It has been a while now since I have been back but I had a great month visiting Kenya and Rwanda and I think my trip to Rwanda has actually taught me a bit about business.
I am lucky enough to have a friend living in Kenya so I took the opportunity to go and see her, and she planned the whole thing. A week spent on the beach, and two weeks travelling around seeing the sites of Kenya. Staying on different plantation (tea and flower), visiting children’s homes and enjoying 3 days at Intreprid's Explorer Camp. It all was amazing but nothing beats being woken up by hippos carrying on in the river below!
The last week of my trip was spent in Rwanda, I have always wanted to see the mountain gorillas in their nature habitat so this was a great opportunity to do that. I looked for travel companies in Australia but nearly died at the prices I was being quoted, so I got in the Internet and did my own research.
I read some recommendations on Trip Advisor, searched for different companies and sent off the enquiry emails. I got responses back within 24 hours with detailed itineraries clearly explaining prices, and what was included.
I was slightly amazed as I thought it would take forever and I would never hear anything. After asking further questions the next thing I knew I was booked on a trip!
Now the next question was payment, I really didn’t want to send money to an African bank account, but this company knew the fears of foreigners and only wanted payment for the Gorilla Permits (this is much regulated and the Rwandan government runs this). I thought this was fair enough and sent credit card details for a card I hardly used and had a very low limit, and then I waited.
True to their word they only debited the gorilla permits and sent me a copy of the permit when it did arrive. So already this company was far exceeding my expectations and showing me how customer service can work through emails from the other side of the world.
A couple of days before I arrived I got an email to say that Billy will be waiting for me at the airport and they were looking forward to hosting me. The first thing they did was take me to the office to pay the balance of my trip (in cash).....being by myself I was a little scared, but that all went well and off we went.
As it turns out I had booked my very own private driver for 4 days and an apprentice. What a treat, the whole adventure was fantastic, we laughed a lot in the car, and I got to find out a lot about their culture.
The Gorillas trekking was amazing – it really is a trek. 2 hours up to find them and they keep moving as they are feeding so we followed them. Only 8 people can go to any one family at a time, and I was a little nervous as you are standing in the jungle with the gorillas all around you. The guards only had machete’s so really not much protection.
I don’t have enough words to describe the whole experience.....other than BLOODY BRILLIANT.
The whole trip went very smoothly and I was upset to say goodbye to my driver and the apprentice.
So what did they teach me....
This day and age with the internet making it easier to travel and relying on recommendations, the driver and the tour organiser both asked to put a recommendation on Trip Advisor. I tried to fob them off but they followed me up while I was still away and again when I got home.
I finally got around to doing it and already somebody in Australia has contacted me to find out about my experience!
Which has got me thinking – why don’t we do this more often for our business? Why are we shy in asking for testimonials/ recommendations (whatever you want to call them)?
Now I am going to stop being shy and ask you.
If you have had a great experience with myself or with anybody else at Laurentide, please tell us....either by email –email@example.com or on our social media pages (facebook) (linkedin)...
I must admit when I try a new restaurant I tend to looks at the reviews and decide to go there or not. Maybe you can help our business help people to decide whether to use us or not!
Written by Tina Clark
Adventure Traveller and Broker at Laurentide.