The environment is ready for tourism businesses to go virtual, says CEO of Sigma International, Akash Singh. “Post COVID, businesses have to be lean, and we’ve seen the shift to a virtual working mindset yielding positive results. The cost-savings resulting from going virtual are very compelling for businesses right now,” he says.
Sigma International has been in the enterprise development arena for 18 years and is now assisting businesses to migrate administration operations to fully virtual, thriving companies. “Over the last two years, we have seen a very real need for businesses to reduce monthly operating costs and get rid of overheads (to become lean and agile). Tourism businesses are generally small in terms of head count (and operational administration), so the packages we now offer cover the essentials in what we call one toolbox,” he adds. Services include financial, such as payroll processing to monthly management accounts, ICT (online storage and remote assistance), marketing (website development and hosting with emails), human resources, and operations from business diagnostics for a growth plan to virtual office reception functions. “We can also customise the offering for businesses that are larger or with unique needs, for example.”
Singh says Sigma International is currently running the model with several businesses in the tourism sector. “Our greatest challenge is convincing people that it’s possible to migrate their business to a virtual one, but we are definitely seeing a mind shift, which is exciting. Quickly, our clients start seeing the reductions in costs and the value of having an agile business with business support.”
Owner and founder of Bothabelo Bed & Breakfast (Ba-Phalaborwa), Nomsa Theledi, says operating virtually to manage and support her tourism business was new and scary during COVID-19. “Sigma International helped me navigate the space and showed me how possible this is. This has helped strengthen my business and reduce costs. Bothabelo’s growth was exceptional. We have grown both the Bothablelo brand and even motivated my children at school,” she says.
Lodrick Malandula, owner and founder of Muzi Safari Tours (Hazyview), agrees, adding that online and remote business development and operations are very possible for tourism businesses. “Sigma International has helped us easily navigate this space and get the full benefits,” he says.
Singh says not only does going fully virtual reduce costs but it helps create businesses that are agile and lean infused with much-needed business support. “All this can be done without disrupting operations through one provider.” The process is ISO 9001 2015 accredited.
“Now is the time to pivot your business and take it into the virtual realm. Get rid of unnecessary costs and ramp up efficiencies,” he concludes.