Happy 1st birthday Go.See.Do. South Africa!
I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating. The evening before our first lockdown on 27th March 2020, I was informed that our parent company, and my employer for the previous 6 years, was divesting from South Africa. 3 days later I received my 3-month termination notice.
After scrambling around for a few days, careful consideration, deliberation and much negotiation with the parent company, lawyers and proxies, I took transfer of the company on 1st July 2020, the day after my notice period ended. Pam, my wife, and our most valuable content generating asset, was seconded as a director. We became the proud owners of a 25-year-old Visitor Information/Tourism Marketing company with 10 staff, 16 franchisees, suspended operations, no revenue and over a quarter of a million rand in monthly overheads.
But there was much to be done. We cauterised the financial bleeding and cut overheads wherever operationally prudent. We took what was a well-established, but declining brand, Brochure Management South Africa (BMSA), and rebranded it as Go.See.Do. South Africa. Go.See.Do. is easy to remember. Easy to say. Easy to understand. Each of the existing BMSA franchise regions then began operating as a Go.See.Do. brand depending their location (e.g., Go.See.Do. Cape Town or Go.See.Do. Gauteng etc.).
We did, however, retain the successful DNA from the BMSA business and continued to offer South Africa’s only national visitor information display network as many visitors prefer to receive their information this way. Our location partners also value our display boards in terms of providing current and relevant visitor information to their guests. But it needed to be modernised. So, we created a digital solution aimed at ensuring the safety of visitors at display locations by also providing information in a contactless format. Visitors simply point the camera of a device at a QR code on a display board and the information from that board is available on their own device.
Next we created a stand-alone Go.See.Do digital ecosystem with online marketing and communication products reaching new audiences on multiple platforms. The GoSeeDo.co.za website contains unique content, blogs, listings, news and featured articles and a regular newsletter. We created visitor-related posts on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, most of which have gained good traction amongst digital consumers.
Then we piloted and implemented an affiliate programme and teamed up with a company called Hejju (pronounced “Hey You!”). This programme is promoted regularly via a weekly email and integrated with both our display and digital platforms. It allows us to promote 100’s of South Africa’s most exciting activities via our Go.See.Do. affiliate page with a revenue sharing upside. This programme is in its infancy and we’re exploring additional opportunities with Hejju and some of their partners.
Another exciting area we’re venturing into is the emerging enterprise market, specifically in businesses that have been underserviced by the traditional tourism sector. We have engaged with a couple of empowerment partners who are active in this space and are very excited about the prospect of becoming a catalyst for launching small/micro enterprises into the mainstream tourism economy via our platforms.
“But that’s not all”, as they say in the classics. There are various other projects and products that we are exploring. Some Blue Sky and some left-of-field. But at least we have irons in the fire and options in terms of hopefully evolving Go.See.Do. even further and onto our 2nd birthday.
Surviving our first year would have been impossible without the generosity and selflessness of many people.
My gratitude and thanks go to these amazing human beings: Pamela Power has been an absolute rock and without her I would have given up ages ago. She not only contributes content but is essential from a strategic and moral support point of view; Chris Manning assisted and advised in the initial period between my termination and our relaunch; Mike Assheton-Smith has been an absolute star with regards to evolving our backend into a tool that has propelled us into the digital era; Kirsten and Terry Theron have worked tirelessly on both the design and content of our digital platforms, a sometimes thankless but vital role; Alison Coughlan, our Cape Town GM, has kept the doors open and lights on despite rapidly diminishing resources; Nicole, Clement, Vivacious and Tino, our operations staff in Gauteng and Cape Town have kept the machine running on the sniff of an oil rag; Tom Power was involuntarily roped in to build a new email marketing platform, in spite of the looming POPI regulations; Advocate Louis Nel has provided sage professional legal support and Melissa van der Westhuizen and her team ensure we’ve always stayed on the right side of our financial and fiduciary obligations; Lastly, there’s our Go.See.Do. Franchisees who have had to deal with the above innovation and name changes whilst their businesses have been decimated and their own livelihoods at stake.
The reality is, that despite our bootstrapping and all the above, Covid restrictions continue to severely restrict our plans and our core business is over 80% down from pre-Covid times. Pam and I both had the virus between Christmas and New Year, which was depressing and debilitating. Like so many of us, we’ve lost friends, family and colleagues along the way, and the 3rd wave is threatening to become the worst yet. We need vaccines and we need visitors. Our very survival is still in the balance and there’s a long way to go before we’re on firmer footing. However, we’re more than ready for that day!
Happy birthday us.
To find out more about our business please email me on sa@GoSeeDo.co.za or (call, Telegram, voice message or WhatsApp) on +27(0)82 880 5586. I’d love to hear from you.
Paul Vos – Managing Director