Leigh Dawber's Photo
Leigh Dawber


DMO Stories

Leigh Dawber, Marketing Executive at Cape Town Tourism will be joining us on stage at #DTTT Campus on the 20th and 21st of September in Jersey. Leigh will be talking about how they shifted their content angle, focusing on communities. If you haven't done it yet, make sure you secure your place to #DTTT Campus!

Please introduce your organisation and yourself

Cape Town Tourism is the City of Cape Town’s official tourism organisation, responsible for destination marketing, visitor and industry services. We believe in close encounters with people as the focus point of tourism, responsible living and immersion in the destinations and cultures we visit – this is what gives Cape Town it’s unique energy and appeal. Successful tourism doesn’t just boost economies, it builds pride too.
As the Marketing VP of Cape Town Tourism, I believe that sustainable tourism is built around involvement, participation, relationship and partnership, and that it is about actively taking hands with local communities, listening to their needs and working side by side to ensure that the environment and cultures are preserved, while allowing responsible travellers to experience the holiday of a lifetime.

What is the biggest content marketing challenge for Cape Town Tourism?

Because we have such a diverse city, we need to portray the full scope of our offerings, taking care and attention to be inclusive. Iconic pictures of Table Mountain and our beaches do so well on social media, but we need show more of what Cape Town really is and portray the city as the vibrant and diverse place it is.

However, this in itself provides a challenge in that perception is still a problem, in questioning if these are really tourism drawcards highlighting the inequality of our city. We have done a series of Neighbourhood videos that promotes geographic and economic spread of visitors across the city, by taking the visitor into the lesser known areas of Cape Town – rich in culture and undiscovered local experiences. Thankfully, these have been really well received both locally and internationally. Skift included Cape Town Tourism in their 25 Best Tourism Board Websites in the World and City Nation Place gave us a Global Award for Best Citizen Engagement in 2017, both awards being centred around the Neighbourhood videos.

What is Cape Town Tourism's biggest opportunity with content?

Our locals love Cape Town and are engaged with the city, as per our ‘Love Cape Town’ brand, and have a strong presence across our digital channels, which gives us the wonderful opportunity of connecting locals and visitors directly on both our digital platforms and in our campaigns through user generated content and first-hand discussion. We look at our visitors and locals as our extended (and free) marketing team.

Why is Cape Town getting communities involved in destination marketing?

Over the last few years, destination marketing has broadened and shifted to a more cohesive community outlook. Our locals have a direct influence on the visitor experience, from being welcoming, sharing their culture, creating safe and secure environments, and spreading positive stories about the destination. The saying goes that you build a brand from the inside out, and this begins with your local community - the heart of any city.

How has content marketing shifted for Cape Town Tourism?

I’ve been with Cape Town Tourism since 2012, and since then there has been a major shift in how we approach content marketing which pretty much correlates to the global trends. This includes a shift from traditional to digital marketing, with classic push messaging giving way to two-way communication. Social media has been the catalyst and provided this incredible platform where we can build our communities, ask questions, sharing stories, capitalise on user generated content and directly connect the visitor to a local to do the marketing for us! The ‘travel like a local’ and immersive experiences, shifting from marketing products to marketing experiences, talks directly to this too.

What role do you as the DMO play in addressing current topics such as the water crisis?

We see ourselves as an objective entity that creates awareness of the crisis and communicates up-to-date and truthful information to the industry, visitors, media and trade. This, in turn, helps manage our brand reputation and the sensationalism that always surrounds a crisis event.

How are you trying to raise awareness?

From an industry perspective, we keep them updated on the City's restrictions and how these may impact their operations, cross-pollinate water saving ideas/efforts between members (especially the accommodation sector), and provide them with water saving collateral to display at their establishments.

From a visitor perspective, it is important that we communicate the crisis without scaring them away and reiterate that Cape Town is open for tourism. We do this via our digital channels, a water saving campaign with tips on what you can do a local or visitor to save water in your everyday routine, and hand out collateral at places of high patronage, such as events and visitor information centres. Constant media and trade engagement, both reactive and targeted, is an absolute must throughout the crisis.

How is Cape Town Tourism working on building sustainable tourism futures?

Well that’s what my presentation is about, so come and see. But it’s around what we are currently doing that is gaining traction in our local communities, that stimulate community-driven tourism growth with a future view.

Which activities or campaigns are you most proud of or excited about?

Over and above the ones I talk about in my presentation, we are proud of the City Twinning Agreement we signed with NYC & Company in 2017, with the objective to grow tourism numbers between our two destinations. The main deliverable of the agreement was a media swop, where assets were traded to avoid a financial outlay, which has supported us running our first international campaign.

What will attendees be able to take away from your talk?

Hopefully it will be evident that educating and empowering local communities through destination marketing is a non-negotiable if we want to build sustainable tourism futures. I will take you through real life case studies of how we have tackled integrating into neighbourhoods, crisis support and getting involved in the younger generation, to show how this can be practically achieved and how this has influenced tourism thereafter.

What excites you the most about our 2018 Content | Campus?

Being in a group of like-minded people, cross pollinating ideas, and learning something new.

View the video of the City Twinning Agreement between Cape Town and NYC & Company


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