Local Independent Destination Management Company: Botswana • Zimbabwe

Safari Destinations

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Tag: Training and development

Monday 16 December 2019

Training and development: the backbone of our success

Safari Destinations has grown from a simple idea in 2006 to a highly successful DMC. And while we sell exceptional safaris to see beautiful landscapes and breathtaking animals, the real backbone of the company is ensuring all staff receive in-depth training and continuous development, about our systems, products, destinations, suppliers, agents and source markets.


Certified knowledge in complex destination training!

Day 1 at Safari Destinations …

We don’t believe in throwing staff in the deep end and leaving it up to them whether they sink or swim. That helps no-one: not us, not their team members, not our agents and definitely not our new staff member. We invest a lot of time and energy attracting quality people to Safari Destinations and we like to get return on that investment.

All administrators in the Reservations department work in an ‘apprenticeship’ arrangement with a more senior consultant or team leader, with ongoing feedback. Performance reviews are held every three months for the first six months of learning the ropes, and admins are coached in every aspect their role. These regular, formal check-ins every three months are company-wide for all new staff members, ensuring that everyone is reaching their potential as much as possible.

We keep our promises

Our business hinges on us being experts on all aspects of travelling to Botswana and Zimbabwe and creating inspiring travel experiences. We promise our agents that we are experts, and our in-depth training and development helps ensure we keep our promise. All staff regularly attend external supplier training about their products, brand and offerings. We have an in-house trainer specifically for destinations and further in-house supplier training plus lessons on sales, product and itineraries. These sessions are facilitated by in-house specialists, providing an opportunity for our seniors to hone their training and development skills through support from the HR department.

Tlotlo leads training in the garden of the Maun office.

A chain of success

Once a senior administrator, who has successfully handled all behind-the-scenes aspects of complicated bookings, is ready to move onto becoming an associate consultant, she (or he!) will join a consultant-in-training programme. This equips them with the ability to understand and communicate with agents of different markets; create inspiring itineraries; and write persuasive and factual motivations. Once again, team leaders and senior consultants are on hand to guide, correct, educate and mentor.

We live it

A big part of our promise to be experts is to have first-hand knowledge of all sorts of safaris, from five stars, to mobiles, to self-drives. As many staff go out as much as possible on educationals – this is a vital part of developing a critical eye (when a lodge is due a soft refurb, for example); learning how to compare products (which will deliver better value even if it costs more?); and how to assess which product suits which type of traveller and market best.

Onward and upward

Everyone likes to grow and feel like their careers are moving forward. Because of this, we’ve created defined steps on the career ladder in the Reservations Department:

  1. Safari Assistant
  2. Administrator
  3. Senior Administrator
  4. Relief Administrator
  5. Associate Consultant
  6. Intermediate Consultant
  7. Senior Consultant
  8. Team Leader

This is carefully staggered to ensure that everyone who is promoted can cope with an increased workload, heightened responsibility and an increased need to supervise other staff, helping them in turn with their growth and development. We make sure no-one feels overwhelmed by their new role but rather excited and motivated!

In this way, Safari Destinations builds supervisory and management capacity, preparing those staff with potential, talent and the interest for promotion.

IT is it!

We’ve come a long way from manually creating booking packs. Today, all staff are fully computer literate and up-to-date with major industry programs like TourPlan and WETU. We also track our tasks, diaries and bulletins through Bitrix, and actively use Skype to keep in touch with our staff and agents around the world.

Our success stories

Obviously, since starting in 2006, we had many, many success stories and plenty of proud moments where our wobbly impala newbies are now super-fast adults outrunning all manner of deadlines, requests and crises! These are three recent success stories:

Roxanne After a number of years in camp management and running her own business with her husband, Roxanne joined Safari Destinations in May 2013 as an Intermediate Consultant. She was then promoted to Senior Consultant while also expanding her family with two of the most delightful little boys. Roxanne was promoted to Team Leader in September 2019, having participated in management training and being mentored by Storm Keen, previously a Team Leader. In just over six years, she has risen to the leadership cadre of SD!

Roxanne (right) learning more about Kanana.

Keba In February 2016, Keba started as our receptionist as this was the position open at the time. We soon realised that she had lots of potential and, with her degree in Tourism, she was moved into Reservations as an Administrator. She steadily advanced up the ranks and was soon appointed as an Associate Consultant. Keba worked closely with Storm in terms of her development. Once Keba reached the level of Relief Administrator, she has started to be involved in our consultant-in-training programme, which exposes admins to putting itineraries together as well as sales training. We have loved watching her growth and development as a professional and value the passion she brings to her work.

Keba making new friends at the Pangolin Chobe Hotel!

Resego Resego started off at SD in December 2015. She swiftly advanced through the Administrator ranks and was appointed as Associate Consultant in 2018. By 2019 she was an Intermediate Relief Consultant. Relief Consultants are vital as they support those consultants on maternity leave (we have a lot of SD babies, being a team that comprises 80% women), or who are sick or on annual leave. This position is an excellent development opportunity, giving Resego exposure to working with different agents and different markets. She is also our top scorer in our destination training exams, having scored no less than 90% on all her assessments!

Resego on educational at Chobe Elephant Camp.

Because of our carefully calibrated training and development programme we can not only deliver exemplary service to our agents but we also ensure that our team are empowered, challenged, rewarded and inspired to be the very best they can be.

Sarah Fischer

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Sarah Fischer

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