A powerful message emerged during a presentation on trends by more than 15 high-level expert speakers at the recent Wine & Food Tourism Conference, which was
held at Spier near Stellenbosch on September 18, consultant Flux Trends analyst Dion Chang led a discussion about the trends that are shaping tourism and the rise of the digitalised traveller.
He outlined how the new rules of engagement have completely transformed the manner in which tourism, among other businesses, should be appealing and responding to tech-savvy customers, to stay competitive and relevant in a fast-changing world.
However challenging, Chang reminded delegates of the immense opportunity brought on by technological disruption and, in turn, the pivoting of business models.
“The roles have reversed. In all disrupted industries, the customer now leads, while companies struggle to adapt, not only to new technology and new systems, but the application thereof.”
He said the customer on the other hand has embraced new technologies because the technology provides a faster, quicker service, as well as cuts out intermediaries such as the travel agent or broker, for example.
Chang noted that there are two waves of disruption, the first caused by digitalisation, such as the rise of social media and mass customisation, and, the second, a world accelerated by the move from analog to digital, which causes fundamental changes in business systems and templates, and the collapse of the traditional value chain.
The first wave disrupted various industries, but particularly hospitality and tourism and financial services, transforming the core function of these businesses from a transactional relationship with their customers, to a transformative one.
The shift has resulted in the focus of organisations moving from product- to solution-based innovation as could be perceived when looking at the on-demand, sharing and gig economies.
He explains that the second wave of technological disruption was spearheaded by the Internet of Things, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, Big Data and the emerging metaverse, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality.
The second wave has increased the speed of change, but has also had a ripple effect on ancillary industries.
“For example, the on-demand economy has altered the last mile in the customer journey, as well as supply chain management and logistics. “Artificial intelligence now enables mass customisation, not to mention how VR is augmenting and authenticating marketing campaigns.”
“Technology has changed your consumer, and your next generation customer will be even more challenging. The rules of engagement need to change, whether it is in the physical or in the virtual realm,” he says.
Digital marketing maven in the UK industry Judith Lewis, echoed many of Chang’s views when she took to the stage to share some exciting insights into online and social media marketing.
She described how quickly and simply wine and food businesses can access their target audiences and improve how, what and when they communicate across multiple platforms, by using free and readily available tools at their disposal.
“Awareness needs to be boosted. By extending its reach, by better understanding trade and consumer points of contact and by building stronger relationships, South Africa’s tourism sector can more ably convert, retain and engage more people,” she says.
Independently minded online guide Platter’s South African Wine Guide and Rossouw’s Restaurants publisher Jean-Pierre Rossouw, highlighted how South Africa was in a very interesting space.
“On one hand, we have a great advantage as we absorb good international practice and move forward quickly. “We’re leaders in wine tourism. In many ways, we lead the way and have integrated opportunities and offerings. However, what we move with tends to also be our downfall. We tend to be trend followers, not trendsetters,” she says.
Investment holding company Remgro Limited investment executive, owner and co-founder of independent wine producer Black Elephant Vintners Raymond Ndlovu, mentions a stark characteristic that stands out when looking at South African wine.
“There’s no problem with the product. There’s an incredible array of choice, with enough depth and complexity to hold its own in the global space. “However, we need to agree on our collective product to get to premium price points to achieve growth and sustain the industry,” he says.