In celebration of World Tourism Day on 27 September 2018 and its theme of “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”, as announced by the UNWTO, we asked our Attractions Africa project team members which digital technology they’ve implemented at their sites and how it has affected their operations.
At Ushaka Marine World, we have taken a three-tiered approach to our digital transformation.
Online ticket facilities: We‘ve established our online ticketing facility via our website. It has improved our sales due to the attractiveness of our special online rates (compared to normal ticketing). The convenience of access to park without standing in a long queue has improved visitor experience and enhanced our efficiency and brand reputation.
Social media strategy: The development of a strategy to achieve set annual targets in terms of social media following has enhanced our call-to-action campaign and brought us new visitors to the park.
Improved SEO: Establishing a strong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) program has ensured that UMW is most easily accessible to visitors online. It has increased the number of compliments and other visitor feedback recorded, thus enabling us to respond quickly and improve our visibility and footfall.
Craig Allenby, Manager of Commercial Services and Business Development of the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa
At the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG), digital transformation has taken the form of online ticketing, digital displays and providing free WiFi.
Here is how:
Online ticketing: The biggest advantage that the NZG has experienced from offering our tickets online is the crossing marketing of our offerings across various platforms. The service provider assists in driving feet to your product offering and thereby increases your product awareness and sales. People purchasing other online products are exposed to your brand and this may convert to a purchase.
Digital displays: We have introduced digital displays at some of our enclosures. This has the advantage of diversifying the medium used to convey information. Visitors get bored of reading traditional signage. Digital display can be far more engaging than traditional signage. Digital displays also afford you the opportunity of changing content at a minimal cost. It also allows an organisation to be responsive and change content that is not engaging the public within a very short time.
Free WiFi: The provision of free WiFi has not only empowered the visitor to determine their own depth of engagement with the content but also grows the marketing database. The application on signage of QR codes that links to other content enables the visitor to access more information on topics that interest them and does not lead to information overload. Visitors who intend on using the WiFi are required to supply contact details on registration and this enables the NZG to market our other offerings.
Fazielah Williams, Content Marketer at the Table Mountain Cableway:
Over the past three years, the Cableway has actively implemented digital technology to improve the visitor experience in the following ways:
Audio Tours: we’ve partnered with VoiceMap to create two unique audio tours that are filled with fascinating information about our company, our fauna and flora, our responsible tourism projects and Table Mountain. They are available for download from the Google Play store prior to our guests’ visit and allows them to learn all about us while exploring the summit of the mountain at their leisure.
WiFi Lounge: We opened our dedicated WiFi Lounge at our Upper Cable Station two years ago – fitted with free WiFi and plug points for charging devices as well as hot, on-the-go drinks and snacks, it has helped to alleviate congestion at our other eatery, the Table Mountain Cafe, as well as help visitors share their Cableway experience online with friends and family, increasing our digital footprint and awareness.
Finally, our Executive Director Sabine Lehmann offers her insights on the topic:
Digital technology has added and expanded the following aspects of attractions management:
Real time customer reviews: Attractions now have to deal with the positive and negative aspect of customer reviews, via platforms like TripAdvisor and Facebook and deal with them as they happen or as close to it as possible. A negative review could go viral in seconds and cause damage to an attraction’s brand. How we manage and how quickly too, is of vital importance.
Dynamic pricing: Offering different rates at different times online, while not a popular option in South Africa and Africa currently, will come soon. This will have a direct impact on capacity management at sites.
The use of smart phones: In the past few years, smart phone use has been on the increase. Attractions should be taking this into account and make their websites multi-device friendly to provide visitors with easy access to up to date info. This will help with the management of queues and improve the visitor experience on site.
Social media imagery: Apps like Instagram allow people to view attractions through an image and tell their story before a visit. While it is a useful too, some attractions may have a wider range of images to share while others, like indoor museums will not. In this instance, creativity in producing compelling images is needed.
Sabine concludes: “We have to consider that in a country such as South Africa, there is also the digital divide. So many of our potential customers are not yet au fait with how to access technology in order to access the attraction. How do we manage this divide and ensure these non-tech savvy visitors are included in our attractions offerings?”