Solomon’s Guide takes on the challenges of the tourism industry

Here’s an interview about advertising in difficult times with the publisher of South Africa’s longest running travel guide: Solomon’s Guide (known for most of its 41-year history as the Southern African Travel Guide). 

Ian Solomon took over the publication from his father, Laurence, in 2003, revamped it, and put it on line. This Tourism Week asked him if print advertising is still relevant. 

Ian Solomon: It’s funny that with all the info you find online, people still like to hold a quality publication in their hands. I think perhaps there’s too much content online: people find it bewildering and confusing, and the content is often inaccurate and out-of-date. Especially older clients say our guide has credibility and they spend time reading it in detail – and of course they have the budgets to travel well! 

TTW: But you can’t ignore online advertising? 

IS: No of course not – it’s critical. All our content is available online at, and visitors can make online real-time reservations. This has grown dramatically over the past few years, and all our properties now appear. Plus we have an eGuide which you can page through on your iPad (click here), and we’re working on apps for mobile phones. 

TTW: So do your clients see returns? And how do you measure them? 

IS: We’re paying more and more attention to this. In the old days advertisers just took an ad and hoped it would work – it was a ‘spray and pray’ approach. Now we measure stats across social media, via page browsing, through the use of eGuides – and finally via actual reservations made. Most clients find their ads are paid for from one or two bookings from our portal. And then all the additional exposure is just free added-value. And in tough times, added value is all-important. 

For more, visit Solomon’s Guide at – it boasts refreshing new layouts, easy reservations and enquiry systems, and, of course, the readable and witty banter of writer Chris Harvie.

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