Rolín Nel, Founder and CEO of Bespoke Travel Company, Kaross Travel

For the August edition of SLOW Magazine, we sat down with Founder and CEO of Kross Travel, Rolín Nel. We picked her brain about all things travel and how she started such a successful business. Read the full profile here – www.freemagazines.co.za.

TCB Media: Can you explain a little more about your background? Where were you born? What did you study, etc.?
Rolin Nel (RN): My journey is a tale of opposites. Early in my career, I worked as a Forensic Investigator and later in sales in the Building, Construction and Motor industry. My love for travel planning took over, and I started working as a travel consultant. Sensing a need for a more personal approach to travel planning, and driven by my passion for perfection, attention to detail and my love for client service, I started Kaross Travel in 2014. Interestingly, I never completed my studies. I am quite proud of the fact that I managed to build a fairly successful business although I did not complete my University education. I was born in Centurion, Pretoria.

TCB Media: What made you start Kaross Travel?
RN: I felt very strongly that I wanted to do things differently than the rest of the industry and not just offer generic packages and saw a business opportunity in filling the gap in the market for a more tailor-made, boutique approach to travel planning.

TCB Media: What makes Kaross Travel different from other travel companies?
RN: We do not have a call center approach. Our approach is more detail-orientated and personal than any other competitor offering. Also, our excellent contacts and relationships in the industry allow us to be able to literally do the impossible for our clients daily and help and prices competitors can’t match.

TCB Media: What’s the best holiday you’ve ever been on?
RN: A holiday to Istanbul, Turkey. Honestly, it was better than my honeymoon. I just loved the mix of culture, cuisine, and art and, best of all, it is affordable.

TCB Media: In response to the economic climate, do you think that South Africans are turning to local travel more and more, nowadays?
RN: Not really. People who regularly travel overseas make a point of budgeting for it. From experience it does seem that people do go on local breaks more, but it does not take away from international travel. People adjust their budgets according to what they can spend. Subsequently, we are not seeing a decline in international travel.

TCB Media: What do you think are South Africa’s best attributes? Why should tourists want to come here?
RN: We are a diverse and very compassionate nation and have some unique and flavorsome dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. We have a fantastic climate, and a wide range of wonderful local cuisines on offer. A big drawing card is the fact that there is something unique for every budget and every taste. I will have to divide these attributes between the major cities: For instance, Cape Town’s “bucket list” of key tourist attractions is the “The Big 7” which consists of The City Walk, Cape Point, Robben Island, Groot Contantia, Table Mountain Cableway, Kirstenbosch, and the V&A Waterfront. In Johannesburg, the Madiba bridge and the “Jo’burg City Walk” tours are an absolute must for tourists. Durban is one of the “Seven Wonder Cities of the World” – no explanation needed, but what adds to the popularity of the city is the fact that accommodation options vary from affordable to luxury, and you can reach the city by plane, car, or sea.

TCB Media: Where do you see the tourism industry in SA going? More foreign investment, or maybe more locally owned tourism businesses?
RN: I am noticing a spike in collaborations between local and international businesses with the aim of delivering a better-quality offering. Cross-border partnerships are occurring more, and more. For example, local lodge owners approaching international investors to take their offering next-level.

TCB Media: Do you have any hidden gems in SA that you like to go to?
RN: I have a soft spot for Richmond in the Karoo – the peace-and-quiet, good food and excellent, homely accommodation.

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TCB Media: What do you define as ‘craft travel’?
RN:In the world of consumer products, the fact that a lot of things are mass-produced, generic and impersonal gave rise to the craft movement – the need for high quality, handmade, “craft” products, such as craft beer and gin. Consumers are willing to pay an arm-and-a-leg for a good craft gin or beer which is – even though it is more expensive than generic, commercial products with a small amount in question, but when it comes to travel, people were still willing to – when tens and thousands of Rands are at stake, settle for generic travel packages. It is here where the trend of craft travel arose – the realisation that you can tailor your trip to the smallest of details.

So, basically, craft travel means that the days of generic travel packages are numbered. Travelers are no longer happy with a “one size fits all” approach to traveling, because they don’t have to be. There is so much more on offer.

TCB Media: How do you think Kaross Travel works to create ‘craft travel’ for their clients?
RN: Craft travel puts the traveler first. We look at the client’s destination preferences, type of accommodation, budget, and the experiences they seek. After we establish these important information, we can create an itinerary for them. Travellers should not compromise on their holidays even if the demands seem outrageous. You are entitled to have great travel experiences and that is what your travel agent should focus on. Our aim is to create bespoke and unforgettable travel experiences that will last you a lifetime and does not compromise your budget or your preferences. And no request is too big.

For more info on Kross Travel and the experiences they offer, visit www.karosstravel.co.za.

Image © Kaross Travel