GAUTENG ADVENTURE & OUTDOOR EXPO 2014

 

Held at Waterfall Estate, Johannesburg on May 30, 31 and June 1, 2014

Soldiers

1. Fran Zaaiman.

2. Louw van Biljon.

We rotated morning and afternoon shifts, with Fran commencing with the Friday morning shift and Louw ending with the Sunday afternoon shift. Busiest shifts were Saturday morning, afternoon and Sunday morning, so Fran worked the hardest.

Stand

We formed part of the N3TC-cluster, a total of 5 stands:

– $          N3TC

– $          Southern Drakensberg

– $          Drakensberg Experience (Central & Northern Berg)

– $          African Gifts (beadwork)

– $          Clarens

Our stand was quite visible, being a corner stand and facing one entrance from the outdoor exhibitions. We really could not complain about the positioning. Although the stand was adequate for this expo (seeing that we had little material to exhibit), it will be too small for a proper exhibition, with big wall maps, river rafts, quads and a wall for abseiling… I do not know on what basis the stalls are allocated, but if we want to have a stall with oomph (and planned as such), we will need a larger area next time.

Show attendance

According to Elsa Human of N3TC, attendance was similar to last year’s expo. Our observation of the market segments represented:

– $          White: 94%

– $          Coloured: 1%

– $          Black: 0.05%

– $          Indian: 4%

– $          Chinese: 0.95%

 

– $          younger than 30 : 10%

– $          between 30 and 50: 45%

– $          older than 50: 45%

 

– $          singles: 25%

– $          couples: 40%

– $          couples with children: 35%

 

Modus operandi

We stood behind our counter and received enquiries; we did not venture out into the aisles to mob passer-by’s, as some of our neighbours did. I would say that about 25% of passing traffic stopped at our stand. Another say, 15%, looked at us and nodded their heads sagely, as if to say: “been there, done that”. Probably 30% looked at us without any lights in their eyes. The rest just walked by without giving us a second glance… We only handed out marketing material to those who were actively interested and chatted to us. In hindsight, I suspect that for a large part we were preaching to the converted. We did not manage to capture enough of the infidels…

 

Clientele’s knowledge of Clarens

Most people knew where Clarens is and what we are about. Many have been here and all want to visit again. The most common question was: “is Clarens still as lovely?” Very few people – I think I encountered two (Fran, more than two) – did not know where Clarens is; one poor soul did not know where the Eastern Free State is… Fran had a number of the following reactions: “Clarens is too commercialised…” Louw had one person who said that Clarens is too busy and that she prefers Rosendal.

 

Marketing material

We did not have a lot of material to flaunt; in the end, we did not have enough. What we had, was:

– Vulture’s View map of Clarens (200)

– Akzente flyer (30)

– Akzente business card (30)

– Schaapplaats flyer (40)

– Schaapplaats laminated A4-information page (2)

– Bokpoort flyer (50)

– Clarens Destinations flyer (300)

 

– N3TC Itinerary Brochure: Many – probably 100? – this we could acquire from their stand as needed.

– N3TC pocket info booklet… ditto as above.

– N3TC Mobility magazine… ditto, but less than above.

 

Akzente and Schaapplaats material ran out during Saturday morning. Vulture’s Views and Bokpoort flyers ran out during Saturday afternoon. From Sunday about 14:30, the N3TC-material and the two Schaapplaats laminated pages were all we had.

 

We should have had about double the volume of material. With so many, we would have been able to market a bit more aggressively. We also should have had more material specifically on the adventure aspects (fortunately, our horsy people were well represented). We had no material from Outrageous, nor from Xtreme…

 

Shortcomings

– Having a counter cluttered with a variety of flyers and cards and folders does not work – people want one ‘thing’ which covers all the bases. We soon realised this and changed tactics: we put the various pieces into a Vulture’s View, using the latter as a folder. This worked much better.

– Our neighbouring stand (Southern Drakensberg) had a booklet (A4 size) plus a map. That covered everything about their region – that was the only material they had. Consequently their stand look much neater and professional than ours, initially – until we collated all our paperwork.  A similar information booklet about Clarens and our vicinity, covering not only accommodation and restaurants, but rock art, history, palaeontology, etcetera, would be the best option because people do not want a handful of papers to carry around.

– We also needed a map showing Clarens’ location relative to Gauteng, Bloemfontein and Durban, with the various routes to Clarens.

– The A1-size laminated maps of Clarens and the region (those in the Destinations’ and Odyssey’s offices) would also have helped a lot to orientate people. CTF should have copies made for use at events.

– Three of our neighbouring stands held competitions – a simple question about the destination with prizes in the line of accommodation for two for a weekend. These competitions caused people to linger at those stands, which gave their ‘soldiers’ much more time to ‘sell’ their destinations.

– Our Hiking Trail maps would have added much value to our story about Clarens. I cannot believe that I did not think to take some! Aaaghh!!!

 

The good news

Clarens’ stand was well received. We also had lots of enthusiastic support from the N3TC team, for which we are eternally grateful. Attending the Expo was seemingly worth it – at least it refreshed Gautengers’ memories. It is recommended that Clarens maintain attendance every year; we are sure to reap the benefits.

 

General observations and recommendations

– 1. Why was Golden Gate not there (alternatively: why did we not have material from GG)?

– 2. We had a few enquiries about Fouriesburg: maybe we should be magnanimous and offer to represent our neighbouring town as well, next year. Tourist traffic to Fouriesburg inevitably land up in Clarens, so we can only gain from mutual cooperation.

– 3. We had ‘millions’ of enquiries about camping/caravanning facilities….  Clarens does need a camping site, especially if we want to establish ourselves as a holiday destination, and not only a weekend one.

– 4. The Southern Drakensberg team had financial support from their municipality (Kwa Sani Mun.). We should also ‘demand’ a cut from Dihlabeng’s tourism budget pie – especially to cover costs, such as designing and printing a brochure.

– 5. As a common resident, with no inside info as to the background and runup to this expo, Louw got the feeling that we were not adequately prepared for this event… a bit of a rush job, this one, no? Maybe CTF should have a soul on the committee dedicated only to events. Fran thinks that with the many number of businesses in Clarens, one would have expected more support and much more marketing material. Fran says that if she was a visitor to our stand she would have thought that we promoted N3TC, because, in the end, their’s was the only material we had.

– 6. Each of us received R1 000 towards S&T. This was not enough to cover our costs. Although we volunteered, we should not be expected to pay out of our pockets to promote the town. Fortunately, Louw also had family business to attend to, otherwise he would not have volunteered, knowing he had to partially fund himself. This is a compelling reason why we have to get municipal funding (they do budget for tourism).

 

Last thanks

…to the sponsor of our accommodation. We stayed in the African Pride Hotel in Melrose Arch, which is exquisite. Parking is R85 a shot, though…

 

Anyway, we enjoyed it (but Fran hated the traffic).