Nomathamsanqa Mpotulo was born and raised in Soweto and has been in the travel industry for over 8 years now. She recently started her own venture taking guests on day and overnight hikes around South Africa and can also take you out in Vilakazi street, to explore the vibrant cultures that Soweto has to offer
We chatted to Noma about her career, adventures and starting her solo venture, and here is what she had to say….
- Can you tell us more about yourself?
I am a very personable individual, who enjoys traveling, hiking and taking part in adrenaline pumping outdoor activities. I enjoy cooking and spending time with my family and loved ones. I have a natural love for people and am very passionate about travel. Traveling has literally changed how I view the world and has made me understand and appreciate the many different cultures we have in South Africa and across the world. The day I got into a plane for the first time and flew across the ocean by myself was the day that my life literally changed for the good and I never looked back.
- Tell us about your career journey up to date and how you got settled in tourism
I studied towards a travel diploma at the Travel learning center in 2005. I was then selected as part of my practical’s to be one of the cultural representative students who will be working for Disney World in the United States of America in 2006 for a period of a year and a half. Upon my return to South Africa in 2007, i was employed by Trafalgar Tours as a reservations consultant, unfortunately, I was retrenched in 2009. In 2011 after staying almost a year unemployed I then got a job at SA ROADLINK as Luxury coach hostess. I really enjoyed this job as I got to travel long distance from one province to the other. The nice thing about traveling long distance by road is that you get to see the little towns that are not known to many people. After roadlink shut down in 2012 I got to work at STA Travel on a contract basis for about four months as a travel agent. After completing the contract term, I got a job in 2014 at Intrepid Travel which is part of the intrepid group as a travel sales consultant, dealing with direct clients and agents. We dealt with both inbound and outbound sales. I then moved up within the business as a purchasing and reservations assistant and later to a contracting and reservations executive for PEAK DMC Southern Africa also part of the intrepid group. I must say the highlight of my career was when I was selected to be a part of a 3 day Women Leadership forum that took place in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2017. This was the first ever women leadership forum that marked a new journey for us young women in the Intrepid group. This great initiative was taken to support and nurture us to be the future business leaders. I still remember how I felt when I received the news, I even cried. I ran up to my General Manager at that time with tears on my face and said to her “guess what? I made it”. That was the moment I will never ever forget. I really had an incredible time with a great bunch of passionate, strong headed and enthusiastic women from all parts of the business. The 3 day forum was full of learning and a lot of knowledge sharing. Even though I no longer work for the intrepid group I still maintain the friendships I have built with colleagues across the globe and remain eternally grateful for the opportunity. In 2019 I joined the incredible team at Abercrombie and Kent where I secured a job as a brochure travel consultant. This was an incredible opportunity for me to start working in luxury travel which was a much different environment to overlanding. What I enjoyed most about my role apart from the fact that we were selling top notch travel packages, was the welcome dinners we attended to host guests. It was an awesome feeling to finally meet the guests that you were booking for all these months in person and to have conversations with them. I still had so much to do and offer at A&K however the Covid-19 pandemic hit us by surprise and cost some of us our jobs. I honestly never anticipated that my journey would be short lived like that at A&K.
- What do you love about what you do?
I enjoy the thrill of designing packages and being creative about them so that I meet clients’ expectations and where I can exceed them. Our clients spend a lot of time saving for their dream holidays, so when they trust you with their holiday, everyone involved in making this dream a reality has to come through and deliver without fail. It is truly an incredible feeling for a client to come back from a trip and say thank you for an awesome experience. What also makes me so proud to be in this industry is that we get to travel and see the world.
- What can you tell us about how about being in the travel industry for so long has shaped you?
Being in the tourism industry for so long has shaped me by helping me build strong social relationships as well as expose me to opportunities to learn and grow. It has definitely brought me much closer to myself and others. I am much more open minded and not afraid to try new things.
- What are your greatest travel memories in Africa?
I have a few but I will mention just two. One was when I went on a tour to Namibia for the first time ever as part of an educational trip for intrepid travel and one particular attraction site that remains memorable to this day is when we went to Damaraland specifically the Bushman rock art sites at Twyfelfontein. This was such a wonderful experience, the images we saw on the rocks are still so clear in my mind. Another memorable Africa memory I have was when I went on a 18 day Africa overland camping tour with Intrepid Travel visiting 4 countries; namely Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. I literally spent 18 days with people I had never met in my life. That was a life changing experience as we literally became family. Everyone was just amazing on that tour.
- What are the main challenges that you foresee as a woman with a small business?
Challenges that I would face as a female entrepreneur in the tourism industry is the challenge of limited resources to get going. It would also be difficult to access the international or local market as I am not a big player yet in terms of the entrepreneurial state. I have worked in the tourism industry for so long however I was not enabled quality networks or connections that I can navigate through to bring my company up and about. Publicity would be another factor that would be challenging as finding ways to uniquely Market the business other than the social media route is costly and would require capital.
- What is currently next for you and your venture?
I am currently studying digital marketing through Udemy to further broaden my knowledge in the digital space. I will continue running the day and overnight hikes as well as the adventure packages as I establish new relationships and partnerships with suppliers. It really is uncertain times and I am not sure what the future holds but the sky is the limit and we shall conquer in the end.