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Travel News South Africa

Sho't Left Travel Week relaunched: Boosting domestic tourism in South Africa

The Sho't Left Travel Week campaign has been relaunched, generating significant interest in South Africa's tourism sector.
Source: Sho't Left

The initiative connects local tourist destinations with domestic travellers, culminating in the Great South African Sale. Central to this effort is the Sho’t Left Partners Platform, a digital space where businesses can easily share travel deals, aided by Google Analytics integration.

With strong marketing support from South African Tourism, the campaign aims to help businesses reach a wide range of local travellers. Tourism businesses are encouraged to register their deals and tap into the growing domestic travel market.

Here, we chat with Mashoto Mokgethi, head of domestic tourism at South African Tourism, to discuss the primary objectives for this year's Travel Week, its strategies to make travel more accessible, and the prospects of the tourism industry in South Africa.

What are the primary objectives for this year's Travel Week, and how does it aim to contribute to promoting domestic tourism in South Africa?

The main objective for Travel Week this year is to continue growing in numbers, especially after the challenges of Covid-19. We want to avoid plateauing and sustain our growth momentum through the campaign.

Travel Week serves as an opportunity to reignite interest in domestic tourism and encourage South Africans to explore their own country. By offering enticing deals and promotions, we aim to make travel more accessible and affordable for everyone, ultimately boosting tourism within South Africa.

Mashoto Mokgethi, Head of Domestic Tourism, South African Tourism
Mashoto Mokgethi, Head of Domestic Tourism, South African Tourism

Given the challenges of affordability, how does Travel Week address concerns to make travel more accessible for South Africans?

Sho’t Left Travel Week serves as the "Black Friday of travel," offering affordable trips and flexible booking options. We provide affordable experiences, and businesses can capitalize on slow seasons or underperforming areas through the campaign.

By offering discounted rates and special deals, Travel Week allows South Africans to experience travel without breaking the bank. Additionally, the flexibility of travel dates and destinations ensures that individuals can find options that suit their budget and preferences.

Can you share insights into travel trends among South Africans observed during previous Travel Weeks, particularly regarding destination increases or shifts in preferences?

We've seen a significant increase in road travel compared to air travel. There's also a growing interest in sustainability and inclusivity among travellers. Many South Africans are opting for road trips and exploring destinations closer to home.

Additionally, there's a heightened awareness of sustainability practices and a desire to support businesses that prioritize environmental conservation and community engagement. Travelers are seeking authentic experiences that allow them to connect with local communities and contribute positively to the destinations they visit.

What strategies do tourism businesses participating in Travel Week employ to create compelling deals?

Businesses focus on affordability, offering experiences within a budget of around R5000 per night. Providing great experiences is key to attracting travellers.

Participating businesses leverage Sho’t Left Travel Week as an opportunity to showcase their offerings and attract new customers. They often offer exclusive discounts, package deals, and added amenities to entice travellers.

By providing exceptional value for money, businesses can stand out during Travel Week and attract a larger customer base.

How does Sho’t Left Travel Week generate leads and bookings for participating businesses, especially given the current state of the tourism industry?

We invest heavily in marketing Travel Week, driving traffic to our website and showcasing compelling deals through social media platforms. Our marketing efforts include targeted advertising, email campaigns, and partnerships with influential bloggers and influencers.

By creating buzz around Travel Week and highlighting the attractive deals available, we generate interest and encourage bookings from potential travellers. Additionally, our user-friendly website and booking platform make it easy for customers to browse deals and make reservations, further driving bookings for participating businesses.

Source: Sho't Left

Since Sho't Left Travel Week's inception, how has the campaign evolved to adapt to changing travel trends and consumer behaviour? Are there any exciting new features or initiatives planned for 2024?

Since its launch in 2018, Sho’t Left Travel Week has transitioned from addressing barriers around accessibility and affordability to incorporating non-traditional trade partners, making our offerings more relevant to local travellers.

We're exploring ways to assist tourism businesses in becoming more accessible, including collaborations with telecommunications companies to provide solutions for business growth. The campaign includes webinars that present B2B opportunities with companies like Google and MasterCard.

Sho’t Travel Week leverages lifestyle-related events and partners with the music industry to raise awareness about local travel, aiming to engage audiences where they are most receptive. We therefore have events and restaurants listed as part of the Travel Week campaign.

In 2024, we plan to partner with more technology providers to make Sho’t Left Travel Week the Great South African Sale and evolve into a platform offering travel tips and inspiring content for all local travel needs.

Last year, affordability was a key driver. This year, are there specific demographics, like young families or multi-generational groups, that Sho't Left Travel Week is targeting with its offerings?

Our domestic marketing strategy segments our population into three primary groups: Build, Convert, and Defend, based on their holiday-taking culture. We aim to build a travel culture among South Africans who have the means but are not yet travelling and convert those who travel for purposes other than holidays.

Less than 7% of our adult population currently travel for holidays, and through Sho't Left Travel Week, we want to inspire them with a variety of relevant deals and packages to travel locally, which stimulates economic growth and helps alleviate unemployment.

Our messaging also takes into account specific holiday-taking characteristics, such as the need to relax and a preference for outdoor nature-based activities and beach experiences.

We also understand that South Africans love their country and want to explore it, hence the campaign, It’s Your Country, Enjoy It, Cause nothing more fun than a Sho’t Left!

Beyond generating sales during the campaign period, how does Sho't Left Travel Week contribute to a lasting change in South Africans' travel habits? Are there any metrics you can share to measure this impact?

We focus on inspiring long-term travel habits by highlighting the economic and personal benefits of local travel.

Metrics to measure this impact include the growth in domestic travel bookings year-over-year, increased engagement and participation in travel-related webinars and events, and partnerships formed with tourism businesses.

South African Tourism also has targets for all markets, and quarterly we measure how far we are at reaching these, keeping in mind that a campaign might only yield benefits at a later stage.

Source: Sho't Left

Is Sho't Left Travel Week collaborating with any new or interesting partners this year, like regional tourism boards or travel technology companies, to enhance the campaign's reach and offerings?

Each year, we collaborate with provincial tourism authorities from all nine provinces, providing them with a toolkit to extend our reach and highlight hidden gems within their areas. We continuously engage with various organisations, understanding that our success depends on building strong, relevant partnerships.

We have also collaborated with Tempest car hire and Renault to further promote road trips and reach more consumers.

Is there an increased focus on integrating technology, such as mobile apps or online booking platforms, to make participating in Sho't Left Travel Week easier and more accessible for South Africans?

Our immediate goal is to incorporate AI into our search function on our online booking platform. We are exploring various options to find the best partner offering a solution that is easily accessible via smartphones, improving efficiency and accuracy when audiences search for the right deals and packages.

How does Sho’t Left Travel Week ensure inclusivity and accessibility for a diverse range of travellers across different demographics and regions?

We showcase diverse demographics in marketing materials and ensure representation. Offering affordable experiences for all South Africans is essential. Sho’t Left Travel Week is designed to cater to a wide range of travellers, regardless of their budget, preferences, or demographics.

We also feature a diverse range of destinations, accommodations, and activities to appeal to different interests and lifestyles. Additionally, we actively promote inclusivity and diversity in our marketing campaigns, showcasing people from various backgrounds enjoying travel experiences. By embracing diversity and accessibility, we aim to make Travel Week inclusive and welcoming to all South Africans.

Looking ahead, what are your hopes for the future of the tourism industry in South Africa, and how does Sho’t Left Travel Week contribute to realising these aspirations?

We aim to sustain momentum in travel, create a space for all South Africans to enjoy affordable experiences, and offer flexible payment options. Inclusivity and accessibility are key to shaping the future of tourism.

As we look ahead, we hope to see continued growth and innovation in the tourism industry, with Sho’t Left Travel Week playing a central role in promoting domestic travel and supporting local businesses.

By providing affordable and accessible travel options, we empower South Africans to explore their own country and contribute to the growth and development of the tourism sector.

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