Meet the Mavericks from 2017 is a series that reveals the world-changing work and invaluable insights behind the revolutionaries who took away a trophy at last year’s PURE Awards.
This week, the spotlight’s on Singita, who won the Conservation & Sustainability Award: find out they’ve put their devotion to our planet at the heart of everything they do, and how they’re harnessing it to inspire and save the world…
“Africa is under threat, and yes, we do have a responsibility to protect our planet – as do other high-end travel brands.”
Our WOW pick of the day is the magnificent @singita_ Lebombo Lodge in Limpopo, South Africa. Perched high on rocky cliffs over Kruger National Park, this luxury lodge features amazing views of the wildlife below, a pampering spa and endless outdoor activities. [see link in profile] #wowpick #lebombolodge #travelinspiration #carewhereyoustay #safariadventure
Tell us about your winning project – how does it Change Worlds?
One of the key initiatives at Singita Sweni Lodge and its sister-lodge, Singita Lebombo Lodge, is the introduction of a Tesla Powerpack system to Singita’s existing solar power plant, which provides additional storage capabilities. The batteries are adapted from the same cell technology used in Tesla’s lithium ion batteries that power electric cars. The combination of solar and Powerpack sources enable sustainable energy generation, consumption and storage for Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges.
Singita has already seen promising results: our 70-80 per cent drop in diesel use in the generators means that the system is forecast to save close to 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. Generator diesel usage was 77 per cent less in the first six months of this year than during the same period in 2016, due primarily to the installation of the new technology. The system is capable of producing 1,600 megawatt hours of clean energy per year. This is enough energy to power 430 middle-income South African homes.
Working with renewable energy provider SolarAfrica and utilising cutting-edge Tesla technology are simply the next steps in Singita’s 100-year vision to preserve and protect iconic wilderness areas for future generations.
Not only are Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges solar-powered, but also Singita Sabora Tented Camp and Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania.
What did winning a PURE Award mean to Singita?
To be recognised for this work by PURE is very gratifying. Although conservation has always been at our core, Singita – which launched in 1993 – has transformed the luxury-safari industry. But, in recent years, we have begun to communicate the conservation story as we recognise that this message is relevant to our market. We’ve increased our conservation focus significantly – to the extent that we spend $8 million annually on the cause – and we’re starting to really see the benefits of these projects.
What does transformation mean to Singita? How do you know when a guest is transformed?
More than a third of our guests are repeat guests – and the reason that they give for returning is that being involved in Singita’s world has changed them.
“We are saving Africa – and that’s why we’re spending what we’re spending.”
— Singita (@Singita_) January 1, 2018
Does the high-end travel industry have a responsibility to protect our planet? What’s your advice on this – where should brands begin?
The power of the Singita brand to influence high-net worth individuals and create awareness amongst these opinion leaders is one of our greatest contributions. We are saving Africa – and that’s why we’re spending what we’re spending. Africa is under threat, and yes, we do have a responsibility to protect our planet – as do other high-end travel brands. Where should brands begin? Brands should have a clear purpose – state a clear purpose, pursue that purpose, and let it be their guiding principal. Allowing it to guide financial spending and all other endeavours. In Singita’s case, the entire reason for existence is our 100-year purpose.
How can high-end travel brands protect and empower local communities? Why is this important?
Singita’s model: it’s not so much about empowerment and protection – it’s about involvement. When you can involve local communities as an integral part of your business model, then the rest is a product of that – education, income etc. Community empowerment should not be just a CSI project. In Singita’s case, it is our business. A few examples: anti-poaching scouts come from our community and often were previously poachers; local produce is grown by community members; and applicants for the Singita School of Cooking are selected from communities that live around the reserves.
“When you can involve local communities as an integral part of your business model, then the rest is a product of that – education, income etc.”
In today’s information age, it’s harder than ever for brands to grab their audience’s attention. How should brands tell their story in a way that resonates?
Tell the story – be authentic. The content must be relevant to the market, which is why the Singita conservation story is gaining traction. It’s all about authenticity – people are tired of reading brochure copy. Stories need to be real, honest and consistent.
To what extent does the design of a hotel or retreat impact guests’ experiences? What are the other important factors to consider in building or renovating a property?
The design of a hotel is incredibly important, and that’s why this is such an important aspect of the Singita experience, and it’s why we invest in this area. Our objective is to charm and inspire people, surprise them, make them feel special – that’s why design is so important. We take our cue from an understanding of evolving guests’ values. We look to see what’s important to people, and then design accordingly. We strive to create an environment where people feel comfortable; where they belong; and where they feel inspired, especially at every touch point. We are always anticipating what guests value.
“Our objective is to charm and inspire people, surprise them, make them feel special – that’s why design is so important.”
Who is your experiential travel hero and why? (This could be someone famous or completely unknown.)
Anders Holch Povlsen. Anders travels the world, and is changing the dynamic between conservation and eco-tourism. He is an adventurer and pioneer who has the capacity to move the needle when he sets his mind to it – as can be evidenced in Scotland and Romania, where he is making a profound difference on a huge scale. He has become interested in Africa, and is becoming a major player in the conservation world – this type of approach is setting a new path for experiential travel.
Want to join the maverickhood? Applications open in June – why not check out the PURE Awards categories so you’re ready to tell us how you’re Changing Worlds in 2018?