Briony Brookes is head of PR and communications at Cape Town Tourism. Spending the best part of her career in radio as head of Brand for KFM and Cape Talk, she then spent some time in the investment industry with Sanlam and Old Mutual before joining the exciting world of tourism just over two years ago.
Brookes was instrumental in the success of KFM's very first Kday, one of Cape Town's biggest music events and had the exciting opportunity to work on the 2010 Soccer World Cup. She is a keen foodie and loves wine – a dead giveaway that she is a born and bred Capetonian. And now, after the toughest year in the tourism industry, she shares some of her thoughts with us.
Tell us about your career: what you studied and why, and how you ended up where you are today
I finished my formal PR degree before a few postgraduate courses in corporate communication, media studies, digital marketing and strategic leadership. I’ve had the opportunity to work across different industries which has definitely allowed me to become a very well-rounded player in the marketing and communications space. A definite highlight for me was working on the 2010 Soccer World Cup in Cape Town, which was incredible.
I then spent nine years in the corporate field and decided it was time to join a smaller business and really make a difference. With Cape Town Tourism’s "why" being to improve the lives of Capetonians through tourism, I think I am definitely in the right place.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is that I get to market the most beautiful city in the world to people who have the need to visit new places, and want to experience new things.
No one can ever say that Cape Town doesn't have heart. From the struggles of our past to the recent global pandemic challenges, we continue to show resilience, determination and passion for our most loved Mother City. We continue to be recognised on a global stage as a leading destination, and this is largely attributed to our people – our warmth, passion, welcoming nature, our friendliness is the magic ingredient that keeps visitors coming back year, after year.
Can you share with our readers Cape Town Tourism's recent brand campaigns and the rationales behind them?
"We are worth waiting for!" is one I am extremely proud of. We launched this campaign during lockdown with a strong focus on hope and positivity both locally and internationally.
You know those feelings of excitement and anticipation that come with waiting for something big, something important? Well, that’s the feeling we wanted to build here. And let’s be honest, all the beauty of our city, from our people to our sites and even our authentic experiences, are worth waiting for!
We used our digital and media platforms to keep Cape Town top of mind, reminding people why they love our city so much.
Which consumer sector does Cape Town Tourism predominantly play in?
Cape Town Tourism is the City of Cape Town’s official regional tourism organisation, responsible for destination marketing and destination management. We market our destination to a local, domestic and international audience.
What other sectors impact your industry?
Tourism is a far-reaching industry, so the value chain is long. There are a number of industries that directly affect us, and there are also sectors that are affected by what happens in the tourism space. For example, when the alcohol ban came into play, restaurants and hotels were affected and people changed their travel plans and behaviours as a result.
Another example is nature and conservation. People come from far and wide to hike our mountains and swim in our oceans. If these areas are not maintained or looked after, we wouldn't have visitors coming to the city for its natural beauty, which is a massive drawcard.
What do you think are the most successful channels for getting your brand message out there?
With tourism being as exciting as it is, there is really room to be as innovative as we need to. We’ve taken advantage of playing quite cleverly in the digital space, always supported by traditional PR efforts.
We also use our industry partners and our members to support our messaging. We really have focused on connecting with our audiences emotionally. We want our destination to be top of mind and we use our brand messaging to build that connection. We want people to feel warm and fuzzy and inspired by travel to Cape Town.
Consumers are increasingly favouring green and sustainable brands; do you have any plans or purpose to increase sustainability in the next 12 months?
Together with the City of Cape Town we are constantly working on responsible tourism initiatives and encouraging visitors to travel responsibly while also providing tools for our members in this regard. Over the past few years, we have also seen many tourism businesses implement initiatives and practices that encourage a more sustainable way of travelling. We will continue to drive messaging and education around this for the foreseeable future.
If you were mentoring a future you, what career advice would you give to aspirant young marketing and branding professionals?
You have the opportunity to add creative energy into any space but always be true to who you are. Surround yourself with people you admire, people who can mentor you and ditch those who breed negativity because having the right attitude towards anything you put your mind to, is half the battle won.
What professional development, musical, cultural, literary or leisure activities do you engage in?
I’m definitely very much a social being with a keen sense of adventure. I’ve jumped out of a plane, hiked in the Swiss Alps, swam with whale sharks in Mozambique, watched a live Formula 1 in Spain, and had Covid not hit us when it did, I would’ve featured on SA’s Come Dine With Me.
I’m all about building a bank of great memories which I can tell stories about, and I definitely have the bubbly personality to tell a fantastic story! I love exploring and with travel being restricted at the moment, exploring our city and country and what we have to offer, is just as exciting!