UNIQUE CONSERVATION OPPORTUNITY WITH TINTSWALO LAPALALA TO HELP COLLAR THE WILD DOGS OF THE WATERBERG
Conservation enthusiasts have the rare opportunity to book a safari package at Tintswalo Lapalala over the Heritage Day long weekend of 24 September 2020, to join a veterinary team and scientists from the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) while they collar a number of African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) in the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve (Limpopo).
The African Wild Dog is Southern Africa’s most endangered large carnivore, with only about 438 left in all of South Africa. Conservation history was made in April (2020) when 10 adult dogs, notably one of the last free-roaming packs of the Waterberg, were successfully captured and relocated to a holding facility on the Lapalala Reserve. In the reserve they will be safe from pervasive threats such as hunting, poisons, road collisions, snaring and habitat loss, which have over the years reduced the population to near extinction.
The dogs adapted quickly in the boma at Lapalala and within a few weeks a litter of pups was born. The eleven pups are now strong enough to be released into the reserve, together with the 10 adults. The first step however is to raise funds to purchase VHS and satellite tracking collars, which has presented the unique opportunity for guests to not only donate, but physically participate as sponsors of the project.
Derek van der Merwe from the Endangered Wildlife Trust says that it is critically important to safeguard this pack within the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve. The scientific monitoring of the pack will help to secure the future conservation of the species, particularly in the Waterberg. It is essential to keep track of their movement patterns, habitat utilization, and population demographics, and to avoid snaring and poaching incidents and breakouts. He says: ‘This particular pack is very used to going through fences as the Waterberg area in general is full of game fences. However, we are hoping that the time spent in the boma has given them some respect for fences and that they won’t head straight out of the reserve after release.’
Spreading over 48 500 hectares of pristine bushveld, the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve is one of South Africa’s largest private nature reserves and is recognized as a champion of sustainable wildlife conservation. CEO Glenn Phillips says that this Wild Dog conservation project is another important conservation milestone for Lapalala. ‘We are however under no illusions that these dogs will eventually leave the expanse of the reserve and continue to do what they have always done. Roam free. We are very privileged to have been in a position to provide a temporary home for these wonderful, critically endangered animals, and trust that the role we played has provided them the best possible chance of survival.’
Tintswalo Lapalala’s Wild Dog Collaring Conservation package is available to 12 guests only, for the long weekend of 24 September 2020. Children are welcome. Guests will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take close-up photographs of the Wild Dog adults and pups feeding. They will also attend a briefing session by the veterinary team who will explain the collaring procedure, before they take part in the exercise which aims to collar at least two of the dogs. The release of the dogs into the reserve will take place on a later date (to be confirmed).
A new one-stop revenue and digital distribution platform has entered the tourism market with the launch of Scopic in South Africa. Led by CEO Adelbert Retief, the multi-facetted digital company forms part of Touch Down Travel Tech (TDTT), an integrated tourism technology solution business.
Scopic brings an attractive, cost-effective business model to hotels, guest houses and lodges that unlike others in the market who are retainer-based, works mostly on a shared-revenue, commission basis. This is particularly relevant as a post-Covid-19 solution while the travel industry is struggling for survival and budgets are under severe pressure.
Services include access to Conversion Based Property Management Systems that allow for the best revenue marketing experience based on rate parity, and supply and demand for all channels across all markets. It mobilises a much-improved business conversion opportunity by contracting digital marketing and service bundles via website, google and social media. Scopic also offers trade, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) and DMC (Destination Management Company) representation across the globe, as well as marketing services that include strategy, content management and digital advertising.
CEO Adelbert Retief says: ‘Revenue management for any property is based on multiple factors to make it successful, including systems, channels, OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) and various digital environments. With Scopic we bring that all together for the client, allowing them to focus on managing their business without having to worry about administering revenue.’
Scopic uses the latest technology to ensure that clients have the best systems in place and through its relationships with industry leaders, it connects clients directly with the best of the best. It is the marketing and sales partner for Inn Style PMS system in Africa, which comes with fully integrated revenue and management systems that is set to revolutionise business for small tourism providers. Scopic is also a sales agent locally for Room Raccoon, the ideal solution for those requiring a bigger Property Management System (PMS) that is fully integrated with all aspects of the property.
Retief and his board of directors including Chief Marketing Officer Greg Smith, Leonard Reyneke and Tijian Oberholzer, is a lean, seasoned professional team with over ten years travel related digital marketing experience. ‘We are excited to bring to the market this new revenue and digital distribution model as we are simply in the best position to get our clients’ content to the right people at the right time’, he concluded.
The South African travel industry received a welcome shot in the arm today (14 August 2020) when a dynamic new digital portal entered the market to promote and distribute product into all channels of tourism. Touch Down Travel Tech (TDTT) is an integrated tourism technology solution business that develops full, end-to-end platforms using the latest technology to provide a seamless integration between supplier and customer.
As a ‘digital eco-system’, TDTT will roll out five new travel brands over the next three months, to serve Retail, Trade, Mice, B2B and Corporate markets. Each of these business units, namely Ukiyo that drives travel content and bookings; online travel agency Xscape4u; revenue and distribution platform Scopic; Touch Down Destination Management Company; and retail travel agent Go Touch Down Travel and Tours; will be led by a team of well-known travel professionals with extensive experience.
TDTT was formed by travel product holding company Painted Dog Holdings and the Touch Down Group (TDG), who collectively have vast industry experience and knowledge of online travel audiences. The Touch Down Group was founded 27 years ago (1993) and currently owns/manages seven resorts in South Africa and three in Croatia, employing 600 people with offices in South Africa, the US, Australia, Indonesia, Croatia, Hungary and Canada.
The directors of Touch Down Travel Tech are widely known as prominent players in the tourism arena. They include CEO Leonard Reyneke and Chief Marketing Officer Greg Smith, as well as Tijan Oberholzer who started Touch Down Europe and Ross Backman of Painted Dog Holdings, which has shareholding in various travel solution companies.
The power of Touch Down Travel Tech is locked into product, people, technology and the digital audience, and it is expected to shake up the travel industry when the new product offerings are launched over the next few months.
CMO Greg Smith says: ‘Currently the travel industry is having to endure, and hopefully survive massive adversity during the pandemic. We have all had to adapt, and this has sparked the creation of this comprehensive product hub that will cover the full spectrum of the travel industry.
Our digital eco-system allows for content to be driven online, using the very latest technology to provide the best end-to-end solutions to serve the relevant audience within the buying circle in terms of market and product. Our hand selected team delivers the correct balance of experience and knowledge to each of the five business silos. Our mission is to innovate, integrate and inspire.’
Tintswalo is embracing the digital age with a new contactless App that introduces a creative way to interact with guests and eliminate the use of paper documents. Use of the App drives a ‘touchless’ travel experience that further reduces the risk of Covid-19 virus transmission that may be associated with physical interaction between guests and staff.
Each Tintswalo guest now receives a link to the Vamoos App to download before their stay, which takes them through the entire guest experience from booking until after their stay. The App digitally manages the guest registration, check-in procedure and signing of indemnities. The message system allows for easy communication with the hotel/lodge to accommodate special requests and dietary requirements, as well as arrival and departure details and the booking of transfers.
The directory incorporates all hotel or lodge information to replace room folders and menus, which are now available online via the App and can be perused before or during the stay. The App also includes local points of interest to help guests plan their stay and a booking option is available to make reservations at restaurants or to book excursions and spa treatments.
Lisa Goosen, the CEO of Tintswalo Lodges says: ‘The disruption to the travel and tourism industry is unprecedented in modern times, and we have been facing enormous challenges. During the pandemic we put on our thinking caps as we had to find a new and unusual way of doing business.’
‘Guests associate the Tintswalo product with luxury travel in safe, wide-open spaces and low-density guest numbers. These are ideal destinations for isolation, rest and relaxation, and re-connecting with loved ones. Our health and safety protocols are of the highest standard, and the use of the new App enables us to provide even more peace of mind to our guests. We appreciate their support especially during these difficult times. Our hearts are warm and our smiles are big and genuine behind our face masks, even though we are unable to show it at the moment with a signature Tintswalo handshake or hug!’, she concluded.
More than 100 hotels in Europe and Africa are already using the Vamoos App with Tintswalo being one of its pioneers locally.