Thanks to TravelWires for publishing this online interview this morning:
“Hot on the heels of fellow Zambian internet entrepreneur Sara Brown from TheBestofZambia.com is Richard Chanter, the owner of Chanters Lodge in Livingstone (Zambia). He shares with us his journey to launching Chanters Lodge and how I hope other operators within this space could learn a thing about keeping an active presence on the internet (it does not cost a cent, just dedication)…
When were you born and where are you based?
I was born in Tiverton, Devon, UK and I am based in Livingstone, Zambia.
Can you educate my readers about Chanters Lodge, what exactly inspired the business?
The obvious need in Livingstone in 1997 for a good restaurant – the rooms were an afterthought!
What were you doing before launching your business and when was it launched?
From 1979 – 1992 I was GM of what is now Southern Sun Ridgeway in Lusaka. From 1992-1995 I was a transporter and market gardener. From 1995-1997 I was in unsuccessful business partnerships in the catering trade in Lusaka. This business was launched in 1998.
How much was invested in launching your business and how was that capital financed?
Total invested on launch was US$100,000 but there has been additional investment of US$200,000 since. The initial capital was loan followed up by investment from a maturing pension fund and from profit.
What planning did you engage before launching?
Probably not enough!
Are there any major challenges that you had to overcome in launching your business?
Wow! So many! Development and management in Livingstone in the late 90’s was a challenge in almost every respect you could think of!
I notice your property has numerous reviews on www.tripadvisor.com, do you also generate bookings through that website?
Very many, I also respond to every review.
Do you use any booking engine for your property?
You’re an active blogger, does this helps your business in generating bookings?
Hard to say, it certainly doesn’t do any harm!
What are your short and long-term business goals?
Short term to finish the ongoing construction of two additional rooms and to maximize revenue in 2010 (World Cup). Long term to be able to semi-retire in 2012 with a good self-fulfilling management structure in place.
What is your opinion of country focused portals like TheBestofZambia.com?
Which industry events do you exhibit your business?
None so far
Which sector of the Zambian tourism industry do you feel still presents untapped business opportunities?
Development of infrastructure generally and specifically in Kafue National Park and on Lake Tanganyika
What are your three preferred industry blogs that you read daily?
Hotel Blogs and Best of Zambia – I write more than I read also Hotel Interactive
Is the tourism industry in Zambia involved with the forthcoming 2010 Soccer World Cup?
It needs to be!
Is your occupancy rate affected by the current economic climate?
So far not really
What does responsible tourism means for your business and do you subscribe to it in your operations?
It means care of the environment, training and development of Zambian personnel, maintenance of our assets and first class public relations and yes we try to!
What does the internet means for your business?
80% of our reservations and almost 100% of the feedback. It also brings Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor. Everything?
Has your property ever fell victim to the cheque and credit card fraudsters?