Delivering world-class services to international and local tourists is what has helped to put Tsheola Dinare Transport and Tours on the map.
GOING further than their usual tasks, the Johannesburg Tourism Company (JTC) has stepped in to help young up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the tourism sector. One such individual is Jojo Tsheola of Tsheola Dinare Transport and Tours.
Jojo Tsheola, owner of Tsheola Dirare Transport and Tours Jojo Tsheola, owner of Tsheola Dirare Transport and ToursThe JTC’s visitor services bureau team is responsible for small, medium and micro enterprise development in the sector. The team first encountered Tsheola at the TD Jakes MegaFest in 2008, where he was responsible for the VIP transport.
Impressed with his drive, determination, positive outlook – and, above all – exemplary professionalism, they worked to facilitate business linkages and supplier opportunities for him. Tsheola is 31 and hails from Lephalala in Limpopo. Just before starting high school, however, he and his family moved to Johannesburg. His story is one of hard work and determination.
After finishing matric in 1996, Tsheola, unable to further his education, struggled to find work. After three years of fruitless searching, he was employed as a cleaner for the Shongololo Express Train. Within two years he was promoted and given the opportunity to drive a tour vehicle alongside a professional tour guide.
Fascinated by all he was learning, he took it upon himself to attain his accreditation as a professional tour guide.
“I dearly loved Shongololo Express, but sadly they decided not to renew my contract for 2005. It was a heart-breaking experience for me because I wasn’t given a specific reason for this decision. There and then I decided that I would never be dismissed again,” says Tsheola.
Down and out, Tsheola was contacted by one of the tourists he had met while working for Shongololo Express. Saddened to hear that his favourite driver had been let go, he hired a car and employed Tsheola as a driver for the duration of his visit.
“I realised that if I could drive one person around and get paid for it, I could drive many.”
The termination of his contract and this realisation inspired Tsheola to start a company of his own, in 2007. With no money and his car about to be repossessed, his mother stepped in to help her son, helping him pay the instalments on the car and rent.
“For a few months I lived off nothing but bread and water. All the extra money I had I would save and use for airtime. In this business customers want to hear back from you promptly and I always made sure that was possible.”
Breaking into the business was no easy task. “People prefer to use companies that are established and well known. What I did was target different markets from that of general travel agents and tour operators.”
Tsheola saw the gap in the market and focused on providing services for the corporate world.
He partnered with a friend who owned a minibus with the necessary documents to transport the public. He and his partner would split the profits down the middle and once business picked up cars were hired to transport passengers.
Financing proved another stumbling block. “Initially banks were not willing to give me a loan so instead I made sure that I saved as much money as I could.” It was six months before he was granted a loan and bought his first Quantum minibus.
“Once I had my own car, doors began to open,” he says.
Tsheola made sure that he built up good relationships with the JTC. “The JTC feeds those of us in the industry with information. I made sure I established a good relationship with the organisation and not just the people who worked there, because people come and go.”
It was this relationship with the JTC that led to the formation of the Gauteng Tour Operators Association (GATOA); Tsheola serves on the executive board as treasurer. After being encouraged by the JTC, at the 2007 Tourism Indaba in Durban, he and other members in the industry worked together to form the association representing tour operators in Gauteng.
His company only three years old, Tsheola now employs 19 people on a full time basis. He has recently bought two coaches which add to his fleet of microbuses and sedans.
He describes himself as a self-driven, results-oriented person with a positive outlook and a clear business focus on profitability. This is evident when one looks at the awards he has racked up in the past few years.
In 2009, he won the Gauteng Emerging Tourism Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As winner of the regional competition he was pitted against South Africa’s best in the tourism industry, and was named first runner up behind the owner of a wine estate in Stellenbosch.
More recently, Tsheola Dinare was named as a finalist at the Africa Growth Institute 2010 SMME awards.
Tsheola has no plans of slowing down, hoping to expand the business into his home province of Limpopo within the next two years. He is passionate about creating sustainable employment in the tourism sector and plans to employ only people from the local community.
“Our aim is to offer the industry a real choice when it comes to tours and corporate shuttles, along with world-class services in private transport hire. We offer various customised travel packages designed to give clients choice and superior service.”
Tsheola’s passion to provide world-class service to his clients has been praised by locals and foreigners.
The youth and adults from the United Methodist Church in the USA describes the services they received as “outstanding”, saying: “Each and every one of the drivers and organisers was extremely competent, graciously friendly, and completely trustworthy … Also impressive were the clear efforts to improve their already outstanding service.”
Venter Tours of Germany says: “As an international tour operator it is important to have business partners we can rely on. Jojo is certainly one of them. We can recommend his services without any hesitation.”
Services offered by Tsheola Dinare Tours and Transport include corporate travel, luxury coaches, a shuttle service and private VIP travel services. The company employs trained tourist guides and drivers who not only understand their market, but are completely flexible and responsive to their customers’ needs.
For more information about Tsheola Dinare Tours and Transport, phone 011 943 3632 or check out the company’s website.
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