Travel trends to watch: Exclusive-use safari destinations on the up

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The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the tourism and hospitality industries, and the businesses staying on top are those making efforts to tap into emerging travel trends in an altered tourism landscape.

Attracting business remains a challenge

The biggest challenge for Last Word Intimate Hotel & Safari Camps, like for many in the travel industry, has been to find ways to generate income, keep properties running and pay salaries, group general manager Nicky Coenen said. 

This is no easy feat in a market that is in a massive slump due to the ever-changing COVID-19 lockdowns and travel bans.

For Coenen and her small marketing team, finding ways to still attract business has been challenging. However, one of the emerging tourism trends during this turbulent time appears to be exclusive-use property rentals. 

Exclusive use is becoming an increasingly popular travel trend simply due to there being a demand for accommodating family and friend bubbles at this time,” Coenen said.

“The close-knit group normally looks for luxury and intimacy, not wanting to be mixed with guests who are outside their circle due to concerns about COVID even though stringent health and hygiene protocols have been adopted by South Africa’s tourism sector. 

“Interestingly, there’s a level of human connection that wasn’t there before. Our guests are really looking for warmth, kindness and serene sanctuaries as a reward for enduring what they see as pandemic hardship,” Coenen added.

Long Beach Kommetjie
Last Word Long Beach is in the picturesque fishing village of Kommetjie. Image: Supplied

The trend in rising demand for exclusive use bodes well for groups specialising in small, intimate and boutique properties.

“We have only 31 rooms across our four properties. Last Word Long Beach and The Last Word Kitara would be the ultimate in exclusive use as they each have six suites. Last Word Long Beach is actually right on the beach in Kommetjie, so it’s perfect for a family or small group of friends.”

On the safari front, exclusivity has always been a driver. However, what is new is the drive for domestic tourists to see luxury safari experiences like Last Word Kitara in the Greater Kruger’s Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, which has only six suites. 

“Locals are looking for safari experiences that are exclusive and remote, where guest numbers are small enough to ensure easy social distancing both in and out of camp,” Coenen said. 

Kitara
Last Word Kitara has only six suites, ideal for a family or group of friends. Image: Supplied

Cindy Sheedy Walker, CEO of  Extraordinary Marketing, agrees exclusive use is a rising hospitality trend in South Africa. This is something her organisation has been focussing on for the safari destinations they represent. 

“We recognise the growing desire for exclusivity and seclusion in the COVID era. Our exclusive-camp-use offers aim to go beyond exclusivity and privacy.

“We strive to be the idyllic sanctuary for you to reinvigorate yourself, reinforce your bonds with your trusted circle and reconnect with the healing powers of nature at some of South Africa’s most loved safari destinations.”

These include Kwafubesi Tented Safari Camp and Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway in the Waterberg, Limpopo, and Hamiltons Tented Camp and Hoyo Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga. 

“One of the great things about the Exclusive-Use-Camp concept is the freedom of these families and friend-groups to create their own safari pace – leaving for safari when they choose and structuring meal times to suit their habits.” 

Consumers don’t travel the same way as before

Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway is in the Waterberg. Remote locations are becoming increasingly appealing. Image: Supplied

COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the way consumers want to travel. It has also made everyone more cautious about who they want to travel and mix with on those travels. 

“With this in mind, we too have had to evolve and find the best ways of catering to these changing demands,” Sheedy-Walker said. 

“While at our core we have always prioritised privacy and exclusivity, we realise that these aspects of travel are no longer luxuries but have now become necessities for many of us.” 

South Africa is Travel Ready

South Africa is Travel Ready is a PR and communications collaboration of influential agencies in the tourism and hospitality space. They are supporting the inbound tourism industry’s efforts to open the country to international tourism as soon as possible. Contact satravelready@bigambitions.co.za or info@traveltosouthafrica.org for more information.

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Original Article Posted on The South African