Now more than ever, in today’s world of business, adaptation is necessary to survive and thrive. The pace of change across the world, driven to a large extent by technology and innovation is staggering, with whole industries being completely revolutionised. You just have to take a look at the way Uber, Lyft and other similar companies have disrupted and shifted the way we hail and take taxi rides forever as a clear example. This has been made possible by massive advances in smartphone tech and mobile internet coverage and speed. Even a decade ago these kind of companies would have been barely believable, let alone possible.

Countless other examples exist of the dramatic shift we are witnessing in the world, due to the digital transformation that has taken place in the last decade:

There are virtually no industries that are immune to the changes that are taking place, so to try and ignore what is going on could be a very costly mistake. You only need to look at former industry leading companies such as Kodak, Nokia or Yahoo to see what happens if you become complacent. Within the travel and tourism industry, resorts and hotels are starting to wise up to the threat that disrupters like AirBnb pose to their continued success. As well as a brilliant business model which puts the traveller’s needs at the centre of their company ethos, AirBnb is also built to embrace technological progress, rather than resisting it.

Instead of annoying and increasingly pointless outbound marketing tactics, today’s guest is much more receptive to inbound marketing which involves discovering your brand themselves. This can be through a variety of channels, many of which are digital such as your resort blog, YouTube channel and social media presence. In the past, outbound marketing made more sense because there were fewer forms of entertainment and media available.

Now, people will not put up with this annoyance to their life because with a smartphone in their hand they can easily switch between videos, photos, apps, or social media channels. They can research a company online and read reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor. The guest is in command and companies must work hard for their attention, business and loyalty. This is where valuable content and social media marketing are key to your future success!

In order to increase success in today’s digital marketing world, it is important to turn to industry experts which is exactly what RDO member First Group did recently when they invited digital marketing professional John Beckley to come and train their marketing staff at their various resorts across South Africa. John has worked in the digital marketing industry for over 15 years and worked with RDO for a year. He is progressively building a name for himself as an expert in this rapidly evolving field of marketing which grabbed the attention of First Group Executive Chairman, Stuart Lamont, and First Group Marketing and Communications Director, Rioma Cominelli. John is also currently building a name for himself in the tourism marketing industry and has recently released a personal branding course.

After seeing the excellent work that John did at RDO7 Conference last year, including a social media break-out session he gave with Steve Clarke, Stuart and Rioma decided it would be beneficial to employ John for a month to work more closely with the marketing and management teams at their resorts. After attending the social media break-out session and seeing where the trends are leading in terms of the travel and tourism industry in general, they decided that First Group must take the initiative and lead the way in order to continue to be successful.

After travelling over to South Africa, John initially met with Marketing Manager Jocelyn Cunningham, Nesan Pather, Digital Marketing Manager, and the First Group creative team at the company head office in Pinetown near Durban. They discussed content creation strategies, digital transformation, social media marketing techniques and a number of other ways that the First Group marketing team could improve their inbound marketing going forward, in order to stand out from the crowd and succeed against growing competition. Crucially, Stuart and Rioma accepted that change is necessary in order for the First Group brand to evolve and continue growing.

As John has made clear for many years working as a digital marketing professional within the hotel and resort industry, and the session at RDO7, this change shouldn’t just involve the marketing team in a centralised office. The evolution needs to be greater and permeate down to all levels of a company in order to maximise effectiveness. Following his training with the marketing team in Pinetown, John then travelled to various First Group resorts around South Africa to train the management teams in effective digital content marketing.

During his visit to each resort, in the mornings John would give organised social media training sessions for the management teams. This involved a presentation and question and answer sessions in order to maximise understanding. These were lively sessions in which the teams learnt about the importance of valuable content marketing and the effective use of social media to increase engagement with current and future guests. Of course, one of the best ways to reach people and increase learning is through fun and humour, something John excels at. Humour breaks down barriers and makes people more open to discussions and learning.

Following the more formal morning training sessions, John took some of the staff out on various excursions to actually show them how to create the content that they could use to promote the resort and local area. Increasingly guests don’t just want to know about your resort room and facilities, they want to know what else they can enjoy in the local area. Experiences are what set apart your hotel or resort from the crowd. Of course, being in South Africa, the First Group resorts are surrounded by an abundance of amazing potential excursions and experiences for guests. This includes

Water parks:




In South Africa the possibilities are almost endless for all the amazing things you can see and do!

Undoubtedly, the resort and rooms should all be showcased too on social media, but in a lively, engaging way!

One of the main points that John got across in his training and time with the various First Group teams was that it’s important to have fun. When your team enjoy their work, this will shine out on your social media, thus making a stay at your resort much more attractive to potential guests. If your social media is boring and uninspiring then this will very likely have the opposite effect that you want and put off people from staying with you. Holidays and travel are meant to be fun after all, so make sure to showcase this element along with great experiences and your resort!

First Group have proven to be a very successful brand of hotels and resorts and now going forward with the training that John has given them, they continue to succeed in the ever changing world of travel and tourism.

Find out more about First Group via their website: and their social media channels:

To find out more about Hotel Community Manager, John’s personal branding course, head over to the website: You can also follow Hotel Community Manager on social media: