Bench Africa’s chairman on its new brochure, offerings, and what travellers want

Bench Africa’s chairman on its new brochure, offerings, and what travellers want

Africa travel specialist group Bench Africa is making its return to Australia after a few tough years without Aussie travellers being able to visit.

And in making this return, Travel Weekly recently had the chance to sit down with Bench Africa’s company chairman Mike Kirkland.

Kirkland, who was visiting from Kenya, said that as people return to Africa he wants the traveller experience to be the prominent thing. Bench Africa’s itineraries vary both in landscape and types of climate, with large 18-day safaris that traverse a good deal of the African continent selling quite well.

Kirkland said sales for Bench are going quite well, with the group reporting 75 per cent of pre-COVID revenue as of Q2 FY22/23. He has predicted that the specialist group will return to profitability by May.

So what’s given Bench Africa’s return to travel the edge?

Kirkland said Bench has recently invested in 10 new seven-seater four wheel drives as a part of its new collaboration with Wildlife Works, a community-centred conservation company that strives for carbon neutrality.

The vehicles will be the newest air-conditioned safari trucks operating in Kenya, according to Kirkland, and they facilitate travellers on their journeys which aims for pristine comfort, unique experiences and some of the best safari spotting’s available.

Showcasing these itineraries and travel options to prospective travellers is the new brochure that Bench Africa has in the works. Along with the array of experiences on offer, the brochure will feature QR codes that will have the most up to date pricing on the groups offerings.

Kirkland believes Bench will be the first Africa operator in the Aussie market to release a post-pandemic brochure, with its new programs to kick off soon.

The development of the brochure has taken into consideration the rise of multi-generational travel that Bench Africa has experienced.

Kirkland said that with this development has come with higher budgets of travellers leading to higher-value bookings, which is facilitated by the elite level of tour guides leading Bench’s premium itineraries.

The group has the highest number of silver-level tour guides in the Kenya Professional Safari Guides Association and one of the 11 gold-level tour guides. This facilitates the unique wildlife-centric travel experiences that Bench provides its travellers, which is particularly prominent right now as Bench has noticed an uptick of tailor-made safaris.

Of course, we were curious to know what Kirkland loved most with these safaris and what he would like to see more Aussies booking.

“I love walking safaris and they’re probably a bit underappreciated because we don’t get a lot of bookings for walking Safaris,” Kirkland said.

“I think that’s a lovely way to see the country.”

With 96 per cent of its travellers describing their experiences with Bench as either excellent or very good, Kirkland is confident in the product Bench is offering Aussie travellers.

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