Lessons learnt at the E-Tourism Frontiers Summit


NightsBridge attended the annual E-Tourism Frontiers Summit at the CTICC in Cape Town on the 13th and 14th of September and were once again reminded about the power of online channels in the future of the travel industry.  Below are some of the key points we took from the Summit.

Let’s start with a definition of E-Tourism:

CONTENT across a variety of
CHANNELS to the best value
CLIENTS who will
CONVERT to sale and keep

Reaching Your Customer

  • 58% of all travel is researched, booked, bought & sold online
  • 96% of all travellers start their research on the internet
  • The tour operator model is diminishing to the extent that 24 major tour operators in the UK were declared bankrupt during 2011
  • 40% of all time online is spent on social networking – making it more powerful and popular than TV and print media combined

Future travellers will travel less and expect more. They will not buy products, but experiences. You as provider will need to improve the value of what you sell.

How do you do this?  Through strong & unique messages about what you offer. The market is too crowded to make bland statements. You will need to define how you are different and which experiences are only found where you are.

Social media is no longer an option, but a necessity. You need to have a strong social media presence through which to manage your online relationships.

This requires constant engagement. Post to Facebook at least four or five times a week. Shift your marketing efforts from offline to online.

Video sells

youtubeYouTube is the 2nd most powerful search engine after Google. Media rules have changed – users are now in control of the internet and user-generated videos trump even those made by professionals.

Video Tips:

  • Be Authentic
  • Tell a Story: There is a person on the other side of the technology, and people relate to stories
  • Keep it Subtle: Don’t bombard viewers with your establishment name and web address
  • Keep it Quick: Attention span diminishes after a 15 seconds and significantly after one minute
  • Use Your Customers:  Why not give your clients a video camera and ask them to find and film what makes your place special?  A game drive video from a client posted onto your company’s YouTube channel will make a bigger impact than the professional photographs in your gallery.


Two out of every three travellers have smartphones globally, and this figure continues to grow. Make sure that you know what your website looks like on a smartphone as this is the way a lot of travellers will look at it.

Internet Access

wifiProbably the most powerful message from the Summit – why do you still charge for internet access?  You wouldn’t dream of charging a customer for water and electricity used during their stay – why limit them from sharing their experiences at your establishment with the world?

Remember that every one of your guests has an average of 200 friends on Facebook, who in essence ‘travel with them’.  One comment or photograph about your establishment can reach all of them instantly, and 92% of them will trust recommendations from friends and family.  You are losing out on a lot of potential clients if you do not provide your guests with the opportunity to be social. You want clients to tell the world about you!

In short:

Times are changing, and if you do not adapt, you will become irrelevant

Social media is no longer a maybe, but investing in it costs time, not money

Tap into and share anything remarkable about your destination, conversation will follow