Sisters doing it for them selves

If you have been to networking sessions, then you are familiar with the term ‘Here’s My Card’. Sisters Kerry and Clare Collins took the phrase to new heights when they launched Here’s My Card, a boutique travel consultancy company. By Denise Mhlanga

The company offers tailor-made travel experiences to Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands with a concierge twist. Co-owners and managing directors, the sisters said they have always wanted to go into business together. Having both reached managerial level in their respective industries, the timing was right to try something new.

In May 2008, they launched the company in London just before the world economic recession. Born in South Africa, they spent 21 years living and working in London. Despite travellers cutting budgets due to the tight global economy, the company grew at a rapid rate. They soon became the “Girls to know” in bespoke travel to Southern Africa, thanks to their quirky name which Clare chose.

The company has an office in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town and it also operates out of London and Amsterdam.

“Travel is increasingly moving towards an internet based and automated service. We have gone against this, offering absolute customer focus ensuring that clients achieve the ultimate experience when visiting Southern Africa,” said the sisters.

Their biggest market is the honeymoon sector which makes up about 60 percent of the total business with families and couples following closely behind. Clients span the globe and the two have worked with holiday seekers from London, Hong Kong, honeymooners from Toronto and even a wedding party from Sydney.

The sisters said that they have sent many Capetonians to the Eastern Cape bush lodges and recommend quaint areas close to home such as the Cederberg, Paternoster and Roberston.

“South Africans are blessed with incredible options literally on their doorstep.”

They mention idyllic honeymoon hideaways in Mozambique, Seychelles, Zambia, Malawi, Mauritius and Madikwe.

“As we are a made-to-measure travel business, each client is completely unique and has their own travel criteria to meet.”

The success of Here’s My Card is the combined hard work of Kerry and Clare who are inspired by people they have met in life and admiration for women in business. “We also admire and take inspiration from the arts, in particular architecture and interior design, photography, music and fashion.”

When asked what they would be doing were it not for this business, the sisters said they would be working together as they have a perfect working equilibrium being such close sisters. They could be in property development as they are both passionate about architecture and fine hotels.

Kerry has 10 years experience in public relations having worked with some of London’s leading brands from boutique hotels, designer shoe and fashion labels to bespoke property developers.

She has travelled extensively as part of her job which has enabled her to experience some of the sublime properties in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.  She loves the Sabi Sands and has fallen in love with Londolozi and Granite Lodge, two of the 14 camps she visited in less than two weeks last year. Other favourite travel places are Antigua in the Caribbean and the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Of her travels she said spending 10 days on a catamaran sailing down the Grenadines with friends, swimming with dolphins has been her best experience. The worst was being five feet away from a rhino on a stubborn horse who refused to back up. She also fainted in the lobby of a five-star hotel in Johannesburg during a site inspection.

Kerry loves shoes and when she is not working, she plays golf, samples new and funky restaurants and watches ballet.

After university, Clare pursued a career in marketing for eight years in the architectural industry. She worked for leading international players in both design and real estate markets.

In all her years of travel, Clare loved spending three weeks in Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore because of its diversity, service and amazing food. Other locations she has travelled to include San Francisco and Santa Barbara in the US as they remind her of Cape Town.  Her best travel experience is arriving at one of SA’s luxurious safari lodges after a very long dusty day to be greeted with a glass of champagne and a hot bubble bath.

The worst experience for her was getting lost in the souk in Morocco. She cannot live without the internet, it is a minefield of information she said. She relaxes with cooking, cleaning and washing.

Both sisters are passionate about giving back to the community and have aligned themselves with several charities.

“With a positive attitude and strong determination, we have grown tremendously and are pleased with our success so far.”

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Check out this dynamic duo www.heresmycard.uk.com

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