Behind the scenes at Garonga: Meet the reservations team

Find out more about the fun ladies behind the phone calls and emails

Studies show that first impressions are made within the first 17 seconds of meeting someone new and therefore selecting a team to handle reservations and guest enquiries is one of Garonga’s top priorities. They are the voice of the organisation which can make or break a booking.

Effective communication skills are the key to success in all areas of life and lack of this in a professional setting can lead to an error, misunderstanding, frustration and (in the case of a lodge), a dissatisfied potential guest that walks away and tells on average 9-15 other people about their experience.

But it’s not all serious. Yes, the reservations team must be extremely professional, informative, courteous and helpful but they also have to be fun people. They must be “people’s people” that form a friendly, informal connection with guests from the outset.

Garonga is blessed to have those qualities in the persons of Randee, Claire and Jen.

Randee September:

Randee at Garonga Safari Camp
Randee at Garonga Safari Camp

Randee has been consulting through her company ‘Pro-Active Reservations’ for over two years now. She has visited Garonga many times and knows the camp very well. She manages all enquiries from the agencies we work with.

Claire Long & Jennifer Harmse:

It is only recently that Bernie (owner of Garonga) has also chosen to have a separate department for direct bookings. This decision was made to ensure that more time can be spent dealing with each guest enquiry in a more personal manner, offering a far better user experience than if it was all dealt with by one department.

Claire is working with WildWeb which develops and manages the website and digital marketing. She comes from a tour operator background and so her knowledge and experience in this field is top notch.

Claire reservations Garonga
Claire Long

For Jennifer, this is her first full-time job after studying Travel & Tourism for 1 year prior to it.

Jennifer Harmse at Garonga
Jennifer Harmse

Garonga owner Bernie says, “I have tried managing reservations ‘in house’ before and although it is great to have all the information at your fingertips, it does create problems when staff members go on leave or depart. It is much more comforting to know that if a person moves on, is sick, or goes on holiday then the position is still covered by a professional at WildWeb.”

From feedback we have received we know that this set up is working and that Randee, Claire and Jen are doing a wonderful job. The system runs smoothly, and communication is efficient.

Thank you to the reservations team for helping to create and maintain that ideal first impression which has resulted in many a satisfied guest here at Garonga.

Behind the scenes at Garonga: Meet the Waiters

Meet the waiters at Garonga and hear about how they were ‘Under the Influence’ in the name of good service…

If you have ever had a wonderful meal and ambiance spoiled by an apathetic waiter then you will know what a difference a ‘service with a smile’ really makes to your dining experience. Waiters are a huge asset to any lodge and a vital ingredient in the customer service pie; they serve, they converse and they strike a relationship with the guests. But there is also a distinct difference between genuine or fake service which is easily noticed by diners. Here at Garonga the smile is real. We are very proud that our waiting staff simply seem to ooze courtesy, grace, interest and all round happiness.

The waiting role is varied and includes not only serving meals but also packing and unpacking of cooler boxes for safaris, constant cleaning and checking of items for meals as well as an in-depth knowledge of what is being served, pairing of wines, setting up of tables and stock taking.

Meet our happy chappy team:

Our waiting team on training in Cape Town
Our waiting team on training in Cape Town

Herfric
Herfric has been here since before Garonga opened as he started assisting on the farm once Bernie (owner) purchased the land. He has a heart of gold and will do anything for you. He oversees the department, and is also Head Butler at Little Garonga. When the Manager (Robert) is away on leave then Herfric stands in as Manager.

Aldrin
Aldrin has been at Garonga just over 4 years. He is extremely competent and quietly dedicated to his work. However he also has a comical streak and every now and again will perform a dance for the Guests. Aldrin is in charge of the waiters at the Safari Camp.

Courage
Courage has been at Garonga just over three years. He started at Little Garonga in the security department, then he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. When an opening became available he was then employed permanently at Safari Camp. Courage is from Zimbabwe, he is very friendly and helpful and very amusing. He won Garonga’s ‘waiter prize’ in 2017 for the ‘most special wines sold’.

Bongani
Bongani has been employed at Garonga for just over two years. He is ‘the mischievous one’. He is extremely good with guests and has that knack of remembering names very easily.

Eric
Eric has been at Garonga for over a year. He started off in the security department at Little Garonga, and then an opening became available and he became a casual waiter at Little Garonga. Due to the occupancy success at Little Garonga, Eric now has a permanent position as a waiter there under Herfric. He has settled in very well and taken on the training extremely fast and competently.

Waiters ‘Under The Influence’
This programme was started in 2017 giving waiters the opportunity to excel in their sales skills. The prize was 5 days training with our main wine supplier in Cape Town called ‘Under the Influence’.

The competition endedon 28th February 2018 (just before our annual three week close down). Courage, as mentioned above, won the competition, however as a surprise Bernie (owner of Garonga) decided to send all of the waiters to do the training course. None of them had ever flown in a plane before, let alone been to the ‘Mother City’, Cape Town.

Garonga Safari Camp Waiting Staff
Our waiting team in Cape Town experiencing wine pairing with their meal

During the course they visited many wine farms, saw the whole process in action, had lectures and lessons, sat down for wine lunches (that was the toughest part of course!) and in the end completed a test which they all passed. They also saw a bit of Cape Town too. Not only was it meant to educate them even further on wines and therefore be able to sell them better on return, but was also meant to be a fun, engaging, motivating and bonding experience.  Big thanks to ‘Under The Influence’ for providing this great week of wine education!

Our team of waiters wait eagerly (with their big genuine grins) to welcome and serve you.