Safari Destinations Q&A

1.      How long have you been in the tourism business and what was your route to becoming managing director(s) at the company?

When you grow up in Maun you’re in the safari industry whether you like it or not! With so many bush pilots, safari guides and camp managers around, you can guarantee you’ll be roped into the mischief and mayhem of the bush from an early age. From chief potato peeler at age 12 to running safari inventory at age 20, you really just graduate from bartering for free time in the bush to doing it for a living. Both Carina’s husband and mine are professional guides as well, so not only do we have a love for the bush, but twice as much opportunity to get out there.Carina and I both have long histories with mobile safaris and once you can understand and sell those, you can do anything.Adding camps and lodges was the easy part!Carina spotted a gap in the market for a local DMC based in Botswana and here we are.

2.      I know you both have young families – how do you balance work and home life?

Microwave dinners! Thankfully I never aspired to being a gourmet chef, so at home whatever’s easy is whatever works.It’s been very important for us as mothers to create a child-friendly work place. We have an office crèche where mothers can bring their kids and watch them grow from babies to toddlers within an arm’s length of their desks.Working in tourism in Botswana often means being away from your family and many women leave long careers in the bush to settle in Maun and have children.In a way, you could joke we’re like a halfway house, rehabilitating women into domestic life but keeping them in touch with the bush!It works great for us, since they bring that bush experience to their jobs and the itineraries they create.  Botswana’s Minister of Environment, Wildlife & Tourism, Mr Tshekedi Khama even congratulated us on setting a new standard for employers of mothers when we bumped into him at the Botswana Travel & Tourism Expo in Kasane last year, which we were very proud of.

3.      Safari Destinations seems to me to be a progressive company – tell me a little about the work ethic and your staff.

As we’re based in Botswana, our staff all proudly live, travel in and experience the country they’re busy selling. We’re all trainees as well as mentors. Our staff are an exotic jumble of people from all over the world with individual experiences and a varied knowledge gained from working at different camps in the bush.Each of us knows something others don’t and we never stop learning. Most importantly, we all share a love for travel and adventure.

 4.      Why do you think Safari Destinations is different from other DMC’s and why should agents in the UK think of using you?

Botswana is our home and the Okavango is our backyard. We understand the animal migration patterns, the ever-changing flood levels in the delta and if your client wants to know what the weather is like, we can look outside our window and tell you if it is raining.Being local also means we’re on hand, ready to assist during travel in any event. We’re constantly invested in giving back and growing Botswana from the inside out. We do this at the grass-roots level by employing staff locally who benefit from our in-house training program, mentor system, regular site inspections, weekly training sessions and sponsored formal learning. We also support local social responsibility projects that directly benefit people in Botswana.

5.      Although you cover a number of countries, where are your favourite places in Botswana and why?

We really love the Khwai Community Area as an alternative to visiting Moremi Game Reserve. Being outside the park means you can night drive and game walk while also benefiting from the same great game viewing.Khwai suits almost any traveller as it offers a greater range of accommodation choices from more affordable to the higher level. For families, the Makgadikgadi Pans are fantastic as the activities offered break the usual safari routine and kids can engage in quad biking, hanging out with meerkats and bushmen, as well as sleeping under the stars.  For a truly luxurious safari experience or the seasoned safari goer, the Linyanti is unbeatable as it contains only private concessions for a more exclusive experience, together with the best bet for spotting wild dog, the largest buffalo population and the highest density of elephant bulls in Botswana.

6.      What’s the most difficult/complicated trip you have ever had to organise in Botswana?

Family itineraries are normally the most satisfying puzzle to put together. There are so many camps in Botswana with different age restrictions, private vehicle requirements and limits on ages and activities for children, as well as different child discounts. Camps which offer great value for adult travellers may end up more limiting and expensive for families with children than other camps which charge more per adult, but less per child and less for private activities. We pride ourselves on knowing who the best suppliers are for travel with children & combining them on an itinerary that makes sense. The other big challenge is agent educational itineraries which we work very hard on to ensure the agent travelling gets the biggest benefit in terms of exposure to different products and an understanding of what they sell most.We think long and hard about the group itineraries we offer around Indaba time, as well as the individual requests we get for agents travelling solo. 

7.      Finally,what are your aspirations for the company in the next five years? Any new developments?

Our main aim is to further develop the tools we offer our agents to help them better understand Botswana. Already we can see a huge difference in the way that agents learn about Botswana since the emergence of social media and we plan to keep taking advantage of online platforms to teach, demonstrate and communicate to our agents in between trade shows and educational visits. We really believe we have a recipe for success in the way that we encourage our team to teach, learn, travel and compare.We plan to never stop learning and to keep earning our position as in-house Botswana experts for our agents.

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