Lonrho Column

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Your friend in Africa

In the last month I’ve travelled without companions on 14 flights and stayed in six different hotels, yet I’ve never felt alone. Undoubtedly, there are many people doing the same – travelling to do business in the continent’s high growth destinations.

Further to that, it’s not just when you’re on holiday that you meet interesting people and sometimes learn useful insights. In conversation this month I’ve learnt a little more about mining opportunities in Mozambique, a project to re-open a major African railway and the expectations that are being placed on the growth of Lusaka airport in Zambia. 

Snippets of conversation can enrich what so frequently can be trips peppered with boredom and frustration. Improved mobile connectivity is now enabling greater connectivity and a true sense of being part of a travelling community, and the speed, accessibility and ease of use seems to be making Twitter the preferred medium for ad hoc conversations.  Via Twitter I’ve received advice from other travellers on what to expect at certain airports, notification of flight delays, and advice on where to purchase toiletries, in addition to commentary on who’s travelling to which destination. 

Yet some travel companies still plead ignorance when guests tweet their feedback. Appreciating how it feels as a customer when you provide feedback via Twitter and don’t receive an acknowledgement, I’ve arranged for all our hotels’ general managers to be coached a little in social media, so that they become more comfortable with Twitter, and thus ready to respond whenever today’s travellers choose to connect. Social media really has changed the way we communicate and it’s no longer good enough to say that it is only relevant to the younger generations. As a result, we’ve embraced this new medium and launched a new mobi-friendly website – lonrhohotels.com – to cater to the African traveller on the move.

Ewan Cameron – CEO: Lonrho Hotels