Truly bespoke, memorable journeys hardly happen. Most trips are marked by something or other going wrong. Kirsty Gordon, Founder and CEO of Anywhere in Africa Safaris, strives every day that nothing goes wrong with guests’ travel dreams and ensures they get an experience to remember.
Anywhere in Africa Safaris, is a bespoke, tailor-made luxury tourism company where Kirsty doesn’t just oversee her clients but personally gets involved in planning their itineraries. Conservation of African wildlife and community is also important to her, so her trips are planned with sustainability and philanthropy in mind. As she claims with pride that her clients are not just tourists but ‘Ambassadors to Africa.’
Let’s dive into Kirsty Gordon’s approach to creating truly memorable safari experiences.
The Odyssey of Perfection
Travel is Kirsty’s passion, and she has spent her life with it. She graduated in ‘Travel & Tourism’ and started working for a travel agency directly after. She has done it all, from coordination to accommodation, setting up travel arrangements, planning special events, and arranging gifts for attending delegates. She even started an online travel company that focused on inbound travel to Africa. She started a ‘glamp camping’ safari and guided small exclusive groups into Botswana/ Okavango Delta.
It was at the end of 2008, on returning from a thwarted attempt to qualify for Beijing Olympics in a 3-Day Equestrian Event due to a fall, Kirsty started Anywhere in Africa Safaris. At the same time, she was also helping another company that focused on YPO events (Young President Organization).
In 2014, Kirsty decided to step away from the large corporate incentive market and focus her attention and business on small group travel, FIT travel, honeymoons, anniversary, and family travel ‘Anywhere in Africa,’ including the Indian Ocean Islands.
With You at Every Step
Kirsty describes her vision with Anywhere in Africa Safaris, “We offer unbelievable service, attention to detail, life-changing experiences, and itineraries for clients who want to work with a company who is focused on their individual dreams and expectations rather than just churning out ‘cookie cutter itineraries’ to pay the bills. Over the past 30 years, I have seen and run various companies that say that they are focused on their clients, but in the long run, there isn’t the care and attention to detail.”
At Anywhere in Africa Safaris, Kirsty is involved with her clients from when they start communication to when they return back home after their safari. Her team ensures that everything runs smoothly and efficiently at the back. At the same time, Kirsty remains at the forefront with her clients to assure them that they have their back during the whole process – from the initial planning and implementation to follow-up on their return.
Kirsty says with conviction, “I can tell you that there is NO other company that I know of who works with their clients as we do – most importantly, we care, our clients trust us, and that is how I build this incredible business.”
Creating a Positive Impact
Kirsty’s guests are not just travellers looking to check off one more place from their bucket lists. Instead, after experiencing travel with Anywhere in Africa Safaris, they become ‘Ambassadors of Africa’ as they go back to their countries and promote Africa, which helps in giving back to conservation communities and helping build the future of Africa.
For each booking, Kirsty’s company donates a portion to Elephant Havens in Botswana, which is an elephant orphanage for baby elephants who have been orphaned by poaching of various kinds. They also support venues and organizations that focus on wildlife conservation and people’s education and understanding.
There is also ‘Kirsty’s soup Kitchen’ that is focused on donating funds to local businesses in poorer areas that are not exposed to funding, which benefit the community in some way – providing karate clothes to a school, helping a small creche with educational toys for their children.
Need for Change in Engaging with Communities
Having been in the travel industry in Africa for three decades, Kirsty feels that there is a huge need for change in a few things.
Many safari lodges go to communities to ‘give’ help or donate but rarely do they actually sit down with the communities to ask them what they actually need. “Sometimes they don’t need the laptops and computers as they don’t have electricity, but they would need a transfer vehicle to transfer kids to school,” Kirsty says.
Kirsty also wishes safari companies educated their guides properly on the communities they visit. She shared an incident, “I had a situation recently in Botswana where a safari guide from a top-end safari company was giving the wrong information about Elephant Havens to a guest of mine who was going to visit Elephant Havens. I firmly believe that the ‘Safari Company’ who owns this lodge and others in their portfolio should be educating their staff on the benefits of somewhere like Elephant Havens and actually contacting them to arrange for their staff to go and visit this incredible organization to see how this is running and the benefit it has for ‘their’ community.”
A Personalized & Tailor-Made Service
Kirsty’s plans for the future are to keep on doing what she is doing now – providing top-end, high-quality travel to Africa with a focus on giving individual attention to each client. She plans to keep working with handpicked suppliers, safari lodges, hotels and travel partners that have the same ethos as Anywhere in Africa Safaris.
Kirsty emphasizes, “We will keep our company small, personal, and tailor-made so that the clients most importantly do NOT become a ‘number’ because the company has grown too big and too impersonal.”
Words of Wisdom
Kirsty shares words of wisdom for anyone wanting to venture into this field, “Do your research well. Don’t try and be a jack of all trades. Focus on the areas/countries you are good and knowledgeable about and build from there.”
“Stay true to yourself and your company ethos – too many companies grow too quickly and then fall hard – what is sad is that the clients who have saved their money to travel are then the ones that suffer due to companies/ individuals who become greedy in the industry.”
“Negotiate good commission deals with your suppliers but then DON’T add on additional commission – that isn’t fair to your guests! And there are too many companies who do this!”