“To stand out in 2022, tourism and hospitality professionals need to take advantage of technology" - Tshepo Matlou

4 Things travel SMMEs can do to up their bookings

With our Instagram-worthy natural splendour, a vibrant culture scene, world-class hospitality and a pleasantly moderate climate, South Africa has a lot going for it as a tourist destination.

And while these attributes give the country a great foundation from which to attract visitors, it pays for those in the tourism industry to ensure they’re ticking all the boxes when it comes to the things they can do to increase their bookings.

Here are four things travel smaller tourism operators, like guesthouses and B&B’s, in particular, can be doing to up their bookings and, ultimately increase market share and profit in 2022.

 A dynamic digital footprint

A relevant online presence is non-negotiable in 2022. Travel and tourism SMMEs can’t afford to skimp on a website or ignore the power of social media when it comes to marketing to potential clients.

“To stand out in 2022, tourism and hospitality professionals need to take advantage of technology to ensure they’re appealing to active, modern travellers,”

says Tshepo Matlou, Head of Marketing & Communications at local booking platform Jurni.

He adds that technology is a definite enabler and that small businesses in the tourism sector will benefit from investing in their online presence to increase both visibility and accessibility.

“Proper engagement on a platform like Jurni can really advance the marketing efforts of a small business, especially in previously disadvantaged pockets of the country,”

he says.

Tell a story

Stories are a powerful way to share information about an area, an experience or a site of interest – it’s a way to make it come alive for the traveller – which is why it’s crucial to tell stories about your offering.

Think short video clips, photo essays and listicles, and make sure that it’s entertaining and interesting. The point of the story is to show off and share what you know to be great about your area, your activity or your facility. Most importantly, have fun with it because enthusiasm is contagious!

The right credentials

Ensuring your business is graded by a recognised authority like the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa is an important part of your business’s credibility. 

Matlou explains that some travellers use the grading system as a guide to where they should book their stay.

“Grading your B&B, for example, benefits the business and the customer because it tells the customer that your offering has been successfully reviewed by an expert in the field,”

he says.

Keep it simple

Convenience is the name of the modern travel game, and technology is central to that. Today’s travellers do their research online before they get in touch with you, which is why you want to ensure your online offering is as simple to use as possible – and definitely mobile friendly.

Similarly, have an online payment system ready when you market your business. Consider partnering with a booking entity like Jurni to help mitigate costly marketing and development processes.

“An online booking platform that streamlines the offering by making it super simple to book and pay is critical for SMMEs who want to be competitive in the market and offer a superior customer experience,”

Matlou says.

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