Marketing Platforms for Safari Businesses
With thousands of safari lodges located in national and private game reserves spread across Africa, inbound safari travel specialists are find it increasingly difficult to keep abreast of product and rate changes. Until now, that is!
Mirada Travel Media has solved this dilemma by launching two online platforms that provide unique solutions for both buyers and sellers of safari product. By Des Langkilde.
Imagine these two scenarios:
The Buyer. ACME Travel & Tours specialise in selling bespoke safari excursions to their adventurous and well heeled clients across North America. After years of attending travel trade shows and product FAM trips, ACME have developed an impressive database of safari lodges, but keeping the database current is a constant chore that requires hours of updating by cross referencing with emails and websites. To add to ACME’s workload, their traditional client profile of ‘Silver Bullets’ has progressively changed to ‘Millennials’ as sons and daughters follow their parents passion for safari holidays. Additionally, these new clients are more environmentally conscious, and want to visit lodges that have responsible tourism initiatives in place. And they want to visit African countries that ACME have not traditionally catered for. If only there were a single repository where safari product owners could update their own information!
The Seller. ABC Private Game Reserve in the malaria-free Eastern Cape province of South Africa has just launched a new 10-bed tented camp, which has created much needed jobs for the local community. In addition, the reserve has embarked on an ambitious eco-friendly project to rid the land of alien invasive flora, and added Small-5 walking safaris to its Big-5 game drive safari offering for guests. Getting these facts out to travel buyers is a priority. If only there were a single repository where they could update this information and automatically reach travel buyers!
For the Seller. Safarilink provides a cloud based solution for safari lodges to get their product’s details in front of the people who matter the most − the thousands of specialist safari travel designers who are looking for information on safari camps, lodges and experiences to include in their client’s safari itineraries.
Best of all, the Bronze Subscription to Safarilink is free (no set-up fee), and includes:
- Self Managed Account (managed by you or your marketing representation team);
- Sales Collateral Distribution (automatic distribution of your sales collateral to over 5,500 ‘safari specialist’ travel designers);
- Agent Connect (connects qualified products with a maximum of 20 Agent Connections using a unique matching algorithm based on the product and buyers profiles);
- News Updates (broadcasts news/specials to buyers connected to
your product instantly with guaranteed delivery) to all Safari Guild members;
- Social Media (keep all of your social media and Trip Advisor feeds in one place for buyers to link to);
- Safari Awards Nomination (automatic nomination for The Safari Awards with your product’s dedicated Safari Awards page).
To leverage more exposure from the Safarilink listing, a Silver Subscription at $575 (USD) per year, adds the following benefits:
- Social Media Re-broadcast (Reach approx. 9000 followers on Twitter and Facebook);
- Unlimited Agent Connections;
- Safari Awards Voting Info (Access to your Safari Awards voting scores along with any comments left by your voters. These independently sourced testimonials can be a powerful marketing tool for your product);
- Logo Download (Access to official Safari Awards logos for use in print and online).
A new Silver Level feature is being launched from 16 September, whereby buyers can post a booking enquiry and sellers can quote based on availibility direct through Safarilink.
And finally, a Gold Subscription upgrade option is available at $975 (USD) per year, which includes all of the above benefits plus a Fully Managed Account (managed by your Safarilink account manager), and the ability for sellers to look at their ‘matching agents’.
For the Buyer. The Safari Guild is a cloud based platform dedicated to travel professionals who sell safaris. Safari product knowledge on over one thousand safari lodges, camps and operators in Africa, is shared with over 5,500 travel buyer members globally.
Safari Guild is also free to join for ‘bona fide’ travel professionals and provides members with property profiles, comments from consumers and agents, social media feeds, awards performance, product descriptions, rates, images and a tailored newsfeed that keeps you updated on special offers, product updates and general safari-related news, based on your keyword profile.
Adding impetus to the above, or rather the precursor to these initiatives, The Safari Awards is a well established and respected marketing platform. Now in its 10th year, the awards are held annually and provide a platform for agents and consumers to vote on the 1000+ safari lodges/camps listed on Safarilink. An average of 14,500 votes have been made over the past three years.
As good as all of these safari marketing platforms are, and they are good (I’ve spent hours going through both the Safarilink and The Safari Guild members’ admin sections to see how it all fits together), there is a more altruistic motivation behind them.
“Developing a dynamic collaborative resource to provide credible and independent information to travel professionals, and thereby improving the service they provide to their clients, has been the main motivator behind establishing these platforms for sellers of safaris in Africa, and for buyers of safaris to Africa,” says Henry Hallward, Founder and Publisher of the Mirada Travel Group.
“The Safari Guild in particular has an important role to play by influencing the debate on how best to manage and protect dwindling wildlife resources, by working with the people who own it. When most of the large safari brands are owned by private equity and venture capital companies, all with a close eye on profitability, sometimes at any expense, someone has to provide a counter-balance.
“Our expectation is that travel professionals who engage with The Safari Guild will, in time, use their influence and buying power to reduce unnecessary exploitation of wildlife resources and encourage and support safari operators to share their gains equitably with the local communities and wildlife conservation entities that enable primary protection of wildlife for future generations,” Hallward concludes.
Whilst Mirada’s online services are cloud based, and therefore accessible from anywhere in the world, its management operations are based near Oxford, London, which is an ideal location from which to engage with Africa inbound travel agents, but not necessarily ideal for engaging with safari products in Africa.
To solve this dilemma, Mirada have appointed regional representatives in predefined African country zones, all of whom have in-depth knowledge and experience in the local safari industry.
For Zone B, which comprises South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Mozambique and Madagascar, yours truly (the author of this article) has been appointed as the regional contact.
To book a personal consultation email [email protected] or call or SMS +27 (0)82 374 7260.
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