Differentiate or Die, was the name of a book I bought about 10 years ago. It got my attention that’s for sure. Since then there have been several more that all revolve around a central theme: If you cannot distinguish yourself from your competition, you risk dying – or perhaps less dramatic, going out of business.

While the offer of a safari in Africa may seem hard to differentiate, if you stop and think of all the elements of the experience, there are many opportunities to do this, and you need take a good look at your operation, and see exactly where or what they are. If it is your values – are you a serious, quiet type; big party animal; devoted Christian; family man; no-children man; military man? You name it, these are all ways to describe you personally. Your lodge experience: Is it formal, modern, rustic, chic, luxurious, homely, a castle, a mansion, a farm-house, or sharing-your-home-like?

I have been to various photographic lodges and recall some interesting little points. One was of elephant dung that had been crushed and spread down the path between rooms to make the walk between rooms silent. Try walking on a path of dried mopane leaves and see the difference. I’ll never forget it.

From the moment clients arrive in camp, the little touches, the attention to detail with their accommodation or catering, are so important.

I recently worked with an operator who happens to be the longest-running safari operator in his country. Yet, hidden in small text, unlikely to be noticed, was this hugely differentiating fact. There is only one company that can claim this, and if you are it – well then make sure everyone knows it!

More often than not, the hunters say that it’s everything up to and around the actual last pulling of the trigger that they factor into their safari experience and remember you for. The more pointers you can identify and use to differentiate yourself, the better.

So, look for your differences, your ‘unique selling propositions’, as they refer to this in marketingspeak. Then my best suggestion is to tell the world about those differences in order that you stand out.
– Richard Lendrum