Luxury African travel company Mahlatini has newly embraced social media in an effort to connect with customers and lead the way for other tour operators.

The travel and leisure industry has come under fire recently by concerned industry insiders who fear that the sector as a whole has been left in the dark by the prevailing impetus of online social resources such as Facebook, Twitter and other networking tools.
Meaning ‘lover of the African bush’ in Zulu, Mahlatini (http://www.mahlatini.com) has been an online presence since its website’s inception in 2003. Specialists in African safari and beach holidays, the company has enjoyed consistent gains in its business year on year and a considerable expansion of its travel portfolio which now encompasses much of Southern Africa as well as the Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives.

One factor that has made a growing contribution towards this impressive consolidation is Mahlatini’s fundamental appreciation and understanding of social media. Via this gateway the organisation maintains a direct link to its client base, establishing relationships and a discernable persona in a market place already saturated with bullish hard sell strategies and anonymous industrial facades.

Simply being active is however not good enough; many businesses who have purportedly embraced the social media platform have been criticised for their rather misguided misapplication of such features. Using social media for blanket marketing campaigns to usher bewildered customers towards the point of sale is a measure that only serves to further alienate the customer from a business and it is here where Mahlatini differs from its competitors.

The organisation appears determined to utilise social media to its full effect and not simply as an auxiliary retail outlet. With a genuine sense of passion Mahlatini employs its online networks to discuss issues that they and their customers are truly concerned about. From everyday insights such as wildlife documentaries on television that may interest fellow safari enthusiasts to the latest news on their sponsorship of Ron the South African rhino; their online community becomes a portal for discursive interaction and a breeding ground for fervent debate.

With a regularly updated onsite blog, an ever expanding band of customers are kept up to date on everything from travel advice to safari news. The company also maintains its own Facebook and Twitter accounts http://www.twitter.com/mahlatini and http://www.facebook.com/mahlatini ; both of which enjoy a burgeoning network of support. For further information, visit the company’s website, http://www.mahlatini.com, or visit their blog at http://www.mahlatini.com/news.

Published on: 9:20AM on 22nd February 2011