Bringing together marketing strategy and practice

2011 conference & agm

The fifth annual SAYTC Youth and Adventure Travel Conference, which was held in Paternoster this year, was a huge success with everyone impressed by the location, the speakers, the organisation and of course, the parties. Everything was within stumbling distance to avoid driving too much and keeping our footprint to a minimum.

Before I enter into the main body of my report I would like to say a few words on the aims of the SAYTC Conference:

  • get maximum participation from all our members from all over South Africa;
  • network our members to each other;
  • form long lasting relationships, both professionally and socially;
  • have informative and industry-related topics and speakers;
  • have open forum discussions about pertinent issues;
  • and finally, to have FUN!!

With the above in mind we embarked on the task of welcoming and the registering all our delegates to Paternoster at the Paternoster Hotel. Our ever supportive Platinum sponsor, made the evening possible and we were given a nice cup of soup filled with fresh mussels followed by a sherry for the cold – although really we were blessed with the nicest winter weather imaginable! also sponsored the welcome dinner and I’m sure everyone will agree that having Caren, hostelworld’s representative there, was quite a pleasure – it was great meeting you Caren!

Cany from Tri-Active came in again this year and warmed us up to each other quite quickly between registration and dinner. We did speed dating at quite a pace and within an hour each delegate knew at least 30% of all the delegates. Although it was fast, it was just enough time to say hi and tell each other what we do – there after we had another 2 days to go back to the people you wanted to talk to again. I know for the newcomers that it was extremely beneficial and they instantaneously became part of the family!

It took a while for everyone to end up in bed with the famous panty bar right there and seeing all the old and new faces, but somehow we managed to all be at the sector meetings and the AGM the next morning.

Our first tea break was a nice surprise with fresh scones and muffins prepared by the local community, and for the first time ever, a full on CATURRA, manned coffee machine. Delicious fresh coffee served throughout the conference was simply a treat! Oh, not to mention the bloody marys served by the Island Vibe crew – only at a SAYTC conference…

The theme for the conference this year was Shared World with the main focus on e-marketing for our industry. The reason for this is self-explanatory in the sense that these are the channels our market use and we are simply not geared enough to sell our products and services the way we can.
What followed then blew us all away. When we first met Richard Mulholland, we thought that our delegates might like him – they LOVED him. His title of Conference Rock Star and Boredom Slayer is definitely well deserved. He taught us so much, but focussed on having a really awesome product and a great story before you can start tapping into the social media channels.

We had the tastiest local cuisine for lunch, again prepared by the local ladies. We were spoiled with warm soup, mussel curry, crayfish tails and perdevoet. This was made possible by Hostelling International who’s CEO, Mikael Hansson, came all the way from Europe to attend the conference.

Our next keynote speaker was Mike Stopforth, the first paid blogger in SA who told us the 7 Immutable laws of social media. He was followed by Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold who told us about their interesting social media strategies.

This year we also had some of our own expert members giving us an insight in their fields of work and on the first day we had Jonathan Inggs who did Daddy’s World’s social media and gave us some good examples of how to get a lot of marketing spend for free by using it the right way.

Mike Denison from Volunteer Africa 32 Degrees South gave us some valuable facts on volunteering in South Africa and we’ve had some great feedback from other volunteer companies who really felt they learnt from it.

The afternoon was briefly interrupted with a tea break and some more great coffee and snacks that was sponsored by AVIS.

FNB Pay Pal entered our industry with a bang and sponsored the gala dinner at the world famous Voorstrandt restaurant. Thank you for an amazing dinner at a beautiful venue! During the evening we also chose a Mr and Mrs SAYTC! Congratulations to Hannes and Kirsty – it’s not an easy accomplishment with all the good looking people in SAYC. To round the evening off, our own Justin Bieber made his extremely entertaining appearance – thank you Francois for the laughs!

Knowing how hard it is for delegates to get up on the morning after the gala dinner, especially with the added after party at Jody’s house, we decided to take it easy that morning with a ‘Hair of the dog’ breakfast. (OK, it was Richard Mulholland’s idea). We had a proper fry-up prepared by the local ladies and of course it won’t be a SAYTC conference without the bloody marys again. We also had the added drama of a storm picking up overnight and blowing away our tent, but quickly sorted out the situation and moved our tables inside for a nice warm meal.

This scrumptious and much needed breakfast was sponsored by Around About Cars and we had the added surprise of arguably the best comedian in the country: Rob van Vuuren (also known as Twakkie from the Corne & Twakkie duo). Rob had us in stitches on the floor and ready for the last stretch of speakers.

And another good stretch of speakers it was! Starting off with Peter Carruthers who did a live webinar all the way from Norway. Thanks to Skyrove, we had uninterrupted fast internet all the way – in fact, for ALL of the conference!

Peter was followed by Jacques Passier who designs the SAYTC website.  He gave us some practical recommendations on where we should go with our website and costs involved.

Henk Kleynhans from Skyrove gave us a very interesting, and more importantly, easy to understand, talk about wi-fi in your business. If it aint good, rather not have it at all!

It was a pleasure to welcome William Price, the e-marketer for SA Tourism as a speaker to the conference. He made us realise how much they are doing already and how we can benefit from their work by the use of SAT videos and their worldwide ad campaigns.

Wilfred Chivell from Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises gave us a great talk on Responsible Tourism and Shark Cage Diving.
The final (and many say one of the most informative) speaker of the day was Nic Haralambous – an expert on mobile marketing, which rounded up all the talks of the conference nicely.

But wait, that’s not it! Once again we were surprised, but this time by 2 actors from the Sex & Slaves City Tour who gave us a nice intro as to what their tour is like and I for one, can’t wait to go on that tour! The tour was accompanied by a nice jelly vodka shot that Dean brought us from Moonjoos.
After 3 wonderful days some stayed over in Paternoster and some went their respective ways, but all of us were deliriously happy after a very successful, informative and FUN conference.

As always, we try to give back to the local community and this year we outsourced all the teas, lunch and breakfast to the ladies in Paternoster. We have also negotiated commission with the accommodation establishments as well as sell raffle tickets which will go back directly to the community. On top of that, all the art, craft and flowers were for sale and profits will also go back to the community. We need to finalise the amount, but it looks like we raised in the vicinity of R5000.00.

This of course did not happen without the help of the following people:

  • The conference organising committee, Toni, Zile, Lee and Noelline.
  • SAYTC’s hard working staff, Deborah & Marlene.
  • Gavin, the driven chairman and great MC!
  • Dalene and her team for the food.
  • Alan the sound guy.
  • Garth from Missing Link for putting up with us and our demands.
  • Saldanha Bay Tourism and Deidre for organising the recycling bins.
  • Thank you to Marine Dynamics for sponsoring all the plates, cups and cutlery for the conference.
  • Henk for bringing us fast Skyrove internet to everyone all the way to Paternoster. William even quoted in his talk that it’s a first!
  • Jacques for all the hard work on the conference website
  • Elodie for her great photos.

Throughout each break we raffled some great prizes and thanks to all the members who donated prizes for the raffle and auction as well as the ones who bought the tickets and bid on the auction!

Again, after a conference, we have to thank our amazing members. I can safely say that it is the nicest bunch of people in any organisation in the world and makes organising a conference worth it all the way!

Business in a minute

For the first time this year we decided to run a competition where members had to make a one minute video of their business. It couldn’t be done professionally and had to be done by the owner, staff or a guest. The response was brilliantly overwhelming! We had a total of 23 one minute videos posted onto our SAYTC page by the deadline and showed them all at the conference. They can all be viewed on under videos. Thanks to all the companies who participated. We will definitely have a competition like that again, so start planning in the back of your heads!
The winners are:

The South African Youth Travel Golf Day 2011

The Annual SAYTC Golf Day was a great success as usual.

This year 13 of us played at Langebaan Country Estate (organized by Travel Concept Solution) and as usual the standard was pretty poor for some and better for others like Patrick as usual Moroney (Tekweni Backpackers, Durban) and Matt the young pretender Daneel (Ikhaya Backpackers Stellenbosch) who took the main prizes.

The big shock of the day was the addition of Gorgeous Brian (Whethu Backpackers, Grahamstown) to the winners with the longest drive which Smiley Lylely (Afrovibe Backpackers) eclipsed but unfortunately ran out of fairway.

Great thanks to the sponsors of the 2011 SAYTC Golf Day.

  • Hostelling International ~ Main Sponsor
  • Acacia Adventure Holidays
  • Great White Shark Projects
  • Ikhaya Backpackers
  • Day Trippers
  • Anix Consulting
  • Coffee Shack

Lets hope the SAYTC Golf Day 2012 is bigger and better than ever and remember you dont have to be great to play (none of us are) and if Gourgeous Brian can win a prize anybody can 🙂

The Cycling A-Team – “There is no Plan B”

A group of Youth Travel veterans looks to clear their name with the SA Youth Travel Confederation, who suspect the four individuals of committing a crime for which they were framed – laziness.

These Soldiers of fortune set-off early one Saturday morning from the coast of Big Bay, following their fearsome leader, Steve “Hannibal” Thomas. Pilot and engineer Alan “Howling Mad” Easton, co-pilot Lorna “Face” Hardie and the team’s strong-wo-man, Kim “BA” Whitaker followed close behind with the thrill of adventure and the open road ahead of them.

Their journey led them through rough terrain (Atlantis) and foreign lands, rare encounters with local san (Thank you Kwattu!) and strange walking tribes, tortoises and even Evita se Peron. Through thick and thin they stuck together – After all – THERE WAS NO PLAN B.

And so, as the sun set on the sleepy village of Paternoster, and the dustclouds settled – the awesome foursome strode in slow motion through the saloon doors of the Panty bar – a hush fell over the crowd and someone whispered: “They have arrived.”

DISCLAIMER: Do not try this at home. Of course none of the epic escapes would have been possible without the Team’s very own trusted inside-man and driver, Munir.

West Coast Big Walk

  • GOAL: To minimize my carbon footprint for the annual SAYTC (South African Youth Travel Consortium) congress in Paternoster by walking half the way.


  • Concept by Geoff Heald from Coast to Coast (who had to pull out because of other commitments, but supported us through constant Sms’s and moral support
  • Chief organizer and provider of helpful hints like use Vaseline and nylon socks to avoid blisters: Althea Sorenson from Eurocentres
  • Last minute first day walkalong and local support: Jaco Maritz, West Coast Legend
  • And a big high five to Esther for the lift from Langebaan to Mykonons, and from there to Saldanha. We really needed that!
  • And, of course, Pieter G, who really left nothing to chance. I brought the Berry armed with Google Latitude, the Ipad just in case and way more chocolate than is reasonably necessary. Hold on, check that – can you ever have too much chocolate?
  • Tony, Lara and Steph from GO Garden Route and Monkeyland for the lift back to my car after congress.


  • 10 for sheer fun quotient. There was ample swearing, especially at the end of the first day round the 40km mark and when the West Coast National Park just wouldn’t quit. There was a general lack of trust in Pieter G from his companions (come on guys, Pearly’s is just 5 min away), surprise run ins with the Daytrippers bikers, jokes banter and good vibes throughout.
  • 7 for endurance. Even though we didn’t do 110km as originally envisaged, after Day 1 we realized that was a pipe dream. By the time we reached Pearly’s on Langebaan main beach, the last 6km to Mykonos just seemed like a stupid idea. Why not rather kick back with some Perroni’s, the sunset and a calamari starter. Esther..!!!! Come fetch us… Further warnings from Geoff and Steve convinced Althea and me to rather take the road less travelled on day 2 – ie cut out Mykonos to Saldanah, and just get a lift with Esther for the last 25km. Still, 67km over two days is not to be scoffed at.
  • 4 for legality of walk. I have to confess to anxious moments as we confidently strode past the gate going out of West Coast National Park. Taking the road less travelled, after 13km’s of beach from Yzerfontein (in the mist – in the morning – epic!) we cut into the West Coast National Park and never paid the park fees. Sorry SANPARKS.

Also, thanks to all the farmers who didn’t shoot us as we jumped over/crawled under about 20 fences and gates while cutting across the middle form Saldanah to Paternoster. It was either that or almost get run over by a mac truck on the highway.


As a whole, awesome stuff. There was fun, good conversations, awesome nature, physical challenge and overall sense of well being.

Special mention has to go to the Oom at the second farm for caring enough to want to phone ahead to Gielie’s so they won’t shoot us when we cross their property, and the farmhands at Gielie’s for looking at us like crazies when we told them we’re walking to Paternoster.

I love this country!


2011 Paternoster – Shared World

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