Interview

Bruce Simpson: A rawer experience in Africa

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April 6, 2020

Bruce started his ecotourism career in 1990 working as a guide in Southern Africa, working his way through a variety of industry roles from lodge management to COO.

His experience growing eco-safari lodges and managing luxury island developments is extensive and he joined the Time + Tide team with a wealth of industry knowledge and experience.

Describe your business in 5 words

Pioneers, iconic, quietly confident, luxurious, family.

The luxury market is changing. How are you adapting your offering?

New luxury has evolved into being not only about comfort and service, but more and more about the experience, interaction with the environment and the local culture – getting back to the rawness of Africa and the wildness that it offers.

Time + Tide are developing products in areas that offer a rawer experience in Africa – less developed, more remote and certainly more adventurous.

This does not mean that we forget about luxury, but we make sure that development in these areas showcases relevant luxury that appeals to the modern-day adventurer.

Serengeti, Tanzania

Who are your guests? Have your demographics changed, or have they stayed the same?

Our guests are typically well experienced in travel and have often been to Africa before. They are adventurers who want to see new destinations and explore the environments that we operate in. The new safari-goer wants to find adventure where a generic game drive no longer suffices.

We are finding that more and more of our guests enjoy experiences and places that are out of the ordinary or even new. They are generally very well-travelled, are happy to and sometimes even prefer to travel off the beaten path.

Historically, our biggest demographic in Zambia has been the UK. In the past decade we’ve strategically shifted focus to put more effort into other markets such as Australians, the USA, Canadians, Swiss, South Americans, Germans, Italians and Europe as a whole.

Time + Tide Miavana in Madagascar is a new product in a relatively new destination, so trends are still being created and have not yet evolved.

Isalo National Park, Madagascar

What’s trending in your destination?

In Zambia:

Our properties open up the most remote, wild and iconic parts of Africa

Community upliftment & cohesion as well as respectful interaction

Sustainability: using more local produce in dining, design and construction

Solar power

Walking safaris

Local employment and contribution

Solo travel

In Madagascar:

Family travel

Willingness to explore new destinations and products

Adventure

Community upliftment & cohesion as well as respectful interaction

Sustainability: using more local produce in dining, design and construction

New luxury – a combination of traditional luxury facilities and service combined with huge diversity of experiences, some extreme and some more generic

What emerging trends do you think will shake up the industry?

Traveling off the beaten path

Last minute travel – bookings today for travel tomorrow

Unique, one-of-a-kind experiences

New destinations in previously unknown or unexposed regions

Phinda Private Game Reserve, Hluhluwe, South Africa

What does luxury mean to you?

Luxury is about personal engagement and delivering a unique experience to our guests – the old luxury of well-appointed facilities and a comfortable bed is no longer classed as luxury; these are a function of the price and are expected.

New luxury is about service at a human level, understanding your client and delivering a bespoke experience specific to their interests and needs. It’s an experience that includes diversity of both activities and adventure – experiential has moved aside for more raw adventures in the unique areas that we operate.

An important component of luxury today is time, space and, most importantly, choice.

What has working in the luxury market taught you?

It has taught me that everyone has their own definition and requirements in luxury and that it cannot be treated the same for everyone.

Luxury is evolving, like any aspect of service or experience in our ever-changing world, and one has to not only be aware of this concept but be ahead of it in order to continue being successful.

Madagascar

What excites you about the travel industry?

I get enthusiastic about how people are always trying to reinvent the next experience. We work in an industry that does not sit still and rest on its laurels.

This is not only because of the fact that it’s so competitive, which means that one needs to change in order to survive, but because this industry is full of strong, brave and entrepreneurial individuals.

What do you value most when you travel?

Service, service, service. The standard and quality of the facilities are determined by price – I look for authentic, personalised and good service.

How do you make sustainable choices in your work and personal life?

In everything I do; from the way I run my home to the way I bring up my children. The choices I make with regards to work, the people I associate with and the places I visit.

I believe that everyone can make a difference in the world and one of the biggest impacts we can make as individuals is not granular, like buying a solar hot water geyser, but to influence the way others behave or the choices they make.

The way we act and behave will influence those around you and thus make a bigger impact in the greater scheme of things.

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

What is the single most unique offering you provide to travellers?

We create experiences in which guests can savour the most beautiful moments in life by awakening their senses in the wildest of places and remembering that little things are the greatest luxury.

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