This month marks a decade since Table Mountain was voted one of the New7Wonders of Nature, which remains one of the highlights of my time with Flow Communications.
Table Mountain’s New7Wonders of Nature campaign began in 2010, mainly because of the vision of Sabine Lehmann, who was the managing director of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway at the time. At this stage, the mountain was one of more than 400 natural sites in the running and definitely not among the front runners in terms of marketing budget.
Flow CEO Tara Turkington, another visionary, believed that budget didn’t have to be an issue, and that through sustained effort and partnership, we could run a successful campaign against all odds.
The New7Wonders of Nature were selected through a digital voting process and immense focus was needed to create the required awareness. Flow was appointed as the digital custodian of the campaign and worked alongside partners such as public relations agency Splash, Cape Town Tourism, the City of Cape Town and others to get this done. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was the official ambassador of the campaign, and his aura was simply inspirational.
A 2011 impact report by advisory firm Grant Thornton projected that, based on the impact of the New7Man Made Wonders (another, earlier global campaign), a successful campaign for Table Mountain would boost South Africa’s annual tourism revenue by around R1.4-billion and create thousands of jobs. This woke me up. The campaign wasn’t about a well-placed mountain – it was about people and opportunities.
We used social media to share stories of the mountain, focusing on user-generated content. The Flow Cape Town team would rush to the mountain whenever there was a celebrity visitor, and ask them to share their thoughts on the mountain and lend their voice to the campaign. We also created sub-campaigns attached to big sporting events (such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup), and this allowed us to harness national spirit.
There was absolutely no budget for content promotion, so the whole campaign was run organically and relied on quality content to generate the necessary engagement. Community management was absolutely vital, as many people did not know how to cast their vote but were really eager to do so.
Because many of the social media followers were based in different time zones, I had to wake up throughout the night to respond to social media queries and, while this became taxing, the reward was always going to be worth it.
By the evening of 11 November 2011, the votes were all in and the core campaign team was gathered at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town to receive the official results, which were revealed in alphabetical order, beginning with the Amazon. Table Mountain was the last of the New7Wonders to be announced, and this kick-started celebrations that continued until well after sunrise the next day.
Ten years later, Flow and Table Mountain Aerial Cableway still work together. Flow has won awards for the Cableway’s website and newsletters, and the Cableway has taken millions of people to the top of the mountain.
At the World Travel Awards in October, Table Mountain was named Africa’s Leading Tourist Attraction for 2021.
For more information about visiting Table Mountain, and to book your trip with the Cableway, visit www.tablemountain.net.