Part Two of “Sarfari” Kay’s Biggest Risk post takes us to where she needed to make some more serious decisions regarding her business. Kay has shown, though both her posts, that she’s not a woman who gives up easily….matter of fact, she never gave up. THAT’S the sign of a true entrepreneur. Read Part One here.
My driver dilemma…
After several years in business, I began to wonder how I could provide a more exclusive, personal and custom experience for my guests, one that would be more memorable. I sort of knew the answer, but there was much to do to accomplish it and it was a huge risk.
In Africa, your driver-guide is the ‘make or break’ person on any safari. Over the past few years, since inception of Destined To Travel, I had several drivers for my safaris. While all of them were good, it wasn’t always possible to have the same driver because it depended on what company the safari was booked through. It wasn’t always the experience I wanted for my guests, so it left me thinking, what is my next step?
For several years I had been working with a driver who worked for a major safari company, he was my driver when I had occasion to book through that company or when he was ‘off-duty’. However, that company was getting far too expensive for me to continue using. So once I stopped booking that company I knew I would lose my favorite driver as well.
The dilemma was how to have a regular driver on my group safaris in order to provide a consistent, more flexible and engaging experience. Maybe it meant having my own vehicle, hiring my own driver. Was that the answer? If it was, that decision was major. How could I even go about that? How could I hire my own driver and know that it would be someone whom I could trust, someone honest and with integrity in a country I really knew very little about. Doing business in a foreign country is a huge risk – especially when you’re not there all the time.
This was the beginning of a real learning experience. If I did this, and I had no idea how I could accomplish it, on my own, in a foreign third world country. If I did, it would be the biggest risk I might ever take in my business. Would I do it, would it be the right decision, where would my driver come from, would he be honest and trustworthy, would I be able to work with a man in a patriarchal society, where women are not valued the same as women in the USA, how would I ever be able to accomplish this?
Maybe it was an unreachable goal. Maybe I should just go in another direction and accept that I could not provide the exact experience that I wanted my guests to have. Maybe I should just accept that and forget about wanting to stand out in my business. Maybe I should think of another way. I knew how easy it was to just get lost in the shuffle of the thousands of other safari companies. Maybe, just maybe, my ideas were too grandiose.
When out of the blue…
Months passed and my plans for growing my business were beginning to fade, it seemed just too difficult to achieve. Then, out of the blue, the former driver who I had always thought would be an incredible asset to my business, looked me up and told me that he had left his position with the company for which he’d worked and would love to go into business together.
It didn’t take long before we hatched a plan. Together we decided to invest in a vehicle where he would serve as the driver and thus, the main driver for Destined to Travel. What had I done? I had just taken the biggest risk ever, that’s what!
Risk well taken…
Looking back now, to three years ago, I must say that the risk that at one time overwhelmed me with both positives and negatives, actually turned out to be one of the best decisions of my business career. My investment in the vehicle, and the driver, of the trust and loyalty that I was so concerned about, in this foreign land, turned out to be the best, and the biggest risk Destined To Travel has undertaken to date.
My guests have no idea whet I went through to stand out among thousands of safari companies, to give them an experience that would be ever so special for them! They have no idea how much I went back and forth about whether or not it was a good decision; even if it was, should I go ahead and do it. Even I didn’t know the answers at the time.
As it turned out, the trust and integrity of the driver was the least of my concerns. He has proven himself hundreds of times over.
Out of my control…
Now the risk I’m faced with is just when things appear to be improving, and business has picked up, here comes the Ebola scare. With more and more people canceling, the vehicle is not moving in the way it would have been had the outbreak not occurred. Don’t get me wrong, there are no outbreaks of Ebola in East Africa, but each time there is a scare, it affects tourism. Tourism is my business, and without it, the business doesn’t exist. So we’ll just have to see where things go from here. Right now, I’m on my way to Africa with a group – nothing is stopping me!
“Safari” Kay Trotman
With over twenty years in the travel business, the name Kay Trotman is now always associated as ‘Safari’ Kay. In that time, many different countries have opened their doors and that has allowed me to carefully and skillfully plan and escort many different groups to exotic, exciting and adventurous international destinations around the world. Some of those past countries include China, Thailand, Italy, Brazil, London, France, Caribbean, Costa Rica and now Africa. Destined To Travel is a licensed, insured, bonded travel agency, specializing in African Safaris throughout the finest safari destinations in Africa. We invite you to try us out, and we look forward to seeing you on safari! Learn more about Destined To Travel