The Business of Promoting African Safaris
In my business of promoting Tanzanian African Safaris (and other areas of Africa), it isn’t an easy sell. I’m selling my passion for a place that I want to share with the world. Through that passion, I have, over the past twelve to fifteen years, been able to see and experience the faces of those that travel, hear the words that I tried to express, so many years ago, after my first visit. I’m so grateful that it is those travelers who have kept my business alive and shared the passion, the joy and the love that I discovered on my first trip. And they did too, why? Because many of these have returned over and over again. So Grateful!
If I were to figure percentages of responses, I would say there are about 70% no’s right off the bat, 25% maybe’s, 4% possibility and 1% yes, let’s go. Two key responses almost always prevail, is it safe, being at the top of the list, and why Africa next. After that, it’s a combination of thoughtful responses to responses stolen from a movie set – they capture tourists and boil them in pots! Yes, I’ve heard many ‘reasons’ like that. Surprisingly, it’s too expensive is not on the top of the list, but it’s always a consideration. These responses come as soon as the word Africa comes out of my mouth. It is very disheartening and disappointing! Of course, much of that is due to the media, where there is very little positive news about a continent that is more than three times larger than the USA.
If you know me, you know I’ve made it my mission to change the focus of these potential travelers or just people from a negative focus to a positive one. I would say that in so many ways I’ve succeeded in that mission. However, there are so many more who I know, if given the opportunity to sit down and talk with them, to speak to their group or to have a one on one with them, I’m willing to bet there are many more who would consider this experience. as something they could look forward to.
It’s no secret that promoting a passion in a place that you feel a kinship to, doesn’t always equate to how others feel, and how to turn people’s minds around to even get them to listen is often a larger challenge that one might think. Try telling them that the animals are disappearing, that one elephant is being killed every fifteen minutes, that conservationists say five, ten more years, possibly more, there may be few to zero animals left roaming the continent. Does that really matter to them? While it might peak a few persons interest, it is not a resounding reason that makes someone want to go, suddenly. Of course there will be some who will never go, no matter what. There are some in my own family.
I ask myself, what more can I do to really bring home the point that Africa, and specifically Tanzania, is a place where someone wants to go now, rather than later. Pictures are great, but they don’t tell the full story. There’s always a before and after when it comes to photos, and a story that makes that photo special, no matter how simple the photo is.
Who are these African Safari Travelers?
Have you ever wondered who goes on an African safari. Have you ever watched Animal Planet, Discovery Channel or National Geographic/Wild, and asked if it’s only possible for those who are out there filming, and not for the average person, to go on safari. It does appear that way. When you’re watching one of the programs, you see people filming, sometimes horrible things, sometimes happy stories, but you don’t see people enjoying it, only those at home experiencing their own ‘armchair’ safari. No, it seems like only the filmmakers crew are the only ones who go. But that’s not so, of course.
Safaris have been around for many years, after the era of the Big Game Hunting, where the big five was about finding those big animals to hunt, the Big Five being the most dangerous big animals to hunt on foot. Who are the Big Five, well let’s see if you’ll remember this for your safari, Buffalo, Rhinoceros, Elephant, Leopard and Lion. While you might want to put the Giraffe, Hippo and Cheetah in that category, they are not part of the Big Five, even though they are big animals.
You know what I’ve found out, after so many years, from the many people who have taken years to make up their mind about traveling, that it’s not usually me who changes their mind, (for some, it might be something I’ve said), it’s usually someone else they know, that may have traveled and return with fantastic stories, photos and testimonials of their trip experience, so much so, that it convinces those reluctant travelers to take another look. They might not have done so before, but hearing stories from those they know, love and respect might change their mind. Yes, it’s those who, after many years of saying no to this experience, end up changing their mind. So I’m patient, I’ve waited many a year for family and friends to come to that realization, and when they do, they call me, and not only do they go once, but they go more than once, and sometimes they go more than twice. So I’m patient, I will still be here waiting for you, when you decide.
Why Some Won’t Travel – What Are Their Reasons?
Here’s what people tell me about why they don’t want to go, or just what their reasons are, if they can articulate it, which many can’t. You say Africa and they get turned off – immediately, even folks in my own family, otherwise they’re too old, too young, not well traveled, not rich, not an animal lover, scared of being eaten, scared of what they might eat, scared they’ll get sick, scared that animals will be jumping in their car, not safe, kidnapped, can’t speak the language.
Those that do travel all have different reasons for traveling. You’ve heard me say this before possibly, but there is one thing that sets travelers to Africa apart from others who do not travel, however, and that is they are extremely ‘special’ travelers.
Some may have fears, but they travel anyway, some may not be adventurous, but travel anyway, some may think they’re too old, but they travel anyway., not the right time, too expensive. Yes, I’ve heard them all. Then there are those who are very definite that they have always wanted to go, and now they’ve met someone who can take them there. They feel safe, after all it’s been on their bucket list forever, or they are die hard animal lovers, or want to experience the wildlife while it still exists, wildlife that roam this earth the way it used to be millions of years ago. Many just want to see what Africa is all about. Yes, I have heard it all, and I remember everyone who ever was reluctant, or had a reason not to go, and I remember their faces, their words at the end of a trip, that they never thought they would do. It is so rewarding.
Safari Travelers Are Special
Whatever the reason – I have to say that each of these safari goers are ‘special’, and become part of our special safari family. Why? They have put everything aside to make the trip happen, sometimes putting their not so positive feelings aside and travel with an open mind. They find peace, they find tranquility, they find a people that welcome them with open arms, they find something that may be missing in their life, and like me, they find themselves. They are special.
More importantly, without exception, all have indicated that their trip was the trip of a lifetime, nothing like what they expected, but all agree, more than they could have ever expected, if they did have expectations. THAT is the ultimate compliment, reminiscent of my first time experience that I had in Tanzania which ultimately changed my life, and give me something that was lacking in my life, a passion, a purpose, an opportunity to provide an experience for others to enjoy, something I didn’t have when I first went, something that changed my life all those many years ago.
For everyone that says yes, in a field of NO’s, this is the reason why I continue to do it, whether one or many, I want them to see, to learn, to experience, and I’m so proud that I have done so, so pleased that my business has continued to grow. I want to open the doors of life in Tanzania, I want people to see what’s really behind it, I want others to walk through to the other side and have that experience.
So if I ask you for a moment of your time, just hear me out. You may ultimately decide it’s not for you, but know why you’re making that decision. I am sure that whatever you might be thinking, is not the way it is, and I’m happy to spend the time with you to answer all your questions.
Life happens and we don’t always know how our life will turn out, or what obstacles might be in the way, and the path may not be clear, There was a time when I had to let go, and just accept ‘a new normal’ in my life, the reason I took that first trip, and now look! My 38 year career as a Human Resources Director, led me to a passion I never knew, that is now my business – selling that passion. Join me on a future safari. Leave the negatives behind and let’s have a positive experience! Let’s Do This!