Last week, I had the privilege of teaching a week of “Tourism Boot Camp“. This is an industry-led initiative in partnership with Luxury Safaris and the SALT group, whereby we recruit and offer training to young people looking for work in the tourism industry. The aim is to offer practical experience, and facilitate internships in the tourism industry, targeted at the more than 50% of unemployed youth in South Africa. There are many great initiatives out there, but what I think makes our program particularly successful is that we call on our industry network to help students get their foot in the door to employment, in a way that would be difficult to achieve by just sending CVs out randomly.
My instruction focuses on pricing and Microsoft Excel spreadsheet skills. I share our tour pricing template with the students, explaining the different elements that go into pricing a tour. We get into lots of interesting topics such as rack rate vs. net rate, how to work out the operating cost of a vehicle, and accommodation pricing. The students then work on pricing various tours, using the Excel template with formulas such as multiplying by number of touring days, summing tour costs, or dividing to get the per person.
The students also spent a day at the Earthstompers office, learning the details of how a tour operator does their job. We covered everything from safety management, corresponding with guests, pick up times and routing, tour inclusions and exclusions, to conducting vehicle checks. After three days behind the computers, an educational outing was much needed.
This year we visited the historic and beautiful Vergelegen Estate, located in our neighbourhood in Somerset West. Vergelegen played an important role in the development of Somerset West, and we all enjoyed touring the historic homestead. We ended off the day with a formal wine tasting, a first for these students! It might sound funny to say, but if you are going to work in tourism in the Western Cape, it’s actually important that the students understand what wine tasting is all about – how it works, what it costs, and how to fit this experience into an overall itinerary.
Wishing the best of luck to you Farah, Vuyolwethu, Wendy, and Sisanda, on your budding careers in tourism!
Check out a short video of our trip to Vergelegen