Daniella Sachs, is The Chief Pixie Dust Creator and co-founder of Know Your Tourist (KYT), a tourism design and innovation agency that is reimagining, reinventing, reconfiguring, redefining, and redesigning destinations as we know them. One Example of many innovation projects include reimagining Africa via a mapping and profiling of tourism across the entire continent for the African Union.
A disruptive innovator, Daniella brings to the table a multidisciplinary background in architecture, urban, town and regional planning (specialised in sustainable tourism-led economic development and participatory planning), a dual Masters in Business Administration in Doing Business in Africa, and the Business of Biodiversity.
Her holistic approach is further empowered by her experience as a travel and tech entrepreneur, product developer, creative problem-solver, brand developer, thought leader and visual storyteller. Daniella has over 11 years of practical on-the ground experience working to grow tourism at destination, regional, and local level with private sector, entrepreneurs, communities, destination marketing/management organisations, government, development agencies, conservation bodies and NGOs- across Europe, Africa, Indonesia, Caribbean and South Pacific.
Daniella is a prolific writer on tourism, Africa and entrepreneurship. She is also the co-host of “Conversations in Tourism” a fresh new, disruptive podcast that puts thought-leaders, industry professionals, academics, and futurists on the spot to explore the diversity of issues that are impacting and informing the evolution of travel and tourism.
How would you say your upbringing influenced your love for tourism?
I was born in the beating, dusty heart of Johannesburg amid the last breaths of Apartheid. My mother will tell you that I was born with itchy feet and a lust for adventure. And there is little doubt, that being surrounded by the sheer diversity of cultures and wonders of South Africa, only served to fuel my wanderlust. The complex aftermath of Apartheid also bred in me a deep desire to design for impact. It is this passion that led me to specialise as an architect in tourism development, and subsequently to become a tourism entrepreneur.
What does it mean to be African?
What strikes me about being a melanoma-challenged African, is that all too often I find myself having to defend my ‘Africanness .’ I often wonder why it is that we are still ruled by this colonial colour categorisation which breeds so much of the divisiveness that is keeping Africa small. Especially, when our kaleidoscopic continent is comprised of countless colours, cultures, dialects, traditions, and origin stories. I believe that the key to unlocking the power of Africa lies in embracing this diversity. Which why “Africanness” for me is as much about being proud of being different, as it is about being united in a passion to drive our continent forwards.
launched Know Your Tourist (a tourism design and innovation agency) in order to help these businesses identify all the opportunities that they are missing out on, that will help them thrive and not just survive during Covid.
How did Know Your Tourist (KYT) come about?
Know Your Tourist was born out of the Covid Crisis that has brought the tourism industry across Africa, and the world, to its knees. We felt we had to do something to help all the tourism businesses and entrepreneurs out there, who are struggling to survive right now. So, we launched Know Your Tourist (a tourism design and innovation agency) in order to help these businesses identify all the opportunities that they are missing out on, that will help them thrive and not just survive during Covid.
How has travel enhanced your Entrepreneurship edge?
I am sure many of you will agree that one of the best things about travel is not your trip going exactly according to plan. Rather, it is the sheer excitement and joy of the unexpected that we come home and rave about. This is the powerful lesson travel brings to entrepreneurship. It teaches us to be open to change, and to embrace the fear and overwhelm of uncertainty, because that is where the magic lies.
How can entrepreneurs get more involved in tourism?
There are many who would tell you that you would have to be absolutely crazy to be thinking about tourism when Covid has wrecked such havoc on the industry. I disagree completely. Covid has created so many new opportunities that entrepreneurs can take advantage of if they think about tourism differently. I encourage entrepreneurs to focus on creating experiences to entice, wow and delight the people around them who have been stuck in their own city, rather than focus on creating things for ‘other’ people (aka the missing international tourists).
What has been your greatest failure to date and what did you learn about yourself ?
I have jumped off so many cliffs and ‘failed’ dramatically so many times that I have lost track. And while every time I have ‘failed’ has smarted badly, the important lesson that I have learned is that the only time we fail is when we don’t try. Trying to do something and not achieving it is not failure and should not be something we fear and are embarrassed about. Because when we are, well then we stop experimenting, we stop trying new things, and we stop growing. That would be failure.
What opportunities from experience and observations has the pandemic presented to Entrepreneurs?
Covid has been a major reset button for an industry that has changed very little over the past 50 years. The pandemic has shown us that there is a deep need for innovation that extends beyond the creation of new booking platforms, which is where entrepreneurs have traditionally focused their attention. The loss of the international traveler has created a ripe environment for entrepreneurship to bloom. The time has never been better to create new businesses to service new markets in tourism.
What challenges are countries currently facing at present in tourism and how do you see this industry evolve?
Countries, especially across Africa, are suffering badly right now because they have been completely focused on developing and marketing tourism products to international markets who are no longer coming en-masse. This has created a huge void in an industry that has always overlooked the potential power of the local market. Covid is forcing the industry to evolve its focus and definition of who their tourist is, and how they attract and serve them. I believe that we are going to see tremendous tourism innovation coming out of the countries that start to look inward rather than outward for who their tourists are. As Know Your Tourist we are playing a key role in helping destinations and businesses understand who their tourist could be, what they want and how to reach them.
What has been your most compelling tourism experience?
My memory bank is filled with so many transformational tourism experiences that it is hard to pick just one. If I look over the most compelling experiences whether in Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Dominica, Kalimantan, Italy or even South Africa, they share several common characteristics. They are surprising and unexpected. They happen when the barrier between tourist and local comes down, and you deeply connect as people. They happen when all your five senses are delighted. And most importantly they happen when you step out of your own comfort zone to immerse yourself completely in a different place and culture.
What is your favourite travel destination?
I absolutely love places that are not on the typical tourist map. Some of my absolute favourite places This has to be one of the most difficult questions to answer to be honest. The places that I have loved the most have been places that are
How do you envision Tourism in 5 years time?
I am incredibly bullish in saying that I see the future of tourism as being African. And I am not referring here to the continent attracting more tourists. I am referring to African travelers themselves. This overlooked market is set to burgeon dramatically to become one of the most important source markets globally for tourism. The big question facing countries and businesses in Africa is whether this money will be spent in Africa or elsewhere. For the unfortunate reality is that unless the industry changes its tune and starts to prioritise the African market, it will miss out on being able to tap into a market that has the potential to not only drive recovery but also exponential growth.