Aussie Rules!

 Meet Jeremy Ng and Jo Peti, Guests on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela. ‘The Experience’ is our regular Sunday night radio show airing between 20.30 and 21.30 hrs every Sunday night on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. Jeremy and Jo are from Melbourne in South Australia although Jo is originally from New Zealand – “from Matamata” she told listeners proudly, “where Lord Of The Rings was filmed.” This engaging couple explained that they’d been married for 8 years. “Was it love at first sight”? Milli Jam wondered. They both exploded with laughter as Jo declared that the second time they’d met, Jeremy couldn’t even remember her from the first time!
Jeremy told listeners that he owns and operates his own drilling company in Australia, mostly drilling environmental boreholes, explaining that these were done in order to take core samples for inspectors to check for contamination. Jo is a project manager for an IT company and spends a lot of time away from home, as her job takes her all over Australia. Before Jeremy and Jo arrived in Livingstone they’d spent two weeks in South Africa as volunteers on a wild life farm, mostly taking care of lion cubs and they had loved it. So much so that Jo said she would love to work full time with animals in the future. They told listeners it was their first trip to Africa.
The music on the show was international, we opened with Sam And The Womp’s UK smash ‘Bom Bom’ – quite why this is such a hit I, for one, am not sure! We coupled Bom Bom with Devlin featuring Ed Sheeran and ‘Watchtower’ which samples Jimi Hendrix’s 70’s hit. George chose his own track ‘Good Times’ with Roberto at the request of our Guests, back to back with B1’s ‘Secret Ku Bed’ – “what happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom”, he explained. “Not in Prince Harry’s case” I opined, which raised a laugh. Milli Jam dropped two Nigerian tracks before our oldie of the week – Exile’s ‘Oxygen’ – the prize we give every week to the first listener to text us telling us the name of the performing artist was quickly snapped up! We closed with new tracks from Ciara and Simple Plan.
Our Aussie couple told listeners that they’d had a great time since they’d been in Livingstone, the highlight of which had been a jump into the Devil’s Pool on Livingstone Island. They’d taken a one day safari to Chobe in Botswana, which they’d thoroughly enjoyed especially seeing so many elephants of different ages. Jeremy had taken a microlight flight over the Falls and they’d both loved the Zambezi sunset cruise on the Lady Livingstone. Asked why they’d chosen Chanters Lodge they replied that it suited their budget, seemed secure and that they’d got a fast and thorough reply to their first enquiry by e mail. Were they happy with their choice? They were and said the staff were great.
Sports wise Jo and Jeremy are into rugby – one supports Australia, the other New Zealand. Just imagine the scene! Jo said her musical tastes were mostly hip hop and r & b though she loves Lady Gaga and Nikki Minaj. Jeremy favoured old school rock including Midnight Oil.  Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing ten years from now, Jeremy said he hoped by that time he would have increased the number of drilling rigs in his company, whilst Jo said she would love to be working 100% of her time with animals and still travelling.

We wished them the best of luck!



New York! New York!

“It’s strange” I said to our Guests at the start of the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge weekly radio show on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone leading local radio station “when people say they’re from America the general reaction is not as excited as when Americans say they’re from New York!” Mike and Jennifer Westcott (above) laughed and proclaimed New York to be their city, and the best city in the whole world! We declined to argue! Mike and Jennifer had been staying at Chanters Lodge for a few days at the end of a hectic three week stay in Africa, having arrived in Livingstone a few days earlier from South Africa. They told Milli Jam, one of the co-hosts of our show, that they would be leaving for Johannesburg the following day, and for home in New York the day after that. “Had they had a good time in Zambia?” George da Soulchild Kaufela (the other co-host) wondered. You bet they had!
This lively, talkative New York couple told listeners that their visit to Livingstone had started with a sunset cruise on the Zambezi with the Lady Livingstone. Thereafter they had visited Victoria Falls and seen it from both the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides. Jennifer commented that there was more water on the Zim side and we explained that Zesco, our beloved electricity company, diverted the water above the Falls on the Zambian side for their hydro-electric scheme. That day the Westcotts had also been on the lion encounter out at Thorn Tree and had loved it. The day of the show was Mike’s birthday (happy birthday Mike!) and he and Jennifer had been to Chobe in Botswana for the one day safari. They had had a great time. One of the highlights of their visit to Livingstone had definitely been a visit to Livingstone Island for tea, and for Jennifer a swim in Devil’s Pool, Mike had allegedly ‘chickened’ out of jumping into the pool!
The music on the show was pretty hot as we opened with Rita Ora’s ‘How We Do (Party)’ debuting at number one in the UK singles charts as we went on air. We coupled that with TreySongz ‘Simply Amazing’, also big in the UK. George dropped tracks by CQ and Petersen ft Joe for his Zambian selection while Milli Jam picked Mary J Blige featuring Rick Ross as well as Usher’s ‘Numb’. Each week on the show we try to give away a prize of a dinner for two to the first person to text us telling us who’s singing our oldie of the week. On this show I chose Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’ but no-one got it. Problem. Our pick of the week was Ellie Goulding’s awesome ‘Anything Could Happen’ and we closed with Paloma Faith’s ’30 Minute Love Affair’.
Jennifer told our listeners that she was a primary school teacher in New York and Mike a qualified butcher working in a large New York supermarket. They are both third or fourth generation New Yorkers, they had known each other 12 years and had been married for 5 of those. Jennifer explained that they had met online “before it was a trend”! They both loved to travel and hoped in ten years’ time to still be living in New York and travelling a lot. They loved baseball and ice hockey sports wise. “Not soccer?” Asked Milli Jam – they shook their heads forlornly. Musically they said they were both into pop top 40 so I guess they guested on the right show!!

As we closed the show Mike and Jennifer gave a special shout out to Steve Hamwandi, a Livingstone taxi driver, who they said had given them excellent service during their stay. Great stuff!


TripAdvisor ‘Myth Busting’

Here’s something interesting from TripAdvisor via TNooz. As so much of our business at Chanters Lodge is generated through TripAdvisor I’m always interested….

The following list details some of the more common myths about TripAdvisor, and the facts:

Myth 1: Reviews on TripAdvisor are usually negative.
In fact, the majority of reviews on the site are positive. Three-quarters of all TripAdvisor reviews are rated “very good” or “excellent”, and the average rating on TripAdvisor is just over four out of a possible five. It’s also important to note that – according to this traveler survey – the number one reason travelers cite for writing a hotel review is to “share a good experience with other travelers”.

Myth 2: I have no control over my property’s listing on TripAdvisor.
Through the Management Center, you can immediately begin taking control of your business’ page — including adding a property description, photos, videos and more. We also encourage you to monitor what travelers are saying about you on the site, post management responses and keep track of where your visitors are coming from so that you can tailor your marketing approach accordingly.

Myth 3: Businesses can’t share their side of the story on TripAdvisor.
Just as we value traveler options, we value the insights of business owners — and strongly encourage you to post responses reviews about your property. These responses not only show guests and the TripAdvisor community that you take their feedback seriously, but also give you the last word. When an owner responds promptly and professionally to both positive and negative reviews – thanking reviewers for kind words or addressing any specific concerns – a management response can be very effective.

In fact, research shows that management responses to good reviews makes 78% of survey respondents think more highly of the property, while management responses to bad reviews reassure 79% of travelers.

Myth 4: It’s against TripAdvisor rules to ask guests to write a review.
While it’s against TripAdvisor rules to offer incentives in exchange for reviews, we strongly encourage you to ask your guests to write a review. We offer tools that you can use to encourage guests to write reviews following their stay.

These include links that you can add to an email, which will send guests directly to your property page on TripAdvisor; cards and flyers that you can print and hand out to guests; and widgets that you can embed in your own website to remind travelers to write reviews.


There you are then!

PS. When I originally read this I lodged a complaint in the comments section that one establishment in Livingstone is wrongly categorized as a B&B when it is, in fact, a lodge on the river. TripAdvisor chose to take no notice, so perhaps some of the myths are true!


Free Wifi…..or not!

TNooz is the place to find stuff about hotels and hospitality! This piece about the importance of offering free wifi in hotels caught my eye. Chanters Lodge was one of the first small lodges in Livingstone to offer this facility some years ago and we have battled with various ISP’s to meet our goal. Right now our supplier is Zamtel but we have a back up ISP as well. Get in!

It is possibly one of the most fiercely debated topics in (consumer) travel technology – should consumers be entitled to free wifi and web access in hotels? And it now turns out that travellers are becoming more discerning about the destinations they are likely to visit, based on the quality of mobile coverage.

A study of 500 travellers (52% from Western Europe, 16% Northern Europe, 13% Southern Europe, 17% Middle East) found that 86% now expect wifi connections to be made freely available in hotels. Amazingly, over a third (37%) say that good mobile coverage is important when choosing a destination, although the study doesn’t explain how consumers are checking such requirements.

Elsewhere in the study (commissioned by Brocade), over half admitted to using their mobile devices to check on work emails during a leisure trip – hardly surprising in some respects given that 95% of people will take a mobile phone away with them on holiday. Pressure is increasing on hotels to loosen their policies over tariffs for wifi services, although property owners and others still claim costs in large hotels are often prohibitive.

Interestingly, live streaming appears to be becoming an increasingly important consideration, with a third claiming they will attempt to watch content from the London 2012 Olympics if it coincides with a trip.

Brocade VP and CMO, John McHugh, says:
“There is significant blurring between personal time and work time in modern society, with the consumerisation of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) working policies leading many people to rely on smartphones and tablet devices around the clock, wherever they may be and whatever they may be doing.”

That’s it!


The Calgary Crowd on Zambezi 107.7 fm

Actually this wasn’t the whole ‘Calgary Crowd’ who’d been staying at Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia, there were a couple more back at the lodge! They are big people and it’s quite a small studio! Meet (left to right) Julie and Dallas Mauck with Hobie Schmautz. All hail from Alberta, Canada and were visiting Zambia – and for that matter Africa – for the first time. They were a little hesitant about appearing on our regular Sunday evening radio show on Zambezi 107.7 fm – The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient, featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela – but I twisted their arms and I believe they enjoyed ‘The Experience’ – though it was, perhaps, one of the last things they expected to do while they were visiting Livingstone and Victoria Falls!

During their visit to Zambia, apart from appearing on the radio, Julie and Dallas, married for 20 years this year and celebrating the anniversary with their stunning trip to Africa, as well as Hobie and the rest of the crowd, had taken a 30 minute helicopter flight over the Falls which they described as ‘amazing’. On their second day they’d rafted the famous Zambezi white water rapids – numbers 14-25 which are those open while there’s ‘high water’ – as it is at the moment. I asked Hobie on air if he’d enjoyed the ride and he said ‘well, yes, I did seeing I can’t swim’! The group had also ‘zip lined’ from the famous railway bridge between Zambia and Zimbabwe but had, apparently, drawn the line at bungee jumping!
The music on the show was good, we dropped Cheryl Cole’s UK number one hit ‘Call My Name’ back to back with Flo Rida’s ‘Whistle’ at the top of the show. For the Zambian part of our play list we chose Dandy Krazy’s ‘Dangana Nkupule’ as well as B’Flow’s ‘Efyo Waba featuring P-Jay. Jennifer Hudson’s ‘Spotlight’ was our ‘oldie of the week’ – listeners have to text us telling us who’s singing the track if they want to win a dinner for two with drinks at Chanters Lodge – they do and they did, so the prize was quickly won. Milli Jam featured Camp Mulla’s ‘Party Don’t Stop’ – they’re a Kenyan outfit – and for our Canadian Guests we played ‘As Long As You Love Me’ Justin Bieber’s dubstep smash, featuring Big Sean.

Julie and Dallas told listeners that they run their own business back in Calgary – it’s a quick service garage that offers complete oil and filter changes in 20 minutes for US$60. We believed them!! And so too did we believe that you can get used to -45C degree temperatures though I’m not sure I’d want to! The group also told us they’d had a great time in South Africa on safari for almost three weeks before they arrived in Zambia, and that they would be headed back for Canada the day after the show. Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing in ten years’ time Julie said she and Dallas would like still to be healthy, wealthy and travelling! Hobie was ‘hoping for the best’.

Great show!



Easy Jet  is set to launch a new low cost carrier under the name “Fast Jet” and base it in Africa following a deal between the owner of existing carrier, Fly540 and British owned investment firm, Rubicon. EasyJet’s founder Sir Stelios HajiIoannou will launch a low cost airline in Africa this year. The carrier will be based on the platform created by Lonrho Aviation’s Fly540 network. The new carrier aims to transform the Nairobi based Fly540 into a no frills, all jet low cost carrier for Africa.

Fastjet, will operate from Kenya, Angola, Ghana, and Tanzania. Fly540 recorded turnover of $57 million and carried 525,375 passengers last year. Fast Jet hopes to reinvent the low cost carrier model for Africa, with ticket prices starting from around US$20. The company hopes to target Africa’s growing middle class with average fares of around 70-80 US $ on flights between fast growing cities such as Nairobi in Kenya and Angola’s Luanda. Africa lacks a decent cheap and efficient aviation network with an average 0.03 journeys per head per year, compared to 1.5 to 2 air journeys per head in the West. There’s a shortage of direct point to point flights within Africa. It’s difficult to get from capital city to capital city especially in West Africa. The new carrier aims to carry more than 12 million passengers a year because of demand from the growing African middleclass for regional travel.

There will be significant difference will be in the way the low cost carrier model to will be transplanted to Africa. In Europe, almost all tickets are sold online. However, in Fast Jet’s African market, internet access can be as low as 20%. Fastjet tickets will therefore be distributed via travel agents, GDSs and some walk-up ticket sales. Passengers will also be able to buy tickets using credits through mobile phone.


It’s Hot Down Here!

Loved this one from Judy in Australia!

A Scottish couple decided to go to Spain to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of hectic lifestyles, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So the husband left Glasgow and flew to Barcelona on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Blackpool, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister who died following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.

The widow’s son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I’ve Arrived
Date: October 16

I know you’re surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you’re allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Bloody hot down here!




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.


The Peace Corps and The Experience

Meet Jenni Kuker (above right) and her mum Jan who were Guests on the most recent edition of the Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient featuring George da Soulchild Kaufela. That’s our regular Sunday night radio show on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station. The programme is a relaxing mixture of music and chat. Jenni and her parents, who come from the USA, were staying at Chanters Lodge on a visit to see Victoria Falls. When Milli Jam asked Jenni “what brought you to Zambia?” She exclaimed “adventure!” And went on to tell listeners that she is a Peace Corps volunteer and that she’d been based in Zambia since July 2010, stationed 200 kms east of Lusaka in Luangwa. Her parents were on a visit to see her, as well as to do some sight seeing.

Jenni explained that she held two degrees, one in psychology and one in nursing from University of Portland in Oregon, USA. She told listeners that in Luangwa she stayed in a mud hut without electricity, and had been mostly living on a diet of village chickens and bananas. That part of Eastern Zambia is famous for the production of the latter, and Jenni told listeners she was now expert in the production of banana bread, banana fritters and banana pancakes! She was involved with health care education in a rural clinic and would finish her stint in Zambia in September this year. She was looking forward to showing her parents ‘the village’ and then taking them on Safari in the South Luangwa National Park staying at Flatdogs.
The music on the show was right up to date as usual. We opened with Rihanna’s ‘Where Have You Been’ – her upcoming single release, back to back with Conor Maynard’s ‘Can’t Say No’. Conor’s single was number two in the UK charts as the show went on air. Hailing from Brighton Conor is billed as ‘Britain’s answer to Justin Bieber’. The mind boggles – but it’s a good single. For his Zambian pick George dropped one of his own great tracks ‘Your Love’ featuring Jay Fantasy back to back with JK’s smash featuring Salma ‘Kapilipili’. Milli Jam chose the ‘oldie of the week’ Charice’s ‘Pyramid’ and my phone was hot with folks texting in to tell us the name of the artist, in order to win a dinner for two at the lodge. Jacque won. We closed with Maroon 5 ft Wiz Khalifa and ‘Payphone’.
Jan told listeners that she and husband David (listening to the show back at the lodge) had been married 43 years and were both retired. They had both worked in human resources prior to retirement. They were thoroughly enjoying their first visit to Zambia. Jenni told us that a lack of privacy in the village had been the hardest thing to accept when she arrived in Luangwa, and said she had overcome the problem by building a fence. She wanted to work in specialized surgical nursing when she returned to the USA, and mum wanted her to find a husband. ‘No need to return to the States for that’ texted one bright spark ‘plenty of eligible men in Zambia’. We laughed.

Asked where she would like to be and what she would like to be doing in ten years’ time, Jenni replied that she would like to be nursing somewhere in the world with Medecins Sans Frontiers. I’m sure it will happen!


Precision Air

This via Seb at Travel Comments

Tanzania’s largest airline Precision Air has announced the start of its operations to Lubumbashi (DR Congo) and through to Lusaka (Zambia) effective 18 May 2012.

The airline will fly the new route using its newly leased Boeing 737-300. Flights will depart Dar Es Salaam at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The flight duration is 2hrs. Precision Air also announced plans to commence flight to Angola later in the year as the projected growth takes root with more frequencies and more destinations.

Precision Air currently operates scheduled air services between Dar Es Salaam and 16 destinations in Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Comores, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The airline’s main base is Julius Nyerere International Airport, Dar es Salaam with hubs at Kilimanjaro International Airport and Mwanza Airport.

That’s nice – but it’s a pity there are no direct flights between Dar and Livingstone – that would be ‘precision’!
Page 4 of 13 «...23456...»