If you have long since fallen under the seductive spell of Travel By Terry (and if not, I know a great African witch doctor I can recommend), you will know that I have a category on my blog called Backroom Banter in which I offer up the insights of leading travel industry luminaries. Check the list of previous posts in that category and you will discover just how high the bar is set for admission. I myself have been rejected . . . twice!
I mention this to say that although you may not have heard of Murray Gardner, don’t let his modesty and low profile mislead you. When it comes to the dark continent, there is no brighter beacon than Murray Gardiner. As you read his thoughtful answers to my marginally intelligent questions, you will realize that Murray has a sterling pedigree, a first-rate education, an enviable record of accomplishment, an insightful view of the Africa market and a strikingly beautiful family as you can clearly see for yourself. Add to that, day by day he is building a lasting legacy of accomplishment.
It was exciting. It was great to be part of something special and I am very proud of what my Dad has achieved. It is also tough at times as my brother and I have big shoes to fill. My Dad has been very supportive of what I have done with Giltedge and equally proud of my achievements.
2) With your father’s enterprise, The Mantis Collection, so broadly involved in boutique hotels, game reserves, ski lodges and chalets, and much more, what made you decide to focus on building a premier destination management company?
I think it was a natural fit. My Dad knew a lot of people in the industry, which helped open doors in the early days. Mantis Collection also needed a vehicle to get bums in beds, so Giltedge certainly helped with this. However, it is important to understand that we do not send business to Mantis to make sure their beds are filled. We always create an itinerary that fits our clients’ needs and that often includes non-Mantis properties. I also wanted to create my own legacy.
I think it certainly helped me understand how international companies operate. It also gave me the opportunity to travel and understand the challenges one faces when travelling on a long haul route. Through publishing a travel magazine, I was able to meet some key people in the industry who were instrumental in helping Giltedge grow into the company it is today.
4) Giltedge Africa is unique in that it has both inbound and outbound divisions and has a significant focus on incentive and golf travel as well. Would you give our readers a quick overview of the various markets Giltedge Africa serves in Southern and Eastern Africa?
Our core markets for clients travelling to Africa are USA, Canada, UK, Scandinavian Countries, Australia, China and New Zealand. We have full presentation in both the USA and Sweden. The countries we send clients to include: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Seychelles and Mauritius. With us having an office in South Africa, we contract directly with most properties, which allows us to offer very competitive pricing.
After a 3 year stint living in the US, I am now spending 70% of my time back in Cape Town. If I am not there, then I am in Austin, TX, which is Giltedge’s US hub. As our business covers all aspects of travel – FIT, group, incentives, corporate travel, golf, etc. I am very involved in the business development of all these divisions within our company.
6) What is your vision for tourism in Africa for the coming decade and what are the greatest challenges you see to realizing those goals?
The current challenge is most definitely Ebola. One does not know how this is going to affect our tourism business over the coming year. Communication with clients is key at this stage and we all need to be marketing our destination more than ever. With the South African Rand at its weakest against the US dollar in several years, it is an attractive cost effective destination. With some of the best hotels and game lodges in the world, we would like to see Southern and East Africa become one of the tourist hot spots worldwide.
I think every travelling experience within Africa is unique and life changing. Certain things appeal to each individual, family or group. We pride ourselves in creating trips of a lifetime, so we listen and get to know our clients before creating an itinerary. With me spending more time in South Africa, I am excited to be able to go out and experience more amazing properties.
Thanks Murray for stopping by Travel By Terry and sharing your wisdom. (Dear reader, despite what you might assume, Murray agreed without the involvement of any incantations, spells or potions by my trusted African medical consultant referenced above.)
Just so you know, you haven’t heard the last from Giltedge and The Mantis Collection or from me, for that matter. I have already written a post on the Zambezi Queen which I invite you to peruse at your leisure. It is my full intention to introduce you to many more masterpieces in this coveted collection in the days ahead.