Celebrating 25 years with Gondwana – Staying relevant
Being innovative, staying relevant. The new lodge ‘Etosha King Nehale’ opened its doors in 2020. Photos: Gondwana Collection
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.
“I see that you have listed ‘Staying Relevant’ as the second last achievement to mention in this series, Manni. What do you mean by staying relevant?”
“I’ve realised that it is important to ensure that you never stagnate and to continually move ahead. Rather than just keeping up with the times, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse and to be one step ahead at all times, and in all areas.
“Product-wise, although we had humble beginnings, over the years we continually upgraded the lodges. The more recent lodges like Etosha King Nehale, Desert Whisper, The Desert Grace and the revamped Kalahari Anib Lodge, as well as The Delight in Swakopmund, are of world class standard and can easily compete with any accommodation facility worldwide. Besides the incredible settings where they are located, they are modern, well-structured and their décor is top class. We also stayed relevant with our team by providing training and improving our hospitality skills on a regular basis.”
“Did staying relevant play a part in Gondwana’s transition to new management?”
“Yes, absolutely Nela. It is important to bring new thoughts, ideas and energy in and this includes making way for others. After 21 years I felt it time for a younger generation to step in. We were fortunate to find someone like Gys who shares the passion. The concepts he has implemented over the last four-and-a-half years, like making each team member a shareholder, have been exceptional.”
Ndinelao poses the next question to Gys:
“How did you see the transition, Gys?”
“Nela, many people cautioned me that it could never work to become the CEO of a company where the iconic founder CEO would sit right next to you. It was probably good advice but I feel like the transition was not merely a success, it was a triumph for Gondwana. Manni and I have no egos and from day one it was always about Gondwana. Manni was unbelievably grand and supportive to me even when I introduced some major changes. I will forever be indebted to him. I remember one conversation I had with him on a day when I was doubting myself. I asked him if I was changing Gondwana, maybe even hurting Gondwana. He said: “Gys, Gondwana has always been about change. It has always been about reinventing ourselves and remaining at the cutting edge of market trends.” That gave me the confirmation I needed. “
“Thank you, Gys.
“Was the rebranding of Gondwana also part of staying relevant, Manni?”
“Yes, it was one more aspect of staying relevant. At the beginning our logos were simple and self-made. Later on, we hired a professional company to rebrand our logo and identify our brand essence, which (he smiles) was easy for them. We now have the Gondwana open hand as our impressive logo and our brand essence ‘Have a story to tell’ conveys our wish that every Gondwana guest returns home after an enriching experience at our lodges with a wonderful story to share. Every lodge has its own identity and received its own beautifully-rendered logo and inspiring catchphrase. Gondwana’s golden thread runs through all of them so they are easily recognisable as part of the group.”
“Is there anything else you would like to mention on staying relevant, Manni?”
“As the world changes, we have also stayed relevant with online marketing and our social media platforms. We have been trailblazers in the tourism sector, often setting trends with our innovative ideas.
“And, importantly, right from the beginning we wanted to create a company that Namibians could be part of and to welcome Namibian shareholders on board. We are happy to say that we are now proudly 80% Namibian-owned.”
“Thank you, Manni and Gys. We will wrap up there for today. Gondwana friends, remember to watch this space next week for the last discussion in this series.Until then take care and keep well.”
Engaging conversations (ltr): Gys Joubert (Gondwana’s Managing Director), Ndinelao Shikemeni (Media Coordinator) and Manni Goldbeck (Brand & Marketing Director).