Tshepo Matlou, Jurni CMO, interviewed Jurni Gem Winner Kennedy Tembo (Microadventure Tours) to ask him about his thoughts and advice for Tourism SMMEs during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
How are you keeping your business alive during the lockdown?
To keep my audience engaged, I started sharing the history of Jo’burg on social media and what I know about the city. Each and every day, I share something I know about Jo’burg.
How are you leveraging social media during this time?
You shouldn’t keep quiet during this time. You have to use social media, as it’s one of the only ways you have to reach your clients. Your clients are a ‘captive’ market during lockdown as they have the time to be on social media.
How can SMMEs start promoting their businesses? Do you have any tips for them to keep motivated?
One of my philosophies is: start where you are. You know your business and the products you offer. Find something you can share with your audience. Everyone has their mobile phone. Be creative and find your niche. See what you’re good at and share it. If you’re organising tours in the Kruger Park, share information about the animals, about the trees, keep your audience engaged, and add value. After the storm is over, this is what clients will remember.
What is your outlook for tourism in South Africa?
It’s very uncertain times ahead of us. It’s going to be a rough ride. This is the calm before the storm. It will stabilise at some point. COVID-19 will change the way we operate; there will be a lot of health and safety we’ll need to integrate in our business.
The first focus should be on the local clients.
What sort of impact did COVID-19 have on you? What support have you received?
I was lucky as some of my clients told me to hold onto the money as they would rather postpone than cancels. Others even pledged it as a donation and a contribution to my business. I have seen a lot of compassion with everyone understanding the tough times we, as small businesses, are facing. Some people have offered to buy tours now for the future. I’m hoping the savings I have will take me through this time.
What is your message to the country, the industry and the travellers around the world?
First and foremost: we need to concentrate on keeping alive and protecting ourselves.
If you are travelling after lockdown: make sure you are protected. I’ll take the lead from the government. Once lockdown is lifted, I’ll do my tours and I’ll make sure everyone will wear masks while on the tours and that social distancing is observed.
We’ll need to continue taking precautions and stay safe.