Meet Petra from Gazzella Tours
When former lawyer Petra Mösslacher left Vienna for a holiday in Namibia she wasn’t expecting a love story that went beyond a passion for Africa. “I went on holiday to Namibia and never left,” she laughs. Having met her future husband Tim Flachberger, a local tour guide, mechanic and co-owner of Leopard Plains in Botswana, the pair went on to launch Gazzella Tours together in 2008.
The inbound tour operator creates bespoke itineraries for those wishing to explore Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, specialising in off-road tours, fly-in safaris and self-drive tours. Whether it’s a game drive to spot Africa’s incredible wildlife or a photography excursion to capture the beauty of the world famous Etosha National Park, mighty Fish River Canyon, or the spectacular red dunes and salt pan of Sossusvlei, Gazzella Tours has the on the ground knowledge to design an unforgettable journey for guests.
This specialised touch is essential in sometimes unforgiving wilderness, resulting in a large amount of word of mouth and repeat business, Petra acknowledges.
“We get recommended because there is a high degree of trust. People don’t understand how far the lodges are apart or know the condition of the roads. When people commit to doing self-drive by themselves, they think it is much less expensive, but in the end it can actually cost them more. If you drive 600-800 kilometres a day you’ll be exhausted in the evening, and in the end, you haven’t seen a lot. Sometimes less is more! It’s definitely worth it to have an itinerary.”
“Plus, we have very good relationships with the lodges and work together with them very well. We have the right products, accommodation, and activities. And we’re always looking for new products, as some guests have different needs and want different experiences.”
Tourwriter on the team
The level of personalised experience required at Gazzella Tours has led to increased workloads for the team. With Petra supported in the office by Maria, a part-time tourism student, and Tim at Leopard Plains or on the roads, they turned to digitisation to assist with the business.
“Before we started with Tourwriter, we had a lot of work as we did everything on Excel based calculation. It was very time consuming and becoming very difficult,” Petra says.
Gazzella Tours signed up with Tourwriter in October 2020 and used the pause in travel during the Covid pandemic to implement the system, and upload information into the database.
“It saves a lot of time. As soon as I enter the lodge, the price will be calculated. Before I entered it by hand, and I’d check it two or three times before I sent it out. I love the itineraries, it’s so convenient. I think having the beautiful pictures and the overview, day by day, makes it more likely a client will say yes to a tour – a picture says 1000 words.”
She also praises Tourwriter’s online assistance. “If I have a question with Tourwriter or something doesn’t work, I immediately get a quick answer via the online chat. Everyone is so keen to learn how to see things from the tour operator’s side, and this helps a lot.”
Having everything streamlined online also delivers on ease of doing business remotely. “If I’d like to visit my parents in summertime in Austria or if I need to be at Leopard Plains, I take my computer and I can still work.”
A sustainable future
A further benefit of Tourwriter is reducing the amount of paperwork needed, something that has assisted with Gazzella Tours’ steps towards a more sustainable business.
“We just send the itinerary via the link so that people can have it on their cell phone or tablet. Before we printed out sometimes 20 to 30 pages. And that’s a real pity and a waste of paper,” Petra says.
Gazzella Tours has taken Tourwriter’s Better Travel Pledge, with Petra noting the very nature of their business and tours amongst the wildlife puts sustainability high on their agenda.
“We encourage more sustainable travel. We hope in future the cars will change so that it will be normal to drive a hybrid when touring. We also like to book tented lodges. It looks so cool and so special, and I think that’s what people are looking for as well – that relaxed, not over-luxurious environment, but still travelling in style. And ultimately, you can actually remove everything, so everything can go back to nature. To be on a safari is to be in nature.”