There’s a pervasive local way of thinking that if you are pleasant and polite you’ve pretty much got tourism nailed, according to wine and gourmet tourism specialist Margi Biggs.
“Good manners, consideration and attentiveness to the needs of others are essential, and without these you won’t get far,” she says.
“That’s obvious, but niceness alone is not a strategy. Being relevant and meaningfully anticipating the needs of those in your industry demand a deep understanding of the environment and, as it changes, recognising where potential pitfalls and opportunities lie, and then figuring out how you might manage these to adapt successfully.”
Convenor of the Business of Wine & Food Tourism (BWFT) Conference, now in its third year, Biggs brings to the project her exceptional combination of energy, flair and innovation to make South African wine and food experiences more relevant, more appealing, more targeted and more competitive.
“South Africans are by nature innately hospitable and that’s an excellent start, but the whole world has shifted to an experience economy,” she points out. “So, unless you are giving people what they want, sometimes by identifying what it is they want even before they know it themselves, executing your offering with sophistication and in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, you are not going to cut it in the intensely competitive world of global travel and tourism.”
Wine and food have been her key focus areas, and while Cape Town was a member of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network she ran the local chapter. Biggs has also been actively involved in the organisation of the opening event of the wine business showcase that Wines of South Africa (WOSA) hosts in Cape Town for the international wine fraternity.
The BWFT conference will bring together a line-up of local and international specialists, who will talk on managing and applying big data, building a culture of innovation, how to harness the power of social media, e-commerce, amplifying while protecting local biodiversity and some exciting new ways to create the best in wining and dining.
The intention, says Biggs, is to present fresh and inspiring thinking about how to highlight local wine and food offerings optimally and intelligently to traditional and newer travellers of all ages and origins. “Just because millennials from Korea are the same age as their counterparts from Khayelitsha or Kansas doesn’t mean they are necessarily seeking the same experience,” Biggs says. “Our speakers will be exploring nuanced, culturally sensitive, inventive and practical ways of unlocking the huge potential that still lies to be tapped in our tourism market.”
Emblematic of her elegant and creative problem solving is her founding of StreetSmart South Africa that allows restaurant diners to contribute towards a charity that supports street children.
“Often tourists are intimidated by the begging, homeless people they encounter,” says Biggs. “We’re acknowledging the problem and instead of airbrushing it away, are finding a solution that works for the donor and the beneficiary.” In operation since 2005, StreetSmart gives sustenance, support and educational opportunities to many of the country’s most vulnerable.
The former art teacher and Cordon Bleu chef has served on a range of South African business and tourism bodies and has been recognised by the Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year organisers, earning the title of Woman of the Year in 2012. This year, she earned a Fellowship Award from the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).
A significant player in the industry for almost three decades now, she believes it is easier for women occupying senior positions in travel than when she started out in the 1990s.
Stuur jou mening van 300 woorde of minder na MyStem@netwerk24.com en ons sal dit vir publikasie oorweeg. Onthou om jou naam en van, ‘n kop-en-skouers foto en jou dorp of stad in te sluit.
Netwerk24 ondersteun ‘n intelligente, oop gesprek en waardeer sinvolle bydraes deur ons lesers. Lewer hier kommentaar wat relevant is tot die onderwerp van die artikel. Jou mening is vir ons belangrik en kan verdere menings of ondersoeke stimuleer. Geldige kritiek en meningsverskille is aanvaarbaar, maar hierdie is nie ‘n platform vir haatspraak of persoonlike aanvalle nie. Kommentaar wat irrelevant, onnodig aggressief of beledigend is, sal verwyder word. Lees ons volledige kommentaarbeleid
Hanlie Retief is 'n bekroonde skrywer en aanbieder van 'n Halfuur met Hanlie op Via.
Blouwillem is 'n voorheen bevoordeelde, tans geseënde middeljarige man.
Waldimar Pelser is redakteur van Rapport en aanbieder van 'In Gesprek' op kykNET.
Murray La Vita is 'n bekroonde rubriekskrywer en profielskrywer vir Netwerk24.
Ivor Price is 'n bekende radiopersoonlikheid en rubriekskrywer vir Netwerk24.
Piet Matipa is 'n draaiboekskrywer vir 7de Laan. Hy was voorheen 'n joernalis by Beeld in Pretoria.
Henry Jeffreys is 'n politieke kommentator en voormalige redakteur van Die Burger.
Johann Maarman is eindredakteur by Die Burger en 'n bekroonde rubriekskrywer.
Max du Preez is 'n outeur en joernalis. Hy was die stigtersredakteur van Vrye Weekblad.
Nathan Trantraal is 'n strokiesprentkunstenaar en digter van Kaapstad.
Annemarie van der Walt is 'n rubriekskrywer van Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga.
Leopold Scholtz is 'n vryskutjoernalis en politieke kommentator.
Barnard Beukman is die redakteur van Beeld.
Gert Coetzee is redakteur van Volksblad.
Herman Lategan is 'n skrywer wie se rubrieke in 'Binnekring van Spookasems' gebundel is.
Sonja Loots is 'n dosent aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad en bekroonde outeur.
Sarel van der Walt is 'n joernalis vir Netwerk24 en 'n voormalige Londen-korrespondent vir Media24.
Charles Smith is Netwerk24 se nuusredakteur in Bloemfontein.
Hallo, jy moet ingeteken wees of registreer om artikels te lees.