Southern Africa 360’s ‘side hustle’ over the past five months has become their lifeline during these unprecedented times affecting all of us in the tourism industry. They intend to grow this new business division into the new normal.
Ever since leaving one of South Africa’s largest domestic wholesale companies over a decade ago Southern Africa 360’s MD, Collin Thaver had the desire to one day start selling the Southern Africa region on a wholesale basis to South African travel agents and advisors.
“With our international borders being closed for the past seven months the timing was perfect for us to pivot our current inbound DMC and tour operator business, trading under the name South Africa 360 Luxury Holidays and Exclusive Tours, to serve the local market with what we call our “Kick Start Plan”, he explains.
“In the process, we have helped to save jobs, create a few new ones and contribute towards supporting livelihoods within the tourism sector. This bold move was largely inspired by the call from Government to promote domestic travel to South African Residents.”
The team have had many lengthy virtual meetings, since the early months of the lockdown, with all current and new suppliers to assist them on their journey to recovery by supplying them with kick start rates they could use to help support their accommodation businesses.
He says: “In turn we took to paying a higher than normal sales commission to local travel agents, to motivate them to support us and at the same time assisting them with their margins. This has meant that local South Africans are seeing some really good value for money deals, affording them the opportunity to explore their own country. With limited marketing spend we took to joining many social media travel pages to push our offers and messages ad nauseum and are still doing the same today. These were initially crafted and distributed as per the travel restrictions we were experiencing i.e. intra-provisional, inter-provisional and now regional travel.
“We still have a long way to go and every day we are looking for new and inspiring ways on how we can work through the travel distribution channel to put out our message and offers. We also found with time that our weekly B2B emailers and offers needed to be pushed much harder to cut through the clutter and reach the correct person within these travel agencies and as such we have since upped our game plan and have enlisted the services of three freelance regional sales reps on a part-time basis in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape to assist us to reach potential retail travel partners and position our offerings. Apart from this more still had to be done, as the desire within us to formalise this business is ever-growing. In recent weeks we have signed up with two online travel media communication and promotional companies – Travel People and Travel Info (both online mediums that keep the South African Tourism Industry informed and connected) to assist us in hosting our company info, current deals and service offers.”
The road to recovery is still a long way off, but Thaver says they are committed to seeing this through and strengthening thier brand in both the inbound international and domestic market travelling within the Southern Africa region.