What you need to know:
- The biggest challenge we face is direct competition from vendors such as airlines and hotels who sell directly to customers.
- There is stiff competition for customers. However, at Hemingways travel, we countered this challenge by offering travel agency services such as assisting customers in picking destinations, transportation, lodging, booking reservations and informing travellers of passport and visa requirements.
David Kamau is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Hemingways Travel. The company was originally known as Express Travel Group before rebranding to Hemingways Travel this year. David studied international business administration for his undergraduate degree at United States International University (USIU) Africa. He also holds a Master of Business Administration(MBA) in strategic management from the same institution.
What attracted you to sales and marketing?
I love engaging with people so from an early age, I knew I wanted to be in a career where I have a chance to interact and work with different people. I figured that sales and marketing, which involves a lot of interaction with customers, would be my best bet. I branched into marketing in my undergraduate studies, but my parents convinced me to specialise in finance, which is what I pursued for my undergraduate. But after graduation, I deliberately applied only for marketing jobs, and have since built my career around that field.
What does your role entail?
As the sales and marketing manager, I am responsible for growing the company’s revenue and retaining clients. I am required to make new client acquisitions regularly, develop and implement policies and practices to engage and retain our clients, promote market intelligence in the company and develop value propositions for our customers. Marketing intelligence is data that can be used to influence and buttress the marketing efforts of a company.
How important is your role?
Sales and marketing is at the heart of any company. The role involves a lot of direct face-to-face interactions with customers. Therefore, it is crucial for me to make customers feel free and open to share any concerns they might have. The role assures customers of support, makes them know that their concerns are being addressed, and that they are being well looked after. The sales and marketing manager also facilitates negotiations on behalf of customers, and with vendors such as airlines and hotels.
How does a typical day at work look like for you?
I start by checking my calendar early in the morning to confirm my meetings for the day. Once I am done, I peruse the day’s newspapers to keep abreast of potential business opportunities and what our customers are up to. I then run through my emails, attend any scheduled meetings and prepare for future meetings. If I am meeting an existing client, I prepare the information necessary for our discussion. I end my work day by preparing presentations for future meetings, or finalising on bids and request for proposals and tenders. My last order of business is handling any pending contract.
If you were to hire someone to work with you, what qualities would you look for?
For me, the ideal candidate for a job in sales and marketing should be a go-getter with a winning attitude. They should also be articulate, eloquent, confident, calm, analytical and good at problem solving. Finally, as sales and marketing is results oriented, I would look for a well organised candidate.
A majority of companies you’ve worked for are travel companies, what informs that career choice?
Despite sales and marketing being a requirement for many companies across different fields, I found the travel industry to be the best fit for me because it requires a lot of innovation and creativity, which is a key strength of mine. The travel industry is constantly changing and I get a lot of satisfaction when I come up with news solutions and products to cater for our customers. I also love travelling.
What challenges do you face working for a luxury travel management company?
The biggest challenge we face is direct competition from vendors such as airlines and hotels who sell directly to customers. There is stiff competition for customers. However, at Hemingways travel, we countered this challenge by offering travel agency services such as assisting customers in picking destinations, transportation, lodging, booking reservations and informing travellers of passport and visa requirements.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
I led the successful rebranding of Express Travel Group to Hemingways Travel and came up with a new online travel agency that allows clients to book and pay for their sojourns on our website. I have also signed up a number of large travel clients. In my role, I have also achieved a 99 per cent customer retention rate, something I attribute to great servicing, great customer relationship management and teamwork.
How would you advise someone interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
You need to be passionate, visionary and good at execution. You have to be passionate about your job and constantly know where you’re going and who you are targeting as your next client. You also need to be good with formulating and executing strategies. Sales and marketing is results oriented. I also urge people interested in sales and marketing to be patient as building a career in this field takes time. However, eventually the hard work bears fruits.
How do you unwind?
When I am not working, I enjoy playing golf, travelling, spending time with family and friends and watching Formula One.