This Black-owned Tour Operator Business Grew its Fleet to 60 Vehicles

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Jojo Tsheola of Johannesburg started his tour operating business in 2007 by transporting clients in a friend’s vehicle. In 2008, Tsheola got his first vehicle financed.

Tsheola is now the owner of 60 vehicles that transports tourists in three different cities: Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Their vehicles vary from the latest Corollas, Mercedes Benz C Class, Vitos, Sprinters and Quantums.

Jojo Tsheola

According to Tsheola, the main objective of his company Tsheola Dinare Tours and Transport is to convert a business traveller into a tourist. “From half day tours in the townships, city tours to safari. Our clients choose their own tours.”

The business tourism market

Tsheola lost his job in 2005 which led to him starting his company. “My idea (then) was to do airport and hotel transfers and to take both international and local executives to-and-from meetings,” he told the online magazine Entrepreneur in October 2011.

Chatting to his clients made him aware of the free time on they had in between work commitments.

He got his big break when he managed to establish partnerships and collaborations with big name companies with national and international footprints. He has worked with the Gauteng Tourism Authority and Johannesburg Tourism Company.

In 2009, Tsheola won the Gauteng Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year and was a runner-up in the national competition. His company was also listed as a finalist at the Africa Growth Institute 2010 SMME awards.

These accolades helped Tsheola grow his staff numbers. He told the Breaking Travel News in May 2011 that his employees contribute to the growth of the company.

Be passionate about what you do. Be customer focused and always look for opportunities in the market

Building connections

When Tsheola started his business, he mainly marketed his services at conferences such as the Africa’s travel trade show, INDABA and Meetings Africa.

Before the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa, he went to all the preparation meetings for this big event. This is how he made connections and it led to him getting a big contract for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Currently, Tsheola said, marketing at trade shows is not the only channel to get their name out there. “We are active on social media and we also have an extensive Public Relations plan.”

His advice to entrepreneurs who want to market themselves at conferences is: “They must go in there with one objective, which is to market and not expect immediate monetary results.

“They need to prepare the products and make sure that their offering is unique and be able to sell it to the buyers.”

Market opportunities

Tsheola said that they partner with other suppliers in order to deliver on required services. “We also outsource where needed, especially on coaches.”

According to Tsheola, they have a full time staff of 120 across the country. “For now, we are growing our domestic tourism component, which also attracts international business travellers.

“When all has reached a stable level, we will tap into the international market, starting by our neighbouring countries like Lesotho, Mozambique and Botswana.”

Tsheola said his recipe for success in the tourism industry is his love for working as a tour operator. “Be passionate about what you do. Be customer focused and always look for opportunities in the market.”

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Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan is a writer with nine years' experience in the media industry. She enjoys blogging and taking part in Twitter chats. You can find her on Twitter @melissa_nel.

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