The last six months have been nothing short of a roller coaster journey that I could never have envisioned. I am sure that many in the travel industry share my sentiments in that regard. However, it is in a crisis that many people shine, and I am extremely grateful for the Elewana team that have rallied to initially help with the temporary closure of properties and most recently, assist with the phased re-opening programme that enabled us to once again welcome guests at a selection of our camps and lodges.
I have also been so humbled by the big hearts of so many donors who have rallied to support Elewana’s Land and Life Foundation allowing many projects to be completed and some new ones to be started.
Some of our staff, understandably had to travel to be with family, which left a core base of local staff on the ground. I really want to pay testament to this team who found themselves with widely expanded roles and they very much rose to the challenge. I believe that the new skills they have learnt will help propel their career paths as we emerge from this crisis.
As we opened our doors, our number one priority was to ensure that our guests and staff were kept safe. The team responded quickly to implement the three EEE’s, Elewana’s Essential Elements. Some of this was pretty straight forward as our team on the ground has always taken pride in our immaculate cleaning procedures, but others, like sourcing masks, gloves and thermometers for temperature checks were a little more challenging. None the less, we were able to quickly arm our staff with smart, branded masks and the equipment that they needed. Training was greeted enthusiastically as everyone was excited to get back to work.It was a huge relief when a tidal surge of bookings came pouring in as local Kenyans took advantage of the opportunity to visit their own back yard with less International arrivals. Visitors to the Mara were rewarded with one of the most notable migrations in many years, partly due to great rains in earlier months and little human interference. It was such a pleasure to see the camps once again breathe with happy guests sharing tales of remarkable sightings and sharing beautiful moments under Africa’s big sky.
As a group, the Elewana Collection is now focusing on how to turn this situation into a positive. We are taking time to absorb and respond to feedback from agents and guests. We are investing in training and development, specifically with food and beverage and our guides. We are looking at initiatives that will deliver a more authentic locally inspired experience and embrace the SLOW food movement that we already endorse.Personally, I have enjoyed an expanded role that has given me the opportunity to work more collaboratively with the sales and marketing team. This has been really insightful and there is a wonderful team spirit as we all navigate our way through the existing situation. I have also decided to go back to school. I am studying for an MBA at the African Leadership University. I will graduate in July 2021 with an expanded knowledge base that I hope will help me handle what I believe could be our busiest peak season ever.