Is South Africa retaining the local and international travel incentive edge?

Askari and helicopters on safari

A 5-star safari is a lifetime event for international travelers to Africa. Is it possible to offer blue-chip South African companies a luxury safari as a corporate incentive to top performing sales teams in their own country?

Can South Africans differentiate between camping, glamping and a luxury mobile safari?

When CEOs and event professionals look for the ultimate getaway for their top performers, they look for something the guests themselves cannot access in their private capacity – what’s the point of taking them on an experience every ‘common run of the mill tourist’ can buy anyway?

Many South Africans have had the opportunity to go holiday camping with their family or visit the Kruger National Park at some stage of their lives.

Haywards Safaris is a mobile tented Safari Lodge with a 5-star rating for exclusive private groups of between 40 and 200 people. It is luxury, opulence and indulgence in some of the most beautiful wildlife scenery in the world.

It has set up camp in remote wilderness areas such as iSimangaliso World Heritage Site, the Cradle of Mankind, the Okavango Delta, in the Namib Desert; and is the only safari outfitter with access to the Kruger National Park for private safari camps.

In 2017, it went up against five other international contestants in the World Travel Awards and won its place on the African map at The World’s Best Glamping Operator.

It has hosted Dire Straits on stage in the middle of the desert for a 60th birthday celebration and has hosted safari dinners with the King and Queen of Holland and taken some of Hollywood’s biggest performers and international talk show hosts on a big 5 safari at its headquarters in Dinokeng, Gauteng.

Incentive planners, concierges and personal assistants can research into the depths of Google and will uncover only one such mobile safari venue in all of Africa which has it all – Hayward’s Grand Safari Company.

What is the difference between a family holiday in the Kruger and a Hayward’s private safari experience in the Kruger?

Budget and the entire safari experience. Haywards Safaris offers luxury few families can afford.

At the moment the meetings and incentive industry is under siege as it grapples with tough budgetary challenges, increased VAT, political instability and rising fuel prices. Producing dream events and awards functions is no longer simple.

To keep it tops, we have opened up a new camp in the Big 5 Dinokeng reserve which parallels the Kruger wildlife experience but with less day trippers and FIT tourists.

With a Big 5 experience in Gauteng, planners don’t have to spend their budgets on transfers and logistics getting their incentive group up to the Kruger. Our Big 5 camp is one hours’ drive from Johannesburg and OR Tambo International Airport.

With the very best safari guides available in the region, your wildlife encounters are superb, then add on staged dinner entertainment that showcases the leading artists in southern Africa! Theme each dinner in an elaborate display of African culture! And you have your very own 5-star rated award winning safari experience like no other.

Many South African companies are looking at Mauritius and Thailand as their incentive destination of choice, where lies the difference?

Countries such as Thailand, Mauritius, Dubai, and regions such as Eastern Europe are providing very competitive pricing. But they are not offering an exclusive bespoke event and frankly most South Africans already holiday there or visit for family events.

What are you really saying to your incentive winners when you take them to a public resort with other guests and groups are in sight? There is very little ‘bespoke’ about these types of incentives.

How does one value absolute exclusivity? Can one put a price tag on it? Is it measureable?

Should a group incentive safari for VIP’s, top-end performers or visiting celebrities be held at a venue that offers total privacy to your group only;  or is it okay to block off a small corner of a venue and hope for “exclusive” service?

I believe that this is the very difference between a mediocre travel incentive and a never to be forgotten incentive experience.

Just think about it for a moment. Why on earth would a top performer choose for himself or herself a place where the crowds hang out, where he has to fight the buffet queue, or take a swim with other holidaymakers, a place where anyone can be… it’s a contradiction in terms.

Surely when searching for a venue or experience for the world’s top performers, one should look for a place or experience that they themselves cannot access – maybe cannot even afford, but certainly a place that is not open to them as an individual, but rather a place they can only access via the special and rare safari event you have set forth and created for them.

On an exclusive and private Sustainable Safari event we did for a group of 250 celebrities out of the USA, I was constantly being asked (in an obvious American twang), ‘Are we the only people here?’ – by celebrity after celebrity. It took me a while to realise that they were totally enthralled to be on safari in the middle of the African bushveld… all by themselves.

They were so in awe and appreciative of this simple action – the ownership of their own space. No press, no paparazzi, no autograph screamers, no security… and no other public. Just them, the timeless space of Africa… and us, in the simple presentation of canvass and classic safari ambiance.

It took me a while to realise that true exclusivity at the level we cater to, is priceless. It felt good to know that we have been doing this since the very first grand safari camp we composed over 20 years ago.

What can South Africa offer as opposed to over border countries for South African groups?

I would urge planners to look to exclusive local offerings that retain the celebration of the group. South Africa still represents great value for money in the world of incentive travel and group fares.

Haywards are exceptionally proud about the recognition for our service excellence which we receive through our client commendations. It’s of paramount importance that we maintain our motto of exchanging in abundance – in other words – supplying a service more than the client expects.

As a team leader it is vital your team members know that not only are they part of a winning team but out there representing the industry are some of the most amazing teams performing at world class levels too – going for gold, every single day. It’s good to know there are internationally recognised contenders amongst us.

From time to time we hear about other safari, game lodge or tour operators that have let down their clients, dropped the ball so to speak and of course this is not great for the travel and tourism industry or any other industry for that matter. It can take years to regain such clients and rebuild their faith in our country and its products. We are on constant alert to avoid such results at all costs.

The best formula is to ensure you associate your products with well-recognised industry leaders.

In this way there is a built-in quality assurance. Surround yourself and your team with the best suppliers – those with the best well-proven track records and which come highly recommended from end users themselves.

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