Tourism industry embarks on mentorship drive
Local company, City and Safari international recently launched a Tourism Business Coaching Mentorship Programme and the first session was held this past Saturday at Protea by Mariott Gaborone Masa Square Hotel.
It will run bi- weekly and will conclude in July. The coaching entails product development process and marketing: from concept development to market ready products and a One- year marketing plan.
The programme is free to participants and all that is required from them is commitment, and a passion for the industry. The expression of interest for the programme has been outstanding. Currently, there are over fifty participants who are on the waiting list. The first batch of mentees comprises of close to 40 participants.
The objective of the programme is to impart knowledge about the industry to Tourism business start- ups/ SMME’s and entrepreneurship who aspire to venture into the industry. It seeks to enable them to make well informed decisions for their business ventures. Above all, the programme seeks to open the eyes to the fact that the pie is big in the tourism industry and that everyone can reach out for their piece.
Sharing insights about the industry is a number of reputable key players in the industry who have amassed a wealth of knowledge over the years. These include Tshepo Matlou, who is the founder of South African based company, Sobona. The company focuses on coaching and he also heads marketing and communications for Jurni in South Africa.
Other facilitators include Lempheditse Odumetse, Operations Director for Chobe Holdings. Odumetse has a colourful background, whose zeal and passion saw him rising through the ranks to where he is today.
Also joining the facilitators is Dawson Ramsden, Marketing Executive for Botswana Tourism Organisation. Others include Jillian Blackbeard, CEO of Africa’s Eden Tourism Association. And then there is James Wilson, Director, Sales and Marketing for Desert & Delta Safaris.
In an interview, Tshepiso Mganga, the Co- Founder and Marketing Director of City and Safari International, and founder of the initiative, she explains that the programme is
designed for SMME tourism start- up and entrepreneurs aspiring to enter the industry. She also says that it is designed in such a way that it will give them the information and tools that will help them to find their way around the industry. The programme is made up of six weeks. The first session, was the introduction to the industry.
“Even if you are already operating within the industry, it is always good that you go back to basics, especially now during the pandemic. A lot of us have had to go back to the drawing board and consider how we do business as well as find new ways of repositioning our companies,” she explains. In the first session, the programme covered four topics that include destination educational, value chain of the tourism industry, what it takes to operate a tourism business as well as the importance of belonging to an association.
All of these topics, she explains, are vital for business ventures. Take for example, the destination educational, whether one is operating a guest house in Gaborone or a mobile safari in Chobe, it is always good to have knowledge even if it is the basics of destination especially for marketing purposes.
“The moment that you step out of the country, you represent Botswana, so it is Botswana before your product. Buyers out there are interested in the destination so it is always good that you include the destination, and introduce them to the destination before you introduce them to your product.
“Even if it is just for your personal visits. Imagine you are somewhere in China or Europe and somebody knows that you are from Botswana. Botswana has been positioned very well in the global sphere, and people get excited when they hear that you are from Botswana. Imagine you don’t have any knowledge of the destination and you are absolutely clueless., so that is why it is important for you to have basic knowledge at least about the destination and what it offers,” she explains.
She also shares that the tourism value chain is for the purpose of assisting them to craft their vision and be able to have expansion plans. She says that if one does not have the holistic picture about the tourism value chain, they might find themselves confined within their corner whereas there are ample opportunities within the industry. The topic, she says can help them to widen their thinking and growth plans. Mganga also highlighted that it was important for one to understand what it takes to operate within the industry, especially in remote areas. She notes that she often gets the question of how does one get to have a concession in say, the Okavango Delta, but that while one might get that concession, they needed some level of skill and a dose of passion to be able to operate a business within that area.
Doris Parson, who joined the forum from Nairobi, is the Managing Partner of SRC Agency, which is a Communications and Conferences company based in Tanzania and Rwanda. Speaking during the session, she explained that the sooner those who are interested in joining the industry started, the sooner they can reach their destination/ vision.
Sharing a bit about her journey herself, she says that, she did not even know that she had started that journey. “I literally didn’t know that I had started. I just decided that ok I am on that journey, what do I do, do I jump off? ” she asks rhetorically.
One of the crucial lessons that she shared is that one cannot run a business with a team if they can not run it on their own. Parsons says at the moment, some might be running their businesses from home, on their own, and that they should not be discouraged as they will learn some valuable lessons from that experience. “You are learning to be the HR person, you are learning to be the admin person, and you are learning to be the strategic thinker. You are learning everything on your own. As much as you are learning everything on your own, do not be despondent. Don’t let that put you off,” she cautioned.