GoVacation Africa’s Sabine Blehle, writes:
A week after our President announced further relaxations in travel regulations, I thought this would be an opportune moment to do some soul searching, to see if I could identify the positives in the last two years after so many negatives have taken the lead. And to my surprise there were many to be celebrated.
Here are a few:
- The beginning of the pandemic brought the industry and our teams so much closer together. We all had to deal with the first real crisis in decades and, with very few exceptions, it became about communication, collaboration, mutual support, assistance, empathy and, above all, about being genuine and human.
- Having been spoilt with record years since the inception of GoVacation Africa, the seemingly endless destruction of our industry brought back a level of humility and interdependence between all stakeholders, which will hopefully last for many years to come.
- I have certainly learned how loyal our long-standing staff are during the last two years, working under dire circumstances, reduced working days and wages, working remotely and with continuous insecurity. We, however, also learned that hybrid office principles work, allowing for better utilisation of time, better work-life balance, and a concept of workcations; and none of these personal benefits were to the detriment of our business’s purpose.
- I get a strong sense that the DMC world has a new-found purpose, new importance in the customer’s reality and a greater respect for the role we play in the daily life of our suppliers. Many of our core supply chain partners spend an enormous amount of quality time at our new offices – which are, by the way, amazing – and I get a sense that they see us in a vastly different light; a restart partner with real value in the changed distribution philosophy.
- We had over two years to drive our IT strategy forward without distractions, allowing for GoVacation Africa’s Virtual Marketplace powered by TDM to go live at the end of April 2022. Dynamic, effective, fast, comprehensive – a real alternative to soulless bedbanks and OTAs.
- Having shrunk the way, we have allowed for a new focus, a new way of doing things and hence a restart is full of opportunities. The product we launch at Indaba is far more curated, more niche, thinner but more researched and, above all, totally customer-centric as opposed to being too broad.
- We deeply understand that complexity is our friend and hence BLACK@GoVacation Africa (www.go-vacation.co.za/black/) and SCUBA@GoVacation Africa (https://www.go-vacation.co.za/scuba/) form an integral part of our future strategy.
- Indaba 2022 has just concluded, maybe small, a real start-up, but an opportunity to meet face-to-face again and that is my last positive of COVID-19 – I now know that I miss personal interaction and I cannot wait to see my colleagues in the industry again. It was good to see you there!