Location: Camps located in Botswana and Kenya
In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
Being a PUREist for Great Plains means that we are part of a network of fellow, likeminded individuals and companies that understand that by focussing on offering guests the best we can – in terms of world class, innovative, amazing and unique experiences – that our businesses will grow and prosper, thus allowing us all to close the loop in having the means to enact the change we identified and acknowledged, when we each of us started our respective endeavours.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
Great Plains Conservation has had a constant and very simple mantra, which we all live and strive off. This has been in place since the day Great Plains Conservation was first envisaged by the Jouberts, Bell and partners whilst on an African canoe safari – it is to enhance and expand natural habitats, as well as get closer to the communities that surround our natural areas in which we operate, bringing them closer into our business and thus ingraining them fully into what we as a group ultimately do: Conservation Tourism.
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience?
Apart from getting married and then the birth of my son? (smiles) After working in this industry for close on 20 years now, this HAS to be my first trip on the Selinda Canoe Trail in our Selinda Reserve of Botswana. It changed the way I interacted with and experienced the wild around our group. Being on the water, gliding along silently and seeing the natural habitat from near ground level and not from a vehicle showed me a new world around me that I had seen many times from a vehicle. Just that was a life changer but there are many more that I could ramble on about…
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
To many “experiential” entails a guest needs to be physically doing something. For me “experiential” is when after the event or stay, meal, safari, you are sitting quietly and often without even knowing it is consciously happening you realise that you life has been forever changed. “Experiential” can have so many forms, but personally it is those moments in time that sit in your heart, soul and mind and remind you of moments of pure peace and joy.
“Experiential’ can have so many forms, but personally it is those moments in time that sit in your heart, soul and mind and remind you of moments of pure peace and joy.”
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
Perhaps it would be better to explain how we approach what we offer and how that attracts the guests to choosing to stay with us and our trade partners to promote us to those guests.
Philosophers and poets have always gone out into the wild to find inspiration, find solitude, clarity and creativity. Great Plains Conservations aspires to provide that platform for renewal.
Our core mission rests with the intangible. The only risk in the intangible is that so many of us live in the tightly wound tangible world, where unless we can measure and touch or feel something it does not have value to us. So fulfilling dreams becomes a thing ‘for later’. Dreams and aspirations are in the intangible world, but we believe in making dreams happen today.
At Great Plains Conservation, we take the tangible for granted. Yes of course there will be hot water, power, great beds, fine thread counts in the linen, good food, wine, and everything that is considered the best of the best standard in the tangible safari world. Now, we want to take you further…
We aim to deliver people back to that semi-spiritual place driven by the feeling you have when you hear a lion’s roar, when you shake a Maasai’s warm hand the African way, the warm breath of an elephant, the loud stampede of buffalo hooves – all things that appeal to our inner explorer and inner part of our DNA that never left Africa.
These are not commodities to sell; these are heart-racing moments to hang on to for life. That is what Great Plains Conservation is all about: opening the door to moments that will completely change your life.
They can come across you in an instant. While we can order in the food, and make sure your favourite Scotch is available for your safari, we cannot set a time for that special moment that happens. It often happens without you knowing it happened right away, then, the reality of its magic seeps in.
Have you ever been on safari when suddenly the guide is quiet and your fellow explorers stop, look up at a shooting star without needing to point it out, a shared moment of silence in Africa under the weight of the universe, and suddenly the bond between you, that universe and your fellow travellers is locked in time. You know you belong. Africa has been our home forever. We do belong.
This is what we offer. The moments of peace and quiet in Africa’s wild places, with its people and its wildlife. We do not gauge those moments by their glossy brochures, their cost per night or their wine cellar; we gauge them by the impact they leave in your soul.
We are intangible versus tangible, art versus science, dreams versus reality and hope versus cynicism. We are a different philosophy. We need to be or the magic will leave our lives and the dreams may never become a reality.
Can you imagine being our guest now?
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
Quite simply when we first met Serge, we are literally brand new to the industry. We were breaking the mould on how safari camps should be established, how areas that needed to come under conservation were being identified, such as hunting concessions which were immediately turned to conservation zones – and PURE immediately offered us this avenue to talk of all of this. It was an avenue that allows us to expand simply past the bed and look and feel of a camp and rather focus on the reason of “why should my guest stay with you?” “How will you touch their lives for the better?” Once we had that first meeting there was never a doubt that we would not be partners.
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
Keeping challenging the norm. Keep presenting alternative thinking avenues for PUREists to consider on how the sell destinations. Keep raising and asking those sometimes awkward questions that we as a industry need to look at from time to time, like sustainability and the role we play there.
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
There are many. I especially love coming across those PUREists from other countries and hearing of challenges they currently face and how they are tackling these in their own businesses. This is a strength I don’t think PURE has quite got to grips yet where we can all be involved.
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
Allow us to be more confident in not supporting some aspects of the industry we know makes no sense in terms of sustainability or perpetuates the decline of natural resources instead of simply chasing the sale and commissions
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
Every single PUREist, their staff, their family and their clients who wake up each day and tackle the invigorating challenges we create for ourselves in striving for offering our guests a more “experiential” experience whilst at the same time balancing this with sustainable and responsible business ethics.
“Keeping challenging the norm.”