New Year’s Eve


New Year Traditions around the world

Since we are approaching the end of 2017, Travelling Mystery Guest decided to take a look at the traditions people have for New Year’s Eve around the world. For those of you who are frequent travellers, you might have the privilege to encounter some of these traditions. As for us here in South Africa, we will embrace our own traditions this year!

  1. Denmark


The people of Denmark save all their unused plates and dishes for New Year’s Eve where they then shatter these plates against floors or doors together with friends and family. This tradition ought to release all your frustrations built up through the year!

  1. Spain


This beautiful country believes that their luck revolves around grapes. People would try to fit 12 grapes in their mouth and when this is achieved, it is believed that you will have good luck in the New Year. This seems like an easy way to improve your luck in 2018!

  1. Peru


Peru actually has a festival where they fight with one another to settle any differences that they had. The Takanakuy Festival is held to ensure that everyone starts the New Year on a clean slate. This is certainly an interesting and unique way to forgive and forget.

  1. USA


One of the most famous ways of celebrating the New Year is the Ball Drop in Times Square, New York. This tradition started in 1907 and every year a specially designed ball is dropped in front of thousands of spectators to symbolise the New Year.

  1. South Africa


New Year’s Eve in South Africa is celebrated with friends and family, popping champagne when the clock strikes 00:00 and wishing everyone a happy new year! Most people will probably have a braai and prepare a festive meal and some will even have fireworks (where it’s allowed). When looking at what other countries think about New Year’s in South Africa, it seems we are quite popular for some of the biggest parties, especially in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

We hope you have some exciting plans for this upcoming New Year’s Eve, whether it’s at home or somewhere exotic. South Africa will always be special, with beautiful beaches and growing urban cities. There are a lot of opportunities to make this New Year’s Eve a great one! Cheers to the New Year!


Does travel make you a better citizen?

According to a recent global survey done by Contiki, including South African youth travellers between the ages of 18 and 35, travel definitely makes you a better citizen – locally and abroad.

The South African statistics revealed that 70% of travellers indicated that travelling has shaped their perspective on global politics and 41% said that they would run for public office. 49% of travellers voted in the last national election, compared to the 39% non-travellers and 55% of travellers voted in local elections, compared to the 36% non-travellers. 51% of travellers also indicated that they were patriotic.

Globally, 40% of travellers versus 31% non-travellers indicated that they participate in community activities. 21% of travellers, compared to 5% of non-travellers indicated that they have communicated with or written to their national government and finally 63% travellers versus 36% non-travellers said that travelling has shaped their perspective on global politics.

“While it might seem like a paradox, there are plenty of reasons for travel to have these kinds of effects on one’s sense of citizenship. The friendships you make over a 3am Gyros in Mykonos will be friendships that will stay with you for a lifetime, and the people you interact with and cultures you’re exposed to have a profound impact on your tolerance and understanding. Contiki’s unique social travel experience sets millennial travellers up to have better relationships with their friends, family and with their wider communities at home, through the skills they learn through their travel experiences.” – Kelly Jackson, General Manager for Contiki.

The survey results give strong evidence that experiencing new cultures and viewpoints through travel in turn enhances character attributes which prove a positive impact on citizenship, such as perspective, empathy and appreciation. Despite young people spending a greater amount of time away from their native countries when travelling, young people who travel do in fact gain a greater sense of citizenship than those who have not travelled internationally.

Also check out The Power of Travel 


Contiki commissioned Story and Verse and Fan Data Analytics – two third party professional research and insight organisations – to conduct this research. 

Story and Verse enlisted the expertise of Adam Ganlinsky, PhD, Columbia Business School, to advise in the form of an interview about the character attributes that change as a result of travel, as indicated by his own academic research. These include empathetic concern, perspective-taking, generalised trust, interracial connection, open-minded thinking, learning goal orientation and general self-efficacy. 

Fan Data Analytics, using this insight, conducted a survey of a pool of 2,980 18-35 year olds from the United Kingdom (824), United States (514), Canada (513), Australia (520), South Africa (305) and New Zealand (303). The response pool was broken into equal groups of travellers and non-travellers, as defined below: 

  • Travellers: someone who has travelled outside of their home country
  • Non-travellers: someone who has not travelled outside of their home country  

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Fan Data Analytics.


Preceding finalists from 11 African countries and excelling over 47 000 votes, Hayward’s Grand Safari Company has clinched The Safari Guild’s Best in Africa Award for top Mobile Safari at the 11th The Safari Awards, announced by CEO Henry Hallward at a glittering awards evening held at World Travel Market, London recently.

With a roll call of beating drums and the popping of champagne corks, owner Peter Hayward and his agile team were delighted to receive this well-deserved accolade:

“Twenty-five years before the famous explorer David Livingstone arrived in Africa, my great, great grandfather, 24-year-old James Hayward, arrived on the tip of Africa on an adventure into uncharted territory. He was one of the first true pioneers into a landscape that teemed with vast herds of wildlife. Today, we are proud to carry on the tradition of bespoke, authentic group mobile safaris in a tradition that originated in 1685. Today, the Grand Safari continues to play a pivotal role in preserving the continent’s environmental heritage and showcases Africa’s unique natural capital.”

Hayward’s Grand Safari Company is not a new contender to The Safari Awards. They previously received Best Mobile Safari Company in South Africa two years in a row and were Highly Commended as Best Mobile Safari Company in Africa. Having now reached the pinnacle achievement on The Safari Awards platform, Hayward said: “This award is not just a quick pat on the back for us. It sets a standard in the industry for Africa. It’s not about ego either; it’s industry validation that all our hard work over the past 20 years is finally paying off. Currently, we consistently continue to receive an average 9.6 out of 10 across 22 points of guest satisfaction feedback from our delighted customers who experience a Grand Safari expedition, so to have this internationally recognised and acknowledged establishes our reputation abroad and helps our employees take pride in their work and continue in their efforts. Further to that, it instills confidence in customers regarding the quality and professionalism of our organisation and raises the profile of the continent of Africa as a travel and incentive destination within the tourism industry globally.”

Established in 2008, The Safari Guild was formed to manage The Safari Awards as a platform to recognise excellence within the safari industry and it encompasses a vibrant community of over 5 000 safari specialist agents sharing product knowledge on over 1 200 safari lodges, camps and operators.

CEO Henry Hallward says:

“The Safari Guild and these awards have an important role to play by influencing the debate on how best to manage and protect dwindling wildlife resources, by working with the people who own it. Our expectation is that travel professionals who engage with The Safari Guild will, in time, use their influence and buying power to reduce unnecessary exploitation of wildlife resources and encourage and support safari operators to share their gains equitably with the local communities and wildlife conservation entities that enable primary protection of wildlife for future generations.”

Representing Hayward’s Grand Safari Company to receive the award on the night, was Sasha Ella, Group Marketing Manager of Mantis Hospitality, who brought the award home to the African continent and into the hands of Peter Hayward and the Hayward’s Grand Safari Company team.


The #IDoTourism Movement

How can we do tourism? How can you do tourism? And why should we?


To build a greater nation and to show off South-Africa’s potential globally. South Africa Tourism has started a movement to show the importance of every single South African in our tourism industry. The ability of this industry to create jobs and the effect that tourism has on the entire country has been greatly underestimated.

We have a beautiful country and South African people are amazing. By standing together, we can improve our entire economy by supporting this movement. On the 5th of October, Margie Whitehouse from South Africa Tourism highlighted the importance of this movement at the Tshwane Tourism Association’s meeting, which was hosted at 012 Central. Travelling Mystery Guest supports this movement.

Are you going to do tourism? Remember to use #IDoTourism if you share it online.

Watch their inspirational video to learn more about the #IDoTourism movement:




Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys


How to simplify business travel for your guests 

With the rise of conference-calls and video-conferencing systems like Skype and Google Hangouts, it may seem like the days of face-to-face meetings are numbered. But a lot of business leaders and industrial psychologists reckon that there’s no substitute for meeting someone in person, especially at critical junctures in a business relationship, like introducing yourself or closing a deal. So how can hotels make business travel less stressful and worth your while? Dawn Weir, head of kulula work, suggests the following:

Identify the business benefits for your guests:


Weir says that business travel can be beneficial for the individual traveller and their business. British Airways On Business for example, enables your enterprise to earn points when you travel on BA, Iberia and American Airlines, and you’re entitled to members-only offers and discounts. BA Executive Club enables you to graduate to higher tiers where you can, for example, get cabin upgrades and access to business lounges and use the points to, say, take your family on holiday with you. Hotels can advertise these types of benefits to their business customers and even form an alliance with the airline to do advertising for them on their planes.

Assist them to be travel ready:


In the current busy, always-connected corporate lifestyle, your guests can never be too prepared to travel at a moment’s notice. Weir admits to being a super organised individual and has a travel drawer with her travel necessities, ready to pack at a moment’s notice. This drawer includes luggage labels, extra ID and passport photos, toothbrush cover, toiletry bag with miniatures (shampoo, hand sanitizer and moisturiser), travel brush, neck cushion and eye masks. But not all your guests will be this organised. Offer a travel kit at an additional (not too expensive) cost. Things like ID copies and passport photos are not in your control, but you can add some toiletries and essentials to the kit.

Suggest apps to simplify their arrangements


A few apps that you can advise your business travellers to use, include:

  • Scannable: This app enables the camera on your smartphone to record documents at a quality similar to those that have been scanned or photocopied. Take a picture of that all-important, game-changing, freshly-signed contract and the app straightens and neatens it up so you can email it. It’s quick and discreet and it’s also a way to keep track of your expenses. Take a shot of your receipts and mail them to your accounts department.
  • There’s no shortage of online project-management tools, but Trello has earned the loyalty of its 10m users through canny use of colour-codes, to-do lists and timelines.
  • AroundMe uses your mobile device’s GPS to find facilities like banks, ATMs, parking-garages, eateries and medical facilities, while Wi-fi Finder does the same, but for wi-fi hotspots.

Create a break room for your guests:


Airport lounges provide a haven from the hubbub of departure-lounges, but not all are equal by any means. The best ones have space for some work, high speed wi-fi, a good selection of food, a decent wine-list, and facilities to shower and freshen up. The SLOW Lounges at a number of South African airports have these facilities, and there’s even one at the Radisson Blu Hotel opposite the Sandton Gautrain station (SLOW in the City), which provides boardrooms, lounges and the option to arrange for private areas to do business lunches and interviews, with the benefit of waiters on call for food and drink orders. A new lounge recently opened at Lanseria International Airport called SLOW XS and has, among its many attractions, wine-tastings offered by local drinks specialists, Winesense, and is exclusive to FNB/RMB cardholders and kulula passengers. When your hotel’s business rooms is booked, some of your guests might need a quick freshen up, and this is the perfect opportunity to incorporate the said “SLOW Lounges” at your hotel.

Lastly, remind your guests to hydrate and rest when flying:


Weir says many business travellers tend to put in more working hours when away from the office and home and they might be so busy and tired that they forget to stay hydrated. A simple bottle of water can be given to your guests upon arrival and departure with a designed label to remind your guests to drink enough water and to get some rest during their travels. A nice personal touch can be to wish them safe travels on the label as well.

Edited by: Alicia Redelinghuys




11. Lunch enjoyed at Spier by the speakers and delegates (HR) The recent edition of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference saw those operating in the Cape’s wine, food and hospitality industries gather at Spier in Stellenbosch to glean insights from local and international specialists, and engage in informative discussions focused on growing revenue and loyalty for tourism in the Cape Winelands.


1. Margi Biggs, convenor of The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference 2017 (HR).jpg

Margi Biggs

Now in its second year, the annual conference is convened by seasoned travel and tourism specialist, Margi Biggs.  She believes that travel and tourism can potentially contribute significantly more than it currently does to South Africa’s national GDP.  The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has calculated that last year, the direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to the South African economy was worth R127,9bn, accounting for 3% of the country’s GDP.  The indirect contribution was approximately 9%, according to South African Tourism.



Rico Basson

Rico Basson, executive director of Vinpro, the non-profit organisation that represents around 3 500 South African wine producers and cellars, used the example of the Wine Industry Strategic Exercise (WISE) initiative, launched in 2015, to illustrate how collaboration is paramount to unlocking value and stimulating growth.  WISE was developed by the South African wine and brandy industry to help it reach a desirable future state by 2025. Its robust and adaptable approach is geared towards driving profitability, global competitiveness and sustainability. It is a collaborative effort driven by Vinpro, SALBA (South African Liquor Brandowners Association), SAWIS (South African Wine Industry Information and Systems), WOSA (Wines of South Africa) and Winetech (Wine Industry Network of Expertise and Technology). 

Basson mentioned key targets for the industry towards 2025, such as building a greater presence in strategic markets, specifically in the US and Africa; growing Cape wine tourism to increase visitor numbers by 25%; and increasing Cape wine tourism’s annual direct contribution to South Africa’s national GDP from R6 billion to R16 billion. He also highlighted the use of technology and research in continuing to create a sustainable future for the overall industry.

19. Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro (HR)

Tim Harris

Tim Harris, head of Wesgro, the Western Cape’s trade and investment promotion agency, foresees continued growth potential in tourism for the region. He referenced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its disruptive effect on all economies, and especially the necessity for Africa to adapt in terms of digital skills development, changing business models and public-private partnerships to advance its ‘Africa rising’ narrative.



8. Speaker, Linda d'Holt Hacker getting more insight from the speakers (HR).jpg

Linda D’Holt-Hacker

“The Cape Winelands offers a high quality slow product in a world where time is seen as increasingly rare and valuable. The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference provides an incredible opportunity to celebrate this,” Harris said.    

5. Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo from South African Tourism (HR).jpg

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo

Representing South African Tourism, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo explained how the entity is rallying South Africans and the economic sector to fully support tourism growth with the launch of the ‘We Do Tourism’ movement, on 29 September 2017. “Every citizen of South Africa plays a role in local tourism. We are in a crisis if we don’t support tourism. It creates jobs, enriches lives and brings people together.”





Jerry Mabena

Jerry Mabena, CEO of Thebe Services that owns the Thebe Tourism Group surmised that South African Afropolitans could boost the annual South African economy by more than R2 billion and grow tourism. That is if they are given appealing reasons to travel to the Cape Winelands.  He described Afropolitans as cosmopolitan Africans; global in their outlook, straddling the divide between African and Western cultures, and having the disposable income for travel. Yet they are not really targeted by the local travel and tourism industry.

Mabena suggested that wineries rethink and refocus their marketing efforts, and create events around wine drinking, activated in spaces that Afropolitans can relate to. “Make wine drinking accessible – take away the snob value and mystery but leave some ‘upmarket’ attributes.  Encourage Afropolitans to meet the owners and/or winemakers at cellars – make them feel like they are guests, not just random customers.

“Big events such as the annual Soweto Wine Festival have and continue to play a major part in bringing wine and wine-related experiences into the consideration sets of Afropolitans. Create more of these and combine wine with whisky, cognac and other spirit experiences. Experiences create stories. Polo and wine festivals seem to attract Afropolitans – expand those.”


10. Dr Robin Back (HR)

Dr. Robin Back

Dr Robin Back, a South African-born, US-based academic who conducts wine tourism research in both South Africa and the US, shared the findings of his recent research study that looked specifically at the effect of a winery visit on brand loyalty and purchasing behaviour. He explained that the results indicated that winery tourism does in fact have a positive long-term effect on brand loyalty and purchasing behaviour, but that the strongest effect of positive winery visitation appears to be on brand loyalty, which is shown not to diminish over time. He also mentioned the significant role of frequent and continuous communication with those who have visited, to further strengthen the bond between the brand and the consumer. Back added that wine tourism should be incorporated into overall winery marketing plans.

4. Delegates listening to Don Shindle (HR)

Conference delegates learned about the art of impeccable service from Don Shindle, an expert in customer service from Napa, California’s renowned wine tourism epicentre. He explained the importance of expertly and thoroughly trained staff, empowered to act with confidence, in achieving top service standards.  “Everything communicates, so engage your workers and enable them to perform.  Be agile in practices to create loyalty beyond reason, and delivery your brand promise. Teamwork means I am you, and you are me.”

3. Don Shindle general manager of The Westin Verasa Napa (HR)

Don Shindle

Shindle’s thinking was echoed by Linda d’Holt-Hacker of South Africa’s The Touch Company, that assists large and small organisations in developing and fine-tuning outstanding customer journeys and brand experiences. Showcasing a model she calls ‘The Hosting Paradigm’ as a tool for effective decision-making, she also outlined how crucial it is for employees to understand very clearly why they do what they do – in other words, to have a sense of real purpose aligned with the brand they represent. In addition, she shared insights on how to align guest experiences with a brand’s core values, and highlighted the need for a shift in how service staff are perceived and think about themselves. 


16. Kevin Arnold, cellar-master & managing partner of Waterford Wine Estate (HR).jpg

Kevin Arnold

Waterford Estate’s Kevin Arnold outlined best practice for winery tasting centres. He believes that wine brands are built in the tasting room and that unique, innovative and personal tasting experiences are paramount to creating memorable value. “At Waterford, we’ve found that we sell more wine and build greater loyalty when offering guests not only a tasting, but an experience such as a vineyard safari where they get to taste our wines outside, in the vineyards. Personalised experiences help us form real connections with our guests. Wine brings them through the door, experience brings them back.” Arnold views visitors as guests, not customers.  He also believes in in-depth training and development of staff, mentorship, building confidence and ensuring that employee aspirations fit with those of the brand.



Kelly Jackson

General manager of Contiki in South Africa, Kelly Jackson, presented ways in which virtual reality could be very effectively used as a strategic marketing tool to bring a product or service to life. She however cautioned against using virtual reality as a gimmick, and suggested that brands use it only if it fits with the experience they aim to promote.



7. Andrea Robinson, master sommelier for Delta Air Lines (HR)

Andrea Robinson

Meanwhile, world-renowned US lifestyle TV personality, Andrea Robinson, one of only 23 female Master Sommeliers in the world, covered the process of choosing wines for Delta Air Lines and showed how the airline uses its marketing and media properties such as its in-flight magazine and on-board entertainment system to highlight specific wines and wine routes.  She also elaborated on other marketing activities including sponsorships and partnerships, themed wine region promotions in strategically located hubs, and the up-skilling of flight attendants in terms of wine knowledge and service.


9. Panel discussion headed by Dr Jaisheila Rajput, Jessica Shepherd, Luke Grant & Joe Stead (HR)

Dr Jaisheila Rajput, founder and CEO of Tomorrow Matters Now (TOMA-Now), an independent consultancy focused on developing the green economy with special emphasis on value chain management and growth, together with Joe Stead of the Spur Corporation and Luke Grant and Jessica Shepherd of The Table at De Meye in Stellenbosch, winner of the Eat Out Sustainability Award in 2016, presented a panel discussion focused on the role hotels, wineries, restaurants and consumers can play in promoting a sustainable future, particularly addressing the issue of food waste management.

 Rajput said that the sustainability movement had already started in South Africa, with clear examples provided by Stead, Grant and Shepherd. Stead mentioned that although waste management is a complex issue, the Spur Corporation has had major successes, from Spur restaurants recycling cooking oil to produce biodiesel, to John Dory outlets eliminating all plastic packaging in a bid to tackle the issue of ocean pollution.   



Wendy Masters

Reputation management and strategic communication specialist Wendy Masters of The Phoenix Partnership, based in Cape Town, educated delegates on the key phases of crisis communication: prepare, respond and recover. She believes that reputation is about delivery, not promise, and described how pro-active approaches to crisis situations could actually strengthen brand reputation, citing the example of The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town.  “When the water shortage crisis in the Western Cape became evident, immediate action was taken to remove plugs from bath tubs and install low-flow shower heads in all guest bathrooms. These efforts clearly demonstrated the hotel’s commitment to sustainability, recognised and applauded by guests and other stakeholders such as local government,” Masters said.  



About last night – GP Lifestyle Tourism Street Party

Last night, the tourism trade came out to play at the very first GP Life Tourism Street Party to celebrate life in Gauteng, turning the city centre into an outdoor celebration.


A block of eight “streets” in the regenerated 1 Fox Street warehouse was filled with music, entertainment, stalls, food, drink and dancing as the tourism trade partied through the day and into the night. This exciting event is designed to remind Gauteng-peeps that we have as much life and vibrancy to be proud of as London, New York, Sydney and Cape Town.

Gauteng Tourism Authority Chief Executive Officer, Siphiwe Ngwenya welcomed the initiative and expressed confidence that it will be worthwhile. He said:

“The tourism trade is an important stakeholder in the We do/I do Tourism campaign that South African Tourism is championing and that we are part of. The campaign aims to grow tourist numbers by 5 million over the next five years and a bulk of that will have to come from Gauteng as the most visited province in South Africa. We are targeting a contribution of 1 million, which will only be achievable if the trade sector comes to the party. Therefore, we hope to grow this event into a premier showcase of the city of gold, Johannesburg, and destination Gauteng as a whole.”

The event brought the travel trade together to celebrate Gauteng as a destination and highlighted what it has to offer. The venue – 1 Fox Precinct  – spans a series of historic warehouses that date back to the city’s gold mining roots, now converted into a funky shopping and dining destination.

Different streets in the warehouse had different themes and interests, with 60 exhibitors spanning guesthouses, hotels, activities and adventure specialists and transport companies. Others that took part in the celebration, included the Cradle Tourism Company, Sandton Tourism, Soweto Tourism, Dinokeng, Vilakazi Street and global brands with a presence in Johannesburg.

Organised by Leisure Connexion and the Gauteng Tourism Authority, the event’s guests included Mix FM DJ Kerry-Anne Allerston, who hosted the music event, and performances by The Kiffness and Chiano Sky, as well as popular footballers, actors and musicians. Participants were encouraged to come dressed for the inaugural theme of “My City of Gold”.

“Johannesburg is an amazing city and worthy of competing against other world cities such as New York, Paris and London in the tourism field. Yet, there is a lack of belief in what the city and its wonderful people have to offer,” says Adelbert Retief, founder and MD of Leisure Connexion. He says:

“In other cities, the industry operates almost like a family in promoting their city even though they are in competition with each other. Now it’s time for our local tourism industry to come together and share stories, experience the offerings and grow the love for Jozi.”

Tour operators, agents and destination management companies arrived from 5pm to interact with the exhibitors and discuss business. At 9pm, the party started at the Good Luck Bar.

The GP Life Tourism Street Party will become an annual event for the industry to look forward to, where hotels, activities, restaurants and tour operators can showcase their products.