I had a photoshoot with this amazing, fun and full of energy woman already two times. Let me tell you, Kay is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about what she does. If you ever thought of going on safari, look no further. She definitely knows how to make your experience the best it can be. You can find more information on her website:
One of the photoshoots was in her house and it literally looked like a museum with things she brought from different trips. Just amazing. Our goal was to show her in her natural environment with things she loves and is passionate about.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
Answer: My business and my goal is to introduce you to an experience that will leave you moved and inspired. It offers you the opportunity to get away from that ‘armchair’ safari and go on a ‘real’ ‘authentic’ safari in Tanzania, Africa. I have my own safari business in Tanzania, complete with drivers and vehicles. While small, we offer you a big experience, a personalized, customized and private safari, consisting of only those travelers signed up with Destined To Travel. We do not have guests from other countries or companies, nor guests or drivers who do not speak English. Our groups are anywhere from 12-18 guests and we offer year round safaris, typically in February, May, June and November. These are generally off season when the rates are often lower than other seasons.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
Answer: What I like most about my ‘JOB’ is that it’s NOT a JOB. It is a passion, that inspires me to provide it as an opportunity for new and seasoned travelers to have this experience without it costing an arm and a leg. Most of my trips are valued at least 30% lower than larger, more well known companies, but the experience is quite different. Because it’s my company, we can offer more personalized experiences and be a little more creative and flexible when the situation calls for it.
Q.: What inspired you?
Answer: Well, it’s not a pretty story, but sometimes the best comes from adversity. In short, I was depressed, after losing my mom, and a few months later, two of my brothers, six months apart, and being in a debilitating motor vehicle accident, which left me incapacitated and off work for more than a year. I wasn’t quite sure I could go on, I was in a downward spiral and needed to change my life in some way, or life was going to pass me by. So, after about four years of going through depression, I picked myself up and decided to change my environment. I took a trip to Tanzania, and the rest, as they say is history. I retired from my full time Human Resources Director position and began to think about new ways to focus my energy and live with the ‘new normal’ in my life. Having been in the travel industry part time for more than 25 years, I knew that it would be something to do in travel that would make me happy. After that trip to Tanzania, and after my retirement, I took two years to travel around to all the safari destinations, to determine how I wanted to specialize and what I should do. It led me back to Tanzania - for all the reasons I felt good after my first trip - I knew others would too.
Q.: What was the most exiting thing that happened to you during your trips?
Answer: The most exciting experience is two fold. The most exciting wildlife experience was when I saw four, maybe five lions sleeping ON TOP OF, not on branches, but on top of a tree in the middle of the plains. We spent hours with those lions, waiting for them to come down….We even left them and returned, and waited and waited. Finally we were rewarded with only the mother of the pride coming down, but oh was it a joy to watch those ‘kittens’, who were almost as big as the mom.
The most exciting thing, that was really not on safari watching wildlife, but it was on safari when I met the founders of the Children’s Home, my company now supports. I was so fascinated by their story and what they were doing, that almost immediately, I knew I would be including it into my itinerary for all my guests to visit. Since that time, we have supported the school in many ways, from bringing them almost everything they need, from clothing, to shoes, to computers, to tablets, and we were instrumental in having solar installed in the school. Each year my company does a Make A Difference safari and people from all walks of life join the group and share their skills, professions and talents with these beautiful 21 young, mostly disadvantaged youth. It is a fascinating experience and must say, it’s the highlight of the trip.
Q.: What does it take to be a great travel agent?
Answer: To be a travel agent, a good one, requires mostly patience. Often people don't know what they want, so sometimes you have to figure it out for them, and offer them alternatives. That's what a knowledgeable travel agent will do! You also have to be patient, because often you will hear, ‘oh, I can get it cheaper on the internet’. Well, for Africa, I would tell them to go right ahead. If someone is going to join one of my safaris, and the only thing they are looking at is the dollar amount, or complain right way about the price, it is most probably not someone who would fit in with the group. Those potential travelers who are looking for a great value that offers a quality experience will recognize that all the trips we offer, provide that and those are the types of travelers, I’m looking for, someone looking for a quality experience and a good value, who will make it happen. For what I do specifically, you also have to be persistent, manage personalities, and work out issues, the same way as if you were on a job. As much as one might try to make everyone happy, it’s not always possible, so you have to know when and how to create an atmosphere that both works for the individual, the group and yourself, so it doesn’t impact others in a negative way. You have to be mindful of situations and be one step ahead of the guests, and that’s whether you’re sitting across the desk from them or you have them in a safari vehicle.
Q.: What to look for when choosing a travel agent?
Answer: When choosing a travel agent, the first question you must ask if you’re going to a place like Africa is - have you been there? About 80% will tell you no, I haven’t but I’ve sold it many times. But, ask a question about something specific, and most likely they will not be able to answer it, without going to the company and asking it of them. I know because I used to be one of those agents - selling from a brochure. Today, I create my own itineraries, customize my own trips, after 50 some odd visits, I can say I am uniquely qualified to do this - to respond to inquiries and to lead groups where I know will be of interest to them. Africa is not a place where you will want to just do the first cheap experience you come across - you need someone to guide you, someone who’s been there and knows the country and most importantly has contacts within the country that will make the trip more special. They have to know if parts of the country are not safe - they have to have on the ground contacts to stay in touch with…..it's not as easy as just picking a property and then taking a group. There’s a lot that goes into the logistics in planning a trip like a safari and you can say that of any travel agent who does FIT trips. FIT stands for Foreign International Travel, and it’s when you start from scratch and build the itinerary that works for the travelers. This is what I do - in Africa. There are hundreds of pieces that must fit to make it all come together. Not only do I have my own drivers, but I know all of the owners of most of the properties I book in Tanzania, and make it a point to inspect/stay at most of them personally, to ensure my guests will have an awesome experience. You HAVE to have on the ground contacts.
Q.: What are three essential things you should definitely take on safari?
Answer: The three essential things you should definitely take on safari - are not a hairdryer and a pair of heels or your best sandals. Most importantly you need a good flexible attitude and a sense of adventure. But, equally as important would be a hat, sunglasses comfy shoes (tennis or otherwise), and a small flashlight. Of course, there are many other things, and once a trip is booked, I’ll give you everything you need to know about traveling on safari.
Q: Why did you choose me as a photographer for your personal branding session and what was your experience?
Answer: I chose OksanArt because I saw photos of two other people I knew, and loved the photos. But mostly, I was looking for someone who wouldn’t just do headshots, but capture me in my element - which is safari chic and casual - in different scenes - and the essence of being ME, not made up just for a photo. I also wanted to connect with the person, to feel part of the scene, to have interaction and offer input. I wasn’t sure, at first, I’d done photoshoots before, and until you meet someone, you only have other photos they’ve taken to decide if that’s the person or not. I certainly made the right choice. I have had nothing but compliment after compliment on the photos, I’ve shown. Oksana is definitely my referral photographer and if I decide to do it again, she'll be doing it again. I love my photos, and so, I did two photo shoots. Capturing the essence is so critical - I dislike face on shots, portraits - they don’t say anything to me - and they certainly don’t move me. I love the way OksanArt has captured it all in each and every shot. Now, if I can just get her on safari - I’d be one happy camper, literally.