Africa travel diaries
Three countries, ten flights, seven covid tests, and the first business trip for the South Africa team since February 2020. This is an African travel diary, written (and travelled) by Allister Kreft, of a visit to three markets on the African continent; Malawi, Kenya and Zanzibar.
We have been very fortunate to build a lot of business in Southern Africa, but the warm heart of Africa, Malawi, was always just a border too far, even from our Zambian office. Good fortune led us to an introduction to Mike from Crafted Africa, who was looking for a side hustle to tide his African travel business over during the pandemic. If you have met Mike you know he is not the type to wait Covid out. We have always looked to partner with energetic and skilled individuals on the continent, with overlapping values, and Mike and his team really epitomise this. The side hustle has developed into a fully fledged wine business, servicing the Malawian market. We are proud to call Wines and Wings a Partner, and it was just such a privilege being on the ground and working with their team and their customers. We were also fortunate to travel with Amanda from Painted Wolf, and the diaries were packed with tastings, trade visits and our Beverageintelligence training sessions. A huge shout out to the Painted Wolf team, as their efforts, along with others, have seen the reintroduction of Wild Dogs into Malawi. Just the most incredible story. I was so impressed by the people of this beautiful country and what it has to offer for travellers. Now of course, these travellers also have much better vino and craft drinks to enjoy. See the gallery below for some highlights!
Zambia and Kenya were the first forays outside of South Africa to establish our own companies on the continent, in key markets. At that stage Kenya was emerging from some very tough times in terms of their travel industry, and the market was quite early stage. It is wonderful to see the changes that have rung through this beautiful East African country in the last 5 years. There is a vibrant collection of local importers, and a focus on service, training and craft drinks. We are proud to have been a part of this shift, and our team on the ground led by Diane and Lynette are an inspiration. Running a business in Africa is really tough, and it has taught us some hard lessons, which we are fortunate to have imbedded into our Beverageintelligence platform and training. A hard lesson has to be remembered and never repeated! Our platform is helping us to engage better with customers, and also forecast inventory requirements for customers and ourselves.
This trip was extra special for me, because the good doctor (wife) joined for a portion of it, and even conducted some first aid training (a first for us)! It was a 3 week road trip, visiting customers from the northern territories to Nairobi, the coast, and the Mara. We had rolled out our online courses earlier in the year and followed up with our live training and coaching tools. It is so important to balance these, and we cannot thank the learners enough for all the effort they put in over challenging times. Thankfully Guests are returning to Kenya, quite rapidly in fact, so the Great Migration will have human spectators this time! It was also an exciting trip to forge new partnerships on the ground, and re-engage our community with tastings and experiences. Watch this space, we are just getting warmed up in Kenya!
Somehow I had never travelled to Zanzibar, and this was a recce trip with a new Partner on the ground. We are approaching the market in our normal way. Very much service orientated and focused on a few key customers, and with a key outcome to offer more value to them, on all levels. After all, our ethos is to start our work once our customers get their tailored drinks offering. We will build from there.
Zanzibar has managed to weather the covid storm better than most hospitality destinations. It is quite difficult to make sense of it, but there isn't a mask in sight, and cases remain non-existent. Long may this last. The island is beautiful, and the hospitality in many properties is world class. We are excited to be making an impact on the ground, not just with the offerings, but also to upskill and empower the team members with our learning programs. It will be a slow burn, but watch this space!
We are so fortunate to live on the continent we do. Thankfully the comeback has started, and we can focus on the future again. It wasn't the most pleasant experience having covid swabs every week or so, but apart from that the travel experience is not too onerous. In fact, in many ways, because of emptier airports and planes, it is BETTER. We are visiting more key markets in the coming months, including Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Sudan, Zanzibar (again), Mauritius, Ghana (again) and Tanzania. Please reach out to us if you would like to connect on the ground. It is incredibly exciting to be seeing familiar faces, without the Zoom screen veneer.
Stay safe and healthy and we are 100% behind you as you rebuild.