Having qualified in commercial business marketing and accountancy, Moira van der Merwe spent the early part of her career working in the construction industry, focusing on marketing and management. Her first taste of hospitality came when she managed a restaurant in South Africa for a number of years, before a move to Namibia saw van der Merwe transition into the property sector. It was here that she met her husband, which set her on a path to entering the travel industry.
Click.: What were the key moments in your career that defined your position now?
van der Merwe: In 2013, I decided to move back to Namibia and studied to become an estate agent. This was a nice change and I could put all my expertise and knowledge into practice. I loved it as it involved working with client needs and making their dreams come true. During this period I met my husband. He made my lifelong dream of traveling come to life as we both love the outdoors and seeing new places. We travelled Namibia and made a lot of memories. We did everything from rough camping to white-towels-and-linen and I became fascinated with what the industry had to offer. We registered our tour company, Redsky Eco-Adventures, and had everything in place to start this new chapter in our lives doing what we both are so passionate about.
While visiting our kids in South Africa in 2017, we renovated our house in Agulhas and came to the conclusion that our house is the perfect place for a self-catering business. For once I could put all my previous experience into practice and offer tourists from all over the world a home away from home. Everything in my life led me to this moment where it just all came together. We took our knowledge of travelling, our love of people and the service industry, and decided to open our self-catering business called Redsky Self-Catering.
Click.: What have been your major successes?
van der Merwe: We wanted to offer affordable accommodation to guests and we also wanted them to have a good time, enjoy themselves and relax. I think we have accomplished our dream of giving guests a memorable holiday away from home, in a friendly and safe environment.
Click.: What have been the challenges (and how did you learn from them)?
van der Merwe: Our biggest challenge was finding the best platforms to advertise on to get the best exposure globally. Once I partnered with Booking.com, it was a smooth ride.
Click.: What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
van der Merwe: In the beginning, we were new to the industry - and the area - and it was a challenge to generate more business in the winter months. Now, we know how to plan better and how to offer specials and packages during the low season.
Click.: What has been the most surprising moment of your career?
van der Merwe: When we received our Guest Review Award with a 9.8 score after being in the industry for such a short time. It was a very proud moment for us.
Click.: Did you have anyone that mentored or inspired you?
van der Merwe: We had no mentors, only our own experiences and our will to serve to the best of our ability. We do everything - cleaning, maintenance and decorating - ourselves. I have always had a huge passion and a keen interest in art and I do all my decorating and personal touches myself; that is what makes our place special and memorable. I am a huge supporter of F.A.D - fanatic attention to detail.
Click.: What one piece of advice would you have for someone starting out in the travel industry?
van der Merwe: If you do not have a passion for people and the hospitality industry, this is not for you. You must love people and be able to cater to their needs as far as humanly possible. I am a firm believer in honesty and integrity in my communication with my customers. Love what you do and do it with passion.
- Moira van der Merwe owns two self-catering properties in South Africa, one in Agulhas and the other in Struisbaai
- She started her career in the marketing, with other roles in hospitality and real-estate, before entering the travel industry in 2017
- The property in Agulhas won a 2018 Guest Review Award with an impressive score of 9.8