Promise Khumalo started out as a bricklayer by profession but worked his way up to become the well-loved General Manager of Zebras Crossing with his very own stake in the lodge.
“Born in rural areas and bricklayer by profession, I actually started as jock but then I fell in love with everything happening in the industry,” he explains. “My mentor was the late Alice Zucchi, she made a huge change in my life. From overalls full of cement stains to a very smart gear.”
Promise has led the establishment to become the 7th best-rated game lodge on TripAdvisor (out of 277), on the back of one great guest experience after another. At 320 hectares in size, guests can experience roughly 450 animals, ranging from zebras, giraffes, kudus, impalas, blue wildebeest, blesbok, nyalas, ostriches, meerkats etc. “We don’t have big 5 so that our guests can walk around freely,” he adds.
Commenting on how Zebras Crossing has remained profitable under his leadership during the current economic client, he explains that he tries, by all means, to keep it tidy, serving good meals, smiling to every guest, and providing the best service.
“Because the team and I are like a family we look after the lodge-like it was our home which translates not just in a wonderful experience to guests but also in us looking after our lodge much more than if we were just “working” here.
“Maintenance and inevitable repairs are done weekly and even before things break down (e.g. we repair the rooms even when we could wait for a longer time to do so) which means the guests experience a lodge that looks new constantly. We also outsource a number of jobs (laundry, roadworks) thus giving opportunities to others to have an income. It means we keep our fixed overheads as low as possible.”
Promise explains that he is building a legacy for his family and to also show that you can become whatever you want to be in life, as long as you are interested and also prepared to work hard. “What people see as success is often the results of thousands of tiny imperceptible steps that were taken. The important part is to take the steps, have a general direction of where you want to walk and find the environment that allows you to pursue the path,” he concludes.
For the full interview with Promise, read it on Tourism Peers here.
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