Jen Packs-for-a-Purpose

Many lodges and camps are linked to the great initiative, Pack for a Purpose, which helps travellers to give practically to the surrounding communities, when they go on safari.

When we have opportunities to travel to areas that are in need, we jump at the chance to fill our bags with useful things for those communities.

Mkasanga school

Jen, a member of our marketing team, recently travelled home to the South Luangwa in Zambia. We helped her shop for supplies so that she didn’t go empty handed. She ‘Packed for a Purpose’ and delivered the well travelled package to Mkasanga School. Due to its remote location, the school is the sole provider of education for the surrounding villagers. Mkasanga is supported by Remote Africa Safaris‘ Tafika Fund and we were thrilled to contribute to one of our client’s positive initiatives. The supplies included balls, skipping ropes, stickers and calculators. It was our pleasure to ‘Pack for a Purpose’ and make a difference for young learners in remote areas. – See more

Drumming our hearts out

Twice a year our team gets the opportunity to gather for departmental reviews and a team building activity. Having two offices and a couple of staffers working remotely, it’s an invaluable time to spend together.

This May after a couple of newbies had recently joined, we held our AGM and rounded this time off with a drumming session run by the Drum Shack.

It was a fun rhythmic afternoon spotting the hidden talent within our numbers. We learnt different beats and even composed a ResRequest compilation with lots of laughter and sore hands.

 

 

East Africa E-Tourism 2014 conference experience

Written by Jill Bennett-Howes

I arrived at Nairobi airport greeted by bright yellow walls and friendly customs attendants shouting ‘Jambo, Jambo’. I reminisced on my Kenya trip 9 years ago when we installed ResRequest at Governors’ Camps. At the time our greatest challenge was the modem dial up contending with at least 4 other voices shouting ‘Jambo, Jambo’ as we tried desperately to get a data transfer through.

As my taxi driver tore through the streets of Nairobi pointing out this building and that one, I was totally gobsmacked at how much the city has changed. I asked him which buildings were new and, it turns out, almost all the buildings! I oo’ed and aa’ed about all that had been built over the last 9 years. Everything looked, well similar to home, except for the adrenalin junkies sailing out of the bus doors as they spun round the massive round-a-bouts, which the taxi driver assured me was rather unusual.

I was blown away by the high rises and apartment blocks in Nairobi, granted my taxi driver may have taken me the best routes, but in that case, the taxi drivers have got better at tourism then they were years before!

As I saw and experienced parts of Nairobi and caught up with customers, I wildly started hash-tagging #WhyILoveKenya, of course it helped that I’ll be heading home 2kg’s heavier thanks to my room attendant, Edith. Edith loaded my bathroom full of bottles of lemon grass conditioner, after I left her a reply to her welcome note which read: “Thanks for my conditioner Edith, I love it!”  For some weird reason I feel compelled to Pinterest my hair after Damian’s states that 94% of Pinterest users are women.

conditioner

Speaking of Damian and the reason for this post, Damian Cook and his wife, Elizabeth,  put on an intense, action packed and totally at-the-heart-of-things E-Tourism conference for East Africa. After attending the Cape Town conference last year, and receiving rave reviews from our marketing manager after this year’s CT session, I was really excited. Once again, Damian did not disappoint. The conference was packed and Damian’s Kenyan customers were totally absorbed in the programme from beginning to end.

I was one of the lucky few who had the opportunity to present to the audience, which consisted of a number of our customers. What surprised me, and them, was how much rich functionality ResRequest has to offer.I was able to tell our story and was rewarded with several customers telling me that they’ll be heading back to their office to check out much of the functionality I mentioned.

Damian’s presentations were honest and right at the heart of the challenges we face. He paid particular attention to helping Kenyan customers understand, plan and implement a crisis management strategy around their current tourism crisis.

Of course I don’t know how long Edith’s conditioner supply will last so I sincerely hope that Damian plans the next E-Tourism conference soon.

Technology trends in tourism

Written by Jill Bennett-Howes

A few weeks ago I consciously unplugged from the matrix to join this year’s e-Tourism Summit. It felt great to be unplugged. I actually watched the air hostess mechanically deliver her flight-crash-pitch – which reminded me to quickly sneak in a 5 minute Google to confirm if there would be any life-threatening effects from my kids playing too much Minecraft.

As the wheels picked up, I listened to the guy in front of me tell his across-the-aisle colleague how he planned to single-handedly change the insurance industry, I wondered if he dyed his hair – as I set a reminder to chase my insurance broker for an update on my policies. I heard the crying 6 month-old three rows ahead of me and, as the air filled with the unmistakable smell of a mother’s worst in-flight nightmare, I thought back on my kids and scrolled through my photo gallery.

I was welcomed in Cape Town by her customary light showers and as I enjoyed the friendly banter from my Rwandan taxi driver, I tweeted a photo of table mountain in all it’s glory. In the hotel I readied myself for a long night of presentation-prep. I popped a quick Skype to the office – just to let them know that I was still alive. They told me they’d seen my check-in status on Facebook. Facebook – did they say Facebook?  Gosh I had almost forgotten – with three hours of no social contact it felt like a past life. I quickly checked recent friend threads, liked the obligatory posts, and of course I could not ignore my Instagram fan base so I uploaded a shot of the Cape Town ocean front.

As I reached for my laptop and juggled power cables to charge my iPhone, iPad and Mac, it dawned on me that I was delusional to think I could or would unplug. Staring at the cable-maze I realised – I am a child of the technology age. Whether I have 3G, Edge, WiFi or flight-mode – I’m connected. I’m a millennial. I love living in technology nirvana.

With that epiphany I walked enthusiastically into the e-Tourism summit, wanting to learn about the innovation around me and make sure I was plugged into the latest and greatest technology. The summit did not disappoint. As Damian Cook kicked off the event I felt some sort of energy take over. I had to hold myself down when the music started pumping and the dancers started moving. When he said: “please tweet and Facebook throughout the conference”, I felt like I had just been told school was out. I took off my heels, immersed myself in the presentations and I walked away with some great technology trends, social media tips and the intense pleasure of feeling alive. Alive and plugged in.

For those of you who were unable to attend (and you have got to make a plan to change that next year!) e-Tourism published copies of presentations and recorded highlights. I have included some of my personal favourites below along with some study material I enjoyed as I trawled the internet for ideas to apply to our business.

Team snippets

Our team has grown! There have been announcements, celebrations and new recruits!

Natasha Lynn and Mark Bame announced their engagement | TK Madikane introduced us to his beautiful baby girl, Soyama Thakasa, which means be happy/content | Paula Chaplin acquainted us with her gorgeous newbie, Sidney Sofia Charlotte and Nick Soper will soon have a junior joining the ranks.

And it’s not just new babies we’ve added, we’ve also welcomed a new developer, Jaco Sapet-Nel. Jaco has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, but his passion lies in programming and development. Jaco has introduced our team to a variety of interesting hobbies, including underwater photography, line dancing, medieval sword fighting and pistol shooting.

Read more

 

Pack for a Purpose initiative

pfapTanzaniasm1

Providing positive presence on the internet

Written by Rebecca Rothney

Pack for a Purpose (PfaP) is a great way to achieve additional exposure, at no cost, for the community projects supported by your lodge on the Internet.

Our NGO is based in Raleigh, NC, in the United States. Our mission is to positively impact communities around the world by assisting travellers who want to bring meaningful contributions to the destinations they visit. We assist “PfaP travellers” by providing online lists of requested items for over 300 community projects, making it simple for travellers to make a big impact on every trip.

Travellers simply follow these five easy steps:  

1. Select destination.

2. Find a lodging and a project it supports.

3. Choose the supplies you wish to bring from the specific items requested.

4. Drop off the supplies at the lodging.

5. They will be delivered for you; it’s that easy!

Since Pack for a Purpose’s inception in December 2009, the global travel community has brought more than 9,400 kilos of supplies to schools, clinics and orphanages worldwide that are in need of assistance. By simply adding medical, school supplies, sport equipment and other requested supplies in their luggage, these travellers have made a big impact.

ready to be sealedsm1

Among the many lodging locations that participate with Pack for a Purpose many of lodgings are current ResRequest clients. These lodgings support community projects in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zanzibar, Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique.You can take a look at all of Pack for a Purpose’s current destinations.
Submitting your lodging to Pack for a Purpose is simple and can be done directly at this link on our website. Once we receive your information and you have complied with the three easy steps on the form, we will have your lodging published on our website within 7 business days. Once published, we will spread the word about your lodge through our social media outlets: TwitterFacebook and Pinterest.
Pack for a Purpose has received a large amount of international media coverage. This all translates into additional exposure for the lodgings and tour companies listed on our website. To view the coverage, click here. We have received the 2012 Travel+Leisure Global Vision Award Editors’ Pick for Digital Iniative and are finalists for the 2013 Guardian’s Observer Ethical Awards in the Travel Category.

Team snips | beginning of 2013

This year has been off to a running start and we have many projects on the go, along with new developments. We are not only growing in productivity but also in number.

We were as excited as the proud parents when Jack was born on 22nd of January. Congratulations to Dylan Bridgman and Daniela on their first gorgeous babe!

Read more

Superheroes

This year has seen a number of our team members fashioned into superheroes, inspiring Jill to write a superhero poem.

SUPERHERO

As a kid I always wished that superman I’d meet,
he’d catch me when I was falling and gallantly return me to my feet.
His bulging muscles beneath his shirt would help make me real calm,
he’d render my enemies unconscious and protect me from all harm.

Yes, as a child I worshipped all these heroes bold and tall,
and I truly believed they’d be close to catch me when I fall.
Day after day I dreamed that my life like Marvel would read,
I wished for Batman, Superman, The Hulk and even a white steed.
But as I grew older life slapped me hard, it seemed to make its point quite clear,
“Jill,” it said “You’re in your bed – caus in real life there’s no superhero near.”

And then one foggy New Year’s eve the server crashed and I was stuck,
I tore my hair, I wrung my hands and shouted “O what – bad luck”.
It wasn’t long and help rushed out, Dylan had picked up on queue,
Belinda, our guardian angel, joined to help get us out the – stew.
I had barely wiped my sweating brow and more drama hit,
this time TK rescued me, he got me out the – pit.
Then pretty soon Sprout attacked, we found much code to be a farce,
but Nick was quick to put fires out so nothing burnt us on the – task.

It didn’t take long for me to note that help was often near,
like when Bridget stood up for our rights so vendors us would fear.
And Nomfundo was always close at hand to calmly sway the storm,
she’d nip a problem in the bud before any harm could form.
This crew was always at my back to watch both day and night,
their energy and their loyalty gave me strength like kryptonite.

And it was with that thought – it dawned on me that supers do come true,
for I realised there’s heroes close – just sitting between me and you.
From superman to wonderwoman we have each hero cast,
for every threat there is a super here that answers to the blast.

And each day I feel stronger still as the chapters have begun to grow,
like it hasn’t taken Chirlaine long for her talents to truly show.
And new team players Chris and Paula have also brought us cheer,
showing us their powers true, so that little we need fear.

So today we celebrate these heroes – with this extra special do,
which incidentally was put together by Tash, who’s become another super in our crew.

Now each morning as I pluck the grey hairs from my head,
I’m reminded of my naivety when I thought superheroes were dead.
And soon the grey hairs fade and I begin to stand up tall,
for I know that no matter what happens, my supers won’t let me fall.

So here’s to all you supers, a toast – well just for you,
to recognise and to applaud all the hero stuff you do.

Some of our fashioned superheroes: Nick Soper, Dylan Bridgman and Natasha Lynn

 

The importance of documented reservations procedures

 

By: Paula Chaplin

As the somewhat gruesome adage says, there is more than one way to skin a cat – and this is especially true of handling Reservations in ResRequest. There are some procedures that you need to define for your company, and write-up for your staff to follow – to ensure consistency in the way your company handles Reservations. For instance – do you have written procedures that cover:

  • Cancellations,
  • Waitlists,
  • Refunds,
  • Documentation (what information you show on the Reservation Summary, Proforma, Tax Invoice and Itinerary – and what each of those documents is for),
  • How you name your reservations,
  • What information you need to gather for bookings, which could affect statistics and the effectiveness of your marketing (e.g. guest names, source of booking, originating agent, etc.)

If not – you should seriously consider doing so. This is something we can assist you with if you’re not sure where to start.

Having your Reservations Procedures written down ensures consistency and the perception of professionalism, but also, and possibly even more importantly, diminishes the damage done to your business by the inevitable learning curve of new staff.


For consulting assistance, please contact our consulting team at: consulting@resrequest.com