Safari365 makes hopes and dreams come true with Salesforce.

Safari365 makes hopes and dreams come true with Salesforce.

Learn how an African tour operator is crafting high-personalised holidays for its customers.

Time to read: 5 minutes

Marcus Brain thinks Africa is “simply incredible” So understably, he’s proud his tour operator business has planned over 18,000 tailor-made adventures across the continent since he started Safari365 in 2005.

“There's nothing that comes close to experiencing Africa. It's an emotive destination. A bucket list destination. So, working in this industry is an absolute privilege,” Brain said.

The industry has a positive effect on local communities, too. It helps financially support small businesses and communities in some of Africa’s remotest regions by connecting them with a global customer base.

But tour operating is a complicated business. “When customers from across the world make their way to Africa, they’re expecting nothing less than magic,” Brain explained. “The price of getting this wrong is less about money. It’s about ensuring our customers don’t miss that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make unforgettable memories with the people they love.”

So, Safari365 looked for a CRM to help them manage that level of personalisation and complexity at scale.

In this piece, we explore how Brain used Salesforce to deliver life-changing holidays for customers, create a robust system of working for new joiners, and solve a complex set of challenges for Africa’s travel industry.

Let’s dive in.

Marcus Brain, CEO at Safari365
Table of Contents

1. Delighting customers with curated experiences.

Every Safari365 trip is curated and specific. “It’s not really a seat-on-a-bus destination,” Brain said. A single 10-day trip could include a visit up Table Mountain in South Africa, a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti in Tanzania, and a dive with whale sharks in Seychelles.

“If you don't have the checks in place, at scale, the wheels pop off, quite frankly,” he added. But with five stars on Tripadvisor and 40% of its guests coming from referrals, Safari365 has found a way to control the chaos.

How? It makes sure costly mistakes are mitigated by using Salesforce CRM to consolidate customer information. That gives the entire company a single view of even the smallest details, like transit times or dietary requirements, helping them work behind the scenes to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

It also means that customers get personal attention. Honeymooners soak in petal-filled zinc baths on a private deck under the stars. And families go home with an album overflowing with photographs capturing precious memories from their trip, supplied by Safari365. It’s clear Safari365 know who they’re serving and exactly how to go the extra mile for them.

“With Salesforce, we can bring our customers’ hopes and dreams to life,” Brain said.

2. Equipping new joiners with a wealth of company insight.

Consolidated customer data doesn’t just help Safari365’s current employees.

Its solid data foundation helps new employees become intimately familiar with customers and their distinct needs – fast. This empowers them to take personal responsibility for specific customer itineraries from the moment each booking is made.

This was especially helpful during the pandemic when Africa’s tourism sector lost 65% of its workforce. “The amount of intellectual capital – safari camp owners, guides, chefs – a mega amount of skill left the industry,” Brain explained. “And with that, the relationships and understanding of the client.”

Thankfully, even pre-COVID, Safari365 methodically fed every detail of customer information into the Salesforce environment. Having client files, ‘Chatters’, emails, tasks, and approvals all organised on one platform allowed new employees to board onto logistically challenging accounts with little fuss. And it meant that they could hit the ground running and offer the level of one-in-a-lifetime experiences customers expect from day one. Which was crucial at a time when the industry desperately needed to bounce back.

“Giving our teams the tools they needed to work meant that even with the tsunami of mayhem and upheaval, Safari365 had a systematic continuation of service,” Brain said.


3. Solving complex industry-wide issues through custom development.

Working in Africa’s tour operator industry for close to two decades means Brain understands its problems inside-out. One issue that made him particularly uncomfortable was the convoluted cross-border payment process.

“To our customers, we were an unfamiliar small business on the internet asking for what would amount to ten-, twenty-, thirty-thousand dollars in a currency that can fluctuate. Prices could increase by 25% or more due to exchange rate movement between the time an invoice is confirmed to the day they travel. It’s almost illogical,” Brain said.

So, he looked for a way to reassure customers that their bookings were financially protected. Using Salesforce, Brain’s team developed a treasury management tool that enables suppliers to present invoices in a wide range of currencies using different payment methods. The innovation was so strongly adopted that 100% of Safari365’s clients now elect to pay this way. Brain is now rolling this service out to other market leaders in the wider tourism industry in South Africa due to its success.

Brain has created a business that has genuine, personal connections with its customers and has achieved uncontainable growth in the face of major market disruption. He’s even found innovative solutions to serve the wider industry.

But for Brain, these wins have a much deeper meaning..

“Salesforce has allowed me to run my business the way I've always wanted: making the dream African getaway a reality for more global travellers whilst supporting local businesses.” he said. “We can now work with the practicalities of operating from Africa whilst meeting the highest customer expectations.”

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