11 Ways to Travel in Style

It’s a style catch-22: The “airport outfit” has to be comfortable enough for sitting on a plane for at least several hours (in terms of climate control and soft-stretchiness), but also pulled-together enough that you can deplane at your destination ready to hit the ground running. We turned to 11 globe-trotting style-setters for tips and inspiration on just how to pull of this tricky fashion feat.

Student Travel Safety

Our Number One Priority on Each and Every Educational Student Tour: Safety

Whether you’re traveling across the country or across the globe, Son Tours takes student travel safety very seriously. As a result, we have numerous measures in place on each and every trip to ensure you receive the highest level of safety possible, regardless of your destination. Below, we’ve listed the different types of safety measures in place on each of our excursions.

Student Travel Safety Starts With Us: Day & Night Guidance from a Son Tours Representative

When you book a tour with us, you will be assigned an experienced Son Tours representative who will work with your group leader and chaperones to ensure that your trip is as seamless as possible. This person will be with you every step of the way, even staying in the same hotel as your group, making them easy to access if you have any questions or concerns. As all of our staff members have impressive backgrounds, ranging from military careers, security, government, and even former CIA experience, whichever of our representatives accompany you will be skilled and ready to handle any type of safety or security situation that may arise. We ensure that all of our representatives are highly trained in emergency preparedness, so if anything happens, they will be ready to assess and respond to the situation at hand.

We Keep You in the Loop: Student Safety Briefings and Cell Phone Access

Every trip is accompanied by safety and security briefing before your students ever leave home as well as during the excursion. We want all of our students to have the information they need to stay safe as they explore the educational opportunities available to them in our many destinations, so we make sure to offer these briefings at multiple points prior to departure as well as throughout the trip.

In addition, we recognize that almost all of the students on our trips have cell phones and that parents prefer they keep these phones on them to check in while they are away from home. This enables students to touch base with their families at appropriate times during the tour, alleviating many worries about safety that parents may face when students are away. Of course, we do expect our students to use these phones responsibly and refrain from using them at inappropriate times, such as during guided tours, presentations, or plays. For students on international tours, group leaders will be given a phone that can call overseas, enabling parents to get in touch with students at all times even if students do not have international phone plans or satellite phones.

We Get Dedicated Security Professionals Involved: Private Security in Hotels and Motor Coaches

We don’t only rely on our trained, safety-conscious representatives and the information we provide to parents, chaperones, group leaders, and students. We also provide private, uniformed security. These security personnel will be positioned on every hotel floor and on motor coaches in order to keep your students safe.

We Expect the Unexpected: Insurance Included on All Son Tours Trips

We make sure that if the worst does happen, we’ll have you covered, whether a group faces an unexpected accident, illness, natural disaster, or other situation that requires emergency assistance of varying sorts. All of our overnight packages include insurance that covers:

  • Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation
  • Accidents and Illnesses
  • Emergency Dental
  • Travel Assistance
  • Travel Delays

We want to make sure that students make it home safe and sound with a plethora of new experiences and a wealth of knowledge to share, so we make sure to have plenty of insurance coverage in case the unthinkable happens.

Student Travel Safety is Critical from Beginning to End

Student safety is our number one priority, and we take that very seriously, which is why we keep it in mind from the start of your partnership with us until the very end. From the people we hire to the policies we put into place, we make sure that students can stay safe throughout their travel experiences and parents can feel at ease. Feel free to contact us to learn more about our high-quality student and educational travel safety measures.


Article originally published: https://www.son-tours.com/

10 Ways to celebrate Freedom Day in SA

Freedom Day is a South African public holiday celebrated on 27 April, the date, which marks freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held on that day in 1994.

The first democratic elections were the first non-racial national elections held in SA, and regardless of how difficult things still seem in SA, nothing will be as bad as denying specific South Africans the right to cast their vote.

It’s a good idea to head back to SA’s roots on Freedom Day – not only to remember the bitter history and wrongs of the past, but to celebrate just how far we’ve come as a nation in building bridges to a better future for everyone.

We’re still in the process, that’s for certain, but we need to acknowledge the good achieved to keep us motivated, to keep SA going forward.

It’s not necessary for you to hang out in the Apartheid museum all day, but be sure to be in a space where you can be reminded of the privilege of living in a free country.

1. Take a trip to Robben Island 

If you’ve never been, now is the time.

The island has also recently launched an app in partnership with Google Maps, which will enable visitors to experience the island on their own time, with an audio playing ‘tour guide’ in hand.

2. Feel Soweto

There are plenty of ways to take a trip into this cultural hub of the country.

If anything, it has become so much more than the only street in the world to have houses two Nobel Peace Prize winners – which in itself is an astounding fact. It’s a living, breathing pulse of kasi life in South Africa and there are plenty of other must-sees in this urban city.

You can also opt for a organized tour with either Soweto.co.za or City Sightseeing, and you’ll be sure to hit all the sweet spots.

3. Go to Franschhoek

It’s both a cultural hub, filled with history from long before Freedom Day. But this also happens to be the place closest to where Nelson Mandela spent his last days in prison. The private house on the Victor Verster premises (now the Drakenstein Correctional Facility) where Mandela lived has been declared a South African National Heritage Site, and a statue of Mandela stands just outside the prison gates.

You can stop by before heading into Franschhoek for a Freedom Day lunch.

4. Visit the Apartheid museum 

This iconic museum it voted as one of the favourite in SA, and will give you deep insight into the wrongs of the Apartheid era, as well as the good that overcame that evil regime.

5. Go for a braai at Mzoli’s

Get out there and celebrate FREEDOM with fellow South Africans. There’s no need to go to Mzoli’s specifically, as you can just as well host a braai with friends at home. If you’re looking for good company, however, Mzoli’s will serve this, along with the best Shisanyama around.

6. Visit Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia

Once the nerve centre of the liberation movement and a place of refuge for its leaders, today Liliesleaf is one of South Africa’s foremost, award-winning heritage sites, where the journey to democracy in South Africa is honoured.

“Liliesleaf has always been a place of dialogue. In the early 1960s, when the property was the headquarters for covert, underground activities and a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement, debates on political and military policy and strategy were commonplace. People from diverse backgrounds but with a common vision met here to discuss South Africa’s emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime.”

7. Attend a proudly South African festival 

The country is your oyster is this category.

You can either hit the Tankwa Karoo for the iconic AfrikaBurn…

…or head down the Garden Route for SA’s Gay extravaganza that is the highly-celebrated Pink Loerie Fest…

…or join the cheese & wine lovers at this years’ Cheese Festival held outside Stellenbosch on Sandringham Farm.

8. Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture site

This is one of the most beautiful of the remembrance sites in South Africa. This sculpture in Howick in KwaZulu Natal is an interactive area where you can reminisce alone or spend time with your loved ones. The beautiful green surrounds add to the display that becomes Madiba’s face as you walk closer.

9. Hang out in Sandton at the feet of the father of our nation

The Nelson Mandela square boasts a six-meter tall sculpture of Madiba (which is almost as big as he was…). Here, while you go about your daily business of shopping and grabbing a bite to eat, you will be in the presence of this icon looking down on passersby.

10. Enjoy the country’s public gardens

In the light of South Africans celebrating every national symbol and significant SA features, why not head to Kirstenbosch to see to most magnificent display of our national flower (the protea) and tree (the yellowwood)?

You can also head to the equally impressive botanical gardens of Durban or Johannesburg, or the smaller ones in Betty’s Bay, Stellenbosch, or the beautiful ‘garden’ that is the south coast and sunshine coast as a whole!

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Over 680 000 employed in tourism sector

The tourism sector employed 686 596 persons in 2016, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said on Monday.

This, according to Maluleke, is an increase of 2.7% percent or 17 945 employees compared to 2015.

According to Stats SA, the tourism sector share of total employment increased from 4.2% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2016. The tourism sector directly contributed 2.9% to South African gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.

Releasing the Tourism Satellite Report (TSA) at a media briefing in Tshwane, Maluleke said there were 15 121 328 non-resident visitors to South Africa in the year 2016 compared with 13 951 901 in 2015 and 14 529 542 in 2014.

Of the non-resident visitors in 2016, 5 077 165 were same-day visitors and 10 044 163 were tourists.

“Tourism direct gross domestic product (TDGDP) increased from R108 683 million in 2015 to R125 136 million in 2016 (15.1% increase).”

Maluleke said inbound tourism expenditure totalling R121 400 million was recorded in 2016.

“The main expenditure items were non-specific products (28.1%), accommodation for visitors (15%), connected products (13.4%) and road passenger transport services (11.9%).

“Domestic tourism expenditure totalling R144 358 million (including the domestic portion of outbound tourism expenditure) was recorded in 2016,” Maluleke said.

The main expenditure items were road passenger transport services (27.8%), non-specific products (17.3%), accommodation for visitors (14.8%) and air passenger transport services (14.3%).

The total internal tourism consumption in cash for South Africa in 2016 was R265 758 million (inbound tourism consumption R121 400 million (45.7%) and domestic tourism consumption R144 358 million (54.3%).

The main expenditure items for internal tourism were non-specific products (22.2%), road passenger transport services (20.5%), accommodation for visitors (14.9%) and air passenger transport services (13.2%).

Maluleke explained that tourism imports (outbound tourism expenditure) increased by 8% to R78 493 million compared with 6.3% growth in the previous period.

The TSA report provides an overview of the role that tourism plays in South Africa and also information on the contribution by tourism sector to the economy in terms of expenditure and employment. – SAnews.gov.za

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SA still a favourite tourist destination despite drought

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says millions of South Africans and international tourists continue to visit and travel around South Africa, despite the current water crisis.

“We appreciate the responsiveness and respect shown by our visitors in helping us deal with one of the worst droughts experienced in our country,” Minister Hanekom said.

He said the continued innovation in water-wise initiatives has been remarkable, with new and progressive solutions introduced on an ongoing basis.

Minister Hanekom welcomed the announcement by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize that the worst drought-affected areas would have access to national disaster funds and other forms of assistance.

Minister Hanekom congratulated all South Africans and both local and international travellers on achieving what is being hailed as a global first in terms of the extent to which water consumption is reduced during a drought.

The additional funds will allow these efforts to continue in all affected parts of the country, particularly in Cape Town.

Awareness has changed consumer behaviour to respect the reality that South Africa is a water-scarce country and that water should never be wasted.

“We are delighted that tourists and travellers to South Africa continue to be part of the solution by embracing new and innovative water-wise tourism practices.

“Congratulations to our tourism agencies, the travel trade as well as our tourists and communities at large for rising to the challenge.

“More importantly, I encourage all tourists, both local and international, to enjoy the experiences our beautiful South Africa has to offer, in a way that embraces ‘Travel, Enjoy and Respect’, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) message to all,” Minister Hanekom said. – SAnews.gov.za


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The Underestimated Value of Housekeeping

There are many factors that contribute to a guests’ enjoyable stay, however, one aspect that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

There are various departments in the workings of a hotel that greatly contribute to an enjoyable stay for their guests. When staying at a five star establishment, small things like a warm welcome at the door or a speedy check-in time can greatly improve a guest’s overall impression. However, one aspect of a guests’ stay that is often underestimated and overlooked is the housekeeping.

Housekeeping is a vital mechanic that has the potential to make or break an establishment’s reputation. The way in which a room is cleaned, tidied and presented to its guests is in direct relation to the level of service the hotel prides themselves on. Housekeeping provides guests with a clear indication of how they are valued.

Dependent on the rating of the hotel at which you stay, standards and the level of housekeeping may vary. Remember, hotels with various ratings may not provide the same service. However, having said this, no hotel should compromise on the cleanliness of their establishment.

Housekeeping is comprised of many different aspects such as the cleaning of guest rooms, public areas, carpets, furniture, metal wares, et cetera. For many hotels, big and small, the housekeeping staff are the unsung heroes of their establishment and more often than not go unnoticed. Housekeeping staff ensure that the rooms are cleaned daily, stocked with in-room amenities and that common areas like the reception and restaurants are presentable, tidy and welcoming.

Although housekeeping staff do not necessarily interact with their guests on a daily basis, the quality of their service is critical in moulding the experience and memories their visitors will take with them when they leave. A guest who has had a wonderful experience at a hotel will most likely return in future, ensuring customer loyalty for the business.

The role of housekeeping staff is vital for any hotel that wants to maintain a high level of success in the hospitality industry. Housekeeping is not just about cleanliness, but is in fact about the standard. It is one of the most important services a hotel can offer and therefore time should be dedicated to training staff correctly to ensure an enjoyable and pleasurable experience is had for their guests.

Article originally posted on http://www.tourismtattler.com

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Top 5 Hotel Tech Trends for 2018

2018 will see a breakthrough in five technologies for the hospitality industry. Some hotels have already acquired and tested the technologies on this list.

1. Virtual Reality can be used to market in-destination activities

Hoteliers have now realised virtual reality’s potential in the travel and tourism industry with leading hotel brands including Best Western and Marriott, having already introduced this technology to guests.

The Marriott introduced an in-destination VR service called VRoom Service which guests can use for 24 hours. The VR devices are loaded with ‘VR postcards’, which provide guests with travel inspiration, showcasing people’s first-hand travel experiences. This has the potential to encourage new holiday bookings and even experiences offered in-destination.

“By using the technology in the rooms, we’re bringing the experience to guests inside. It’s a property renovation,” says Michael Dail, Marriott’s VP of global brand marketing.

2018 will see the rise of Virtual Reality, which will become the norm for hotels. Guests will not only want to familiarize themselves with the location pre-check-in but also experience local activities before booking them.

2. IOT: Guest enabled Rooms are on the way

Hotel brands have considered IoT platforms due to better cost efficiencies and enhanced guest experience. Hilton, for example, has built a beta test room control for selected hotels.

“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room,” says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta at SKIFT Global Forum.

Hilton is using the DIY approach of proprietary technology which is built from the ground up instead of picking off-the-shelf technologies to implement. They are looking to build a brand-new hotel room with built-in voice control, temperature and lighting settings that are controlled via a custom app, available on the guest’s smartphone.

Despite hotelier’s reluctance to be ahead of the curve or gimmicky in their technology adoption, the signs remain strong that both brands have shown commitment and progress in IoT room technology.

3. Guest-facing technologies provide a more personalized experience

Apart from the Free Wi-Fi, personalization of the guest experience is going to be the biggest factor a hotelier needs to consider. With the availability of guest data and technologies to plug into a Hotel’s CRM, it provides tremendous intelligence information about the guest behaviour all the way from pre-trip, in stay and post trip.

IHG Study reveals that “Nearly three in five (59%) travellers say their hotel stay is significantly more comfortable if services are personalized and more than have (54%) admit it makes them feel more valued.” 

While hotels are utilizing technology to avoid private data exploitation, guest data analysis can be derived from smart guest connectivity devices. This provides more behavioural insights, which helps hoteliers offer a deeper level of personalization. Expect more developments and success in this area.

4. Digital Concierge will produce an efficient service

By 2021 the number of people using messaging apps to communicate will reach 2.5 billion according to Statista report, making messaging a primary form of communication.

According to Phocus Wright research; “39% of people surveyed said they are completely comfortable using chat to contact the hotel front desk, while only 7% said they would not be.” 

Brands such as IHG Group and Hyatt are already using third-party social media messaging platforms, while others such as Marriott have built apps to facilitate instant messaging. Notably, as hotels attempt to engage guests through this technology, travel agencies are also entering this space to drive loyalty.

Technology providers are looking to integrate chat with hotel systems. Chat communication is just another digital channel hotels can use to increase guest engagement and communication. Through a smartphone amenity with an app, for example, we should see more engagement opportunities than just to change booking details, such as pre-stay and post-stay communication.

5. AI & Chatbots lower operational costs

As Artificial intelligence (AI) & Chatbots mature we see more complex algorithms to perform complicated tasks increase, which should eliminate a lot of overhead operational costs. Finding the balance between human hospitality service and technology is going to be key as hotels try to reduce operational costs while increasing guest’s overall ratings.

“We’ve been building bots on IRC [for] many years … now it’s just that it’s on mainstream platforms,” says CEO/Co-Founder of The Bot Platform.

2018 will continue to see predictive guest technologies related to AI & Chatbots emerge and provide Hotels with the opportunity to offload tasks that hotel staff and customer support are trained to do.

Article originally posted on http://www.tourismtattler.com/

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A Visit from CTHs’ Academic Director, Angela Hagenow

The Trip


dinner CTH

CTHs’ Academic Director, Angela Hagenow, received a warm welcome from the ITHSA team in the Cape Town offices South Africa. During a two-day workshop, which was facilitated by Angela, the ITHSA team felt empowered with CTH knowledge which Angela shared. The outcomes of the inter-active workshop conducted at the ITHSA offices with the ITHSA team and Angela proved to be a valuable experience for CTH and ITHSA in terms of key suggestions to the alignment of current ITHSA work processes to CTH processes and policies.




Angela’s extensive knowledge of the Culinary Skills Programme, is greatly appreciated as she left the ITHSA team feeling confident in our product knowledge in the Culinary Skills space. After two days extensive product, process, and policy knowledge empowering at the ITHSA offices in Cape Town, it was time to hit the road to visit our training providers in Johannesburg.




CTH visit 2The CTH Academic Director, Angela Hagenow, accompanied by ITHSA Business Development Consultant, Lesley Ann Kriel, conducted various ITHSA provider site and courtesy visits during our two days stay in Johannesburg.


Included on this list of provider visits, was the newly accredited ITHSA centre, Prestige College. We also had the privilege of being in the company of our new provider while we introduced Angela to a South African steak for dinner. Joined by ICB business consultant in Johannesburg, Mandisa Gumede, the evening was spent engaging in business discussion topics of which valuable points were raised in terms of implementing marketing strategies for the ITHSA programme offerings in South African schools. After much chatter, dinner was eventually served, and it was time to relax and enjoy the meal.


On day two, Angela, myself and Mandisa conducted a site visit at the international Hotel School, in Sandton, Johannesburg, where the friendly front desk consultant greeted us. Thereafter, we were given a tour of the Kitchens, which proved to be of high quality. Chef Candice Adams, head chef facilitator of the JHB campus engaged in a key discussion regarding the Culinary Skills and Arts programmes. Prior to our visit, a skype call meeting was arranged with the College Dean, Jolanda Bierman, to meet Angela and briefly discuss academic related topics. Angela shared her knowledge and experience during our meeting and was dearly thanked by the Dean, for selecting the International Hotel School to be one of her site visits.


cth visit 5Our next provider, welcomed us with chocolate and velvet cupcakes and tea which we enjoyed thoroughly. The ladies from the CTU Training Solutions, were thrilled to have us there and once again, showed their appreciation with the inter-active discussions which took place that afternoon.


Angela certainly left our ITHSA providers feeling motivated and positive. I anticipate that our new business figures for ITHSA will increase significantly next year.

With the industry knowledge and the CTH experiences that Angela shared with us, it assures me that we are on the road to success.



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Measuring Success in the Tourism Industry

Measuring success can be difficult because success is relative; take the tourism industry for example, every year, lists titled ‘top tourist destinations’ or the ‘most successful tourist destination’ are printed.

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The Future Tech in the Travel Industry

Technological advancement has been moving at extraordinary speeds over the last couple of decades. New industries have emerged and existing ones are changing.