Entries tagged with “Atlantic seaboard”.
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Tue 21 May 2013
Brett Herron, the City of Cape Town Councillor and Mayoral Committee member for Transport, Roads, and Stormwater, is a busy man, fighting the Golden Arrow Bus Services on the one hand, and the South African National Road Agency Limited’s (SANRAL) proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project on the other.
Yesterday we heard in a news broadcast that Golden Arrow is taking its appeal of a recent court decision to allow the roll out of further MyCiTi Bus routes in Cape Town to the Supreme Court. This will mean a further delay of the eagerly awaited and heavily delayed launch of the Atlantic Seaboard route from Hout Bay through Camps Bay, Sea Point, Tamboerskloof, to the city centre and the V&A Waterfront. Last month the City’s bus service did not run for three weeks due to the SA National Transport and Allied Workers Union calling a strike over wages, and caused traffic chaos when the Justin Bieber and Bon Jovi concerts were held in the Cape Town Stadium!
Today the Councillor has issued a media statement, triumphantly announcing that the City’s urgent interdict to stop SANRAL from going ahead in developing its proposed Winelands N1 and N2 toll roads has been successful, due to then national Transport Minister Jeff Radebe not having been fully informed about the costs of the toll road development. The N1 toll road is planned from the R300 turnoff to Sandhills near Worcester, and the N2 toll road from the R300 turnoff to Bot River. We have written previously that wine farmers and estate owners, and agricultural producers, were up in arms when the toll road announcement was first made public 18 months ago, driving up food costs and being bad for tourism!
The City’s interdict application was assisted with some toy-toying outside the Western Cape High Court by his fellow Tourism, Events and Marketing Mayoral Committee member Grant Pascoe, and a rent-a-crowd. Pascoe is better at marketing the DA than he is at marketing Cape Town via his newish Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate, having announced the interdict victory on his Facebook page, and linking the victory to the DA!
Councillor Herron’s media statement is as follows:
“STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S MAYORAL COMMITTEE MEMBER FOR TRANSPORT, ROADS AND STORMWATER, COUNCILLOR BRETT HERRON: City wins again in fight to halt proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project.
The City of Cape Town scored two victories in its attempt to halt the proposed N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project in the Western Cape High Court this morning. The court has granted the City’s application for an interdict against the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), seeking to halt the Agency from taking any steps to implement the proposed project, pending the final determination of the City’s review application. The City was also successful in its application that SANRAL be compelled to provide a number of documents which formed part of SANRAL’s decision making process; and which SANRAL have been refusing to provide. The City’s people and its economy simply cannot be burdened by unnecessary toll roads. SANRAL’s decision is one that affects us all, but that will have a particularly profound effect on the poorest and most vulnerable groups that call Cape Town home”.
The toll road project would place a R10 billion financial burden to provide services to SANRAL, which the City of Cape Town’s ratepayers would have to bear. The bulk of the Western Cape wine estates and its visitors would be affected by the implementation of toll roads outside Cape Town.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Tue 26 Feb 2013
I have been to eat at Goloso Deli and Restaurant on Regent Road twice in ten days, and have been impressed with how popular this eatery has become amongst Atlantic Seaboard locals and tourists walking past in four short months. Chef Alessandra Masciadri and her husband Chris Kennedy have created a rustic eatery that brings the best of Italian home cooking to our city.
Chef Alessandra is a qualified lawyer, and left her practice in Milan to follow her husband Chris’ dream to come back to his home country, on condition it was Cape Town, to be near the ocean, and because it is more continental. Chris grew up in Johannesburg, where he had worked at an international law practice, and was sent to Milan. This is where he and Alessandra met. Chris now practices as an advocate in Cape Town, but is hands on in chatting to the guests. Alessandra is not so confident in her English, and asks Chris to translate if she cannot think of the right English word. She told me that her family loves cooking, and it was her grandfather making charcuterie and selling it in a deli near Como that shaped her family’s love for food. She and her sisters were taught by their mother to cook, ‘deepening their passion for cooking’, and they went for cooking lessons too, which expanded their repertoire. Chris and Alessandra love travelling around the world, as well as in Italy, and it is here that they focused on the small villages where they picked up unusual Italian dishes, and have brought them to Cape Town, finding the right ingredients locally being the only impediment. She loves her restaurant, and says the immediate feedback from her customers makes this new career much better than the law one she left behind in Italy.
‘Goloso’ means ‘a little bit greedy’ or to be a glutton, Chris explained, and this was the name given to the outlet by the previous owner, who ran it mainly as a deli, and offered a few take-away and sit-down Italian dishes. Chris and Alessandra bought the restaurant five months ago, and took over the neighbouring shoe shop space too, painted it red and yellow, and decorated it simply with wooden shelves to house the wines and Chef Alessandra’s cook books. The red Vespa photograph says ‘Italy’ better than anything else! The wooden tables have a table cloth, with sheets of paper over them. Cutlery is unbranded, and a Goldcrest coarse sea salt grinder, a Natural pepper grinder, and olive oil and balsamic vinegar imported from Italy are on the table, with a paper serviette. The restaurant can seat 43 inside and out. Most of the deli part of Goloso has been removed, but they will be selling Chef Alessandra’s home-made pasta to take away. The chef is also making basil pesto, tomato paste, aubergine paste, as well as olive paste, for customers to buy. Their pastes and pastas are freshly made, and do not contain preservatives.
Before my order arrived Chef Alessandra sent out tomato bruschetta, as well as a brown paper packet of bread slices, an unusual way of serving it. Preparation space is very limited for Chef Alessandra and her team, and a dry wall section taken out of the restaurant seating area has an open top so that one can hear the plates clanging as the dishes are prepared, the only negative of the restaurant. The Chef pops in at the tables, greeting her guests, many being locals, and some having become regulars and friends already. It is no surprise that Goloso is fully booked most evenings. I asked Alessandra what she enjoys eating, and she likes plain pasta sprinkled with olive oil, with chili, garlic, and parsley. Her favourite pizza is a Margherita. She rarely has time to go to a restaurant, but has enjoyed the Cape Malay restaurant in the Old Cape Quarter the most.
The menu comes in a black plastic cover, with plastic pockets, with a dish scratched out with a coki pen. It is changed regularly, and there is always a dish of the day. I ordered the Polla al Limone, but did not like the sound of chick peas for the vegetable served with it, so Chef Alessandra offered some lovely fresh pasta and butternut with an assortment of nuts roasted in olive oil. The chicken was prepared in lemon and wine, and the sauce was heavenly, the dish being excellent value at R100. The specials board on the day I ate at Goloso offered a special of pasta and chicken with mussels in white wine sauce, at R70. The menu offers Antipasto of carpaccio of beef (R70) and vegetables (R50); seven salads, including Caprese (in two sizes R27, R50), salmon, and Sicilian; sixteen pasta dishes, with Tagliatelle, penne, and Tagliolini, served with a range of ingredients, including bacon, smoked salmon, gorgonzola, chicken, mushrooms, eggplant and more. Main courses include rump steak, chicken, veal, and beef fillet.
The Tiramisu (R35) was excellent, a generous portion topped with cocoa and roasted flaked almonds, and thick and creamy. I ordered a Hausbrandt (Italian coffee supplier from Trieste to Goloso, and also supplying their gelato) Cremoso (R25), a liquid coffee gelato, Chris explained, to which one can add a liqueur.
Chris and Alessandra are making the most of their space, and offer an extensive Breakfast menu, with add on items charged separately. Scrambled eggs cost R28, for example, and R32 with chorizo, and R55 with salmon. Omelets (plain at R28, with a bolognese sauce at R36, or with three fillings out of a choice of nine R55), fried eggs, French Toast (plain at R25, or with a bolognese sauce at R36), muesli, fruit salad, yoghurt, smoothies, continental breakfast platters, antipasto platters, muffins (choice of carrot, honey and date, mixed berry, Lindt, banana, apple), and Swiss Lindt brownies are some of the Breakfast choices.
Goloso is licensed, and offers a mix of reasonably priced wines and liqueurs. Chris showed me their Limoncello on Sorrento, which comes from Franschhoek, as well as the Organic liqore du cioccolato, which is available in mandarin and raspberry flavours too. The wine list is a laminated sheet, not specifying vintages. A fair number of the wines are served by the glass. Arabella from Robertson serves as the house wine, the Sauvignon Blanc costing R25 per glass and R90 per bottle. Sauvignon Blancs from Noble Hill, Cederberg, La Motte, and Graham Beck are also available, a Graham Beck Unwooded Chardonnay (R20/R80), Amani (R140), and Ken Forrester Petit Chenin (R25/R90) on offer too. Red wines include a Fairbridge red blend (R20/R80), Umfiki Cabernet Sauvignon (R20/R80), Arabella Shiraz (R90), and Secret Cellar supplying the Merlot (R25/R95), and the MCC (R100). Corkage costs R30.
Chris and Alessandra are having such a good time in what they do that they are opening Goloso Pizzeria across the road, closer to the refurbished Checkers, in March. The flour will be imported from Italy, being ‘doppio zero‘ finer flour, as will be the tomato base and most of the toppings, such as artichokes, olives, mozzarella di buffalo, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil and balsamic from Modena.
Goloso is a very friendly homely eatery without any airs and graces, at which one can enjoy genuine Italian fare prepared with love and passion, at good value. Chef Alessandra and Chris would like their restaurants to feel like ‘mother’s kitchen’, with customers feeling at home, and well cared for by Alessandra and her team. It looks as if they have achieved this in a very short period of time, being full most nights.
Goloso, 90 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town. Tel (021) 439-2144. www.goloso.webs.com Monday - Sunday 7h00 - 22h00. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Mon 18 Feb 2013
A question on Twitter over the weekend about the likely commencement of the MyCiti Bus service on the Atlantic Seaboard generated a most surprising response from the City of Cape Town’s Councillor for Transport, Roads and Stormwater Brett Herron. It seems that it is unsure when the MyCiTi Bus service will be rolled out on the Atlantic Seaboard, having been announced to commence last November, and now in February!
Councillor Herron (surprisingly) referred me to a link to ‘Future Cape Town‘, a blog written by a duo of childish unprofessional Tweeters, in which Rouen Smit has written about the ‘event kidnappers’, who are ‘hijacking the expectations of entire cities and countries to their eleventh-hour demands‘. The bottom line appears to be that in Cape Town ‘transport monopolies’ are the ‘event kidnappers’, being the taxi industry and Golden Arrow bus company, the latter objecting to the City of Cape Town’s application for operating licences for all nine feeder routes into the city.
Herron on Twitter and Smit in the blogpost call for commuters to raise their voice about the delays, so that they can mobilise and speed up the introduction of the MyCiTi Bus service in the areas where the service is ready to roll, as in Camps Bay for example. Smit argues that not having the service is too small a cost to mobilise the community into protest action, as appears to help other causes.
The end result is that the alleged monopolistic transport providers are denying commuters the benefit of the new service, millions of Rands of ratepayers’ monies having been paid to set up the service, and designed to save them time and money, and provide a safe route to work, shopping and entertainment. Herron Tweeted that the City of Cape Town needs help to get the service introduced, and to get the operating licences approved, requesting commuters to ‘demand the service. Write the operating board. Make noise about the objections’.
It would be a shame if such an efficient modern bus service, which would benefit not only residents but many tourists who do not want to rent a car, and who expect a transportation system which they deem to be missing in our otherwise world class city! Atlantic Seaboard Councillor Bev Schafer Tweeted that the MyCiTi Bus service can now be expected to be introduced in April or May, just when the tourist season has come to a grinding halt!
POSTSCRIPT 18/2: Councillor Herron sent the following additional up-to-date information via e-mail: this afternoon, sounding very optimistic about the hold-up coming to an end soon:
“Thank you for engaging with me on Twitter, over the weekend, about the roll out of the MyCiTi service on the Atlantic Seaboard. I referred you to a piece published on Future Cape Town’s website simply to provide you with some quick context for the delays and to underscore a concern that I have that in the debate about operating licences the most important voice, that of the commuters, is missing.
In order to commence the permanent feeder routes that make up the bulk of Phase 1A we require operating licences. The licensing board is an independent body established by the Provincial government. The City’s vehicle operating companies, formed as part of the industry transition process (and made up of directly affected taxi associations), commenced the licensing application process in good time – in August last year. Three taxi associations (who claim to be partially affected by the proposed new MyCiTi service) and Golden Arrow Bus Service submitted objections to the licences applied for. The tribunal scheduled hearings in November and January, but these were postponed by the tribunal at the request of the objectors. The hearings eventually took place in early February 2013 and the parties had until Friday 15 February 2013 to submit their respective written arguments. At the commencement of the proceedings two of the three taxi associations withdrew their objections. I think it is safe to say that the process has now closed and the tribunal must make its decision. As I indicated, the tribunal is independent and exercises an administrative justice type role. I trust that they will do so expeditiously but I have no way of knowing when they will make their decision. Assuming licences are in fact approved we will then commence the roll out of the new services in a phased manner as soon as possible“.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wed 6 Feb 2013
February has become the Cape’s best tourism month, with a mix of German, British and South African tourists in the main. Cape Town is so busy this week, that it is almost impossible for visitors to the city, who had not pre-booked, to be accommodated.
Cape Town Tourism and Wesgro, who are doing no visible marketing for Cape Town and the Western Cape anymore, cannot claim to be responsible for the tourism bonanza. The Mining Indaba is the single largest ‘event’ for Cape Town annually, and started on Monday and finishes tomorrow, with 7500 mining executives from around the world attending the world’s largest mining investment conference and exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Restaurants, car rental companies, and taxis are benefiting too.
Last Saturday’s J&B Met did not show much impact on visitor numbers to Cape Town, as we saw happening last year already, and one wonders why it was moved to the first weekend in February instead of its usual timing of the last weekend in January. Given the build up to the Mining Indaba, not all J&B Met visitors from Johannesburg could be accommodated with flights and accommodation this past weekend.
The concert with Die Antwoord and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers caused absolute traffic chaos in Cape Town yesterday, with 40000 fans making their way to the Cape Town Stadium, a fabulous venue for such shows. Half of our Whale Cottage Camps Bay guests came to Cape Town yesterday to see the concert, one family travelling all the way from East London.
While the tourism pressure eases off towards this weekend, the following one is fully booked again, just following Valentine’s Day, visitors spending time in our city for a romantic get-away.
Events clearly are a major tourism boost for our city and province, but it would help if they did not fall in the same period, and could be spread out better. Unfortunately the tourism authorities do not work with event organisers to ensure a better spread. Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Alan Winde said that the planned expansion of the Convention Centre, making it Africa’s best conference facility, will mean that an even larger Mining Indaba can be organised, and that other large events such as the tourism Indaba can be attracted away from Durban!
A disarmingly quiet March is lying ahead, the Argus Cycle Tour not appearing from accommodation bookings (or lack of) to benefit the Atlantic Seaboard. Easter is early this year, at the end of March, which will make it a more than quiet April, given that the tourism summer ends at Easter in the Cape.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Wed 23 Jan 2013
Writing in Huffington Post earlier this month, journalist Jennifer Schwab praised our scenic beauty, but slated the service offered during the 24 hour visit she paid to Cape Town three months ago.
Ms Schwab likened Cape Town to Del Mar and La Jolla in California, yet without the myriad of shops and franchise restaurants. Her focus was on our city’s sustainability, and she wrote about her visit to Cape Point, Stellenbosch, and Camps Bay that ‘Cape Town might just be my new ideal green design city‘. With Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles, flanked by the ocean, ‘it is clear that Cape Town received more than its fair share of God-given raw materials’. She praised the City of Cape Town’s development policy, and in it calling for public participation, ‘thanks to smart zoning that puts aesthetics above tax revenue’. She praises the low height of the Atlantic Seaboard buildings, and that the houses aren’t built all the way up the slopes of the mountains. Our highways are described as encouraging ‘Bond-like driving‘!
After heaping praise on Cape Town, the closing paragraph is a let down, but is not far from the truth:“The downside of Cape Town? One is the apparent lackluster feeling that service people have for their jobs. From the employees of the airport to receptionists and porters, there was an apparent disconnect - even when you tipped them generously. The government and airport employees in particular looked kind of like Stepford wives while doing their jobs: an empty glazed stare with little enthusiasm for the task at hand and equal lack of interest in pleasing the customer. Service at private establishments was somewhat better, but not a high point of the Cape Town experience’. Of course the Apartheid word had to creep into the article, and the journalist blames our divided past for the poor service standard in our city!
But all is not lost when Ms Schwab concludes that ‘it appears one can live a quite splendid life in Cape Town, and a very sustainable one at that. If you ever have the chance, visit this southern outpost of urban vision, terrific food and wine and incredible natural gifts of scenic beauty!
A number of our guest house guests have fed back for the first time how they have noticed how slow staff are in our city, be it in restaurants, shops, and tourism attractions, asking how business owners and managers cope with this speed, and commenting that they would never remain employed in Europe with such a slow speed. Last night I experienced unacceptable service at Gibsons in the V&A Waterfront, with an arrogant manager, and no service check as to my satisfaction with the meal, no offer of a dessert menu, and no paper in the credit card machine when I paid. For their smart uniforms and reasonable value, the service let-down is so great that it will be hard to go back again. Poor English pronunciation, poor ability to bring a menu when a customer has sat down, out of stocks on menu items, clearing the table when the bill is requested, getting the order wrong, stretching in front of the customer when adding or removing cutlery, and not checking up on one’s satisfaction with the dish are common restaurant service failures in Cape Town, giving our city a poor service reputation.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitetr: @WhaleCottage
Sun 23 Dec 2012
Yesterday I experienced two Cape Town corporations who try to appear to be Social Media savvy in that they Tweet regularly, yet failed in their use of Social Media for the brands that they represent, thereby being guilty of poor customer service. One wonders why they practice Social Media marketing when they do so only in corporation operation hours!
Customer expectations of corporation reaction have been raised since the introduction of Social Media, consumers having no understanding for corporate staff not working on weekends, after closing time on weekdays, or on public holidays, if their businesses are open to the customer. A customer complaint especially demands almost immediate reaction. Social Media is meant to demonstrate the empathy that corporates have for their customers, and to make them appear less …’corporate’! This weekend both Woolworths and the V&A Waterfront demonstrated how customer unfriendly they are via their Social Media practices.
I bought a chicken and avocado low GI sandwich at Woolworths in the Garden’s Centre yesterday morning, and the first bite of it contained a 5 cm long bone. I Tweeted and Facebooked the photograph, but still have not heard a word of apology from the retailer via Twitter or Facebook. Someone replied on Twitter that one should be grateful that Woolworths uses real chicken in its sandwiches, which is hardly the point! Yesterday Woolworths only Tweeted once, at about 10h00! It has not Tweeted at all today! On most days the corporate lays down its Tweeting mouse at 16h30, not Tweeting until the stores remain open in the evening. By contrast Pick ‘n Pay started Tweeting from about 8h00 yesterday morning, interacting with its customers until 13h00, followed by a few pre-scheduled Tweets in the afternoon. On weekday evenings the retailer stops Tweeting between 20h00 - 21h00, commendable relative to Woolworths, but still not in line with its store operating hours. The volume of Tweets by Pick ‘n Pay exceeds that of Woolworths by far, the latter ignoring most negative feedback it receives via Twitter!
The really annoying interaction was with the V&A Waterfront’s Tweeter Emma Jackson, who has shown abuse of her client’s Twitter account to settle her own scores with others in the past, which we have discussed with the Marketing department of the company. The aggressive tone has been reduced, yet one can still sense the sarcasm in a number of her Tweets, now being sugary sweet. On Friday evening the V&A Waterfront disappeared off Twitter for 17 hours, not reTweeting any positive Tweets about the super Salvation Army Christmas Carols, nor reacting to the notification of a serious problem with the street lighting in a section of the Waterfront which most Atlantic Seaboard residents use. Seventeen hours later the Tweeter thanked us for the feedback and said the lights would be attended to, hardly necessary during the day. A chain of Tweets, in which Ms Jackson denied that she had not been at her Tweeting post for her client (according to her personal Twitter feed she was at a party) followed, ending in a number of sarcastic and disparaging Tweets being sent from her personal account. Untruthful was her Tweet that the V&A only Tweets at ‘dedicated times’, which defies the object of being on Twitter. Vituperative Tweeter Sonia Cabano got into the act on her troll Table Mountain and personal accounts, adding fat to the fire. She should know that abusing one’s client Twitter account to settle personal scores can get one fired, as happened earlier this year when she was managing the Robertsons Social Media account!
Being annoyed with the abuse by Ms Jackson, I called the Waterfront head office, only to be told that the V&A management does not work on weekends (the V&A Waterfront is the largest tourist attraction in the country)! I asked the Information Office of the company to ask the PR Manager Carla White to call me, and provided my phone number. I received a call, instructing me to e-mail Ms White. I was shopping, without a laptop, so asked again that she call, so that she could put a stop to the Twitter abuse coming from Ms Jackson. The request was also Tweeted, and again I was instructed by Tweet to e-mail. Ms White only called six hours later, indicating that she had spoken to the Info Office as well as to Ms Jackson. She tried to fob me off with an excuse about not calling back, saying she had no phone with her when she went up the mountain for a hike, yet she could have called before then. She was a poor listener, not allowing me to finish my feedback, harping on the fact that if there was no Twitter response it did not mean that the problem had not been picked up and attended to. If this was the case, the Waterfront street lighting would have been fixed by 22h30, when we left the cinema on Friday evening. There has been no further word from Ms White, nor an e-mail of apology. One certainly got the feeling that Ms White, despite being the company PR Manager, was annoyed about being disturbed on her weekend off, and was surprisingly unprofessional in her handling of the matter!
The V&A Waterfront Tweeter only reacts to the positive Tweets, but rarely to the ones with criticism or problems about the V&A generally, and to specific restaurants and shops. Poor service experiences at V&A Waterfront stores Exclusive Books, Woolworths, and particularly Willoughby & Co, on Wednesday evening were simply ignored. A Tweet about the V&A Waterfront’s policy on smoking at events at its Auditorium, especially with children attending the Christmas Carols’ concert in Friday evening, was acknowledged on Saturday morning only, with a promise to have the policy checked. We are still waiting for the reply! It is surprising how the V&A Waterfront, having a multitude of Tweet opportunities (Festive Season events, new stores, Christmas gift ideas, its new V&A Market on the Wharf, parking availability, breakfast, lunch, tea, and dinner options, and lots more) rarely Tweets at this busy time of the year. Funny is how the Tweeter is raving about her clothes shopping at competitor mall Cape Quarter this morning!
Given that corporates like Woolworths have trading hours which are customer friendly over the Festive Season period, one cannot understand that their Tweeters stop Tweeting before their stores close, meaning that customer feedback, good or bad, is completely ignored after 16h30, and is not picked up the next day. Similarly the V&A Waterfront stores close at 22h00, yet its customers are still enjoying its restaurants and other entertainment facilities after this time, and therefore they should be Tweeting until then at least. They should also keep their promises about getting back with feedback, and not be so ‘Smart Alec’ in their Tweets.
Cape Town Tourism too barely uses Twitter over the festive season days, most of its staff being on leave (what happened to their pay-off line ‘You don’t need a holiday, you need Cape Town’, when their CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold holidays in Pringle Bay, and from which she mainly mommy Tweets?). There are hundreds of proactive Twitter opportunities about Cape Town, to be shared with all the visitors we are expecting over the festive season, yet the volume of Tweeting is extremely low. Very few Tweets praising aspects of Cape Town are reTweeetd by its Communications and PR Manager Skye Grove, the Cape Town Tourism Tweeter, which is bizarre, given that she should be neutral about what she Tweets, but has proven the opposite in the past!
Hoot Suite and other similar tools are a fantastic way for any business, big or small, to Tweet about its business (for e.g. Woolworths to encourage interest in its Luke Dale-Roberts Christmas range, ‘expiring’ on Christmas Day, yet we have seen no such Tweets), without physically having to be present. Last, but not least, corporate Twitter accounts can not be abused by vindictive Tweeters for their own personal gain. Tweeters should be checked for their tone on their personal Twitter account before being appointed, so that the corporate knows the Tweeting style and personality of its Tweeter (why did Robertsons’ Social Media agency Liquorice not check out Ms Cabano?). One wonders why the V&A Waterfront tolerates its Tweeter, and allows the damage she causes!
POSTSCRIPT 24/12: The V&A Waterfront’s Information Centre Assistant Manager Zulfa Nordien has sent the following e-mail, acknowledging that Twitter is not a foolproof means of reporting problems in the Waterfront. She has sidestepped the issue of complaints about V&A tenants, and their speed (or lack) of response:
“Thank you for your tweets with regards to the lights that were out on Granger Bay, as well as the smoking in the amphitheatre. The lights had been logged and priority was determined. The issue has been resolved. The Amphitheatre is an open-air public space and smoking cannot be prohibited. We encourage people to be considerate of others when they smoke outdoors. In the interest of accuracy in your tweets, please note that the Waterfront Management do have weekends off. However, there is always a duty manager and key management are always contactable in the event of an emergency or crisis. Our Social Media Community Manager will adjust her tone when responding to your tweets. Please note that if you require an immediate response to any query, please phone our Information Centre on 021 408 7600. Our customer service staff are well versed in all procedures and can escalate a query“.
POSTSCRIPT 24/12: Woolworths was a bit slower to respond, and it was difficult to find someone at Head Office to speak to, most managers appearing to have taken today off as well! I found Candice Bull in the technical department, and she asked me to drop the packet and bone off at a Woolworths branch, to be sent from there to her at Head Office. This is what Kim Mulder, Customer Service Email Administrator, wrote:
“Thank you for taking the time to inform us about the problem that you experienced at Woolworths. We are concerned to hear of your experience and will do everything possible to investigate the matter so that we may revert to you with feedback in this regard. If possible, please can you forward us the barcode, purchase date as this will assist us in providing you with accurate feedback. Please advise if you still have the bone available as we would like to have it collected. Kindly provide me with a collection address as we will have a consultant contact you telephonically to arrange the collection. In order for us to keep record of this query please forward us your name and surname as well as your contact numbers (preferably cell phone number). Please note that correspondence will be sent to you as soon as we have received feedback from our suppliers”.
POSTSCRIPT 27/12: Candice Bull has impressed with her service proactiveness, calling today, explaining that the packet with the bone has got lost in their system due to staff being on leave. I referred her to the photograph in this blogpost, and she immediately recognised the packet as being from Tribeca, the contracted-out in-store café/food to go section. She intimated that this is a regular occurrence.
POSTSCRIPT 27/12: We have received the following reply from the Woolworths Cafê (run by Tribeca): “Thank you,Candice for sending this on to our team. We will inform the store of the complaint and ensure they follow the correct procedures to ensure this type of incidence does not re-occur ,Abdus ,one of our team members ,will visit the store today to ensure the matter is addressed and the staff are retrained on the deboning process and disciplines”.
POSTSCRIPT 28/12: Today Shehaam phoned from the Customer Care division of the Woolworths Head Office, and apologised for the incident. She did explain that the Woolworths Café at Gardens Centre is not operated by Tribeca, but by Woolworths itself. They will be training their staff in deboning chickens again, she said. She promised to send a gift voucher by sms for the inconvenience, but it has not yet arrived. Philip, a store manager at the Gardens Centre branch, also called to apologise, and invited me to fetch the voucher from the branch should it not arrive by sms.
POSTSCRIPT 2/1: Chantelle Cole, the V&A Waterfront’s Executive Manager: Strategic Marketing, has finally replied to our complaints about the Twitter, blog, and e-mail abuse received in the past ten days from its Tweeter Emma Jackson, promising that Ms Jackson will no longer Tweet about us on her personal account:
‘The limitation of the written word is both intention and tone can be misconstrued. Our values are to engage in a professional and respectful way and so it is truly unfortunate that you have felt this to be the contrary. Emma will not engage with you in her personal capacity again’.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage
Thu 13 Dec 2012
Yesterday the Cape Argus and Cape Town Tourism released their forecasts about the Festive Season and the November - January period. The Cape Argus prediction of a ‘flood of tourists’ over the Festive Season and Cape Town Tourism’s description of the November - January period seeing ‘positive seasonal growth’ are exaggerated, and not reflective of what the tourism industry is experiencing. Both information sources do not acknowledge something we have called ‘Summer Seasonality’, which is becoming more pronounced!
Cape Town Tourism astounds with its poorly written media releases, and it is clear that their PR and Communications Manager Skye Grove struggles in expressing herself coherently, sounding out of depth in writing about accommodation occupancy, rates, and RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room), clearly terms which are foreign to her, as is market research in general. While her headline refers to ‘positive seasonal growth’ being seen by ‘Cape Town’s Tourism Sector’, she contradicts herself in her introductory paragraph, clumsily writing that there are ’slight growth trends across occupancy and average room rates indicators for the months November 2012 - January 2013‘. She forecasts Occupancy over the three months at 71% and an average room rate of R 1136, without providing details of how the information was arrived at. She then compares the results from two different surveys conducted a year apart, and concludes that Occupancy will be higher this summer compared to last, a nonsense deduction.
Even worse is the poorly written paragraph attributed to Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, in which she contradicts herself in predicting that ‘we are not expecting a record season of arrivals and bookings’, yet states in two sentences further that ‘..the City Bowl, The V&A Waterfront and the Atlantic Seaboard will be a hive of activity’, clearly not knowing what is happening in the tourism industry! She does admit that the Festive Season only covers the period of the third week of December (i.e. from 21 December onwards) to ‘early January‘. Mrs Helmbold admonishes the tourism industry for not coming up with ‘new and interesting experiences‘, something our tourists are ‘hungry for’, she writes!
A statement by poor Nils Flaatten, the CEO of Wesgro, is also incorporated in the media release (aren’t they in competition with each other in marketing Cape Town, one would ask), and justifies the hard work they are doing with Cape Town Tourism to ‘ensure improved dispersal of visitors across the greater Cape Town region and beyond’, his mandate being to market the Western Cape and to minimise the duplication of marketing Cape Town. Flaatten refers to international tourists visiting the V&A Waterfront to shop, and to visit Robben Island and Table Mountain. Domestic tourists, he says, ‘are experiencing a greater appetite (sic) for festivals and events across the province’, and then refers to the 600 festivals which took place in the province in the past six months! Ironically there are no festivals and events taking place over the Festive Season! We have seen no marketing activity or communication from Wesgro and Cape Town Tourism to ‘disperse’ the Cape Town-based tourists into other parts of the province, the tourists doing their own research about where else to stay. Fact is that the Atlantic Seaboard is the most desired location for Festive Season visitors to Cape Town, and it would only be the non-availability of accommodation in this area that would make them stay further away from the city.
The Cape Argus article, written by journalist Daneel Knoetze, was based on two interviews, with Mrs Helmbold and her Board member Susanne Faussner, the headline shouting that a ‘Flood of tourists expected in Mother City’, and misleadingly stating that our industry is ‘expecting one of the most successful festive seasons to date’! The only justification for this misleading claim is a quote attributed to Mrs Faussner about an increase in Occupancy relative to last year, but as the Festive Season has not even begun, no accurate Occupancy figures are available! She added that the poor European winter and the favourable exchange rates are in our industry’s favour, but we have not seen the effect of this. Immediately after the exaggerated positive claim, the journalist lists dreadful crime-related accusations against Cape Town, and states that the positive publicity generated by Cape Town performing well in international tourism lists will outweigh the negative shock crime information relating to Cape Town! Mrs Helmbold places all her bets on an increase in tourism numbers on Table Mountain’s new ‘New7Wonders of Nature’ status, which was confirmed at the beginning of this month. Ironically Cape Town Tourism Chairman and CEO of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company, Sabine Lehmann, deplored the very windy beginning of December, and the number of days that the Cableway had to be closed due to adverse weather conditions in the Cape Town Tourism release. Funny was seeing the Christmas Lights on Adderley Street, supplied by the City of Cape Town, which includes an illustration of Table Mountain and the incorrect title ‘New7Wonder of Nature’! One would have thought that Mrs Lehmann or Cape Town Tourism would have advised the City of Cape Town of its faux pas!
Summer Seasonality is becoming increasingly apparent, and adds to the woes of the Tourism industry, which experienced extreme Winter Seasonality in the past two years, worse than ever before, largely due to the extremely wet winter, which kept Johannesburgers from Cape Town, and Capetonians from the rest of the Western Cape. Even more frustrating is the increased Summer Seasonality, which gives the industry two very good weeks and two very slow weeks each in November, December, and January, resulting in an average Occupancy of 50% for each of these months, an unsustainable performance. February is the best booked month, the only one with Occupancy close to 90%.
Cape Town Tourism likes to brag about its performance, and clearly is under pressure from the City of Cape Town to justify the R35 million it receives from the City. It is irresponsible to mislead the Tourism industry with platitudes, contradictory information, and the false presentation and interpretation of statistics! We would like to request the City of Cape Town to act against this unprofessional communication by Cape Town Tourism, and to appoint a professional Communications company that can assist Cape Town Tourism in issuing more credible and professional media statements, for the benefit of our City’s image and reputation! The PR company it uses currently appears to only distribute the media releases.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Sun 4 Mar 2012
For the first time in many years, it would appear that fewer out-of-town cyclists will be participating in the 35th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour, if the accommodation bookings in Camps Bay are a benchmark. Relative to past years, when the Cycle Tour weekend was fully booked weeks in advance, this coming weekend is well but not yet fully booked. Fewer of the bookings already taken for the weekend are related to the Cycle Tour, compared to previous years.
The 35000 participant 110 km Cycle Tour next Sunday is the largest individually timed cycle race in the world. Fewer than 10 % of the cyclists are from overseas. It is organised by the Pedal Power Association and the Rotary Club of Claremont, and monies raised from the entry fees are shared with community upliftment and cycling development projects, R3 million having been raised in 2011. It is estimated that the Cycle Tour will contribute at least R500 million to the economy of the Western Cape, based on 2011 information.
Running alongside the Lifecycle Week, which consists of an Expo related to cycling and also is the Cycle Tour registration venue, are two further cycle events. This weekend the 208 km Columbia Grape Escape is taking place over three days, from the Durbanville Racecourse to the Boland Agricultural High School on Friday, from the school to Diemersfontein in Wellington yesterday, and from Diemersfontein to Boschendal today. It is the second time that the Grape Escape has been organised. In addition, the 11th Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay MTB Challenge is being held at Boschendal. Yesterday it challenged novice and casual mountain bike riders, and today it is more experienced riders who have chosen to ride 32, 52, or 65 km. Some of the cyclists participating in one of these ancillary races are also riding the Cycle Tour next week, such as our Whale Cottage Franschhoek guest Anton Mellet.
Concern for the environment is a characteristic of the Cycle Tour, with clean-up crews at every refreshment station, and waste sorted thereafter. Last year 98% of the waste was recycled, say the organisers. Recycled products are used where possible, such as cardboard bins, bin liners, and cups. Airspace above the Cycle Tour route is restricted to helicopters with permission, to reduce potential harm to any animals affected by the noise. The MyCiTi shuttle bus service will be free of charge between the Thibault Square and Stadium stations, and will run from 6h00 to 18h00 on Sunday. The Table View MyCiTi service will commence an hour earlier than normal, at 5h40, on Sunday. Trains can also be used to get to the start, running to normal Sunday schedules. Cyclists are encouraged by the organisers to use public transport on Sunday.
A number of major roads in the city and Cape Peninsula will be closed for most of the day, including Hertzog Boulevard, Heerengracht, De Waal Drive, Nelson Mandela Boulevard (eastward), M3 (southbound), M4 between Muizenberg along the coastal road, Chapman’s Peak, Victoria Road from Hout Bay to Bantry Bay, and Beach Road from Sea Point to the Stadium.
The Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour is the ultimate New Year’s resolution for many Capetonians and South Africans. The cycle race is an excellent means of showing off our beautiful city, with its backdrop of Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Chapman’s Peak, Table Bay, False Bay, and the Atlantic Seaboard. We encourage motorists and cyclists to drive and ride safely in the week ahead.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Thu 23 Feb 2012
It was a surprise to receive a forwarded e-mail yesterday about the sale of the Portfolio Collection, started by Liz Westby-Nunn 30 years ago, to Moja Media, effective next week. Many accommodation owners who still advertise in the publication will heave a huge sigh of relief!
Mrs Westby-Nunn started a series of three accommodation publications to market her own property Klippe Rivier outside Swellendam, and encouraged other properties to join her on this joint marketing venture. Her link to the guest house was never revealed, but it was obvious once one knew about it, in that it featured prominently in the little marketing Mrs Westby-Nunn did for her Portfolio Collection client properties.
In the days prior to the establishment of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and the internet, the only publication in which one could launch one’s accommodation establishment was by advertising in the Portfolio B&B Collection, and almost every accommodation establishment which started in the last twenty years advertised in this publication. In those days a third-page advertisement already cost over R10000 per annum, and with it came a prescribed annual inspection that made every guest house owner’s stress levels soar. Portfolio has a four-shield quality rating system, and Mrs Westby-Nunn lost many a client over fights about the colour of the shield awarded, especially if there was a downgrade over time. Her assessors were mostly super, and very good in providing suggestions for what could be improved to maintain the shield colour. Theresa Katz became a friend to many establishment owners in the Western Cape, and she was an important buffer between advertisers and Mrs Westby-Nunn, who did not speak to her advertisers directly, if she could help it! Mrs Westby-Nunn had no interest in building a relationship with her advertisers, and if one received a call from her one knew one was in terrible trouble, usually as a result of a guest complaint.
The Portfolio Collection consisted of three books: Country Places Collection (to which she added Private Game Reserves, and properties in other Southern African countries to justify publishing this book, and in which one was forced to take a full page advertisement at an exorbitant fee); the Retreats Collection (which was for properties with more than 5 bedrooms, and one was forced to take an half-page ad); and the B&B Collection, which was costing close to R20000 for a third page ad recently. She influenced the fortune of many a guest house, including our own, in prescribing that no B&B was allowed to be bigger than five rooms, or else one had to advertise in the far more expensive Retreats Collection, yet this was only on invitation by Mrs Westby-Nunn, meaning that she controlled the expansion in size and the marketing of the more upmarket properties. As our Whale Cottage Camps Bay had five guest rooms, we had to buy another house in Bakoven close by, with five rooms as well, to meet her prescriptive requirements.
The final straw for many advertisers came when the internet became increasingly used in accommodation marketing and bookings, and Mrs Westby-Nunn became greedy when she developed a website for her publications, listing each advertiser property on it, and then taking a 10 % commission for each booking received in addition to the advertising fee one had paid to be in her publications! Members of the Camps Bay guest house accommodation association called a meeting with Mrs Westby-Nunn’s GM, Donald Paul, a journalist who lasted at the company for less than two months, being totally unsuited to the job. Mr Paul was unable to appease the members of the association, and appeared to have tape recorded the entire discussion without our knowledge and permission, producing perfect minutes of the meeting without taking notes during the meeting. Members were adamant that they should not pay commission, which was not in the contract. Advertisers were subsequently forced to immediately sign a contract amendment agreeing to the commission payment, or face exclusion from the publication and the website. Despite the establishment of the Tourism Grading Council and it awarding stars for the quality of each establishment, Mrs Westby-Nunn stuck to her colour shield grading system, and reluctantly allowed the Tourism Grading Council star grading to be featured in her publications as well.
Mrs Westby-Nunn worked hard at marketing her publications initially, and even got herself voted onto the SA Tourism Board, and became its Chairman, which meant that she got her publications into every SA Tourism office around the world, which was excellent for her advertisers. We remember the days when our guests arrived clutching a Portfolio book, then the accommodation bible. However, Portfolio’s competitors soon rushed off to the Department of Tourism, to complain about the unfair advantage Portfolio was enjoying, and Mrs Westby-Nunn soon lost the distribution advantage, and her position on the SA Tourism board. When Mrs Westby-Nunn had a dispute with us, we bravely decided to leave the publication, and to market our Whale Cottage Portfolio (the name was chosen in ‘honour’ of Mrs Westby-Nunn’s business) ourselves! Mrs Westby-Nunn fired clients that challenged her, including a Hout Bay lawyer-owned guest house, which had taken the publication to court over the definition of ‘Atlantic Seaboard’, a case which she lost. Another guest house in Stellenbosch started a legal fund to fight the publication about the commission charged on internet bookings, and they too were not allowed to advertise again. We have never looked back in not advertising in Portfolio, and over time we have seen more and more establishments not renew their advertising due to the ever increasing cost of the advertising (20 % annual increases were the norm for many years), and due to the way that they were treated. Leaving Portfolio meant that we could expand our Whale Cottage Camps Bay to 11 rooms, and sell our Whale Cottage Bakoven. Most guest houses have been too afraid to speak up and disagree with Portfolio, knowing that they too would be fired as clients if they disagreed with any Portfolio directive.
The tables turned for Mrs Westby-Nunn when guest houses realised that they could market their guest houses equally well, especially via their own websites, and when the Tourism Grading Council became the accepted standard for accommodation quality assessment. The three Portfolio booklets reduced in size year on year, as Portfolio too was affected by the recession. Mrs Westby-Nunn’s customer-unfriendly interaction, if there was any, with her clients, and the appointment of her sister as an assessor for the Western Cape after Miss Katz had left cost her many advertisers. Her business has reduced to such an extent that the company had to amalgamate all three publications into one book this year, with only 495 establishment advertisers, to save face. The Portfolio B&B Collection used to have 500 advertisers alone in the past. Portfolio’s pay-off line ‘Benchmark of the Best’ became increasingly misleading, as top establishments withdrew their advertising, and the Tourism Grading Council became the accommodation quality benchmark in South Africa. It was evident that Mrs Westby-Nunn was looking to get out of her business, having put her Klippe Rivier property up for sale some time ago.
One has not heard of the new Portfolio publisher, and it will be interesting to see how the new owners will deal with the negative image of the company that they have just purchased. A new Portfolio iPad app. is to be launched shortly, says the company’s media release.
POSTSCRIPT 23/2: We received the following e-mail from James Delaney, one of the two directors of Moja Media, the purchasers of Portfolio: “You may not remember me, but many years ago I think you were my marketing lecturer at UCT! I read your blog about Portfolio Collection this morning, and thanks – it all helps to understand what has not worked in the past. We’ve bought Portfolio because we believe in the brand, but we’re looking at many different ways of improving things going forward. I hope they get your favourable review over time. I’ve been in tourism for many years now, I was involved with the launch of Welgevonden, built and ran Shangana Cultural Village, been a consultant on tourism projects like Cradle of Humankind and Constitution Hill, launched the Moja Heritage Collection, and now as Moja Media have been building up a stable of tourism publications (print and online). So I do know some of the marketing challenges which lie ahead, and am looking forward to making my contribution”.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Fri 17 Feb 2012
The Sweet Service Award goes to Independent Newspapers, for its educational supplement ‘Your Cape Holiday Guide’, which was inserted into the Cape Times, Cape Argus and Weekend Argus over the December holidays. The 34-page supplement contained good editorial with suggestions for tourists and locals to discover the Cape, including Cape Town (Robben Island, Atlantic Seaboard, Table Mountain, New Year entertainment, Cape Point, Kirstenbosch, Chapman’s Peak, Simonstown, Hout Bay), Hermanus, the Winelands, Tulbagh, the Klein Karoo, the Swartland, and the Elgin valley.
The Sour Service Award goes to Illyria in the Eikestad Mall, previously a favourite Stellenbosch coffee shop for its stylish decor and good Illy coffee. I popped in quickly recently, asking for a cappuccino to be made, as I was heading for a concert, saying that I was dashing into Woolworths next door while it was being made. No coffee had been made when I returned, the waitress Simone saying that I had not paid for the coffee upfront, and that she would have had to pay for the coffee if I had not returned! She did not ask for payment when I placed the order. She was very defensive, became rude, and refused to give her name and the contact details for the owners. Her manager rushed in out of breath, having been called by the waitress, shouting abuse at me for my ‘website’ and what I have written about them (all has been positive so far), and refused to give me her name and the number of the owners. I left to attend the concert at the Conservatorium and put my phone on silent. A barrage of 11 calls came from one cell number in one hour, which I could not take during the concert, and I was concerned that something terrible had happened. I called the number immediately after the concert had finished, and listened to two messages that had been left by Ramon, the owner of Manouche restaurant and the co-owner with his sister of Illyria. Both messages were abusive and threatening.
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the www.whalecottage.com website