At the recently held Botswana Tourism Travel Expo (BTTE) in Kasane local tour operators were taken through a series of workshops to help them attract more tourists to Botswana. When grilling the local tour operators on ‘Understanding the USA and Canadian markets’, Mary Jean Tully – the Founder and the CEO of Tully Luxury Travel – encouraged them to demonstrate hunger in their work. She said having established her business in 1987 as the Cruise Professionals they have recently added the African Dreams and Private Travel Designers to their roster of brands and urged local tour operators to afford easy amenities that allow all their clients to come to Africa easily, especially Botswana which is landlocked.
She said it is important for the local tour operators to be different and show passion in what they do. “There are so many things that travellers need. One of these things is free WIFI and you should also be able to partner with like-minded businesses in order to advance yours,” she said. She became emotional when she talked about Africa and the wildlife in Africa, saying that is because she is very fervent about Africa and its people, the wildlife, and the conservation of the land. She said that each day inspires her to bring about change and to be able to see the magnificent African animals in their natural environment which is very breath-taking. She said she is committed to doing all that she can do to inspire change and create awareness through her conservation efforts.
She talked about the senselessness of trophy hunting and poaching, almost breaking down in tears when saying she can’t imagine the world without elephants, rhinos and big cats – lions. She said she has been changed by Africa and it has touched her not like any other place in the world because it is full of surprises and that is what the local operators should sell to the international markets. Bradley Coetzer of Under the Influence, who sponsored the BTTE with wines, encouraged local operators to create an experience at their sites because travellers want to come and be in the safaris while at the same time they want to experience something different. “You already have great hotels and lodges, so every traveller will ask themselves what it is that is extra that I will experience at this place because all of them are beautiful,” he said. He encouraged them to build dynamic beverage lists that they are also knowledgeable on.
Product Head for FNB PayPal Erna Vakis encouraged the local tour operators to open PayPal accounts for their clients to pay easily from all over the world, because one end up losing customers because the method of payment is not what is comfortable for the travellers. She urged the operators to understand how PayPal works to take advantage of it. “PayPal is trusted all over the world and used by millions, so go out there and grow your businesses,” she encouraged.