Let me start with a wonderful quote by Bob Marley – “You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice.”
2020 has come as a shock to us all, and the travel industry has been particularly hard hit. But we saw the opportunity for renewal in the creation of a new business, Kusa Africa Travel Services.
The members of our team are part of a group of many people whose only choice was to rise up, use our skills and experience and ensure that tourism to Africa retains the amazing group of expert people who are so dedicated to our continent, its people, and its wildlife.
There were a number of opportunities I saw in starting a new business during the COVID craziness. The opportunity to learn more, hone skills and develop the ability to create holidays of a lifetime for many families around the world is what drives me as the founder of Kusa.
The resultant retrenchments due to COVID-19 were an opportunity to gather some of the industry’s finest and most experienced minds all under one roof, and we acted swiftly. Staff who were disillusioned with how they could contribute and how they were rewarded for their contribution have now been forced to become more entrepreneurial and thus have the opportunity for more reward.
No longer does a company need to have all or most of the value chain of activities under one roof, and those with skills in various parts of the value chain are setting up focused businesses delivering on their core competencies.
Those who are attracted to work with us are those that have long-standing relationships with clients, are motivated to succeed, and believe that doing so in a non-corporate environment will allow more creativity. We pay the lion’s share of earnings to these relationship managers and provide them with a home and back-end services. No more clock-watching, targets, or feeling dejected by the input-vs-reward ratio often prevalent in larger organisations. We are masters of our own destiny, and that is a very empowering feeling.
Jobs of the future fast-tracked by COVID-19
The onset of COVID-19 has fast-tracked how work will be done in the future, with many jobs envisaged to fall away due to automation over the next five to 10 years. There are some fantastic travel-planning packages out there now and they are improving all the time. The gig economy is also growing and allowing all of us to earn a living from a number of gigs rather than traditional jobs.
We now all know how easy it is to work remotely, so the way a business is structured can remove a lot of the traditional fixed costs, allowing start-ups to be more nimble. It has been well researched that SMEs grow the economy faster and in a more pervasive way than corporates. This is due to many reasons, including the fact that the money earned is usually spent in the same vicinity in which it is earned, which helps with the money multiplier effect.
SMEs generally keep the money in South Africa as well, which assists the economy for the same reason. This is the reason the government is investing more annually in supporting SMEs. It has never been a better time to start up a business.
We are also using the opportunity for training, and currently have six training sessions a week with some of Africa’s most beautiful properties and activities. One thing we can all be assured of in this industry is that our continent has some of the most stunning scenery and accommodation. Skills development during this time is essential. Let’s step up, let’s learn more, let’s become the best professional version of ourselves that we can be, by diving deep through the edge of our comfort zone and developing marketing and business skills that are needed to run a successful enterprise.
The entrepreneurial spirit is one that is needed throughout any business, regardless of role or rank. COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to propel our career growth and professional development into many new levels, with the ability to get involved in as many new aspects of the modern way of working and learn as much as we can, and that should be welcomed with open arms.
Businesses should be taking this opportunity to cross-train and upskill staff, and the phrase “can you please teach me how to do that” should be spoken in many new and more established businesses throughout our industry.
How do we do this?
Support each other and let the spirit of Ubuntu that shines throughout our land take centre stage and allow this industry to stay on its feet. Every one of us, no matter if we are in front or back office roles, need to be doing whatever we can on social media to market our continent around the world.
I said it a few months back when working on recovery strategies with the South African Government – promote, promote, promote. We are one of many destinations around the world that need to attract the world’s travellers, and we need to be proud and encourage everyone we know to help promote our destination. Livelihoods depend on it. This is a shared responsibility amongst us all to ensure the value and beauty of Africa gets shouted from the top of the global social media mountains that we have at our disposal.
I don’t like using the term ‘get back to normal’. Was normal working?
We have seen over the last few years that science is telling us the environment is in a very dangerous place. COVID-19 has forced us to take a step back, reassess what is really needed in order for a business to function, and is allowing for a much more sustainable and green way of working.
I believe in a new way or working, where the work/life scale is far more in balance than it was before. Can we all now start having much more time with our families and nurture those bonds while still being just as productive? Do we have the ability to cut our carbon footprint down dramatically with this new way of working? Do we have the opportunities now to truly live up to our sustainable commitments?
I believe the answers are all yes, and we at Kusa Africa Travel Services are embracing a new, sustainable and online working environment where all aspects of our professional and family lives have the time and space to flourish.
We wish all of you prosperity during this time, and let’s all do what we can to get the tourists back in to enjoy our beautiful homeland, Africa!