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         Thriving Thornybush

         The Thornybush Collection continues to

         provide an excellent bushveld experience

         through an innovative approach to service

         delivery and wildlife sustainability.

          The announcement earlier this year that Thornybush   game reserves – already a costly business to run –
          Private Game Reserve would be removing its eastern   have become even more capital intensive. However,
          boundary fence with Timbavati,  in the  process   despite pushing its prices up in the past few years,
          opening the reserve up to the Greater Kruger Park,   Thornybush  Collection  has  seen  no  drop  off  in
          means that guests to the reserve, home to eleven of   demand  for  accommodation  from visitors  eager
          the Thornybush Collection’s exclusive four and five-  to experience the African bushveld in style. In fact,
          star luxury game lodges, are set for an even richer   occupancy  for  2017  is  around  70%,  significantly
          game experience.                          above the average hotel occupancy.
          The  14  000  hectare  Thornybush  Private  Nature   Thornybush  Collection  CEO,  Nic  Griffin,  attributes
          Reserve  has  long  had  a  sterling  reputation  for   this to the changes  made within  the Collection in
          offering  a  unique  wildlife  experience,  sharing  the   the past  few years  to  placing a greater  premium
          Kruger  National  Park’s  huge  diversity  of  animal   on people. As he explains it, in this industry, luxury
          and bird species.  Opening the  reserve  up to  the   accommodation, a quality dining experience and a
          Greater Kruger, however, promises to ensure more   memorable game experience are ‘hygiene factors’.
          significant numbers given that animals are now able   Game lodges that wish to differentiate themselves
          to traverse over a greater footprint.  It also allows for   need to go further.
          new bloodlines to be created which means healthier
          wildlife and increased availability of food and water   “In line with industry trends we used to experience
          resources.                                relatively  high  turnover in  lodge  management
                                                    personnel,”  he  reveals.  This  negatively  impacted
          Poaching continues to be a significant threat faced   guest satisfaction levels. In an effort to address this                                                                                          Photos by Desmond Scholtz
          by all  game reserves  with  the result  that security   Thornybush Collection revised its staff remuneration,
          costs for private game reserves  in  particular have   performance and incentive reward programme. The
          escalated  significantly  as  every  effort  is  made  to   result  was the Collection began to  attract  slightly
          better protect wildlife.                  older  and  more experienced  lodge  managers. At
                                                    the same time as overhauling its human resources
          Thornybush  Private  Nature  Reserve  has  been  no   practices  it relooked  at  certain company policies
          exception to these escalating costs and even prior   such as for the first time allowing lodge managers to
          to dropping  the fence  with  Timbavati,  the reserve   have pets and children on site.
          had implemented  a number of additional security
          measures including screening all employees in the   Over the past few years this has resulted in reduced                                                                                                 TOP: The deck
          reserve. Any employee who fails the screening test   lodge  management  turnover and  more committed                                                                                                     view at Thornybush
          twice is barred from entering the reserve. Guests to   teams managing each  lodge  which  has  had  a                                                                                                    Game Lodge.
          the reserve  are  requested  not to  use their  mobile   significant  impact  on  improved  guest  satisfaction                                                                                          Bottom from left:
          phones while  on  game drives in  order  to reduce   levels.
          the risk of their location details being transmitted.                                                                                                                                                    elephants in the
          Rangers  and  trackers  are  similarly  not  allowed  to   Within  the hospitality  industry unsolicited  guest                                                                                          reserve; a suite at
          use their mobile phones while on game drives.   feedback reviews are  one of the most  valuable                                                                                                          Thornybush Game
                                                    marketing tools.  Guest reviews on  lodges  in  the                                                                                                            Lodge; bath time at
          Not  surprisingly,  the  increased  costs  around   Thornybush Collection on sites such as TripAdvisor,                                                                                                  Chapungu Luxury
          security have meant that game lodges and private   currently the most visited travel website globally, tell                                                                                              Tent Camp.

         22 | AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 CEMAIR SKYNEWS                                                                                                                                              CEMAIR SKYNEWS AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2017 | 23
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