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In today’s Q&A session, it’s a privilege to welcome Elisa Droll, CEO of a fabulous new venture called Safarisharing. Jambo Elisa, habari gani? It’s lovely to connect. 🙂
Before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s begin with your story. Where are you originally from, and how did the “mal d’Afrique” hit you?
I am originally from Germany, but I have always lived beyond the European landscape. The “Beauty of Africa” hit me early, after my high school years. Young as I was, I wanted to experience my own limits, do something exceptional, and adventurous. So I travelled to Tanzania where I spent two months volunteering in two little villages close to Lake Victoria and Bukoba. It was a wonderful experience.
Working in an orphanage and hospital allowed me to dive into the cultural and traditional habits of the community. In the end, one item was left on my bucket list: to see the breathtaking and mysterious wildlife of Africa!
As soon as I entered the national park, it hit me. I was flashed by the wide scenery, occasional encounters with zebras, giraffes, lions – you name it. Ever since the beauty of Africa never left me. Here I am – turning my astonishment into my profession.
It’s always a thrill to chat with like-minded people, and I believe we have at least one thing in common: The desire to share our passion for Africa with the rest of the world. What is it about the continent that inspires you? And how did this passion of yours transmute into Safarisharing? I’m curious to know how the whole project started.
In November 2014, Jorrit Kooi, the founder of Safarisharing travelled to Tanzania for professional reasons. During his free time, he was looking forward to the opportunity to visit the Ngorongoro Crater that had been on his bucket list for a long time. He approached 20 local operators and asked to join a group for a shared safari. Unfortunately, he did not manage to find a group to join and ended up not going on any safari during that weekend.
What a waste, not only for him, but particularly for the industry that had missed out on a customer who was ready to book a safari.
This was the initial seed for Safarisharing as an innovative and unique platform to connect international travellers to find companions to travel with, to cut the price and most importantly to share the beauty of Africa.
Already five years ago – during my time in Tanzania – local tour guides and entrepreneurs expressed their fears and concerns about a struggling safari industry. Hence, the idea to implement a sharing system to positively influence the traditional safari industry directly caught my interest. This motivated me to contribute my passion to carry the concept of Safarisharing forward.
Safarisharing is a brilliant idea. I personally believe it has immense potential. At this point I’m sure our readers are eager to dig deeper. Why don’t you introduce the main purpose of your platform?
The real Safarisharing experience is about meeting people and making new friends. Enjoying the camp fire with some new friends after a long day of game drives with outstanding sightings and memorable moments.
On the one hand, we improve the experience of international travellers by connecting them with like-minded people to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, together, to make lasting friendships – and all of that for an affordable price.
On the other hand, we counteract the inability of the safari industry to match individual travellers and small groups to existing safari departures. It is a win-win situation on both sides and it is also more sustainable.
Awesome. To recap, your chief objective is to “bring travellers together to go on safari”. Practically speaking though, how does it work? Take us on a virtual tour around your website so people understand how to join and benefit.
Imagine you are travelling to East-Africa, seeking adventure but you just cannot find the right people to travel with. This is where Safarisharing jumps in: Go to our online platform and click through our upcoming safari deals. If you find the perfect match, you just click on it, see who has already signed in and what your price will be. The more people join, the lower the price. Once the booking period is closed, travellers get a refund for each additional traveller. Once you have completed the process – welcome on board!
Can’t find the perfect safari departure? Not to worry, we still have it under control! Simply choose one of our example trips, contact us and create your own trip. Once your itinerary is set, we will share it on our platform and promote it across multiple online channels to find additional travellers to join your adventure. This is the ‘Safarisharing-Machine’.
Do you tailor your services to a target audience, or not? It might also be useful to know where in Africa you currently operate.
Safarisharing is targeting a wide range of customers, including international expats and professionals, individual travellers, and groups. Our purpose is to assist and connect travellers from all over the world for any existing safari trips in East-Africa.
We currently focus on three destinations in the East-African region, namely Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, introducing the sharing principle to the tourism industry in this region. We carefully select our local partners and make sure to offer reliable services.
We offer all kinds of safari tours, ranging from the standard game drives to safaris with an educational character, moving in the fields of conservation and cultural heritage.
Here’s only a few examples of our trips: the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Tsavo National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya, the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania, or even trekking adventures to the famous Mountains Gorillas.
There’s a lot more to Safarisharing than merely safaris. Your “promise” encompasses other areas such as people’s lives, wildlife protection and conservation. Please expand on your vision and the kind of initiatives you have in mind. For instance, part of the safari fee is donated to a charitable organisation, correct?
Safarisharing has a strong belief that tourism can make an important contribution to people’s lives as well as to wildlife protection and conservation in East Africa. Safarisharing wants to contribute to these crucial factors through a number of initiatives.
First of all, Safarisharing acts as an intermediate and catalyst between travellers and local suppliers, while incorporating ground handlers with a strong foothold in the local communities. By providing promotional support and by creating new business opportunities for local tour operators, Safarisharing has a direct impact on employment and well-being of employees and their families.
Concerning the environment and wildlife protection, the concept of Safarisharing results in a better occupancy of safari vehicles, hence less CO2 emissions, as it creates additional business for the industry, with the same number of game drives and safari vehicle movements. We are dedicated to contribute to the protection of African wildlife and crucial natural habitats. We also plan to partner with charitable organisations that focus on anti-poaching and wildlife protection.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and having the possibility to document the wonders of Africa is an intrinsic part of any safari. Your website features some spectacular pictures, most of which are taken by Will Burrard-Lucas, a wildlife photographer whose work no longer needs an introduction. What kind of arrangement do you have with Will (if it’s not “top secret” of course 😉 )? “Will” you be organising safaris with him any time soon?
We at Safarisharing are big fans of Will Burrard-Lucas’ work and have agreed on a partnership with him where we can use some of his pictures. We haven’t discussed the idea to organize safaris with him in detail, but that would be a great way to further develop the Safarisharing product and it ties in well with the focus we have to organize more niche safaris in the future.
Let’s stimulate our “imaginative brain cells” for a moment. Expand your mind and flash-forward 20 years from now. The world has changed dramatically, yet Safarisharing is still going strong. How do you picture the company and its contribution to our planet in 2037? It’s probably a tricky question, yet I’m sure you’ll enjoy the exercise. 😉
The first months showed us that we have a great product with room for improvement regarding the product-market fit, operational requirements, and organizational structure. Safarisharing is now ready for the next and upcoming growth phase.
Safarisharing is in the process of further developing its platform and is talking to a variety of people in the industry to explore potential partnerships. Besides offering the more ‘classical’ safari trips, Safarisharing is aiming to develop a number of ‘theme oriented trips’, such as cultural experiences, conservation initiatives, and educational purposes as they become increasingly relevant to the company.
Safarisharing is convinced that these niche products are perfectly suited to developing a customized trip that will be in high demand, which can be offered to the international target market. Not only to experience the beautiful setting of the community, but also to explain and educate about the efforts to protect cultural features in a sustainable business mode.
By 2037, we aim to accomplish all of our plans, to be recognized as the leading ecommerce platform in East-Africa and to have served thousands of happy customers. 🙂
If there’s anything else you’d like to add, karibu. I wish you the best of luck for the future, and let’s keep in touch. Asante sana, rafiki!
Here’s one of our favourite quotes to inspire our readers:
“To witness that calm rhythm of life revives our worn souls and recaptures a feeling of belonging to the natural world. No one can return from the Serengeti unchanged, for tawny lions will forever prowl our memory and great herds throng our imagination.”
* George Schaller (American conservationist and author)