Far from African shores, Uyaphi.com was present at the Washington DC Travel & Adventure Show in March. This was the first time Uyaphi.com physically exhibited at a retail show and we were the only agent from Africa present. The show took place over a weekend and was attended by over 17000 people. The demographic was quite interesting as Washington is a city filled with high level government employees or people doing business with government and as such, the level of interest in Africa or knowledge of Africa was quite high.

Our US based consultant Lindsay Martin braved the traffic all the way from Baltimore and so we were two to man the stand which was absolutely necessary. If anyone reading this blog has ever worked in a retail or trade show, they will understand what I am writing about. You are physically exhausted by (in our case) speaking with several hundred people in a noise packed hall over two days.

Sandwiched between the Zambian Tourism and the SAA Vacations stands, Lindsay and I discussed everything from gorilla trekking to chilling out on the beach in Zanzibar. I could see that there was an economic recovery underway as people were interested in spending and travelling widely. My thanks go out to Samara Private Game Reserve, Prince’s Grant Coastal Resort, Nottens Bush Camp and Tongabezi Lodge for sponsoring our portable banners. They looked very impressive, enhanced the aesthetic  of our stand and created interest around these beautiful venues.

We were also very pleased to have several old and valued clients visit us on the stand. It is always a pleasure to see Debbi and Bill Kent.

Two days hard work was followed by two days R & R. I had a major shopping list from my daughters which required a visit to an out of town factory retail mall ( and they are HUGE.) Seeing the sights in DC, the Smithsonian as well as walking the streets of Georgetown in full cherry blossom bloom was well worthwhile. You really need  a week to appreciate the Smithsonian but that is for another year. I also visited Arlington National cemetery just over the Potomac. It felt less like a cemetery and more of a celebration of America’s achievements which are , of course, considerable.

We flew back from Dulles Airport flying direct to Cape Town (via Dakar.) Once we had survived the draconian security checks of the airport, we were pleasantly surprised to be upgraded on the flight. My thanks go out to  Deborah Droke at SAA.

All in all, a very useful and insightful marketing trip. Will we be back? You betcha!

Uyaphi in Washington DC by: Nicolas Edwards.

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