Tag Archives: Cycle Tour

It’s NOT “Slaapstad”*

I did an interview the other day with Dirk Elzinga, who retires later this year after heading up the Cape Town International Convention Centre since its design stage almost ten years ago. There’s little doubt that he’s left an indelible mark on the city and all Capetonians owe him a huge debt of gratitude.

RAI Amsterdam won contract for the management of the CTICC and Dirk was seconded to head things up, building local capacity and implementing skills transfer. I asked him what the biggest surprise was when he started working in Cape Town. “We expected Cape Town to be a typical Mediterranean city, where things get done ‘tomorrow’. It’s not like that at all! If someone says they’ll do something, they do it. If it’s promised for Tuesday, it’s done by Tuesday.”

(Something else quite mind-blowing was his statistic that Cape Town holds a 25% market share for all conferences hosted on the entire African continent!)

And that reminded me of something Chris Moerdyk, veteran marketing man, said some while back. He went into semi-retirement and moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg.

He said that it takes half a day to do things in Cape Town that would take a day in Johannesburg.

So it’s not surprising that events like the Design Indaba. Jazz Festival, Cycle Tour, etc, are the enormous successes that they are. Less talk, more action!

The interview with Dirk will be published soon.

* Cape Town in Afrikaans is “Kaapstad”. Some people, usually from up-country, like the derogatory “Slaapstad” which means sleepy town.

ICONIC CAPE TOWN – have your say!

This is where you get to have your say – click on the comment link directly above and/or vote in the right hand column.  At the end of the day, it’s your opinion that counts.

It’s not often that one comes across a truly great idea and this just has to be one of those times.  Mel Miller’s concept for Iconic Cape Town really hits the nail right on the head.  No single phrase captures the essence of Cape Town better.

“Cape Town is the brand,” says Mel. “What Cape Town represents – what it has to offer and what it is known for – needs to be communicated instantly and effectively. The brand message needs to do that.

“We have so many memorable, recognisable and revered icons, it makes complete sense to capitalise on them. As a collective then, we can make one crisp, concise promise – ICONIC CAPE TOWN.” (The issue is not about logos, slogans or complex strategies.) It’s about simplicity of communication – “iconic” being the language and experience of our customers. (Operators at the rock face of tourism confirm this to be true. It’s the conversation they have with visitors daily.)

To South Africans outside Cape Town who ask, “how can a strong Brand Cape Town benefit me?”, the answer is simple.  Do you think Sydney’s strong brand benefits Australia, or London’s strong brand benefits Britain?  Of course they do!

  • CapeInfo set about testing the brand message by updating its “Introduction to Cape Town” page. ICONIC CAPE TOWN is a powerful statement, a promise and, when one explores it fully, has the legs to carry Cape Town to its unique position on the world stage. It works at a generic and a product level.  Do visit the new, surprising and inspiring “Introduction to Cape Town” page.  It says it all but can grow to encompass much more.
  • And if you want to read about how the concept came about and why it’s being launched like this, click here.

What does ‘Iconic’ mean?
Of, relating to, or having the character of an icon (an adjective)
What is the definition of ‘Icon’ (also i·kon):

  • An image; a representation.
  • An important and enduring symbol: “Table Mountain is one of the world’s global icons.”
  • One who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol
  • Landmark moments in time, eg, iconic moments – public and personal: “Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and his first speech from City Hall; the world’s first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital.”

“Iconic” is rich with meaning, not just visual. One of Cape Town’s greatest icons is not primarily visual at all. Robben Island should be deeply ingrained in Cape Town’s brand message with its iconic symbolism of “a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil, a triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness.”

Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said: “It was clear that although Cape Town ranks among the top city destinations of the world, its brand image is fragmented, misunderstood and diluted.

“Countries, regions, states and cities, like large corporations, have begun rising to the challenge of communicating with power and persuasiveness. Furthermore, famous and successful cities are usually associated in people’s minds with a single quality, promise, attribute or story. The competition amongst travel destinations is tougher than ever before. We cannot afford not to put out a confident and powerful brand message out to the world.”

Getting the public involved in the branding debate has been enthusiastically received by Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism:

“I love Iconic Cape Town. It is simple, but powerful and tells the story of our city. Iconic Cape Town captures the diversity, richness, beauty, history and complexity of Cape Town. But for a brand message to be trully effective and real, it must be embraced, shared and lived by the people of the city. If not, it is reduced to a meaningless strap line without soul. Cape Town Tourism looks forward to being part of the process and hearing what our fellow Capetonians have to say.”

Comments from outside Cape Town are as important – that’s where the brand really has to work.

A Trojan horse?

It is in the interests of the tourism industry and all visitors that Cape Town Tourism is raised above party politics and the circus that politics introduces.

Local government has shown, since the introduction of party politics, that it is an unreliable business partner.

It’s also shown that it doesn’t have a clue when it comes to destination marketing. The worst kind of client is an uninformed client – who dithers, blames its agency and has no clear vision or explicit road map.

CapeInfo has asked the City of Cape Town for its tourism vision for over a year. There is none. (Do look at the links under “Learning from others” in the right hand column.)

More recently, we asked for its brief to Cape Town Tourism for the city’s destination marketing. The reply was so weak we have to assume there is none. Like the R6 million City-managed branding fiasco that preceded CTRU, will it be written by the agency?

Less than a year ago, the City’s mayco was saying that destination marketing should not be a City-funded activity; today it is going to be funded again.

Destination marketing should have been part of CTT’s mandate from the outset, but it was the City that determined it was not. The mandate does need to be changed in CTT’s constitution, but CTT’s budget and business plan cannot report to two authorities:

6.2 Cape Town Tourism exercises all its powers and duties in accordance with a budget and business plan approved by the Board and the City of Cape Town by 1 April of each year.

Surely a Service Level Agreement is sufficient? If the City buys a fleet of Mercedes trucks, does it get to influence and approve DaimlerBenz’s business plan? What if there is disagreement between the CTT’s Board and the City? That has happened before with disastrous consequences.

Funding from the public purse needs to be ring-fenced for two reasons. Firstly, so that if it is ever withdrawn, CTT can continue to operate successfully as a membership-based organisation. Secondly, public funds should be spent on a project-by-project basis, which can be evaluated for their return on investment.

In an email to CapeInfo earlier this week, Ian Neilson, the City’s mayco member for finance, said, “As general principle, all our grant-in-aid funding must now be for an auditable outcome, i.e. in general, we will not simply grant money directly for salaries, travel costs, etc, but will rather fund projects where we can evaluate the result.”

The City has missed an opportunity to really address Brand Cape Town across tourism and investment promotion in one go.

If the City were to get its act together, it would probably do the following things:

  • Make the “Destination Cape Town” logo – no, there isn’t one – one of the most widely recognised destination logos in the world. Used on merchandise, it would gain long legs, travelling the world, while earning the City considerable trademark royalties.
  • It would identify more projects like CTICC which doesn’t need an extra annual marketing budget, but has added more value to Brand Cape Town than the R100 million the City has spent on destination marketing. (This makes one wonder why CTICC’s MD is not a permanent member of CTT’s board, international practice elsewhere in the world.)
  • It would stop talking about an events strategy and demonstrate a New Events plan – attracting more visitors throughout the year. The City’s funding of the Cycle Tour is R1 million a year. If the City spent R25 million on events like the Cycle Tour throughout the year, it could attract 1.3 million extra visitors with a direct impact on Cape Town’s GDP of R6.5bn each year. Now we’re talking business!

Worth noting:

  • Over R3-million in proceeds from the 2007 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour was distributed to charities.
  • CTICC is expected to have paid over R3bn in taxes by 2012.