How bad businesses kill tourism in small towns

Good businesses do more to promote tourism in a small town than anyone else. Bad businesses destroy tourism.

Let me sketch a scenario for you. Joe saves the entire year for a holiday and decides to visit your town during the holidays. He arrives with his family full of excitement and anticipation. Before Joe decided to come to your town he researched a number of other options. He spoke to his friends and family and he asked Google as well.

So Joe decided that your town is the place where he will spend his hard earned cash. While on holiday Joe decides to take his family for breakfast. He drives around town and decides to go to Mary’s Coffee Shop. It looks nice and cozy and there are lots of people having breakfast. In no time the expectation of a great family breakfast turns into a disaster. The food is bad. The coffee is terrible and the staff have a serious attitude problem. Clearly Mary has no intention of servicing or keeping customers. What Joe didn’t know is that Mary has never run a coffee shop and doesn’t know a thing about making a good cup of coffee. Mary thought that it will be romantic to own her own coffee shop, but Mary shouldn’t own a coffee shop, ever.

This all sound too familiar don’t you think? It gets worse, because Joe has a number of these really bad experiences in your little town. There are more than 30 coffee shops and restaurants in your town and they all complain that business is bad. They seldom seem to survive past the holiday season. The next season there is another coffee shop that opens where Mary’s Coffee Shop used to be. And so the cycle continues.

What has happened here? In the first place, Joe went home feeling that he has been robbed of his idyllic holiday. The entire experience has left a bad taste in his mouth because of the bad service he received. He tells his friends and his family and instead of your little town turning Joe into a prophet, you have turned him into a terrorist. He is going around telling everyone he knows how bad your town actually is. So Joe never comes back because Joe has many, many choices. Why on earth will he come back to a place where the service is so poor?

In the meantime the towns business chamber hear about these things all the time but instead of acting, they turn a blind eye. Why? Because it’s not in the interest of the business chamber to expose businesses. The chamber collects membership fees and they won’t collect as much if they chase their customers away! So, these bad experiences are carefully swept under the carpet. Everyone in the little town knows that the emperor has no clothes, but they say and do nothing.

Top Twenty changes all that. Joe will in future search on Top Twenty for a place to eat breakfast and he will find those with the high ratings. He finds Susan’s Coffee Shop just off the main street. Susan is passionate about her business and loves serving customers. She has a high rating and many positive reviews. Now Susan gets all the business and the bad coffee shops get nothing. What happens? They don’t survive and some of them close down – for good reason. They shouldn’t have been in business in the first place. Susan on the other hand is starting to make good money and is steadily growing her business.

Bad businesses are everywhere, but in small towns they can cause enormous damage to the tourism industry of a town. Top Twenty ensures that good businesses are rewarded for good service.


Marthinus Strydom, President of Toptwenty shares his special knowledge and insights about rural tourism on his blog at Top Twenty assists small towns and their businesses in the development and marketing of their local business communities.

Facebook Faceoff – citizens unite!

Facebook Faceoff – citizens unite!

The power of Facebook is no more evident than in the role it played during the recent revolts that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt. Social media has become a platform for political lobbying as was demonstrated with the Barak Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, and more recently through citizen mobilisation. These two opposing camps are heading for a faceoff.

The recent Tunisia and Egypt uprisings were only the beginning, Facebook pages and groups have been setup to mobilise protesters in Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco and Syria with Twitter protests extending to Algeria, Bahrain, Iran and Yemen last month.

Already people are at risk from governments looking to hunt down dissenters as was experienced in Tunisia after government officials used a virus to obtain local Facebook passwords.

The question is will social media companies be able to protect the human rights of citizens from governments? Will governments flex their repressive muscles and force Facebook to capitulate? It seems not as the United States’ Obama administration announced a new policy on Internet freedom, intended to help people get around barriers in cyberspace while making it harder for autocratic governments to use the same technology to repress dissent.

According to the New York Times, “The State Department plans to finance programs like circumvention services, which enable users to evade Internet firewalls, and training for human rights workers on how to secure their e-mail from surveillance or wipe incriminating data from cellphones if they are detained by the police. The department has also inaugurated Twitter feeds in Arabic and Persian, and soon will add others in Chinese, Russian and Hindi.”

It remains to be seen whether this stance will be overruled should the US face such an ‘uprising’, not of its citizens but from its enemies.

Imagine this: Islamic activists mobilising on social media to co-ordinate a synergistic movement against the West? When you have freedom of speech and allow people of all nations to do what they want in the online world (except in countries like China, and Iran, which have restricted access), governments have absolutely no control. And governments are all about control. In this hypothetical case, can you see the US, and its security divisions, sit back and watch a threat mobilise on social media and do nothing about it? Absolutely not.

The argument is that social media can be a force that leads to democratic change, but cannot by itself bring down repressive regimes. Well that is the view by the West, however recent events in Tunisia and Egypt show otherwise.

It will be interesting to see how social networks will beef up security to protect its users and even help its users who trust them explicitly.

In South Africa, while the internet pool for social network politics is small, it certainly is not dull with the DA and ANC squaring off in what can only be described as petty squabbling.

More social media theatrics in South African politics reared its head with the Solidarity vs.  Jimmy Manyi, Spokesperson for the ANC and President of the Black Management Forum issue. Solidarity, a predominantly white union group, released comments Manyi made about coloured workers over a year ago on YouTube, just in time for the upcoming municipal elections. The DA quickly jumped on this bandwagon uploading on YouTube Manyi’s comments on Indians. And so it goes on.

While the Twitterverse may be alive with political party messaging and inter party jibes, there is a whole nation of young people who are accessing social media on their phones or through the internet and it is a matter of time before the waves of dissent hit our shores.