Today on Pearls And Heels we have Ann Cheptumo. Ann Cheptumo is the CEO of Acheche Tours & Events Management. She is a lover of tourism, an ardent traveller and an ambassador of the African tourism industry. She is a member of Team Africa which advocates for visa-free travel for Africans within Africa. Anne is also a member of the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism, in which she plays the role of Assistant Chair, Kilifi County. Based on this passion, she started her own tours and travel company based in Mombasa and Malindi. In her free time, she loves to mentor youth from marginalized regions. As a certified tour operator, her company deals with ticketing, accommodation booking, safaris all over Africa, airport transfers, car hire, meet & greet, cruise ships booking, honeymoon vacations, team building activities, conference bookings, event planning and destination weddings.
- Describe your typical day
My days often come in very different shades. However, I must start with a prayer and my daily morning devotions at 4 am; I cannot handle my day without God. I then respond to emails. If I have an early arrival my morning will probably start at 3 am with a meet and greet at the airport. I spend my days meeting potential clients, quoting vacation packages, doing follow-ups and many other business management tasks.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Since I was 10 years, I wanted to be an air hostess so I could travel around the world. But, when I was in Form 2, I came across articles about travel agencies and tour operations, and I fell in love instantly! I remember telling my sister during the holidays that one day I will own a Tour company and I will call it Acheche. Truly thank God for those inspiring articles.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again what would you do differently?
Not much, because changing any part of my career would change my personal life in a very significant way. But, there are some things I would modify; I would have educated myself more so as to avoid all the mistakes I made in my early years especially in business management and entrepreneurship, even though through mistakes we learn too. I would also have started investments earlier.
- What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to succeed at your job?
Active Listening – Giving full attention to what your clients and people around you are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Geography – Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea and air. You have to have knowledge of places to visit around the world. This way you can give good suggestions and advice to your clients.
Attention to Detail and Patience – the job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing tasks on time to exceed the client’s expectations.
- As a professional how is it working in Mombasa? Is Mombasa open to what you do or what could be better?
Being a beautiful coastal town Mombasa is one of the best tourist destinations in Africa thus the perfect place to work as a tour operator. It is open to what I do. I would love it if the market would be more open to change and considerate of costing to the local tourist.
- What motivates you?
Whenever I go for a charity drive and I am able to contribute significantly to the less fortunate and encourage or inspire someone else, I am motivated to use my opportunity, and talent and put more effort into my work so as to leave a legacy and be able to help more.
- How do you define success?
Success is doing what you love. If you do it right, at the right time and accept to pick yourself up every time you fall, only then will you become more successful.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Many people have inspired me I cannot list all of them here, but these two women deserve a special mention; Jacinta Nzioka of Kenya Tourism Board and Carmen Nabingira of East Africa Tourism Platform. These ladies push me to do better each day. I admire their spirit and passion for Kenya and East African tourism.
- What is your favourite aspect of your job?
It has to be the travelling bit. I have been to all the East African Countries, including Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Botswana, and Namibia. Compared to my travels to countries on other continents like Dubai and Italy, Africa is amazingly beautiful.
- What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Vision – All of us have a vision. Each journey of success starts with a dream.
Action – Acting on our vision and dreams. Do something and you will have a result.
Passion – We have to love what we do. The Key is marching your vision with what you love.
Discipline – You have to be disciplined to stay at the course of your vision.
Determination – You have to be strong-willed for your vision to come to pass.
Support – For us to grow we need others. In the journey of success, you will need other people to walk with you, be it for advice, mentorship, jeers, cheers and so on.
- What advice would you give somebody just starting out in your line of work?
Being a tour operator comes with a lot, both good and bad. My advice to those aspiring to join the tour operating industry is, to be patient, accept to fail not once but many times and never ever give up. This way you will become better if not the best. Accept advice and criticism and never forget you will have to work with many people to succeed.
- What makes you happy?
A great Safari (I am always thrilled to spot a Cheetah), music, and a successful charity drive.
I also get very happy whenever my clients give positive feedback.
- What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love travelling. I also love to read a lot, I always have a book by my side.
- Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
I envision myself having visited all African countries and acquiring my own self-contained camper (like a trailer house) so I can travel around the world.
If you would like to interact with Anne you can find her on Twitter at @achechetours. You can find her on Facebook – Nashipae Annett and achechetours. Check out their site here. You can also find them on Instagram.
Pearls And Heels: Matrid Wanja Nyagah