ResRequest goes Google

ResRequest- GoogleSEO, SEM, CPC, CTR. Foreign speak? Not any more thanks to the Google Digital Skills workshop. We attended a workshop hosted by Google as part of their mission to provide digital skills to schools, communities and small businesses to get them online.

The session started with a few words from the South African Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services and his Deputy discussing the importance of internet access and digital skills for all. This was corroborated by the Head of Public Policy at Google, Caroline Hankinson and Head of Google South Africa, Guy Hankinson.

ResRequest- Google

The Google Digital Skills program started 9 months ago and trained 7000 people. These workshops opened school children’s eyes to new career opportunities and community members realised that they can up-skill and then consult. The struggle of SME’s to find customers can be assisted through using digital tools.

The workshop continued into a practical application and we learnt about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), CPC (Cost per click) and CTR (Click through rate) and how to apply these effectively.

ResRequest- Google

The workshop ended with a delicious lunch at the Three Cities Square Hotel. With an increasingly digital world, having a strong online presence is a business asset and one on which we continue to improve.

 

Password choices

ResRequest-password choices

How many times a day are you asked for your password? We have so many passwords that it’s hard to remember them all, albeit impossible. It sometimes seems simpler to have the same password across multiple sites, or to create an easy to remember password. However, password hacking is an increasingly common and dangerous threat. A hacked password can mean compromised financial security on your online banking, confidential email leaks or identity theft.

 

It is clear then that choosing a password is key, but what makes a good password?

 

It seems obvious but don’t choose a password that contains elements such as your name, birthdate, surname or simple number combinations such as 1,2,3 or 0, 0, 0, 0. Any password that your family could guess is a weak password so keep obvious personal information out of your passwords.

 

A good password is between 8 and 10 characters long. These days most passwords require a combination of numbers, letters and special characters. Make your password as long as possible as longer passwords are more secure.

 

Use spaces in your password. Most sites don’t allow for a traditional space but use the underscore key to add a space to your password.

 

If you prefer your passwords to derive from words, use a combination of words to create a password, as opposed to using one word as your password. For example, if your children are Jane (age 8), Michael (age 10) and Connor (age 3), your password could combine the first two letters of their names, their age and the year, eg, Ja8Mi10Co32017.

 

Alternatively create password using a sentence, for example The house is on Main Street could become ThHoIsOnMaSt.

 

Store your passwords away from your computer so that you will always be able to access them. Consider writing them in code so they are harder to decipher should they be found. For example, you could code the following password tki86H:k as vmk108J:m. In this code, each character has been replaced by the character two ahead, eg t becomes v. You could add ‘2’ before the coded password to remind yourself, eg. 2vmk108J:m

 

Once you have a strong password that is securely stored, don’t share it with anyone! Keep your passwords private, even from family.

 

By taking this advice, your passwords should be secure and your accounts safe from hackers.

2016 in review

ResRequest year

Here’s a short summary of our year and what we got up to.

Movements

ResRequest travels

We attended a record number of shows and conferences this year. Connecting with many of our power users and business partners, as well as new prospects.

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In conjunction with our integration partners, Direct Pay Online and Expedia, we hosted a workshop in Nairobi and connected with Wetu at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

Sales opportunities, implementations, training and consulting projects took us to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, all around South Africa and the Congo.

Team

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This year we sadly said goodbye to Paula, Nomfundo and Chirlaine. Chirlaine’s farewell coincided with Halloween so the Empangeni office had fun dressing up for her party. They will be missed and we wish them well as they start new chapters.

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We also said a big hello and welcomed Luzelle and Cheri to our functional support team and Kristen who reinforces the marketing team. Luzelle loves her coffee, Cheri enjoys wildlife and exploring game reserves and Kristen is a keen runner. These key players will strengthen our core.

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Left: A sneak peak of our call centre. Centre: And a 1,2,3,4… Right: Durban gets serious about fitness.

This was the year of activity. We revamped some of our office space and for our mid year team get-together we had a blast trying out a line dancing class and discovered that some of us have two left feet! Some hardcore crew even enrolled in bootcamp to get fit, which has inspired us to launch a ResFit campaign in the new year.

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To end off our annual review workshops, we had a unique team building experience involving horses in the Midlands Meander. Horseplay taught us about communication and leadership through interaction with horses. Take a look at what we learnt…

We got a sweet treat from Santa and the offices wasted no time in trying out the new waffle makers with office waffle parties. In keeping with the waffle theme, meet our waffle topping team!

Give back

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Some of the causes we got behind this festive season were the Santa Shoebox initiative for under-privileged children. As part of this initiative, we wrapped shoeboxes and packed them with useful items from the Santa Shoebox list. These gift boxes will be delivered to children across the province for Christmas. We also embarked on a cancer treatment drive for Mike Mthembu, our faithful builder and handyman, with the Youcaring donation platform.

Here’s to an even better 2017!

Superhero stack

ResRequest staff waffle

Every super team needs ‘superfood’

This year Santa sent us a super sweet Christmas treat of waffle makers to ensure regular waffle parties to keep our energy levels up. These crispy golden-brown delights are a hit with our cake-loving team. In the spirit of ResRequest, meet our extra special toppings that make our waffle out of this world.

Alex

ResRequest staff waffle

 

 

 

 

 

 

ResRequest staff waffle

ResRequest staff waffle

 

 

 

Cheri

 

 

Dylan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jaco

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

jill Kristen Luzelle MikeNicol Tash TK Walter

ResRequest and Horseplay

ResRequest team build

As 2016 draws to a close, the ResRequest team embarked on their annual team build. The location was kept a secret and anticipation was noticeable.

Horseplay in the Dargle Valley was the location of the 2016 team build. This innovative programme uses horses to demonstrate the need for effective communication as the horses will not respond unless they understand the task and trust the leader.

To demonstrate the importance of clear communication, Carlene Bronner of Horseplay, had the team direct Nicol (ResRequest developer) through an obstacle course using only the words, “Yes” and “No”, and in fact, Carlene said that ResRequest was one of the fastest teams to complete the challenges, proving we are not so bad when it comes to communication!

The team was then divided into pairs and given a horse. Over the course of the day, we learnt increasingly challenging activities with our horses, and how to communicate these activities to our horses so that everyone understood and the activity could be completed.

Great fun was had, and even those who were nervous of horses, overcame their fear.

Carlene summed up the key points from the day as follows:

Have a plan: If you don’t have a plan, then your horse/colleague will sense a void in your leadership and will fill in that void. The results will seldom be productive.

 

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Be consistent: If you are consistent in your emotions, your execution of ideas/work/dealing with situations as they arise, you will be found to be dependable. If you are dependable, you will be seen as trustworthy. If you are trustworthy, then it becomes easy for someone to hand over responsibilities to you.

Be patient: If you are impatient, you will lose the connection between you and your horse/colleague. Sometimes it takes time, but next time it will take less time, although some situations/people/horses may require going over the basics more than once.

 

ResRequest team build

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be persistent: Some situations/people/horses need more reassurance more often because of their doubts about their own abilities, and some require affirmation that you are in control because they are in doubt about your abilities! Don’t see that as a criticism but as a motivation to be better.

 

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Be non-confrontational: If you lose your cool and lash out under pressure, the damage could set you back in the eyes of your colleague. Take a deep breath and think about how you are going to respond, rather than just reacting. Remember the 8 + 2 = 10 = point of balance. Don’t buy into the emotion of your colleague, rather control yourself and get that point of balance back into the equation.

 

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If you mess up (and you will), fix up and move on: We are human and we do sometimes find our ability to stay calm being challenged, when you do mess up; fix up and move on. Don’t be tempted to put your colleague in the proverbial box and limit any future growth in the relationship. Horses never forget but they always forgive, unless they see a pattern developing into a bad habit because then they will develop undesirable behaviour to deal with your bad habits!

 

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And the biggest lesson of the day: Be in the moment, be present!

Star Wars characters renamed

Every year we pick a creative way to highlight and celebrate the team. Since many of our geeks are Star Wars fans and with the release of the latest film, Jill cast our team.

Check out our motley crew’s profiles.

If you want to know what we really look like – visit our team page.

Our growing team

We are thrilled to share about the newly appointed members to our growing team. This year we welcomed six new staffers to our family.

Jen Coppinger is contributing to user interface graphics, user guide material and social media.

Alex Moore strengthens the call centre by assisting with data capture, while Angie Geringer supervises product support.

Dylan Morgan joined to fill a DevOps role, which entails taking care of our servers and connections. Brad Corden joins us as a senior software developer and will be responsible for the development of connections.

Walter van Rooyen is the latest addition to our crew, assisting with technical support.

As we grow, we enhance the quality of our products and services ensuring our clients the best software solutions for their hospitality businesses.

A work of love

The AWOL Team

Belinda Blakeman our call centre manager, takes leave every year to help run a local annual event called AWOL (A Work Of Love) ‪#‎aworkoflove2015‬ .

Approximately 200 teenagers attend a camp in Empangeni – coming together to build relationships as well as receive practical and spiritual input to equip them for life. They also share God’s love in the community by tackling various projects or outreaches that are organised and run by the local churches – A Work Of Love.

AWOL 2015 saw a further 2 377 hours contributed into our community, bringing the total to 19 118 hours from 2009! There were 135 campers making an impact in various hospitals, NGOs, schools, children’s homes, the streets, retirement villages and municipal departments. Behind the scenes, AWOL had 204 volunteers teaming together to make things happen. It is a privilege to see the many gifts of these volunteers coming together for a common cause.

This year as part of our give back, we sponsored a tents for the camp and partnered with Belinda’s involvement.

The organisers shared in their feedback, “We stand in awe that the economic recession has not prevented so many people from opening their hearts to supporting AWOL and believe that our community will reap the benefits of this for many years to come!”

For more information visit: www.aworkoflove.co.za

AWOL teens & camp mom & dads

 

Zambia bike safari

Written by Mike Coppinger

One of the privileges of my job is that I get to travel around Africa. Often when I’m soaring through clear skies I gaze down on vast wilderness expanses and imagine traversing those territories by foot.

In July 2015 I had an opportunity to turn those dreams into reality. Better than that, I was able to share the experience with my family. Our primary objective was to explore a remote part of north-eastern Zambia by bicycle, following a route that approximated the reverse of David Livingstone’s final journey.

Safari video by Robert Coppinger

The odometer of my old Isuzu double cab showed that it had recently clicked over the 300 thousand kilometre mark, and I trusted it was up to the challenge of getting us there from South Africa. Packing in 5 people, their baggage, camping and cycling equipment, plus 3 bicycles created a spectacle that put all local transport to shame. The piles of ‘katundu’ on the roof and the bike racks protruding way behind the vehicle attracted plenty of attention from policemen along the way.

That was our section of the party. My elder brother and his wife, Dick and Dickie – yes, that’s correct – looked more respectable in their Nissan Qashqai, with another 2 bikes hanging on their rack.

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Dick, Jo, Julie-Ann, Carmen, Dickie, Rob and Mike en route in Lusaka

Five days driving from Durban brought us to Zambia’s Kasanka National Park. We arrived at the campsite in the dark, but dawn welcomed us with the spectacle of rare Sitatunga antelope grazing along the banks of the Kasanka river. We then spent the day planning our cycling route, gathering information about local conditions and preparing our bikes and equipment.

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Team briefing at Kasanka

It was a short drive to the Livingstone Memorial, situated at the place where Livingstone died under a Mpundu tree. Dick and Dickie, together with our adult children, Julie-Ann and Robert and a friend, Carmen, saddled up for stage one of the cycling safari. Dick had recruited 2 local guides to lead them on the 45 kilometre ride to Shoebill camp, situated in the Bangweulu swamps. My wife, Jo, and I faced a different challenge in the form of getting the vehicles to the same destination via a very roundabout route. Our circuitous 250 kilometre passage took us largely along unknown and unsigned bush tracks. Night had long fallen by the time we picked out the lights of Chikuni game scout camp flickering on the horizon. Guided by the lights, we bumped across a floodplain until we were halted by a channel that seemed to form a moat around the camp. One of the scouts came to our rescue and led us to a group of cold and hungry cyclists at the nearby Shoebill campsite. Our arrival with food and camping kit worked wonders for our popularity!

Two nights at the rustic Shoebill campsite were punctuated regularly with the sound of thousands of Black Lechwe stampeding through shallow water, after being spooked by prowling hyenas. During the day, other than marvelling at the vast herds of antelope, we searched for the extraordinary bird after which the camp is named. We met with mixed results, as most of the birds had retreated further into the swamps with the onset of the dry season. We did catch a glimpse of one individual that we flushed from a reedbed and followed that up with a close encounter with a semi-tame specimen that was being rehabilitated at Chikuni.

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Black Lechwe form the backdrop as we traverse the Bangweulu floodplain

I made it into the team for the next cycling leg, which was an unsupported safari from Shoebill to Shiwa Ngandu, a very isolated British manor house built by Stuart Gore Brown early in the last century. It is an interesting story how the house came to be there and a book has been written about it. Jo and Carmen drew the driving straws on this occasion. Dick, Dickie, Julie-Ann, Rob and I waved them goodbye and then wobbled off on our bikes, loaded with camping kit and supplies for the next 3 days.

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Single track through the miombo

For the first two days our guides, first Raphael and later Mutale, led us on smooth, single track trails that cut across wide grassy plains, skirted forest patches and wound through beautiful miombo woodland. When we passed through villages we were accorded celebrity status and our river crossings invariably attracted an excited audience. We revelled in the unique situations and experience, which met and exceeded everything we had hoped for.

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The ladies got some help during one river crossing at least

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Crossing the Lumbatwa river

When we made camp on the second night we realised that we had covered 100km but had a further 120km to cover on the final day. Hitting the trail at daybreak, we found the going tough from the outset. Having hitherto been absolutely flat, Zambia now seemed to be at a perpetual incline, the sun burned down and for the most part we were travelling on jeep tracks, rather than the more appealing single track.

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Day three takes its toll

When nightfall found us well short of our destination, not only our energy was exhausted, but also our water and virtually all of our food. With full moon having passed two nights previously, the twilight faded into blackness. Faced with the prospect of a thirsty and hungry night in the tent, we decided to rather press on.  With one head torch between us that was capable of revealing the track ahead, we clustered like a group of insects around the beam and worked our way cautiously through the darkness. After a couple of hours of painstaking progress, the torchlight picked out a sign that read ‘Kapishya Hot Springs’ – the words we had been searching for!

A joyful reunion with our support team was celebrated with a long drink of water, followed by another drink of water, some ‘potjiekos’ and then a most welcome night’s rest. Exhaustion and dehydration, and in my case some infected sores, took their toll the next day. Nonetheless, after a day’s recuperation, which included a visit to nearby Shiwa Ngandu, we had to press on to our next rendezvous. This was with our other brother, John, at the top of the Muchinga escarpment, for the final cycling stage, following the track down the escarpment and across the valley floor to the Luangwa river. The Luangwa’s status as one of Africa’s outstanding wildlife areas added a different spice to our safari. Within hours of setting off, the cycling party encountered a pack of wild dogs, as we traversed the corridor between the North and South Luangwa National Parks.

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Into the Luangwa!

After three days of pedalling, we crossed the river and settled in at Kalovia campsite. There we enjoyed three nights in one place – what a treat! Fresh supplies from John’s nearby Tafika lodge, spectacular game viewing and simple relaxation – we were now getting close to what most people would call a holiday!

The final act of the safari was the 4 day drive home, via Mozambique. By the time we pulled into our garage, the Isuzu had clocked up another 7,700km. Our 3 weeks of travel across 5 countries had included a hefty dose of border officials and police checks, plus many logistical challenges. That was a small price to pay for the extraordinary experiences and priceless family memories that we forged.

Next time I gaze from on high upon a sea of African woodland, my longing to be ‘down there and in it’ will be just as great, but will be accompanied by a gratitude for having had such a special opportunity to live the African experience.

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SATSA conference highlights

Written by Natasha Bame

I had the privilege this year to attend the annual SATSA conference which was hosted at the Fancourt hotel in George. It was an ideal opportunity to get to know our partners and other tour operators personally, putting names to faces and building the relationships. Also, it was a great space to meet all sorts of different folk related to tourism and keep up to date with the trends and frustrations of the industry.

The content was relevant and the format of panel discussions allowed for everyone to have their say. The great rates debate had everyone agreeing that we have to continue to hold in tension, the old and the new ways of doing business – using dynamic and static rates where appropriate and accepting that there is still a need for hard copy brochures along with a greater online presence.

We discussed our part in conserving Africa’s wildlife and the value of emerging markets. Transformation and responsible tourism were key threads which provoked delegates to think about what impact they can make – right where we are, in our businesses.

All in all it was a well rounded couple of days, witnessing the relationships which have formed through the association and learning more about the different players in the game. In the minister of tourism’s address we were encouraged to keep going despite the challenges within the sector, and to continue to partner with each other as we do business.