The Motherwell Eco-Lodge will require a determined marketing campaign to establish itself, to become known and to become supported. This campaign should have two legs:
A general campaign, to promote the Eco-Lodge before and on opening.
A specific campaign, tailored at the four key markets (see 3.3.1).
MARKETING CAMPAIGN UP TO AND INCLUDING OPENING
This campaign is summarised in the next two tables:
MARKETING MEDIUM AND ATTEMPTED USAGE – GENERAL GOALS
A comprehensive website is necessary
Create as extensive a list as possible – borrow from all national and even international lists – present all Eco-Lodge events early and powerfully
For people without email facilities.
Supplied to companies who place them in hotels, shops, etc. Also for Motherwell Supporters.
For taxis and other opportunities, restaurants, etc – particularly for Supporters.
Direct & Personal Contact
Tour Agents, Travel Agents – all people who can direct customers to the Eco-Lodge. They must have courtesy visits with Red-carpet treatment to the Eco-Lodge. Particularly TV, Radio and Press persons. Also, factories must be personally called on to encourage use of the Eco-Lodge facilities for corporate functions, and to bring them into the Eco-Lodge’s circle.
Other Int. Media
Try for regular coverage, and occasional spots on Top Billing, Carte Blanche, etc. Try for daily spots prior to, and coincident with, the opening
Attempt to get coverage on opening.
Attempt for saturation coverage prior to and alongside the opening. Some advertising should be considered.
Newspapers – locals
Mail and Guardian
City Press Sun
Some advertising is necessary – daily programmes for Eco-Lodge events. Attempt to get two stories per day prior to opening and over opening period.
At least one story per edition prior to opening
Once weekly articles for a month prior to opening.
One or two stories per newspaper prior to opening.
One or two stories prior to opening – many international newspapers have South African offices or “stingers”.
South Africa is not short on magazines – contact can lead to good review articles.
4.5.2 MARKETING CAMPAIGN AIMED AT 4 TARGET MARKETS
We have identified 4 key markets for the Motherwell Eco-Lodge (see 3.3.1). These must be intensively cultivated, often through personal contacts, phone calls, etc., from the marketing manager, etc.
THE MOTHERWELL COMMUNITY
The Motherwell community is fundamental to the Eco-Lodge, and, we believe, the Eco-Lodge will be fundamental to the Motherwell community.
As we have noted in section 6.4 of the Feasibility Study, “Creative Tourism” is a fast-growing part of the tourism market, and one which relates directly to the Motherwell Eco-Lodge. “Creative Tourism” provides opportunities to tourists to actively engage in local community activities. We noted that in Nelson, New Zealand, a network of businesses has been established which offers tourists creative experiences: bone carving, Maori language classes, weaving, felting, woodwork and cooking.
Similar opportunities need to be created by the Motherwell Eco-Lodge, and “tutors” from within the Motherwell community need to be identified; suitable premises require identification, and the tutors trained to work in these premises to offer a fascinating and challenging experience for a cultural tourist, to involve himself/herself in.
Such activities could include:
Learning how to make wire sculptures.
Learning how to make beaded sculptures.
Learning how to bead clothing.
Singing with a church choir.
Xhosa language classes.
Learning how to cook traditional dishes, and how to brew traditional beer.
And many other cultural activities.
It is not envisaged that these “lessons” would happen at the Eco-Lodge, but that community “tutors”, in suitable premises, would give visitors lessons in these types of activities. These visitors would stay at the Eco-Lodge, which would actively promote and support the above programme of activities.
The Eco-Lodge will provide a valuable facility for the Motherwell community, and, like all such facilities, it requires promotion and marketing to ensure that target markets are here:
Regular emails and (where email does not apply) snail mails, supplemented by personal visits and phone calls, must reach the target communities (Motherwell Businesses, the local middle-class, schools and sport groups etc.) which emphasize the excellent and inexpensive services this Eco-Lodge has to offer – particularly emphasizing the backpackers facilities.
Special community Saturday and Sunday lunches, assisted by watersports and kiddies playgrounds, etc., must be promoted.
Conferencing facilities must be promoted for weddings and community functions, and for use by businesses, etc.
COEGA INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT ZONE SUPPORT FOR THE MOTHERWELL ECO-LODGE
This Business Plan holds it as a key premise that support from the businesses of the Coega Industrial Development Zone, and the adjacent Markman Industrial Township, will be the key to the financial success of the Eco-Lodge, for these businesses could provide sufficient conferencing, accommodation and catering requirements to ensure the success of the Eco-Lodge – if they support the Eco-Lodge.
The core promotional work will have to be personal contact – the marketing manager of the Eco-Lodge will have to be a “people’s person” who establishes personal contact with the people in each of the Coega / Markman businesses that can provide support for the Eco-Lodge, and must regularly and repeatedly contact this person offering specials, new promotions, etc., in order to encourage support. Mailings are also useful, but personal support is the key weapon here. As the number of businesses is not enormous now, but will grow over time, this type of personally solicited support is possible and should form the base on which a good level of support will grow.
THE GENERAL TOURISM MARKET
The general tourism market can be encouraged to support the Motherwell Eco-Lodge by good publicity (newspaper, TV and radio stories, etc.), advertising and hard work with tourism operators and their managers. See 4.5.1 for the broad matrix in this regard.
Good publicity (particularly in the large number of nature publications, from the very successful Getaway magazine and 50/50 TV programme, to the specialist publications like African Birds and Birding, etc.).
Personal promotion into the Eco-industry – there are many conservation bodies; and consultancies performing EIA’s etc. They need to be contacted and kept personally and regularly informed.
By running an outstanding Eco-Lodge, good word-of-mouth advertising will follow naturally.
It is our belief that the above, proposed marketing strategy – one half a general marketing programme, the other half being aimed at the four key markets of the Motherwell Eco-Lodge, will be sufficient, if properly and energetically run, to ensure a high enough level of support for the Eco-Lodge to meet the Aims of this Business Plan (see Section 2 above).
5. RISK ANALYSIS
This project has considerable risk. This includes:
COST OF CONSTRUCTION AND SET UP
The Feasibility Study showed that this project is viable at a construction and set up cost of R20 million. This is considerably lower than the estimate provided by the Quantity Surveyor who provided input into this project.
However, this estimate is high when compared to construction costs at a similar establishment, the Pine Lodge. Here, a 40 m² chalet is built, and furnished, for R175,000.00.
The redesign and determined negotiation can get the Motherwell Eco-Lodge and Chalets built at the budget estimate – but it will be hard work.
DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRIES SUBSIDY
Over years now the DTI have provided tax-free cash grants to subsidise the construction of tourism accommodation (the SMEDP grants). These are at present under review, which review will be over in early 2008. Plainly, certainty is necessary regarding the nature and extent of these subsidies.
WILL INCOME TARGETS BE MET BY THE ECO-LODGE AND CHALETS?
This Business Plan has outlined strategies to obtain support, both generally and from the four specifically targeted communities, that should be sufficient to ensure support levels, and thereby income levels, are met.
CAN EXPENDITURE BE KEPT AT BUDGET LEVELS?
Expenditure targets are easier to meet than are income targets – all business crises are first met with reductions in expenditure first, while determined attempts are made, over time, to meet revenue targets. The same will be the case here – control over expenditure, and, if necessary, curtailing rising costs, are vital, and targets set can be met and maintained by determined management.
The Feasibility Study has, in considerable detail, outlined the conditions under which this project is financially viable (section 12.3). We believe these conditions can be met, and viability is genuinely possible.
The way forward is thus:
The NM Bay Municipality must identify and rezone the proposed site, large enough to accommodate the proposed lodge, and with additional land for expansion.
The NM Bay Municipality must decide on whether it will sell or lease the site.
The site must then be sold or leased through a suitable public process, with conditions as are felt necessary.
The NM Bay Municipality should also:
Clear up the entrance to the site, which is today filled with rubble
Construct a suitable link road from Motherwell to the entrance to the site.
Put up suitable signage, to guide guests to the site from all over Motherwell and the Addo Road.
Perform an EIA on the proposed development.
Bring the necessary bulk services to the boundary of the site.
Thereafter the developer can proceed, and, we believe, can succeed. Timeframes are in section 4.4.