Not Your Typ­i­cal Travel Com­pany

SLOW Magazine - - Contents - Text: Daisy Holder Im­ages © Kaross Travel | Ele­phant Point Es­tate

Twenty years ago, peo­ple would flock to what my fam­ily call “bucket shops” (tra­di­tional travel agents) to book their seats on a cook­iecut­ter hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence. Spend­ing an arm and a leg on a hol­i­day only to dis­cover that 60 % of the prices in­cludes things that you aren’t in­ter­ested in, seems like a silly idea in to­day’s world. This is where Kaross Travel can help. Their mod­ern ap­proach to the clas­sic “travel pack­age” stems from the trans­for­ma­tive be­liefs of the com­pany’s founder, Rolín Nel.

Nel, a Pre­to­ria wo­man, didn’t al­ways work in the travel in­dus­try. In fact, she worked as a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tor and later in sales in the build­ing, con­struc­tion and mo­tor­ing in­dus­try. But soon af­ter join­ing the travel in­dus­try, Nel saw a gap.

We re­cently sat down with the lovely leader of Kaross Travel to pick her brain on all things travel, lo­cal and be­spoke: SLOW: What made you start Kaross Travel?

Rolín Nel (RN): I felt very strongly that I wanted to do things dif­fer­ently than the rest of the travel in­dus­try, and not just of­fer generic pack­ages. I saw a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity in fill­ing the gap in the mar­ket for a more tai­lor-made, bou­tique ap­proach to travel plan­ning.

SLOW: What makes Kaross Travel dif­fer­ent from other travel com­pa­nies?

RN: We do not have a call-cen­tre ap­proach. Our ap­proach is more de­tail-ori­en­tated and per­sonal than any other com­peti­tor of­fer­ing. Also, our ex­cel­lent con­tacts and re­la­tion­ships in the in­dus­try al­low us to be able to do the un­doable for our clients daily at prices our com­peti­tors can’t match.

SLOW: What do you de­fine as ‘craft travel’? RN: In the world of con­sumer prod­ucts, the fact that a lot of things are masspro­duced, generic and im­per­sonal gave rise to the craft move­ment – the need for high­qual­ity, hand­made, “craft” prod­ucts, such as craft beer and gin. Con­sumers are will­ing to pay an arm and a leg for a good craft gin or beer, even though it is more ex­pen­sive than generic, com­mer­cial prod­ucts be­cause it’s pro­duced in small amounts. So, ba­si­cally, craft travel means that the days of generic travel pack­ages are num­bered. Trav­ellers are no longer happy with a “one-size-fits-all” ap­proach to trav­el­ing, be­cause they don’t have to be. There is so much more on of­fer.

SLOW: How do you think Kaross Travel works to cre­ate craft travel for their clients?

RN: Craft travel puts the trav­eller first. We look at the client’s des­ti­na­tion pref­er­ences,

type of ac­com­mo­da­tion, bud­get, and the ex­pe­ri­ences they seek. Trav­ellers should not com­pro­mise on their hol­i­days, even if the de­mands seem out­ra­geous. Our aim is to cre­ate be­spoke and un­for­get­table travel ex­pe­ri­ences of which the mem­o­ries will last you a life­time and which do not com­pro­mise your bud­get or your pref­er­ences. And no re­quest is too big.

SLOW: In re­sponse to the eco­nomic cli­mate, do you think that South Africans are in­creas­ingly turn­ing to lo­cal travel?

RN: Not re­ally. Peo­ple who reg­u­larly travel over­seas make a point of bud­get­ing for it. From ex­pe­ri­ence it does seem that peo­ple do go on lo­cal breaks more, but it does not take away from in­ter­na­tional travel. Peo­ple ad­just their bud­gets ac­cord­ing to what they can spend.

SLOW: What do you think are South Africa’s best at­tributes? Why should tourists want to come here?

RN: We are a di­verse and com­pas­sion­ate na­tion and have some unique and flavour­some dishes that you won’t find any­where else in the world. We have a fan­tas­tic cli­mate, and a wide range of won­der­ful lo­cal cuisines on of­fer. A big draw­ing card is the fact that there is some­thing unique for ev­ery bud­get and ev­ery taste.

SLOW: Where do you see the tourism in­dus­try in SA go­ing? More for­eign in­vest­ment, or maybe more lo­cally owned tourism busi­nesses?

RN: I am notic­ing a spike in col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses with the aim of de­liv­er­ing a bet­ter-qual­ity of­fer­ing. Cross-bor­der part­ner­ships are oc­cur­ring more and more – for ex­am­ple, lo­cal lodge own­ers ap­proach­ing in­ter­na­tional in­vestors to take their of­fer­ing to the next level.

SLOW: Do you have any hid­den gems in SA that you like to go to?

RN: I have a soft spot for Rich­mond in the Ka­roo – the peace and quiet, good food and ex­cel­lent, homely ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Kaross Travel, and Rolín Nel, are pas­sion­ate about be­spoke travel and are con­stantly look­ing for new places to ex­plore, new deals to cre­ate, and new ways to bring a smile to their cus­tomers’ faces.

For more info on Kaross Travel and how they can make your hol­i­day dreams come true, visit

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