Sarah Fazendin worked for years with the Kenya Tourism Board, learning all about what a great African adventure could be. In 2006, she put her knowledge of Africa to good use, creating her own exclusive Portfolio that provided North American sales, marketing and public relations services to safari camps and lodges across the continent.
The Portfolio has taken off in the intervening years, and now represents a range of classic safari experiences from Ethiopia to South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Guests can go on a horseback riding safari, meet chimpanzees or just relax on a beach and practice yoga. The Portfolio will be joining the team of Travel Marketing Worldwide, a new launch which will also be representing companies in the Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Himalayas, in addition to Africa.
The goal, Fazendin told Travel Agent, is to help bring visitors to small, owner-operated businesses that are worthy of international attention. “These companies are busy running their camp,” she says. “They can’t do their own marketing.”
The services Fazendin provides focus on product training, using webinars and three-way calls between travel agents and their potential client. If agents aren’t familiar with a property or a region, Fazendin will answer questions and help them become experts. “We can dedicate time to help agents specialize,” she says.
Another benefit is that, when they book rooms at these smaller properties, agents can become, as Fazendin puts it, a big fish in a little pond. “If they book 30 or 35 nights a year in a property with just six rooms, they become big players,” she points out. “There’s nothing wrong with corporations and big name companies, but it’s harder to become big players.”
In the industry, she notes, experiential travel has become a popular theme. “How do we get people off the beaten path?” she asks. A true travel experience is not about the thread count in sheets or a hotel’s shampoo brand, but about what makes a destination unique. “The experiences we represent meet the needs of what American travelers are looking for these days,” Fazendin says. “You’re not just one of the masses—that’s the theme of the products we represent globally.”