International flight bans impact on marketing internationally
What have companies done to cope with the travel ban?13th Dec 2021
Many countries have shut their doors to South Arica following the discovery of the Omicron coronavirus variant in November and foreign visitors have all but vanished over the usually busy summer.
Many rely on the tourism sector, to boost sales. But with a few tweaks business profitability can still be maintained. Here, some businesses share how they are coping:
Get local support
As Scot Kirton, chief proprietor of the La Colombe Group, explains things will improve over time. The famous eatery has suffered a huge drop in international queries since the flight bans, with more than half of their December bookings usually coming from foreigners.
‘We have about 5,000 foreigners dine with us in our five restaurants from 15 Dec to 15 January. We did these numbers in 2019 and this year had a similar amount booked, but after we were put back on the red list, over half these bookings were cancelled and refunded,’ says Kirton.
He, along with the rest of the hospitality sector, is now relying on local support. ‘When flights returned to normality the last time, the restaurants filled up very quickly, so we have to believe the same will happen when we are taken off the red list this time. But at the same time, we do put a lot of effort into [attracting] locals and we are very well supported by them,’ he says.
Companies in the property industry such as Knight Frank have already made inward changes because of the first, hard lockdown in March 2020.
‘Most buyers have been local, so marketing domestically has remained our core focus,’ says Lisa Connellan, sales and rental manager at Knight Frank.
A silver lining
Thanks to a weak Rand, the price of luxury property in South Africa is still appealing to foreign investors meaning that companies don’t have to change their strategy too much.
Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, says: ‘Post the hard lockdown we have seen strong enquiries and concluded sales to buyers from numerous overseas countries as well as international buyers from the rest of the African continent.’
Among Pam Golding Properties sales to foreign buyers in the last 18 months was a home in Clifton on the Cape’s Atlantic Seaboard which was purchased sight unseen by an American for R30 million just after the hard lockdown was lifted in 2020. A penthouse in the V&A Marina was also acquired by a US buyer for R41 million, in the middle of the pandemic.
‘It will not alter the realisation that you can now work from anywhere in the world and a comparable seaside lifestyle in most European and North American states would cost more than what it costs here in South Africa,’ says Golding.