Staying number one is what I strive for at work
RARELY does the description 'fun loving member of staff' instill confidence in employers about a worker as it may be perceived that one is never serious enough for huge responsibilities or for office work. But that is exactly what made 25-year-old Arie Wambani stand out enough to get a promotion from her bosses to lead a new department at the company she works for, Kampala Coach Ltd.
Rob Nurtsen, the bus company's general manager says the reason why Arie - who only joined the firm in November 2010 as a personal assistant to one of the directors was picked for the job is because “she is a loyal and fun loving member of staff. She is a people's person.” Arie is the tourism manager for the bus company which operates in all the five East African countries and has a vision to become a Pan-African bus and travel firm.
The company currently operates a fleet of over 60 buses and 10 special tour buses that have recently been added to the fleet to boost Kampala Coach's tourism business niche. “Naturally, I am an events person. In my free time or just to help out, I have done wedding events, get togethers...I just love to put together such things,” remarks Arie.
The young executive is an accountant by profession having studied accounting for three years at Strathmore University and is also a qualified Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. “My accounting training comes in handy as I multi-task within my department and the skills make it easier when I am costing tour packages,” explains Arie. “The thing I love about accounting is that it is not restricted to just one department.”
Kampala Coach plans to grow the domestic tourism department in conjunction with opening new services throughout the region, Nursten says. “The department therefore requires someone who has the drive and organising ability which is required for such a task. She has the energy and acumen to make sure this new venture is successful, and is prepared to spend long hours ensuring that it happens,” Nursten says of his colleague Arie.
The firm has already initiated key partnerships within the industry to implement its tourism business strategy. One of its major partners is the Narok County Council, the one in charge of the famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve. “I love the idea of bringing the East African Community to the Mara. Often, we see it frequented mostly by international visitors yet those who live around have never been there,” Arie notes.
Kampala Coach also has a campsite in Jinja, Uganda. Nursten says that the firm invested heavily in research and comfortable buses to ensure that the market is kept happy. Every tour bus by the firm carries 40 passengers regardless of how big it is in a bid to ensure maximum comfort for those inside.
And to give passengers a somewhat flying feeling, the seats are all fitted with screens and entertainment devices just as is the case in an aircraft. The company is targeting between 400 to 500 local and international tourists for its excursions. Arie notes that lots of people love to travel and explore different areas but have been lacking the right and affordable packages that are suitable for them.
Nursten explains: “We have seen an opportunity in the more affordable 'all inclusive arena'. A package deal that includes everything...park fees, three meals a day, transport, comfortable sleeping and bathing facilities, organised entertainment such as game drives are all included. There are no expensive surprises for our customers. The only pocket money required would be for extra drinks, souvenirs, shopping and the like.”
Most of the trips planned by Arie and her team are between six and seven days long. The firm which has so far done successful trips to areas like Narok and Mombasa in Kenya is also scouting for partners and sites in other EA countries and plans a road trip to South Africa in February 2011.
Kampala Coach seems to be following the advice of Brand Kenya chairman Hannington Gaya who recently said that tourism is what will speed up integration of the East Africa Community. “As we spread further afield, we are now looking at new routes with a wider and wiser field of view. We see possibilities that would have previously been meaningless to us,” remarks Nursten. “Our main role will still be as the carrier, delivering passengers in comfort and safety to their destinations.”
As for Arie, there is no turning back and since the bus company is the first in the country to pioneer this kind of travel and tour package, she notes, it will have to be a trailblazer from hereon as competitors strive to catch up.
* If you are going to do something do it 100 per cent...well, if not then just leave it.
* Put God first and everything else, every plan will fall in place.
* Hardwork pays...look at Kampala Coach, it has only been in business for four years and is so innovative and has grown so much yet there are other bus firms that have been in the market longer.
* To stay on top of the game, you have to deliver and that is what I strive to do. We want to make life easier for travellers such that just as a shopping mall has many shops and service stations, so will be Kampala Coach with its courier and travel services.