Celebrating 25 years with Gondwana – Brand Namibia
Manni Goldbeck discusses Gondwana’s ten most important achievements.
During the Gondwana Collection Namibia’s 25th anniversary year we celebrate the rich history of the company. We recall the inspiring, interesting, humorous and heart-warming stories that have shaped the company. While we are sharing these fascinating stories, Gondwana’s CEO Gys Joubert and Media Coordinator Ndinelao Shikemeni sit down with founder Manni Goldbeck to take a walk down memory lane and find out what he sees as the company’s ten most important achievements.
Ndinelao starts the discussion today:
“Manni, you have identified ‘Brand Namibia’ as one of Gondwana’s ten most important achievements.”
“Yes, that’s correct. After independence we were so proud of our new country and our people, and the opportunity to start anew. Whatever we did was not only about Gondwana, it was about Namibia, and it followed that our marketing would incorporate both. We have such a beautiful country, with incredible contrasts and so much diversity – a whole continent in one country. We wanted to tell the world who we are – with passion, dedication and action. We wanted to be ambassadors for the New Namibia.”
Engaging conversations (ltr): Manni Goldbeck (Brand & Marketing Director), Ndinelao Shikemeni (Media Coordinator) and Gys Joubert (Gondwana’s Managing Director).
“You also began telling Namibia’s stories, how did this come about?”
“My passion for storytelling goes back a long way. I was a history and geography teacher before I became involved in tourism. I brought my enthusiasm for telling Namibia’s stories to Gondwana and later on ‘Have a story to tell’ became the company’s brand essence. But, it’s not only Gondwana’s story we tell, it’s Namibia’s story. Gondwana is essentially a Namibian story.”
“And how does Gondwana tell these stories, Manni?”
“We have published more than twenty books already with thousands of stories about Namibia and Namibian people. Many of the stories had never been recorded before and would have been lost forever. We also started creating and sharing video clips about Namibia on a regular basis. Our You Tube platform is extremely popular and the videos, with their exceptional visuals, are reaching countless viewers worldwide.”
“Which of the video clips was the biggest success?”
Manni laughs and replies:
“The video clip showcasing Namibia’s impressive landscapes against Trump’s blunder of calling the country ‘Nambia’ and referring to countries in Africa as ‘shithole countries’. The video reached 260 million people worldwide. On a more positive note, we are soon to launch another superlative Namibia clip, so watch this space!
“The Gondwana social media platforms continue to provide a fantastic platform for Namibian stories and we regularly post fascinating stories about Namibia and its people, history, flora, fauna and sights, as well as cultural events. Gondwana presently has a huge following and its Facebook page enjoys nearly 500 000 views per month.
“We occasionally utilise other storytelling avenues. We have recently installed a permanent exhibition featuring Namibia’s long walk to independence at Etosha Safari Camp. It’s one of my favourite lodges because of its shebeen and the theme of reconciliation explored there.”
“The Gondwana Card, which offers discounted rates to Namibians and SADC members, has been so successful. Can you tell us how it first began, Manni?”
“Certainly, Gys. The idea was born fifteen years ago when locals complained that they couldn’t afford to stay in lodges and to travel around their own country. Besides the lodges carrying many costs to enable them to be self-sufficient in rural areas, the rack (i.e. accommodation) rates were high because of the value chain involved in the reservation process where everyone involved takes quite a hefty percentage.
“Although this value chain remains indispensable for some types of international tourism, we realised that if we cut out the middlemen for Namibian and SADC travellers, provided they book directly with us, we would be able to offer them discounts of 50% and 40% respectively, making accommodation at our lodges affordable, and discounted rates for dinner and activities. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that we would have as many as 100 000 Gondwana Card holders! Namibians can now travel around their own country and enjoy our hospitality. It is wonderful that Gondwana could be a trailblazer of this type of local tourism.
“We are so grateful to – and proud of – all the Gondwana Card holders for their support at this time.”
“Gondwana has taken it one step further with Camping2Go. Can you elaborate?”
“Yes. We identified that not all locals necessarily want to stay at lodges. There are many people who prefer camping or self-catering. We also wanted to provide our guests with a choice of accommodation types. Camping2Go are large, fully-equipped en-suite safari tents that come with beds and bedding, fridges, gas cookers, barbeque facilities, crockery and cutlery. You name it. We have introduced Camping2Go safari tents at several of our lodges including Palmwag Lodge & Camp, Kalahari Anib Lodge, Etosha Safari Camp, Namib Desert Lodge and Namushasha River Lodge. They have become very popular with locals and are even more affordable. They offer ‘glamping’, in between camping and lodge accommodation, and are suitable for those travellers who enjoy a more outdoorsy lifestyle. It’s a favourite with Gondwana Card holders, who love this addition, and enjoy their discounted rates.”
Ndinelao ends off the discussion:
“Thank you Manni and Gys. We look forward to continuing our conversation on Saturday and sharing it with all our Gondwana friends. Until then take care and keep well.”