Sponsor of the REMOTE Immersion Cafayate 2022, the Kusini Collection bets on a hand-picked portfolio of exclusive DMCs and lodges in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
A collection that brings together some of the best tour operators and lodges in the Southern Hemisphere, managed by experienced professionals, deeply knowledgeable about the North American adventure and luxury travel industry. Kusini is a US-based travel marketing firm that represents Destination Management Companies (DMCS), tour operators and lodges that share solid characteristics: they are small businesses, closely operated by the owners, and they contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in their destinations.
The profile and values of the Kusini Collection create a close bond with REMOTE Latin America. This is the second time that Kusini is one of the sponsors of our REMOTE Immersion and we’re honored to have them as partners again for our 2022 event.
Kusini was founded in 2010 with an initial focus on African DMCs/Tour Operators, but soon expanded the Collection to include companies of a similar mold in Latin America. Led by former trekking guide and marketing specialist Tad Bradley, the Kusini team also includes Marketing Director Gretchen Healey and Business Development Director Marc Sison.
We invited Tad to share a bit more about his work, the perspectives for the North American market, and his expectations for REMOTE Cafayate 2022.
REMOTE LA: How does REMOTE fit into Kusini’s work strategy? What outcomes do you expect of your participation?
TAD: Kusini is a collection of travel companies, but for us, it’s really all about the people – our owners, their teams and their collective personalities. We want our North American trade partners to get to know our owners personally and then develop long term relationships with their teams, from consulting and operations to the guides and even those who send the invoices! To establish and develop these kinds of trusted, long term relationships means we need opportunities to really connect, as people. And REMOTE is, hands down, the best travel trade show for making impactful connections with new and existing partners. The format of morning meetings and afternoon experiences, plus the venue being a beautiful, remote village not a big conference center, really lends itself to creating opportunities for connection. 2019 was amazing, and we fully expect 2022 in Cafayate to lead to all kinds of new connections while strengthening many existing relationships.
REMOTE LA: Why invest in small-scale luxury tourism in Latin America? What potential do you see in these destinations?
TAD: Our partner companies all have a focus on community-based tourism and making real, meaningful connections between travelers and local people and communities. As Jasci from Tropic likes to say, the goal should be to use tourism as a tool for conservation, both of local cultures and traditions as well as the natural world. And it’s these types of locally based experiences that can push a trip from being incredible to life altering. Partnering with and empowering the people who have lived on these lands for centuries if not millennia, and letting them tell their stories and share their experiences and traditions, in my opinion, there’s nothing more important and impactful for tourism as a whole and for people, both travelers and locals, than that. As an industry, we should be highlighting community-based tourism in all that we do. That’s the only way forward for a sustainable future for tourism.
REMOTE LA: What do you believe the North American travel market is looking for at this post-pandemic moment?
TAD: Wouldn’t we all like to know that?! That’s the big question and there was a lot of time spent during the pandemic speculating on what the post-pandemic future of tourism would hold. I think there’s still no simple answer for that because despite all the calls during the pandemic for changing the way we do business as an industry, it’s much easier and more comfortable to fall back on the ways we’ve always done things. Look at the explosion in demand for mass market tourism in Europe this past summer and the tens of thousands (millions?) of people who have boarded massive cruise ships in the last year. Not to be repetitive, but I think the thing that many people really crave now is connection, real world connection – reconnecting with self; connection with indigenous communities; connection with the natural world; connection with their own friends and family after two years of isolation. We were stripped of so many connections during the pandemic (though we made lots of digital ones!) and well planned travel should be all about making purposeful connections.
Kusini means ‘South’ in KiSwahili, a Bantu language widely spoken from Kenya to Mozambique, and represents the company’s connection to the global south in Africa and Latin America. Kusini’s tailored work involves diverse marketing tools and strategies with the aim of creating and maintaining clients’ brand recognition in the North American marketplace and in the travel trade, connecting Latin American and African travel companies with North American travel agents and outfitters. The work includes media management; digital content and communications; website exposure on www.kusinicollection.com; one-on-one sales calls throughout North America, group presentations, webinars, agent training sessions, distribution of marketing materials, trade show attendance; FAM trip coordination, consult on the development of marketing materials, business plans, products and itineraries.
The hand-picked portfolio of clients in Latin America currently includes Tropic (DMC/tour operator in Ecuador and Peru), Maya Trails – (DMC/tour operator in Guatemala and Belize), Costa Rica Sun Tours (DMC/tour operator) and Todos Santos Eco Adventures (tour operator, boutique hotels and luxury tented camps). The Kusini website offers diverse open resources about these companies and their destinations, bringing together videos, webinars, itineraries, image galleries, brochures, blog content and more. It’s worth the visit!
REMOTERS will have the opportunity to talk to Tad and learn more about the Kusini Collection and its members at the Kusini Lounge during REMOTE Cafayate, October 17-20, 2022. Tropic, Maya Trails, Costa Rica Sun Tours, and Todos Santos Eco Adventures are also REMOTE Exhibitors, which REMOTE Travel Designers can meet with, and make connections (ha!) during the show.