I recently took a trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town in South Africa to go and process my daughter’s Visa to attend the World Cheerleading Championships in Disneyland, Florida USA. This was a sudden trip because we had not gotten a suitable date at the American embassy in Johannesburg. So given the urgency, we had to take advantage of the value of the best online businesses available to make this happen.
The internet of things
My daughter is a dedicated sports person and has been doing Cheerleading since she was in primary school. She set for herself an objective to qualify and compete at the highest level in her final year of high school. She managed to achieve this goal after having been in the top primary school in cheerleading, Buccleuch Primary School and then went on to the top performing high school Bryanston High School. She qualified for Provincial and for Nationals like a hot knife cutting through butter.
In 2016 she qualified for the South African National Team and was due to compete in the World Championships in April 2017. So we did not yet have a Visa for her trip.
Of google, the internet and mobile
I did the visa application online and got possible the dates in the various cities. The only available date before trip was at the Cape Town American Embassy, a good 1400 km (almost 1000 miles) away). So I took to the online sphere to find the best and cheapest way to go there.
I interchangeably used my mobile and my laptop to search for all the flights.
To fly or not to fly
I looked at hiring a car as my two-seater one tonne truck was not ideal for this task. In addition, it would be required for my construction business while I was gone. So I looked at car hire services for options like unlimited kilometer packages but they turned out to be expensive on the fuel required. I then looked through a number of services like Avis, Budget Car Hire and the like.
Flight booking made easy
I then googled for low-cost airline offerings. I then got some bare-bones packages and some combo packages offering discounts if I booked car hire and accommodation in the same transaction. They looked lucrative but I had to be sure.
Itemised billing and bundled packages
There is one thing that both annoyed me and also impressed me. It impressed me because the itemization of items on the flight booking was very detailed. The items were reduced to the cost of the seat depending on whether you wanted a window seat or isle seat, next to the wing or at the back of the plane. You choose one and a price will be reflected. You also had to pay separately for the checked in bags by size and number. There was also separate insurance for the bags and another for the ticket, If you wanted insurance for the bags it was for each trip for each passenger. If you did not want insurance for the ticket, if it got cancelled you would get no refund. If you got insurance you would get 80% of the ticket back. And again, it was per flight, per person, which meant for me and my daughter it was by 4. That is the part that annoyed me. It meant that after getting all the items this was no longer a low cost ticket. Yet you could reduce it to the bare bones and exclude other things.
The bundled packages included discounts on getting car hire on arrival from preferred car hire companies affiliated with the airline. This is the model of affiliate marketing we use online. You get discounts if you come through the affiliate business. I took advantage of this to get a cheap hired car as I wanted flexibility. The car hire also came with a number of free kilometres which was more than adequate for my requirements. That way I not have to pay any extra on mileage done.
This was clever product packaging which we can apply to our online businesses and products in order to increase value to our customers at the same time creating revenue streams through our products.
I then looked into travago versus airbnb and found that airbnb offered far more generous packages in terms of location of rentals which had great views of the ocean. I checked the views using google maps street view and it was very stunning. I could see what the neighbors were like.
Another useful thing this helped with was I could see the nature of the neighborhood which indicated the level of risk I would face given some areas which are notorious for violence and vehicle theft in Cape Town. I was able to plot my route well as well for traveling from the airport to the accommodation and from the the accommodation to the embassy. There was a portion where I would need to walk so it was key to see the area and the distance I would walk as they do not allow packing at the embassy.
Site seeing in Cape Town.
We drove along the coastline to see one side of the ocean and then drove to the other side where we drove along the breathtaking magnificent Chapman Peak’s drive. One had to marvel at the wonders of human civil engineering. Along that route we met some people who had camera drones that they were using to take pictures of the coastline as well as themselves from previously unimaginable viewpoints.
Booking ride on Table Mountain
We also had the pleasure of booking our rides for Table Mountain online. We rode in the cable car to the top where there was zero visibility, just our luck, at the top. However, not all was lost, on the other of the mountain which was warmer from the side you could see the magnificent views.
Monitoring the USA trip online.
I also had the pleasure of following my daughter’s flight progress via Dubai on her way to the USA for the first time. I knew exactly where she was and when she arrived. This also helped on her trip back, to manage the timezone differences so that I could prepare to pick her up at the correct time at the airport when she arrived back.
The dream of online business
It was a pleasure to see the the value of online business being very handy in this quick impromptu trip to Cape Town and also on the way to and from Orlando. It makes you wonder how we used to manage before the day of the cellphone and the internet with snail mail and crackling copper wire transmission telelphones for those who had them. Some of us did not even own a telephone back then or a TV set let alone a computer.
So make sure that your online business is offering value by solving people’s everyday problems and making their needs met in easier and seemless ways. If you do it well, you could be earner of your portion of the R13,000 (US$1000) that I spent on this impromptu trip.