An entrepreneur with a strong passion for travel, Amy Knight-Dawson was chosen by Tourism at a young age. Even then, she had a sense that travel can shape the future. It was only later, as a tourism professional turned business owner that she experienced its catalytic power first-hand. Scribe Consulting is a business development agency that taps into the needs of their clients providing solutions that work underpinned by decades of demonstrated multi-faceted tourism experience.
Amy has always relished the virtues of travel in all its forms and phases. From fanning the sparks of curiosity into a flame of anticipation comes the excitement of planning a trip, then the journey and finally, reflection. Revisiting on the memories afterwards, dipping into the wellspring of inspiration that has been created. The best trips show us parts of ourselves we didn’t know, stretch us in unexpected ways and grow us in tolerance of all things beyond ourselves.
How did you fall in love with travelling?
Ever since I can remember, I have harboured a deep curiosity for the diverse cultures, people and places that exist in the world beyond my front door. I believe that travelling is a way to connect with others, to learn and to grow in a myriad of ways. The trick is to remain present in the experience of travelling and to slow the pace way down instead of rushing through it with a tick list. Less is more.
What kind of traveller are you?
I like to connect with people, cultures and nature. I feel that these connections can be forged across many different types of travel and each holds a unique experience. I like to mix it up. While I can appreciate the finer things in life, I enjoy travelling comfortably but not to a point where I am separated from the human condition or the virtues of the destination I’m travelling to. I’m happiest in places that are steeped in nature, away from the madding crowds. Given the choice, I’d support tourism products that are rooted in local upliftment and sustainable tourism practices. I am obsessive about customer experience and the art of making people feel special and very welcome. I chalk that up to being South African. We are known for our generous hospitality and warmth.
Tell us about one of your most memorable trips/travel moments. Where and why?
Too many to count but here are a few. May there be many more! An island-hopping kayak trip to Lake Malawi as a young adult had a profound effect on my view of the world and my place in it. Standing on the summit of a Namib dune at sunset overlooking the black sierras of Angola, a molten river of gold at my feet was life-changing in its stark, serene beauty. Waking up to the sight and sound of a herd of grazing wildebeest moving outside my chalet in Botswana’s Central Kalahari region beneath a full moon. Watching the night fall around me on Rubondo Island, Lake Victoria to the snort of hippos surrounded by fireflies…it was like something out of a fairy tale. Watching flying fish zip past me in the clear, azure waters of a Zanzibar lagoon. Scuba diving off Rocktail Bay rates up there as one of the most exhilarating activities I’ve ever experienced. So beautiful and in my opinion, there are few natural highs more addictive. Watching newly weaned lion cubs toy with the tail of a wildebeest, tripping over themselves to get their first-ever taste of meat in the soft spring rain in the Okavango Delta.
What should travel and tourism professionals be doing to safeguard their business right now?
Invest in soft skills. Emotional intelligence is the most valuable tool in business currently. For business owners, customer experience is critical right now. Getting into the hearts and minds of their customers and understanding what it is that really matters to them. Leaders should make every effort to look after their team’s wellbeing too. Ensure they feel valued by communicating authentically and honestly to build trust by showing empathy and support. A positive company culture has never been more vital to success.
Opportunities and positives for travel & tourism businesses from the COVID-19 experience are?
Collaboration: The era of COVID-19 has opened a window of rare opportunity and with it, access to those outside of our circle of influences we otherwise may not have ever had the power to reach. ‘Fortune favours the brave’, as the adage goes. Those bold enough to chase down otherwise unreachable connections may be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
Innovation: This time belongs to the creatives. Those of us that can think outside the box and move beyond the mire with trailblazing audacity. For travellers it has brought us into the orbit of blockchain theory, digital health passports, facial recognition and touchless travel. For businesses it has meant location independence, paperless offices, and artificial intelligence rising to prominence in the customer journey (think chat bots, online trip planning software and virtual in-room assistants). Previously, these ideas may have been perceived as mere blips on a faraway future reality, but the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted us towards them forcing businesses to face the harsh reality of ‘adapt or die’.
Best travel advice you can share?
Appreciate the value of your trip; it is a privilege. Travel with intent and make sure that the reasons you are travelling are to leave home in mind, body and spirit. Don’t bring baggage with you other than your actual suitcase. Leave your hang ups behind. While travelling, don’t expect to find your creature comforts to be exactly as they are at home. Instead, appreciate their absence and look forward to them when you get home. Be present in the moment so that you can receive the gift of travel in all its glory. Understand that all tourism products are not created equal. Choose those that touch the earth lightly, that serve to uplift, empower, and operate with integrity, protecting everything and everyone in its value chain.
Based on the five senses and thinking about travelling what do you…
- Like to see: Genuine smiles on the faces of those I meet on my travels.
- Like to taste: Authentic cuisine in destinations I visit.
- Like to feel: A sense of connectedness and balance throughout my journey.
- Like to hear: The sound of nature all around me.
- Like to smell: Fresh air preferably at the ocean, in the bushveld, deserts or on a mountain top.