Author Archives: Steve

Globa.li’s Special Places: Delta Camp

Where: The world-famous Okavango Delta is the home of this Globa.li Special Place- Delta Camp is set on the Boro and Metsematsweu channels of the Okavango. What differentiates this place is their personalized safari experience and unique offerings. The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world where “dry land and wetland species cohabit, creating unique and startling associations of plants, amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles.” Big game is also found in the area, depending on water levels, such as elephant, leopard, cape buffalo, wildebeast, hippo and crocodile. We can thank the hippo for their engineering of the water-ways through the thick marsh and flood-plains.

What: Delta Camp offers twice-daily walking safaris and mokoro (handmade dugout canoes) excursions through the Moremi Game Reserve. Your comfortable chalet is en suite with hot and cold running water, a shower with a view, multiple areas in which to relax, mosquito netting and solar-powered electric lighting. You will not go hungry here. You can look forward to 4 meals a day – early breakfast before the morning drives, huge brunch, mid afternoon tea before the afternoon water excursions, and magnificent dinners flanked by cocktails and after-dinner drinks around the bonfire. And of course, we can’t forget the “sundowners” which is African cocktail hour held enroute during the afternoon excursions as the sun is setting on the Delta. Can you say spoiled?

Who: What makes your experience unique is the one-on-one approach of having your own private guide independent of other guests. You get to plan your day and don’t have to fit into a set schedule while at Delta Camp. These guides have a lifetime of experience living in the Okavango Delta and are well known for having eyes like a hawk or should we say African Eagle? Your guide will accompany you on all your excursions and introduce you to the dynamic ecosystems of the Okavango. Another offering that makes Delta Camp a Globa.li Special Place is the opportunity for a 2-8 night extended, fully serviced and catered camping expedition by dug-out into the further reaches of the Okavango. Imagine feeling like you are in the middle of nowhere but with plenty of pampering from guides and camp hands? If you would rather stay closer to the lodge, you can’t top the Delta Camp treehouse. Pun intended!

Tech fatigue in travel.

Most boutique hotels survive on about 40% occupancy. While we know this to be true in places like Africa and Latin America, I’ve been surprised to learn when citing this statistic in Telluride, Colorado (where we’re participating in a fantastic accelerator program) the immediate response from any local is, “yep and that is the same here in Telluride.”

I can’t think of many other industries where 40% would be considered great. Except maybe predicting the weather and venture capital (ha!).

The fact is this is a LOT of empty hotel beds sitting empty every night across the globe. We are sitting on the edge of massive innovation in travel distribution. While large hotel chains become more sophisticated and dialed into big data trends, it’s almost as if the boutique hotel sector of the industry are moving in completely the opposite direction.

We’re betting that the next big advance in travel technology – the advance that is going to drive the next billion dollars – isn’t highly sophisticated technology. It’s stupidly simple and focused on selling the 60% of boutique hotel rooms sitting empty each night. This is just way too much money being left on the table to avoid focus for much longer.

What do you think is the future of travel technology for boutique hotels? Leave a comment or let us know what you think on Twitter (@askglobali.)

And boutique hotels… apply for a Beta invite for Globa.li today. Globa.li helps you manage reservations, connect with trade partners, increase occupancy and be more efficient. Net result? We’ll help you fill those empty beds.

Interview with co-founder of Globa.li- Maisa Fernandez

An interview with Maisa Fernandez – Co-founder and Director of Distribution for Globa.li

How did you dream up Globa.li?

Globa.li started as Sarah Fazendin’s brainchild about a year and a half ago. It looked totally different then.

Because we were looking at Africa as our Launchpad, and Sarah and I have worked for over two combined decades within Africa, we understood packaging is the main way consumers book safaris. There are so many elements involved in planning a safari because there are park and reserve fees to consider, additional costs of safari vehicles due to group sizes or young families, lodge-to-lodge transfers – in the end, we understand operators are a critical component in the area and we understand that the current lodge-to-operator itinerary and booking environment is very convoluted, complex and horribly time consuming. We wanted to offer up a good solution.

After we discussed the model in detail, we felt it made sense to create a B2B reservations platform that would help the distributors work seamlessly with the hoteliers, while solving a huge issue for boutique hoteliers – providing live, web-based reservations to buyers and encourage an all-in-one marketplace for both distributors and hoteliers to manage their inventory, guests and payments. Once we discussed this option in detail, we knew were on to something.

Tell us more about your background:

I’ve been working in tourism almost 16 years now. I started my career at Carlson Companies, Inc. in 1998 where I led the communications department for the Carlson Wagonlit Travel franchise division. I moved on to Public Relations for the world-renowned franchise in 2000. Then at the end of 2001, I decided to begin consulting for the public sector within Carlson Destination Marketing Services (CDMS), where I represented some of the most powerful tourism boards in the world, including: The Kenya Tourist Board, PromPeru, Singapore Tourism Board, Nepal Tourism Board, The China National Tourist Office, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, The Northern Territory of Australia and others.

Several months after initiating the merger between CDMS and Myriad, I decided to leave public sector work for the private sector. In 2010, I founded IMPACT Tourism where I have to this day been able to represent some of the finest boutique experiences in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The concept of being able to branch out to the technological travel space has been something I have wanted to do for quite some time. I am excited about the upcoming opportunities Globa.li will offer the travel community.

Which professionals do you admire?

Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber is someone I have been watching. For those who may not know, catching a cab in SFO is a nightmare, and Uber has been alleviating the stress of getting a safe ride in the city and soon, we hope, across the nation. I am watching their expansion closely. They have really managed to “dumb down” the transportation crisis some select cities suffer from. He is disrupting the transportation space to a well-needed halt!

I must also mention Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Chairwoman of Carlson Companies, Inc. Marilyn has always had an amazing business savvy that is exuded through a no-nonsense, strong-minded yet thoughtful leadership-style. I was lucky enough to work with her on several occasions and she is bar-none the leader I admire most in both tourism and business.

What makes Globa.li different?

I could go on here, but for the sake of expediency, I will just say that Globa.li stands to become one of the most flexible and easy-to-use reservations solutions the industry will ever see. We believe this to be true not only for boutique hotels, but for the industry as a whole. I have no doubt that Globa.li will become the new benchmark for distribution systems in the marketplace, one that will ease the booking process for all involved in an aggressively cost-effective manner. We have an amazing, young team, we are nimble, creative, we know the issues (all too well), and we want to see the boutique industry grow. We are working hard and fast to offer up one hell of a reservations solution that will be hard to ignore.

Where did the name Globa.li come from?

Our plan for Globa.li has always been to be a Global Interface.

We felt we needed to keep it simple. Globa.lI came naturally out of the words “Global Interface”.

What is your biggest challenge?

Right now for Globa.li it is just making sure we gain enough feedback from our test users to ensure we have a stone-solid product. Every day brings on a new challenge, but in truth, the only thing we care about is getting it right. With Sarah and my knowledge of the industry, we think we are covering all areas necessary to create a fundamentally necessary platform for distributors worldwide. But there are times we can miss things, so this is a very critical stage for us in or build-out.

Also, we are starting small, specifically in Africa focusing on the North American market, but we have some aggressive plans to move into other emerging markets directly after launch, as well as have the platform available in other languages and currencies. We have a long list of hoteliers ready to sign on in other emerging markets now, but we want to test in Africa first, since we are aware this is the most challenging, when it comes to itinerary building. Staying focused is important in these initial stages, but it is always tempting to stray away from that focus. Sarah helps me there.

What stresses you out?

Actually, at this stage in my career, not much. If I had to pinpoint something that makes me most anxious though, it would be that which I don’t understand, haven’t thought through, or situations I fail to predict that worry me most. I like knowing as much as possible about an issue before I jump in, so I find I can be a bit more tentative and hesitant to make big decisions than say Sarah can. She is more of a risk taker than I am. I wish I had her tenacity.

What is your favorite place you’ve ever been?

Lamu, Kenya. Its easily the most mysterious and exotic place I have ever been. It crawled in my heart the minute I landed there. I’ve been about four times and every time I go back, I find something new on the island. Its magical.

What is your favorite part of the day on safari?

I always love the evenings. It is a chance to reflect on the days events, sit by a campfire and connect with new people. Being on safari is often a very introspective time for me. Therefore, engaging with people over a glass of wine at a fire is nice. But there honestly is nothing like crawling into bed every night to find a warm hot-water bottle and a warm blanket to pull over yourself as you feel the chilly damp air. There is something very cozy and thrilling about being semi exposed to the elements.

Where is the next place you want to travel?

I have always wanted to visit Jordan and the Middle East. Those are next on my target list, but I rarely travel for pleasure. I travel enough for work as it is, so when I take a holiday, I stay home. It’s bliss.

Any last thoughts-

I am just excited to be in this position today. We’ve had immense support from everyone we have been working with thus far. I am hopeful people find Globa.li useful and a value to their business. I think this is as best a time as any to let the readers know our doors are open for brainstorming, partnership, sharing, whatever. Sarah and I are of the mindset that cooperation leads to intelligent “coopetition”, which makes us all better in the end.