Meet the CEO, Tumisang Sebego
The yuletide season is upon us and, once again, the all-too-familiar lust to wander to far-flung places sticks out a mile!
Helping locals scratch that itch are tour operators.
Embracing this spirit, Voice Woman caught up with Tumisang Sebego, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blue Zebra Safaris, a recently launched destination management company based in the country’s tourism capital, Maun.
Boasting a solid background in the tourism industry, particularly in Southern Africa destinations, Sebego, who hails from the south of Botswana, says their number one task each day is designing tailormade safaris for clients.
“Our team of three travel experts possess an intimate knowledge of Africa’s diverse landscapes, cultures, and wildlife.”
Congratulations on taking the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship!
Before we talk about how this dream became a reality, first give us a bit of background.
I have had a 17-year career in tourism with experience in various roles such as camp management, reservations, international sales and marketing.
I currently live in Maun, a town known as a gateway to the Okavango Delta and other natural attractions in the region.
I have a passion for travel and a strong connection to the unique landscapes and ecosystems of Botswana and her neighbors.
For me, it was a no brainer that I would get to the point of opening my own travel business.
My first project was developing a well-thought-out business plan that serves as a roadmap for my tour operator venture.
As an African citizen-owned business, I wanted to contribute positively to local ecotourism and support locally-owned camps and lodges.
I then registered my business with the relevant authorities in Botswana.
This included obtaining a business license and fulfilling other legal requirements.
The most important part was to establish relationships with accommodation providers, transport services, and other suppliers as well as negotiate favorable terms and ensure the reliability and quality of my trade partners.
Lastly, I had to develop a marketing strategy to promote my business, utilizing both online and offline channels, including social media, travel forums, partnerships with travel agencies, and participation in travel trade shows.
What inspired the name ‘Blue Zebra Safaris’?
I am patriotic, so the first animal that came to mind was Botswana’s national animal, a Zebra.
Botswana has one of the biggest Zebra migrations in Africa.
The significance of “Blue” is associated with the sky and water, our most precious and important resource, hence “Pula” stands for hope, confidence and, of course, money!!
Talk us through the day-to-day running of the business. How does it operate exactly?
We work with international travel agents, that direct their bookings through us and we have the task of matching brilliant safari experiences with clients.
We specialize in tailoring experiences beyond the ordinary, ensuring that each safari aligns with the unique visions of our travelers.
We meet all our clients who come through Maun Airport.
From the moment clients land on our website, to the instant they return from their safari, we are dedicated to making their experience seamless and safe.
What sets you apart; why should travelers choose Blue Zebras Safaris?
At Blue Zebra Safaris, we believe that Africa is not just a destination; it’s an unforgettable journey of discovery and wonder.
With our deep-rooted passion for the continent, we have crafted an exclusive space where dreams meet reality, where luxury meets adventure, and where every moment is designed to create lifelong memories.
Our tagline, ‘Bespoke Luxury African Safaris’, encapsulates our commitment to tailoring unique experiences that go beyond the ordinary.
We understand that no two travelers are the same, and neither are their aspirations for an African adventure.
Whether you seek thrilling wildlife encounters in the heart of the savannah, serene moments by pristine beaches, or cultural immersions that touch your soul, we will curate a safari that resonates with your desires and dreams.
What do you love most about Maun and your job?
Maun Town serves as the perfect starting point for an unforgettable adventure into the heart of Botswana’s wild landscapes.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an adventure seeker, culture lover, or a partier, every moment is an opportunity for adventure, relaxation, and discovery in this vibrant town, from thrilling activities to luxurious accommodations and culinary delights.
We live two hours from the most sought-after travel destinations such as the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Nxai Pans, whose activities include: scenic flights, Moremi Day trips, Mokoro excursions, visiting Elephant Havens, Okavango Craft Brewery tour, horse riding and quad biking.
Share some of the challenges you face in this business?
Running a travel business in Botswana comes with its set of challenges.
Seasonal Fluctuations: Botswana experiences distinct seasons, and tourism can be highly seasonal.
During the wet season, certain areas may be inaccessible, limiting activities.
Managing cash flow during low seasons can be challenging.
Dependency on International Tourists: Botswana’s tourism industry heavily depends on international tourists.
External factors such as global economic conditions, political instability, or health crises (as seen with the Covid-19 pandemic) can significantly impact visitor numbers.
Infrastructure: While infrastructure has been improving, there can still be challenges related to road conditions, especially in remote areas, which affect transportation logistics and overall travel experience.
Competition: The tourism industry in Botswana is competitive.
Tour operators need to differentiate themselves to stand out.
This includes offering unique experiences, providing excellent customer service, and staying updated with industry trends.
Navigating and staying compliant with regulations and permits can be challenging.
Tour operators need to be aware of and adhere to various rules and regulations governing the tourism industry in Botswana.
During peak seasons, securing accommodations in popular areas can be challenging.
Tour operators need to have good relationships with lodges and camps to ensure availability for their clients.
Training and Staff Development: Finding and retaining skilled staff, such as knowledgeable guides and support personnel, can be a challenge.
Ongoing training is essential to maintain a high standard of service.
Marketing and Branding: Effectively marketing the tour operator’s services to a global audience is crucial.
Developing a strong online presence, managing social media, and participating in travel trade shows are essential for attracting clients.
Customer Expectations: Meeting and exceeding customer expectations can be challenging.
Tour operators need to ensure that clients have a positive and memorable experience, addressing any issues promptly to maintain a good reputation.
Despite these challenges, Botswana’s tourism industry presents significant opportunities for tour operators who can navigate these obstacles effectively.
Successful operators often prioritize sustainability, innovation, and exceptional customer service to thrive in the competitive market.
What advice would you give to aspirant tour operators?
Starting a tour operator business in Botswana can be a rewarding venture, given the country’s rich cultural and natural attractions.
Research and Know Your Market: Understand the tourism industry in Botswana, including the types of tourists visiting, popular attractions, and seasonal trends.
Identify your target market, whether it’s adventure seekers, wildlife enthusiasts, cultural tourists, or a combination.
Familiarise yourself with the local regulations and legal requirements for starting and operating a tour operator business in Botswana.
Ensure compliance with licensing, permits, and safety standards.
Establish strong relationships with local businesses, hotels, transportation services, and other relevant stakeholders.
Collaborate with local communities to promote sustainable and responsible tourism.
What is your top bucket list destination and what recommendations do you have for a first-time traveler?
Definitely the Okavango Delta.
I feel everyone has to visit this unique eco-system and appreciate its beauty at least once in their lifetime.
The dry season (May to September) is generally considered the best time to visit Botswana, especially for wildlife enthusiasts.
The dry season sees a scarcity of water, concentrating animals around water sources, making it easier to spot them.
The temperatures are milder during the day, making game drives and outdoor activities comfortable.
Clear skies provide excellent conditions for stargazing, and this is also the time when the Okavango Delta is at its peak, offering stunning water and land-based activities; this is the high season, so prices for accommodation and tours are usually higher.
Local safaris are pretty pricey; any useful travel tips for budget travelers this season?
Visit during the off-peak season when prices for accommodation and tours are generally lower.
The wet season (November to March) might offer more affordable options.
Self-driving can be a cost-effective way to explore the country.
Renting a 4×4 allows you the flexibility to navigate your own itinerary.
Opt for camping instead of staying in lodges.
Many national parks and private reserves in Botswana offer camping facilities, providing a more budget-friendly accommodation option.
Mobile camping safaris, where you move from one location to another, can be an economical option compared to staying in fixed lodges throughout your trip.
If possible, travel with a group of friends or join group tours.
Group rates for accommodation, guides, and transportation can often be more affordable rates per person.
Lastly, for those interested in your services and products, how can they get in touch with you?
We invite you to embark on a voyage with Blue Zebra Safaris, where your clients are not just travelers but authors of their own African story.
Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can tailor our services to meet the unique needs of your safari.
Go on our website www.bluezebrasafaris.com and WhatsApp on +267 78 200 550