News from Africa
11 July 2016 , 1:40 pm

How to be a successful artist, writer and travel agent

 A proud mom of two beautiful daughters, Rachael Penaluna tells us how she is taking Sure Maritime Travel, a thriving travel agency on the South African coast,  to the next level to be a true 21st century travel agency.

Rachael has been with Sure Maritime Travel for four years, first as a Sales and Marketing Consultant and then as Business Manager. She is very versatile and has been active as a freelance journalist for travel trade publications as well as an artist, creating design wall art, jewellery from drift wood she picks up on the beach and pallet furniture.

We sat down with Rachael and chatted to her about how she has used her creativity to help design a modern thriving travel agency of the 21st century.

You are a very creative person. Could you tell us a bit more about your passion?

Rachael Penaluna Art

I love art!  I create and design wall art and jewellery from drift wood and things I pick up on the beach. Beachcombing with my girls is my passion, they often end up hauling bits of shipwreck and lumps of wood home for me!

I also enjoy making pallet furniture and have a husband who humours me and allows me to put it all in our home!

My vegetable garden is my new love and I avidly watch every day to make sure everything is thriving, it is my space to relax and reflect!

I love surfing and riding scooters with my family, we spend a lot of time together, embracing the Port Elizabeth lifestyle.

Rachael Penaluna 1

How did you use your creativity to create a 21st century travel agency?

I believe we are at the forefront of everything an agency should aspire to be in the 21st Century, particularly on the operational side of things.  We incorporate many value add services into our everyday work which has seen us become a big player in the Port Elizabeth market.

Our client target market has expanded in niche markets like agriculture and we are throwing everything we have at continuously sourcing new business and getting to know new markets.

We use every tool we can get our hands on to work faster and smarter. App usage and mobile accessibility is becoming more popular with our clients. We have formulated booking, accounting and follow up processes that are seamless, which is a very good marketing tool for us. Any new client is encouraged to embrace our processes to simplify their own travel processes.

Which tools have become indispensable for you?

The Amadeus productivity tracker has become an imperative part of the way I run the business and keep track of consultant and client activity on a daily basis. When we acquire a new Amadeus tool, we use it as a marketing tool as well.  Something like traveller tracking on our Productivity tool really makes a good impression and we make sure all our clients know that because we are updated, they benefit from better service.

What is your main focus for the moment?

The biggest thing we have done in the last 18 months, has been the development of a very accurate, informative and successful Duty of Care campaign.

We have access to reliable intelligence through a security officer who works for one of our clients. The information we send out, the way we interpret a trip and associated concerns, has been very well received by both corporate and leisure clients. We send out regular email updates on many issues, including strikes, danger zones, weather warnings, specials and more.

Besides technology, which other factors help create a successful 21st century agency?

Rachael Penaluna Jewellery

We are very involved in the community and have a pet project every year that gets us involved and makes us more visible in other areas of Port Elizabeth life. I think clients respect that we make the time to give back!

Most importantly, we never lose sight of the hands on approach.  Despite the wonderful technology we have at our fingertips, we speak to, encourage, advise and follow up in a very personal context and clients appreciate that.

What are your plans for the future?  

I want Sure Maritime Travel to be the most reputable and profitable travel agency in Port Elizabeth while I am running the business and I want my whole team to be a part of that.

I will eventually retire gracefully I guess.  We will buy a camper van and travel South Africa looking for driftwood, creating art, drinking good wine and I will write a book!



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This post was written by Jannine Adams

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