As a travel content creators, you don’t know how anxious I get every time I hear the words, “My fellow South Africans…”. They often carry a lot of hopelessness, especially given that some of us only have tourism or the art of content creation as a source of income. The country has sadly gone back to level 4 lockdown restrictions to the pandemic and this has significantly affected SA tourism in a lot of ways considering that the industry contributes a lot to the country’s economy.
I asked a few creatives in the industry to share their thoughts on how it is that the tourism industry can support content creators given that we form part of the tourism ecosystem and therefore, by default, contribute through promotional content creation, third-party trip curation and so forth.
Personally, I would like to see economic support in terms of getting employed by the industry on a consulting or freelance basis for each province as opposed using celebrities with no relevant knowledge of the travel landscape nor tourism promotion. I know that it is a big ask but content creators are already not getting paid and I highly doubt it is a question of whether or not the industry and its participating organisations has the finances. Perhaps compensating content creators on a rewards or points basis may prove more financially sustainable.
Thoughts from other content creators:
I think the South African tourism industry/board is privileged and spoiled for choice when it comes to advocates such as bloggers, influencers and tourism practitioners who tirelessly promote the country many offerings on a daily basis, however at a National and provincial levels, I feel like the tourism structure are letting these ambassadors down by not meeting them halfway. Most provincial tourism agencies or structures aren’t doing enough research which will in return reveal the many ambassadors they have at a municipal , district and even provincial capacity.
The tourism sectors could benefit more from utilising and partnering up with ambassadors that relate to their core audience, partnering with similar faces and organisations limits the broader reach and authentic influence that the structures can capitalise on. For example, if Limpopo and Eastern Cape are using the same methods, strategies, partners, influencers for their campaigns do they reach their targets?
When their offerings are so different and vast, each of the provinces could really create tourism cultures that are accommodative to both their residents and visitors from the rest of the country and abroad. A lot needs to be done to ensure feasibility in tourism and not much of the current doings are doing any justice to the current offerings the country has.
Tourism should open themselves us to different strategies and proposals from different travel enthusiast in the country. If they don’t look far and wide for inspiration they will remain at this state where the country’s perception of its own travel options appear to be limited and/or inaccessible.
We need to remember that we are first of all consumers of the tourism industry in every aspect. We come in different varieties such as content styles, budget and interests. When you think of content creators, you think of putting a face to a group of consumers. The South African tourism authority needs to see who are these consumers as a tourism destination from a local point of view using all these complex representation from a small to large following influencers.
By having a clear strategy particularly a collaboration strategy that can put us as content creators and also sharing our content to make us visible and accessible to everyone. The return thereof is getting validation for the work that we do to say that we are seen and are credible and are national treasures in the tourism space.
The travel industry can introduce a “promotion card” to official travel content creators where they pay a fraction or none of the cost in exchange for advertising. Travel content creators bring in business to these places but are struggling themselves, so it can be a bartering system.
There is no denying the impact and the role Content Creators play in showcasing South Africa. Therefore, it would be better if Travel Content Creators could been seen and treated as Partners more than people to be exploited. The same way the Tourism bodies, agencies and travel providers would pay any of their service providers, they should do the same for content creators. The valuable time and resources employed to create content should be treated as such ( valuable).Also creating an environment where Content Creators can thrive is another way they can assist in ensuring that the content keeps coming. For an example, a content creation hub, where Content Creators can produce their content. Content creators are creating content that the Tourism bodies have failed to produce in the longest time, a little appreciation and recognition would go a long way; and I believe it is not too much to ask.
From my personal experiences working with various tourism organisations, I think two things need to be addressed, or at least a space for the conversation to be had. One is budget and the other is research.In regards to budget, the tourism departments and those working with content creators and freelancers need to understand that this is our job. We have registered companies, sometimes assistants or employees. We pay tax, and it’s our bread and butter. Even it it’s our passion. Expecting us to work for free or come on trips or projects, create content, and market it to our audiences and networks for free, is really demeaning of our profession and industry.
This leads into number two: Research.
Research is vital for tourism projects. Content creators often speak to a specific audiences, big or small, it doesn’t matter. But the projects and campaigns need to line up with the content creator you’re working with.Using celebs for travel and tourism projects when they’re not in that space or don’t know any of the potential customers whom might need or value the information, is a failing on both end. It means whatever budget is spent, is wasted. And the content creators who are doing the most in the travels and tourism space are being left out in the cold, along with their audience and network.Let’s diversify both the budgets and the creators, in projects going forward. If they don’t know who to use, create a database, that content creators themselves can sign up too, share their information, details of their audiences, platforms they communicate on, past work, and let them big or apply for upcoming campaigns. Then the department can put together people, of a diverse range, reach, style and industry, for a better scale and scope across the project.
The travel industry can help content creators by paying for their services and not expecting free work in exchange for products.
Content creators need to realise that their work is only successful if action is taken and the tourism business gets business. There is no point in creating content if it’s not reaching at-least one person and encouraging them to take action in terms of bookings or buying a product. Tourism businesses need to do their research and work with creative’s that deliver results, by that I mean deliver on agreed outcome and having KPIs is also important.
In closing, I echo each and every single comment rendered by my fellow content creators and they could have not said it any better. We are incredibly privileged to call South Africa home and have access to a lot of experiences- if only these experiences were shared and acknowledged by the industry wholeheartedly, this journey would be even rewarding. All we have at this point is hope that things will change and the entire spaces follows in the footsteps of countries like Kenya where there are a lot of benefits, not only for content creators but for citizens as well such as local rates.
We also only have each other to lean on, rant to, and criticise and continue to have these conversations because only we can bring change in these spaces or push for change to make it easier for those entering the space as enthusiasts.
Love and light…