Africa Travel Week
Mark Sham

Mark Sham – Digital marketing entrepreneur and speaker

Mark is a well-known figure in the personal development industry, being the founder of Suits & Sneakers.

His latest venture, “Like a Tourist”, seeks to create unique travel content that spotlights superb South African locations.

As someone who speaks globally about how to be equipped for what lies ahead, Mark has some key insight on how tourism businesses can use content as an asset.

What are the top skills both employees and employers in the tourism industry should be looking to develop?

As digitisation is measurable, we can clearly see that consumers are choosing their next destination through social media and “influencers.” You have to show it to people visually instead of just using words to tell them. And when you embark on the content creation journey, you need to upskill yourself on how to present travel destinations visually appealingly. More than that, you need to be able to tell a good story and inspire people to want to invest in travel.

What should those wanting to enter the industry study and why?

I will sound like a broken record, but if you can create content that inspires people to invest in a specific destination, you have a distinct advantage. Social media is not about selling; it’s about creating content that adds value to the consumer. Once you get this right, that same consumer will become your advocate because they will share the content you create with their network. In the age of choice, how you think about a company matters, and you should use content to sway consumers in your favour. If you remain consistent, you will earn consumers’ trust and hopefully gain a client for life.

If a small operator, tourism business or lodge wanted to grow, where should they focus their time, energy and investment?

The number one priority is to create the best offering and be clear about who exactly you are appealing to. And then, you guessed it. You need to become proficient in travel content creation. I wish there were another way, but I have yet to come across it.

What are the opportunities for tourism businesses to grow their reach and brand through visual content?

Well, the easy part is understanding that travel is based on a visual economy. People buy with their eyes first. And because there’s so much content out there, the visual nature of content allows people to see for themselves what a destination is like, and it gives them the peace of mind that what they’re buying into is actually real.

What are South African tourism businesses missing?

In my opinion, most South African tourism businesses are a little too rigid and afraid to experiment. I come from the creator economy bias, but if you look at destinations abroad, they welcome collaboration, yet we seem to steer away from it.

The trick with collaboration is that some experiments won’t work, and you have to be ok with that. Don’t let that stop you from trying the next collaboration. Far too often, I hear people in the tourism field say, “I tried this once, and it didn’t work, so we won’t do it again.” Congrats, you’ve just booked your first-class ticket to irrelevance.

Find out more about Mark here.

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.