1. Tell us about your business and background.
SZ: I come from a family of entrepreneurs, yet I never believed in entrepreneurship. I felt it was unnecessarily risky, when I could easily live a very comfortable life with a 9-5 day job, ever-so-often waking up and wondering how much sick leave I still have available.
Preferential Travel is quite simply a travel company that arranges affordable travel experiences (mainly road trips) within South Africa for individuals, couples, and groups of up to 20. We have accommodation partners in most tourist attraction destinations in South Africa, and have an option on our website for clients to obtain quotes for destinations we don’t currently have listed.
Every single listed property on Preferential Travel’s site, is a place I would personally visit and can personally vouch for. I love adventure and natural surroundings, and all the properties offer that – not to mention they’re all very reasonably priced.
To the best of my knowledge, we are one of very few travel companies that also have CSI initiatives. Shammah Safe House is an amazing children’s home and we are proud to have partnered with them.
2. What are the challenges you face as a young, female entrepreneur?
1. Adequate emotional support.
2. Finding a quality mentor that is willing to actually invest time in you.
4. Time management – particularly if you have an 8 hour full-time job.
For my industry, specifically, I noticed very quickly that it’s a very tough industry to break into, and accommodation owners are not very open to helping start-ups. I had a good number of phone calls dropped in my ear and emails not returned whilst I was gathering my initial client base. I remember the first rejection email, of many, I received several weeks ago – “Sorry. The owners are not interested. Regards”. Such things fuelled me, and still fuel me, to push even harder.
3. What do you hope to achieve in your business?
SZ: Preferential means “superior”, “favoured”, “better” – I want the meaning of the name to manifest itself. So naturally, I envision Preferential Travel to be a leading travel company in South Africa, and I am branding it as such. I’m very fortunate to have travelled South Africa rather thoroughly, consequently I’m passionate about promoting local travel. I think our country is gorgeous!
I’m taking it step-by-step, and I truly value the partners that have decided to take this leap of faith with me. My main focus at the moment is on marketing. People need to know that Preferential Travel exists. I have the likes of Safarinow, RoomsforAfrica etc. as ultimate competition and I fully acknowledge that I won’t get to their level overnight. But I will get there. And do far “better”.
4. What keeps you going when the going gets tough?
SZ: Two things – God and my passion for travel. Just like my life, this entire venture is founded on Psalm 23:6.
5. Any words of encouragement to our network of ladies?
SZ: Hold the vision. Trust the process. Pray.
Bio: Sibongile grew up in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa Zulu Natal, with her parents and older brother then left for Pretoria in 2010 to study Accounting Sciences. She is currently working as an assistant manager in one of Africa’s leading professional services firms and is also studying towards a Masters in Taxation.