Sense of Africa, South Africa, has embraced one of the company’s key concepts for 2022, ‘Reconnect’, and we have done this in a number of ways in recent months, writes COO, Martin Botha in this Brand Update.

Reconnecting with our people has been a driving force for us, and at every opportunity we have brought our staff back into the office. Our hybrid working model is now in full swing, with teams connecting in person with each other every week to exchange ideas, impart knowledge and maintain our company culture, a big component of reconnection.

Staff have travelled extensively in the past few months to review product and reconnect with suppliers. Our people have had some incredible experiences along the Garden Route, in Cape Town, on safari in the Kruger area, and even managed to travel to Botswana and Zimbabwe, to showcase how post-COVID travel was possible. Investing in our people, keeping their product knowledge updated, and strengthening our supplier relationships with managers, consultants and business development and contracting staff have been invaluable. It’s created some of the foundations to rebuilding and regenerating our business. Our travel specialists and tour consultants are a vital element in ensuring that we live by our service delivery promises, provide on-the-ground expertise in each country, and create value to our clients by being eyes and ears in country.

Another invaluable reconnection was a quick trip to Switzerland and the UK by our Sales and Marketing Director, Suzanne Benadie. “When a window of opportunity opened with PCR testing and the ability to travel, I booked a last-minute trip to one of our most active markets, Switzerland, and was able to meet with our clients in Zurich. The Swiss have consistently travelled throughout the pandemic, and the market has shown great resilience to travel, as well as managing postponements. I also managed a day and half in the UK, to reassure our clients that our team was ready when the market opened again.”

Masa Yamawaki, Market Manager for the Nordics, Australia and New Zealand, Japan and Asia, had the opportunity to reconnect with the Japanese trade. SA Tourism hosted a virtual trade show, and the three-day event was a great success for us. “Reconnecting virtually, in the days following Japan opening up for international travel, has certainly sparked interest in selling southern Africa once again and we look forward to market recovery in the latter half of 2022.”

Our aligned suppliers have been visiting our Johannesburg offices for in-person training and reconnect sessions. Being open for business in our rejuvenated office space has a renewed energy. Seeing teams busy collaborating and contracting, and attending presentations on property updates is inspiring to our people and our stakeholders.

Debora Maestroni, Market Manager for Italy, who is based in Cape Town, met up with some of our Italian clients during WTM in the Mother City, and hosted them to some local site visits. “After a tight lockdown lasting more than two years, Italian agents are highly motivated to visit South Africa again, promote partnered fam trips with us and our suppliers, and get the reconnections established quickly. We are confident of some recovery of the August high season this year.”

Indaba 2022 will no doubt be one of our biggest reconnecting opportunities for 2022. We are encouraged by the number of tour operators and international buyers who have expressed interest in attending the show in May and we look forward to joining our African Footprint on the Tourvest Destination Management stand.