it’s free unlimited WiFi, a breathtaking view that is inaccessible anywhere else, or rare bird and wildlife sightings. Take your ace-in-the-hole and market it as your unique selling point. And if you don’t have one, find one. For example, if your customers complain about local transport being too expensive, partner with a cab service and offer them discounted rides to all the local attractions. If banking facilities aren’t within walking distance, why not get an ATM installed in your business?

ATM Solutions has three installation types, so no matter what kind of business you run, we’ll have an ATM that’s perfect for you. Download our brochure below to find out more and stay tuned to our blog for more business advice.