Africa Travel Week

Reinvention – the key to continued success for New World Safaris

For New World Safaris, celebrating its 10th anniversary in business in one of the most disastrous years for tourism across the world on record has been interesting, to say the least.

Founded in 2010 to deliver unique, authentic and immersive African safaris to travellers from across the world, this seasoned destination management company had a vision to reshape the African tourism landscape through thoughtfully curated tourism services that deliver authentic, immersive and sustainable experiences. This year, that vision has seen the company reshape itself instead.

At a time when many tourism businesses were closing down their marketing departments, slashing their operating budgets and beating a hasty retreat from all forms of public engagement, New World Safaris met the challenge head-on and channelled all of its energy and financial resources into reinvention, working with an energetic, like-minded team of marketing consultants at The Safari Collective to build a dynamic new website, overhaul social media marketing, create vibrant, engaging content and develop a fresh brand identity.

“We’ve always had a ‘glass half full’ approach to business (and life in general) and we decided to take this year’s massive lemon and make a LOT of lemonade,” says New World Safaris MD Mariano Cuervo, who along with fellow director Mark de Villiers has steered the company through these challenging times.

“We knew we had to adapt or die, and that this was the perfect time to reinvent ourselves, beginning with Mark joining the company. We knew the website wasn’t working well enough to carry us through and that we had to take advantage of the situation, to use the time we had been given as a result of this pandemic to make everything better and futureproof our business,” adds Mariano.

The dynamic duo came across The Safari Collective on the pioneering #tourisminmyblood Facebook page, set up by tourism stalwarts Greg Smith and Richard de la Rey at the start of lockdown to bring the global tourism community together and keep it connected.

“We got in touch and had a Zoom meeting and they just seemed to get us and what we needed right from the start,” says Mark. “They’ve become an extended part of our team and have helped us steer the business in the right direction, helping us to understand the marketing landscape and where we need to focus our attention.”

Building a new website from the ground upwards was a drastic move, but one that New World Safaris welcomed. It was a pioneering move too – rather than take their existing website – built on a WordPress platform – and improve it, Mariano and Mark decided to take a leap of faith and build a brand new site on a new, award-winning platform – Duda. And they gave their new marketing partners just two weeks to complete the build!

“We had a tight deadline, and threw everything we had at this project and achieved miracles in the process,” says Mariano. “And we came in on deadline with a new-look brand identity to boot. At the same time we moved into new offices, launched our new social media campaign designed to maintain interest from our key markets in South America, the US and Europe and launched a monthly newsletter in six different languages for our trade partners across the world.”

The results? “We’re starting to get meaningful enquiries for 2021 onwards,” says Mariano. “And the website is turning a lot of heads, as are our social media posts and blogs,” he adds. “This exercise is all about building brand awareness, increasing our visibility at a critical time, and it’s working wonderfully well.”

As part of their rebrand, rebuild, reshape and reinvention processes, New World Safaris has rededicated itself to the sustainability principles the company was founded on.

“The principles of sustainability have always been part of the DNA at New World Safaris, thanks to our own, deep commitment to the same values and ethics,” says Mariano. “We firmly believe that there is only one way to run a business, and that’s the right way, with a triple bottom line approach to ensure the value of what we do, and how we do it, is shared along the entire value chain,” he adds.

This approach begins within the New World Safaris office, and its team of people, who share the ethos for fairness in trade and respect for people and planet. It also extends to the company’s safari packages.

“By developing itineraries using products and destinations that we know share our commitment to that all-important triple bottom line, we know that we are helping to demonstrate an actual value for tourism at grassroots level and that the tourism revenue we are sending down the tourism chain is having a positive impact,” says Mark.

If COVID-19 has taught New World Safaris anything, it’s that doing the business of tourism the “right” way doesn’t just futureproof your business or your industry, it futureproofs the destinations you are sending all those people to. Without them, the future hangs entirely in the balance.

“It’s more important than ever to educate on the benefits of sustainable tourism and promote good tourism practice in everything we do,” explains Mark. “This means encouraging all of our tourism partners to operate as we do, with a set of clear principles that ensures we underpin our business models with ethical, responsible choices.

“This is why you will never see a New World Safaris client taking part in animal interactions, participating in any exploitative, invasive community tours or staying in hotels, lodges and camps that do not share our commitment to touching the earth as lightly as possible,” says Mark. “This includes things such as being water-wise, reducing/eliminating single-use plastics, reusing, recycling and reducing where possible and demonstrating the utmost respect for the environment and everything that lives in or on it. People included. In operating this way, we’re not just futureproofing our business, we’re futureproofing Africa.”

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Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.