Monday Musings 26 October: Sowing seeds

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TBCSA and SATSA continue to call for government to scrap the so-called ‘red list’ of Covid-19 hotspot countries, end the chaos, and allow those who wish to travel to South Africa to do so—all within the relevant health protocols.

Meanwhile, over 150 tourism stakeholders from all along the value chain, including DMCs, operators, suppliers, and sponsors, participated in the Wesgro and SATSA Overberg and Garden Route Mega Fam last week.

Sowing the seeds of recovery throughout these regions replete with immersive experiences and authentic engagements, the industry has come together to prove that travel is not only safe and normal—it’s just as fun and amazing as we all remember. And the power of fun is never to be underestimated. Getaway shows us how to save South Africa’s tourism by having a blast.

Check out Fancourt’s short snippet of the Mega Fam participants arriving on site for the round-robin speed-marketing workshop. Of the event, Plett Tourism writes, “COVID protocols smoothly implemented by the Fancourt team and adhered to by all visitors. Probably the largest group tour in South Africa since April!”

The resounding message: South Africa is most assuredly travel ready. Plan your own Garden Route road trip and use this handy guide for working out your fuel costs in advance. Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler also recommends two travel costs you shouldn’t skimp on during COVID.   While the enthusiasm amongst the industry to welcome back guests in-person is palpable, virtual experiences, perhaps having found a niche in their own right, may be with us for some time to come. Marine biologist Justin Blake’s online experience, Meet a Real Life Shark Scientist, is proof positive. A true pivot pro, Blake moved his Airbnb experience from sea to screen and become one of the platform’s most popular experiences, raising more than R150 000 for shark conservation and achieving a near-perfect 5-star rating.

Cultivating purpose

Monday Musings 26 October: Sowing seeds 1

Disruptors and change-makers, The DO Lectures is launching a new online course called Bonfire with Soul which delves into the firecracker question, ‘Can a brand have a soul?’. While it’s sadly too late to register for this 3-week course, DO Co-founder David Hieatt has shared some insights with us fellow optimistic rebels.

A brand is only as soulful as the human values and guiding principles that the founders or people running the business have put into it. That makes YOU the soul builders. And with this comes a certain amount of responsibility—in fact, a great deal of responsibility. When building businesses, we’re so often taught to quell our inner voice and moral compass. Guided instead by the magnetism of efficiency, scale and speed—all good things, but at what expense?

Hieatt says of this trade-off and taxation on the soul: “We must make our margin, even if it pollutes the river. We must hit our short-term goals, even if it burns everyone out. We must put shareholder value first, even before the community that we seek to serve.”

But there is another way. Compliance Manager Sizwe Dlamini, writing for BizCommunity, asserts that it’s never been more important for a brand to exhibit humanity and inspire through storytelling. “Brand storytelling is no longer a nice to have. It is a need to have. It should be a compass for your marketing strategy, and the result will be a brand that is as profitable as it is captivating.”

So, yes, a brand can have a soul. Though, as Hieatt explains, it’s more often understood as a brand’s purpose, and like all worthwhile things, purpose is cultivated every day. It must be part of the company culture, a thread throughout the business, with company stakeholders returning daily to the affirmations:

  • This is why we do this.
  • This is what we stand for.
  • And that is not for changing.

No one said soul building was easy work. Hieatt compares it to going to the gym. And much to all our chagrin, you don’t get fit from working out just once—not even at the ‘Church of the Healthy Body’ which is blurring the lines between soul-saving and bodybuilding in order to stay open amidst Poland’s COVID-19 restrictions. Pivot, people.

Harvesting hope

Monday Musings 26 October: Sowing seeds 2

You’ve likely seen the dad joke making the meme rounds: “We cannot allow this year to end!! That would be admitting that 2021.” However, despite two months remaining in this unpredictable year, many are more than happy to begin looking past this year pegged for ‘perfect vision’. And many are placing their bets for 2021 and beyond.

McKinsey predicts that global tourism may take until 2024 to recover to 2019 levels and will be linked to several structural and macroeconomic factors:

  1. The ability to identify and mitigate traveller concerns is tantamount to tourism recovery.
  2. The speed of recovery will depend on rapid virus containment and rebounding economies.
  3. Domestic tourism will rebound 1 to 2 years earlier than outbound travel. Here’s how to win the heart of the domestic tourist in South Africa.
  4. Different markets will experience different rates of recovery based on the robustness of their domestic tourism and accessibility of land transport. Coincidentally, October is Transport Month in South Africa and road and rail both have pricey facelifts in the pipeline.
  5. And markets that nail number four above may experience faster recovery rates.

Whether you’re a ‘flight-half-full’ or ‘flight-half-empty’ kind of person, there is certainly a sense of hope for 2021. Forbes has listed South Africa as one of the best places to go next year, according to renowned travel specialists. Our beautiful Mzansi is also on Condé Nast’s Reader’s Choice Awards for the Top 20 destinations in the world. If 2021’s emerging travel trends, revealed by Airbnb analysis, hold true, we’ll take life on the road, redefine the staycation, and travel in our preferred, pre-vetted pods. And, if you read between the lines, investing in Mozambican yurts right about now may not be a bad idea either.

Sharing the bounty

Monday Musings 26 October: Sowing seeds 3

Wearing thin for many are the perks of working from home full-time. Gone is the madcap thrill of wearing your pyjama bottoms during Zoom calls, and the novelty of colleagues’ pets and kids popping up in the background. You’ve got your Slack and Teams and dedicated WhatsApp groups. But there is no replacement for the office water cooler. The spontaneity and frivolity of chats, and the ‘weak ties’ that form from these daily interactions.

Professor of psychology and neuroscience, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, has studied the impact of these types of relationships which fill a different yet important role to family and close friends. Your work friends can increase your sense of belonging and happiness and help stave off loneliness’s detrimental health effects. What’s more, your work friends know, or rather used to know, exactly what kind of work stresses you had and served as your compatriot in blowing off steam.

But you can still help lighten the load for your work bestie and others. Ask how someone is doing. Be patient and flexible. Donate your time and goods. Support local businesses. Share your bounty—even if that just means your positivity.  

In the heart-warmer of the week from Good Things Guy, Edmund O’Leary, a father of twins in the UK shared his vulnerability on social media, sending a message into the Twitterverse asking for some kindness. And it delivered in droves. Within minutes he received messages of support from all over the world. That’s one for humanity against the Twitter trolldom—just the small win we need to start the week.

Stay safe & strong!

The Big Ambitions team