The Louis Barabbas Experience

Meet Louis Barabbas (above), musician and Guest on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring Jay Hillz. ‘The Experience’ is our weekly radio show airing for an hour live every Sunday night on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. Louis told listeners that he was currently on holiday in Zambia with his parents, who were in Zambia to participate in the 50th Anniversary of Independence celebrations taking place in the week ahead. He would be attending a state dinner in Lusaka with them on Independence Day itself. He explained that his grandfather had once been the town clerk of Kabwe! Milli Jam looked surprised. His mum, Pam, was also about to publish a book about Zambia titled ‘Remnants Of Empire’.

Louis, an English language graduate has been involved in the music industry in UK one way or another for about 12 years. He currently heads a band by the name of Louis Barabbas and the Bedlam Six. Given the name of the band I was somehow expecting Louis to be a great big hairy loud rocker not the rather shy thoughtful young man who kept us entertained on the show! Louis explained that the band, which is based in Manchester, had just finished a tour of Europe taking in Germany and Austria and would be on a break until May 2015. The boys had also just completed their second studio album called ‘Youth’ and Milli Jam was delighted to be given a copy. He and Jay assured Louis that tracks from the album would be featured on shows on 107.7 fm during the week ahead. Louis had also finished writing a solo album, yet to be recorded, which would be entitled ‘Gentle Songs Of Ceaseless Horror’……..

The music on our show was good as usual and featured tracks from Avicii, Taylor Swift and One Direction. Milli Jam and Jay chose tracks from Ten Walls and Ma-E, as well as Exile, Adele and the Masasu Band. My pick of the week was a new track from Noel Gallagher called ‘In The Heat Of The Moment’. As this played Louis wondered why he would come all the way from Manchester just to listen to a Manchester outfit in Livingstone. We closed with something rather different – Krishane ft Melissa Steel, with ‘Drunk and Incapable’! None of us were!

Louis told us that he plays guitar and harmonica and is also lead singer of the Bedlam Six. He heads a recording company – Debt Records – which has about eight artists in its’ stable and often operates as a type of co-operative with acts combining their skills to come up with the best results. Louis has a weekly radio show on local radio in Manchester. Surprisingly football wise he supports neither Man City or the other team in the city. Still single, Louis has a partner – a geologist by profession –  with whom he’s been going steady for about ten years. Did he miss her? Yes. His own musical preferences tended towards film music and musicals. He is also involved in the Musicians Union in UK, working for a fairer deal for musicians in that country.

Asked where he would like to be and what he would like to be doing ten years’ from now Louis said he would like be making more music, travelling more and to be making more money. We agreed that this would suit all present in the studio!


Franchise Loans – Zambia

This caught my eye:


THE Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) has set aside a total of K6 million for the establishment of the Zambian tourism franchise. Players in the local tourism sector would be eligible to access the loans through CEEC to set up tourism franchising.

CEEC Head of communication and public relations Glenda Masebe said the funds would be used to promote a special initiative for international standards in Zambia’s tourism industry by supporting targeted citizens to establish franchise tourism businesses.

In a statement issued in Lusaka, Ms Masebe said the commission would consider investments in tourism which include hotels and lodges, restaurants, water sports, theme parks, take aways, travel and tours, cinema, and any other. “This special initiative will be implemented initially in Muchinga, Southern and Western Provinces and each province has an allocation of K2 million to citizens wishing to tender for franchising support. “The maximum loan repayment period for this initiative shall be 5 years at an annual interest rate of 12 per cent,” Ms Masebe said.

She said the provision of collateral would be a strict requirement for this facility and that the applicant will have the responsibility of proposing a franchise business they wish to invest in.

A franchise is an agreement where the owner of a trademark or brand allows someone else to operate a business that sells their products and/or services under license. The one that issues the licence is called the franchisor while the one receiving the licence to operate is called the franchisee.


Zambia’s Rebased Currency

On January 1st 2013 Zambia’s currency will be rebased, removing three zeros from the existing money, with the introduction of new notes and coins. So, our highest unit of currency now K50,000 will be become K50. Our lowest unit K50 will become 5 ngwee. I guess. There are some samples of the new notes (above).

Our menu and drinks price list have to be reprinted and the process is underway.

Following new legislation in the course of the past year, we are now obliged to quote our prices in Zambian Kwacha and these will be shown on our soon to be revised website. So as not to confuse worldwide visitors to our website we are quoting in US$ alongside our 2013 room rates using the new K5 to 1US$ for the moment.

I guess everyone involved hopes that the Kwacha will hold its value for a year or two to make the operation a success. At least the chuckles when Guests ask the exchange rate and we tell them “K5000 to one” will be a thing of the past.

General confusion for a month or two? I should think so! I liked Barclays Bank’s invitation to a cocktail party next week to ‘thank our agents and to discuss the rebased currency’. I don’t drink but one can imagine some of the discussions about the new currency by those that do!

How will we feel no longer being millionaires? I suppose we’ll get used to it!



Advice for an old guy….

I was working out at the gym when I spotted a sweet young thing walking in ….

I asked the trainer standing next to me,

“What machine should I use to impress that young lady over there?”

The trainer looked me over and said,”I would recommend the ATM in the lobby.”



This if from the Tnooz Site – a must daily read for those in the travel and hospitality business.

A guest article by Matt Weisberger, chief operating officer of Travel Spike.

The wrong industry is paying attention to Tingo, the recent side project from TripAdvisor which is gaining notoriety from the travel trade. Tingo’s spin is turning what others have deemed a feature into a product. Offering refunds on booked hotel itineraries if the price drops. Its momentum alone is fascinating considering Orbitz Price Assurance, Yapta and TripIt Pro are all variant flavors of the same refund policy. And while none have it right yet, it’s worth noting that Tingo is the fourth player to endeavor this model.

If a company finally succeeds with this approach, its impact could be wide reaching even beyond travel. The obvious buzz is coming from the travel category, whereas perhaps we should be hearing from RETAIL. Why? If Tingo proves successful, deductive reasoning draws a direct line to a cataclysmic sea change that impacts the retail industry. So while not an original offering, a Tingo victory could lead us down a unique path.

Though myriad differences separate Tingo from existing players, a new expectation is being created for travel consumers. The presumption that no matter when your itinerary is booked, you’re guaranteed the lowest rate. Whether true or not is irrelevant – public perception guides the expectation. Which incites consumer demand for parity. And parity ultimately means the creation of a new industry standard.

The interesting subtext of this potential new standard is an exploration of what happens when Refunds for Price Drops becomes common practice among travel suppliers. Finding our answer takes us on a journey beginning with the assumption that Tingo is a brilliant success. While far fetched this early in its history, we’ll make the hypothetical leap and say that they steal share from OTAs and independents alike provoking a strong competitive response.

Tingo is fuelled by Expedia, and we can expect the largest player in online travel to embrace this now successful policy. As Expedia goes, so goes the OTAs, who would be fast followers on the Tingo model if Expedia adopts it. With the OTAs onboard, it will be nearly impossible for independents not to follow suit, since their value proposition can no longer be price-based, so we assume they do so.

If Tingo works in hospitality, it’s likely all players would translate the model into other travel mix like air, car, cruise, etc. As such, the online travel market (now one-third of global travel market value, according to yStats) is further commoditized. Customer service and user experience become the only true gaiting factors for travel bookers. A coup for travelers!

Based on this path, every travel supplier would now protect any booking from price drops. Now we need to ponder how this impacts those establishing the actual price points: ie. revenue management. Revenue management has been the profitability engine of travel and hospitality for decades. Its operators manage the delicate balance between inventory, demand curves, rack rates, best available rate (BAR), RevPAR, load factors, time to stay/flight/ride, promotions, discounts, pre-pay, opaques, blended rates, rate parity, cancelations, refunds, rewards programs, OPEC, seasonality, advance day fares, etc.

It’s endless the elements required for consideration when establishing a price of travel products. It’s a combination of science and art form. Yet should Tingo prove victorious, revenue management teams will have their hands full figuring out how to adequately respond to this model. That response could be as simple as “No More Price Fluctuations” – yield management disappears. Blasphemy! And most Revenue Managers would tell you keeping price points flat actually has a decrementing value against the forward-looking P&L.

However, if travel is now a commodity, and downward pricing is being refunded automatically, why bother chasing longer margins to gain nothing. How does Revenue Management respond when their most reliable arrows (price adjustments and time) are removed from their quiver?

For air travel, it’s slightly different in that last-minute purchases don’t always bring the best price. RMs leverage advance day purchases and often only respond to competitive price drops as needed. Regardless, our position remains that if Tingo is successful, all travel suppliers will need to adjust accordingly.

So we assume all travel pricing becomes static. Suppliers offer a flat price for a single product that remains in perpetuity. And we further assume it’s a resounding victory. Should we not also assume the Retail category takes notice of such success? They’ve already done it to some degree, amateurishly. Retail has price matching, 110% guarantees, list pricing with deep discounts, MAP pricing from manufacturers (Apple). Anything to make you feel your purchase is guarded against the inevitability of price drops. That is of course, unless the price never drops. All of these marketing mechanisms are intended to restore confidence in our purchase, exploiting our fear of getting taken, robbed, hoodwinked. Imagine a consumer market where that was never in question.

There are far more gaps in retail since they often aren’t dealing with finite inventory and a long booking window. Most retailers are thinking about store inventory, warehouse inventory, competitive pricing, turns and GMROI. If more product is needed, they contact the manufacturer who happily delivers. If the manufacturer is out, they produce more. The model is certainly not a direct parallel, but the structures are similar.

Refunds in retail aren’t automatic like Tingo is offering. The burden of proof rests with the consumer. Scan an item in-store with an app that searches competitors, reveal your lower priced finding to customer service, and most big box retailers will honor the lower price. Imagine buying a new TV, and 90 days later you see $100 back on your credit card statement because the price dropped $100. Wouldn’t you be more likely to buy a TV at the retailer that offers this kind of service?

Placing enough pressure on retailers to embrace such a policy would be like moving an iceberg by hand. Our loudest voices and preferences don’t have the PSI for that kind of battle. For such a model to work, retailers would need to realize the benefit for themselves. After all, I once sat in a room with a revenue manager who said: “Why charge $250 for something they’re willing to pay $350 for.” Tingo is another player challenging that antiquated but profitable thought process. I don’t know that I’m a Tingo-supporter yet, but I’m enjoying the trend it’s yielding off of.

For a moment, we’ll imagine commerce, based not on what someone is willing to pay for a good, but a fair and economical valuation of the cost of goods, labor to create it and a reasonable profit? Dream of such a marketplace, then wake up, and realize the cost to you as a consumer is typically based on what you’re willing to pay for it. But wouldn’t that dream be a pleasant reality, if only for the momentary lifespan of a small travel brand.


Slap Dee In Trouble

Hip-hop artiste Slap-Dee was recently briefly detained at Livingstone Central Police Station for allegedly not honouring his contractual obligations with Royal Entertainments who had hired him to perform at Mukuni Park. The 25-year old rapper, real name Mwila Musonda, was initially charged with obtaining money by force pretenses.

Police spokesperson Ndandula Siamana confirmed the brief detention of Slap-D and said he was released after he repaid K1 million. “Yes I can confirm that he (Slap-Dee) was at the Central Police Station in Livingstone. He had a financial problem with another group but he was released after he refunded the money,” Siamana said. And in an interview outside the police station on Saturday, Royal Entertainment director Kenova Kaapa said Slap-Dee had signed a contract with the firm in Lusaka last month, and was paid K1 million, with the balance being agreed to be paid after the Livingstone show.

“We sent Timmy Kayombo and Emmanuel Mungala to follow up Slap-Dee in May and after consultations he signed the contract on (May) 27th. We then proceeded to buy air time on the two radio stations for adverts but we got suspicious when we heard adverts by Coca-Cola advertising a sports function at Maramba Stadium at which Slap-D was to perform,” Kaapa said.

He said that according to the contract, Royal Entertainment was to accommodate and feed the artiste, which was done at Liseli Guest House. “He gave us three T-shirts and that he was to launch his XYZ Nomba Ninshi album. But when Coca-Cola adverts persisted, I decided to call him and he said he was a musician who can even perform 12 shows and he boasted that Coca-Cola had even paid him twice what we paid,” Kaapa said.

He said on Saturday, Livingstone youths converged at Mukuni Park and Slap-Dee did not turn up but called after 16 hours when he was scheduled to have performed from morning up to 18 hours. “So we reported the matter to police who went to Maramba Staduim and ordered that he reports to the police which he did at 19:00 hours,” Kaapa said. The contract, signed by Slap-Dee and Mungala, stated that during the agreement both parties would not engage directly or indirectly in any other business as an employee, employer, consultant and director without prior written notice.

“Failure to meet these duties by both parties shall be deemed as breach of contract and shall attract a fine agreed upon by each party and professional arbitrators,” the contract read in part.

Kaapa said Royal Entertainment is seeking compensation of K20 million from Slap-Dee.


Dandy Krazy’s Outburst!

George da Soulchild, co-presenter of our weekly Sunday night radio show The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient, writes about the recent outburst by one of Zambia’s best known local artists (above).

“Dandy Krazy could be the most hated local artist at the moment thanks to the comments he made during a performance at Breakpoint in Lusaka recently! Dandy Krazy‘s outbursts against both the Ngoma, and Born & Bred awards has raised a lot of concern among fellow artists and the Zambian Association of Musician (ZAM) alike, all agreeing that the behaviour exhibited by Dandy was unacceptable.

The incident took place a fortnight ago during a performance, when Dandy said he didn’t believe in the Born & Bred Awards or The Ngoma Awards because the prize monies they offered was insufficient and only belittled the winning artists. He further described the Born and Bred Awards as useless and the Ngoma Awards as rubbish!

The Born and Bred Awards is an initiative by Innocent Kalaluka the producer of Smooth Talk which came about to encourage local musicians to produce quality music videos that can also play on international music video TV. Currently K1m is the prize money. ZAM is one of the prestigious musician organizations that hold the annual Ngoma Awards. Many are of the view that Dandy should apologise because insulting these awards is like insulting the entire music industry in Zambia.”

(Ed – As a previous winner of an Ngoma Award, I fully agree!)


Walking For The Children Of Zambia

A friend of mine Mueti Moomba – a Zambian expatriate living and working in UK – is walking from Sheffield to Leeds (34 miles) on 22nd June to raise funds for SOS Childrens Villages in Zambia – a cause with which we’ve been involved before at Chanters Lodge. Great guy and a great cause which need your support. Mueti’s being accompanied by a colleague – Natalie Kemp – on his tough venture!
Here’s what it says on Mueti’s ‘JustGiving’ page.

“Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity. So please dig deep and donate now”.

Mueti goes on:

‘We’re appealing to everyone to spend a moment and think about the orphaned and vulnerable children that the SOS Children Villages in Zambia are helping. If we think of children as the future investors or leaders we should do all we can to empower them now and give them chance to fulfill that potential. In Zambia these orphaned and vulnerable children are housed and given a chance to go to school by SOS in order to secure their future. Myself and a workmate Natalie Kemp have a passion to raise money for this charity that will help such children live in a loving home and have a normal childhood.”

Thanking you in anticipation

Mueti Moomba and Natalie Kemp”

Awesome stuff and we wish them the best of luck!


Botswana Currency

Do you need to know this?

The Bank of Botswana introduced a new family of bank notes in August. The old notes will be exchanged for new ones via Botswana Banking Institutions until 31st December 2009. From 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2014 old notes will only be exchanged at the Bank of Botswana.