- Glam Safaris on the move
Born with ‘itchy feet’ and a hungry desire to see the world, it never occurred to Ludzi Mazwiduma that one day she would earn a living helping others with their travel plans.
That’s exactly how life has turned out for the 30-year-old Glam Safaris founder, and she couldn’t be happier.
“I have had passion for travelling since long back. During my tertiary years I travelled a lot through voluntary work. I volunteered for organisations such as the Botswana Work Camp and did a lot of charity work. This took me as far as Europe,” she tells Voice Money.
Armed with a degree from University of Botswana (UB) in Psychology majoring in English plus another in Banking and Finance, Mazwiduma notes these qualifications have given her a decent understanding of what makes people tick.
The Marapong native’s previous job also prepared her for the travel industry.
Having worked as a Finance Officer for NGO Marang for seven years, Mazwiduma would arrange bookings for the organisation’s conferences, further rousing her interest in the industry.
Her curiosity piqued, she got herself certified with Amadeus, a travel portal with live instant booking of flights and hotels.
Ready to take on the world, in January 2020 Mazwiduma launched her travel agency, Glam Safaris.
Three months later, everything changed.
After advertising her services, customers responded and she booked venues and arranged transport; it was then that Covid-19 hit with devastating force.
The whole world was put on lockdown, crippling several businesses especially in the travel and tourism sector.
“I was devastated. I had spent on advertising, printing fliers and it never took off so I had to pay the customers back,” she narrates from Glam Safari’s new home on top of Stanbic Old Lobatse Road.
Mazwiduma has since reimbursed everyone owed and Covid-19 is no longer such a big issue.
Business is also good, especially thanks to the support of Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO), who engage startups whenever the opportunity arises. The organisation also puts them under its wings during trade shows and other exhibitions.
This arrangement with BTO has worked wonders for Glam Safaris and Mazwiduma is thinking about recruiting two more assistants as the workload swells. Currently she is one of only two employees.
“We have grown. I’m a Women in Business (WIB) board member and have served BTO clients both local and international. Corporate clients are also showing interest in our services. Many have requested for quotations,” she beams.
If you book with Glam Safaris, as a couple or just for a retreat, you are likely to land in the tranquil Mozambique beach at Vilanculos.
Mazwiduma’s eyes widen in awe as she recalls the ‘quiet, serene beauty’ of Vilanculos.
Other favourite destinations of Glam Safaris are Victoria Falls, Kasane’s Chobe Marina and the Okavango Delta.
What you would normally view as competition is not a bother for Glam. “I don’t see it as such,” she quickly interrupts.
Apparently, in the hospitality and travel industry you need to link with others because they certainly have what you don’t have and vice versa. The industry is also forever changing so you need others.
“We have to constantly invest in research destinations and disseminate information and understand the need for budgeting to be able to give the best offer,” adds the Glam Safaris Director.
Online platforms are slowly replacing travel agents but Mazwiduma warns against relying too heavily on them.
She argues that travellers still need non-robot agents because there are always hidden costs to automated agents. There is also no security assurance and no physical address to go to for redress.
To mitigate the challenges and enhance the customer experience, Glam Safaris has launched a ‘first time in Botswana’ travel card. This card helps customers to save and get discounts. For just P100, Mazwiduma says travellers will also be linked to websites.
In five years Glam Safaris will have a mobile safari and fully furnished camp site as well as 24-hour online booking platform, if what Mazwiduma says is anything to go by – and when she puts her mind to something, it normally happens!