Welcome to our newest member – The Mzansi Experience
Interview with Leon Steyn, Managing Director
Tell us your story. How did The Mzansi Experience get started?
The Mzansi Experience was born from the mutual interest of traveling in South Africa between the four founders of the company, and started operating in October 2017. Initially, we wanted to start small with shuttles to surrounding wine farms, but as we studied the market and considered feedback from trusted industry partners, this entire model exploded into the hop-on hop-off bus routes covering a large part of South Africa.
It took us two years to do our research, which included over 20,000 kilometres of travel by car to meet accommodation and activity partners, measure the routes, and decide on the best combination of routes we could offer as a new business. Since then, we have expanded to some really exciting places!
Our main aim is to offer affordable travel with excellent service, good levels of comfort while on our buses and an overall positive, authentic travelling experience to the budget-minded traveller wanting to travel in South Africa. The main market sector would be backpacking, although we can also offer a bit more luxury on request.
Our passion is to bring more tourists to unique, out-of-the way places in South Africa, and support these local, remote communities by bringing income to their areas.
What makes The Mzansi Experience different from your competitors?
Apart from our unique routes and packages, which includes self-managed options to fully guided cultural interaction tours, I think our stand-out feature is the customer service we deliver.
From the stage of making booking enquiries to the client travelling on our bus, we go out of our way to provide the best possible experience with quality information and booking assistance for accommodation and activities, and quality interaction with our front fleet staff for the entire journey. It’s all about the individual detail and attention – and this does not just belong in the luxury travel sector. Our efforts to provide the above has set us apart from our international peers.
What is your favourite success story from your organisation?
There are so many stories about happy clients and testimonials, but my absolute favourite is our in-house success story. Our staff are really like family to us and we celebrate the smallest things together. Although our staff is spread throughout South Africa, we have a central communications channel where we all stay in touch and share information (and make jokes or just chat in general too). We have also invested in a staff development program, since we believe in developing the future leaders of the company now. This has resulted in a happy, effective staff force who receive compliments wherever they go – and that is absolutely priceless.
What can we expect to see from The Mzansi Experience in the future?
We have a few exciting, brand new routes rolling out over the next two years, but for the coming months, our main aim will be to do international marketing and education of our product, as we are (not yet) well-known outside of South Africa.
Other than that, we are introducing a host of really awesome travel packages over the next few months which will provide incredible value for money for the budget traveller. So – watch this space!
Which trends do you see in educational and active youth travel?
The first trend is definitely female solo travel. We have seen this trend growing strongly over the past year and have found these females to be mostly from Europe or North America.
The second trend is a slightly higher spend limit for youth travellers. While they are still very price sensitive, they do not mind paying more to have truly unique experiences.
The third trend is word of mouth referrals and recommendations between travellers on social media. There are a lot of social media groups and forums where prospective travellers ask information about the areas they want to visit or activities they want to do. These social media groups do not allow any advertising of agents or companies – so it is purely word of mouth and peer driven. I think this is absolutely fantastic.
How do you work to ensure the health and safety of young travellers involved with The Mzansi Experience?
Since most of our guests are from international origin, we insist on them having proper travel insurance should there be an unfortunate event. While we take great care, life still happens.
Safety measures on our buses include SABS approved safety belts and reinforced seats. We have satellite tracking on all our buses and video monitoring in key areas around the bus. The entire frames of the buses have been strengthened (and sound-proofed) which provides more stability.
Our front fleet staff are First Aid Qualified, an essential measure for first response if something should happen. To date, we have had no incidents or injuries of any kind. We also have a health and safety officer who ensures all standards on the bus are strictly kept in order, including expansive First Aid kits and other necessary equipment such as a fire extinguisher.
What was your motivation to join WYSE Travel Confederation?
This was two-fold. We did our own research for an international body representing youth travel globally and uncovered WYSE Travel Confederation a while back already. Then, while networking and meeting with our business partners and suppliers (current members of WYSE in South Africa), they encouraged us and gave strong recommendations to become a member.
Have you attended a WYSE Travel Confederation event? If so, what was your experience with the event?
Not yet – but you will see us at Edinburgh in September this year! So excited and hoping to meet lots of other members. I have heard it is THE place to be!
What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing at this time?
The largest challenge we are facing in the tourism industry in South Africa is the representation of the media internationally about current events happening in our country. While there is political unrest in certain areas, South Africa is a very large country and the main areas of tourism remain unaffected and safe for travel. The recent water crisis in Cape Town has also been pulled completely out of hand – while there are water restrictions in place, there is still plenty of water. Instead of embracing the culture to preserve a precious resource (which we all should do globally, by the way), there was a mass exit or cancellations of planned trips. We had very good rains this year thus far – so no reason to stay away. South Africa is waiting!
The Mzansi Experience is an exciting way of travel in South Africa. They offer a hop-on hop-off bus service in South Africa to travellers from around the world. With their safe and luxurious hop-on hop-off buses, travellers are guaranteed to have an awesome time while travelling in South Africa. Their buses are industry leading: Travel in comfort with superior legroom, keep cool in summer with air-conditioning, relax with reclining seats and stay informed by their bus drivers, providing interesting information along the way. Simply book your desired options online, and trust The Mzansi Experience to get you there!
For more information, visit their website: www.mzansi.travel
Membership: WYSE Travel Confederation Associate Member
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