09 March 2020

2nd USA / Canada Marketing Trip 2020

I exhibited at the Edmonton Boat and Sportsmen's Show in 2019 and returned home with mixed feelings. The oil price certainly didn't help to install confidence in a Canadian Province with so many folks making a living out of the oil business but within weeks after my return the dividends started showing with many of those whom I had met in Edmonton contacting me and booking their hunts.

So I decided to return to Edmonton in 2020. If only we knew what the next two weeks had in store for us...

By the time we'd made the decision to exhibit at the show the COVID-19 virus had already gotten a foothold in China and had started spreading throughout the rest of the world. Rumors were that several countries would be implementing measures to prevent the spread of the outbreak but there were no travel restrictions between South Africa and Canada or the USA so we got onto Delta 201 on March 9th and arrived in Orlando the following afternoon. The next day we flew to Edmonton where we met up with our friends - Daryl and Collene Payne - who were to help us out in our booth.

12 March 2020

Edmonton Boat and Sportsmen's Show

There's not usually a lot of traffic on the first day of any show - especially if such a day is a weekday. At 12pm our booth was set up and we eagerly awaited an increase in traffic so we could start telling people about what we have to offer with our Safaris in Africa.

Traffic did start picking up as the day progressed but then we heard that another trade show in Toronto was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and rumors started doing the rounds that our show might also be cancelled.

At 5pm, only five hours into the show the announcement came over the public address system:

"In light of the direction announced this afternoon from Alberta Health Services and subsequently from the Edmonton Expo Centre (please see attached statement), we are immediately closing the Edmonton Boat & Sportsmen’s Show in compliance with the province’s direction to help reduce possible risk regarding the spread of Covid -19.

In our 43 year history, this is the first time we have had to suspend operations and this underscores the importance of the measures being undertaken by Alberta Health Services.

As exhibitors we know you have many questions and we ask for your patience while we work through this unprecedented situation. Please rest assured we will work as quickly as possible to assess the outcomes with our partners and suppliers and will honour our commitments to you in the fairest manner possible.

Move out will commence immediately, but you will also have time to make a plan to move forward, and we have all day tomorrow for move out as well. We will send more info as soon as we are able."

Whilst we completely understood the rationale behind closing public events such as these, needless to say, we were disappointed. Thousands of Dollars had been spent on airfare, accommodations and the show itself but more importantly, we were really looking forward to talk to potential new customers about our safaris - alas this was not to be.

But as the saying goes - if life gives you lemons, make some lemonade and this is exactly what we did, starting off with shrimp at Bubba Gump...

14 March 2020

Maine - USA

When Bill and Karen Nowicki heard we were "stranded" in Edmonton they didn't think twice. "Get your butts to Maine and come eat some lobster!" read the invite. Well the prospect of eating lobster in Maine was a much nicer one than sitting in Edmonton so plans were made, tickets were purchased and off we went.

We got to know Bill and Karen during their first trip to Africa back in 2012 and have kept contact ever since. In 2018 they returned to South Africa for their second hunt and this time brought their lovely twin daughters - Kate and Steph as well as friends - Lindsay and Taylor Withers with.

Little did we know what huge impact these lovely individuals would make on our lives in time to come...

14 - 18 March 2020

Maine - USA

Over the next 4 days we were treated like royalty by the Nowickis and thanks to Lindsay and her partner - Shawn Tibbets we did indeed feast on the most delicious Maine lobster imaginable.

Quite frankly; the hospitality we received from these wonderful people was in one word INCREDIBLE!

Bill and his family went out of their way to make our visit one of the most memorable experiences we've ever had. I assure readers that they'd have to go very far to find a closer knit family than the Nowickis. The respect and admiration that exists in this family is admirable beyond wildest measure and I want to sincerely thank them - not only for what they did for us but also for what they do for the community. Bill is a retired lieutenant from Portland Fire Department, Karen works in an animal hospital, Kate is a former Marine who now is a 911 Operator and following in the footsteps of her Dad, Steph fights fires with the Portland Fire Department.

In the meanwhile, COVID-19 was raging through the world at an alarming pace and we learned that South Africa was in the process of banning all incoming flights from high-risk countries - the USA being one of these.

Hearing about this and then receiving notification from Delta Airlines that our flight home - scheduled for March 23rd - had been cancelled it, was quite worrying to say the least. But here I have to comment on some amazing customer service from Delta Airlines.

As can be imagined, the Delta call centre was inundated with calls from concerned passengers - mine being one of them. In spite of this, after what was not a particularly long time in the queue, a friendly Delta agent attended to my call. Within minutes another available flight was found and booked at no additional charge and we were now set to leave from Atlanta a day earlier on Sunday March 22nd. This would give us time to continue with some of our original travel plans which included visiting friends in Georgia and Florida.


18 March 2020

Daytona Beach - FL USA

Bill and Karen drove us to the airport in Portland and we said teary goodbyes to our dear friends before heading down to Orlando for the next part of our adventure.

We arrived in Orlando without incident, got our rental car and started making our way to Daytona Beach. Our plan was to spend the night in Daytona and drive up to Savannah GA the following day to visit the Owen Thomas House and Slave Quarters. Alas - this was also not to be as we learned that all museums in Georgia had been closed to the public due to the virus outbreak.

New plans had to be made...

And what better way to make lemonade from lemons than to enjoy delicious stone crab in Daytona Beach?

For this I can recommend Joe's Crab Shack - right on the pier.

19 March 2020

Cocoa, Palm Beach and Key Largo - FL USA

With visiting museums in Georgia no longer being a possibility I recommended we tour through Florida instead so off we went - direction South.

En route we stopped at the Old Florida Grill and Oyster House for beautiful Fried Green Tomatoes, Calamari and a Margarita for the non-driver and made a quick stop in Palm Beach en route to Key Largo.

19 March 2020

Key Largo - FL USA

We arrived in Key Largo early that evening and checked into a quaint motel on the beach. Life was good again and we had lovely sundowners watching the most incredible sunset we'd seen.

Our plan was to use Key Largo as base for the next two nights and explore the East Coast of Florida before heading on to the Florida West Coast to see what St Petersburg had to offer.

We then learned that the Governor of Florida had announced strict social distancing measures and that all restaurants were to be closed for dine-in and only take-outs were to be permitted.

20 March 2020

Key Largo & Key West - FL USA

We headed down to Key West and enjoyed beautiful scenery along the way. Driving across the ocean along the 7 mile bridge was awesome and along the way we made a quick stop for a glass of champagne for the passenger and orange juice for me.

Key West was pretty much deserted and as expected we found all restaurants closed for dine in. We did fortunately get to picnic outside "The Stoned Crab" where we enjoyed some take-outs.

After a quick drive around the island we headed back to our motel in Key Largo.

21 March 2020

On towards St Petersburg and Tarpon Springs - FL USA

Driving through the Everglades was an experience in it's own and 6 or so hours later we approached St. Petersburg and the Sunshine Skyline Bridge towards St Petersburg. What a wonderful piece of engineering that is!

Meanwhile I received notice that our flight the following day from Orlando to Atlanta had also been cancelled - which caused for some concern. Hats off to Delta Airlines again who, when I managed to get hold of them, were quick and efficient in getting us onto an earlier flight so all was good again.

We had hoped to visit with friends / clients who own a seafood restaurant in Tarpon Springs but the virus thwarted that plan. This was a pity as we'd been looking forward tremendously to seeing Jack and Julie again but at least we got to taste some of their really good food instead.

22 March 2020

On our way home and looking forward to it!

Early morning departure to Orlando. This would be our last day in the United States and as much as we'd enjoyed our trip we were looking forward to getting home.

We arrived in Orlando in good time and checked in for our flight to Atlanta - relieved that our flight was still on time. As an added bonus, Delta gave us a free upgrade to first class!

Our next flight would last some 17 hours so it was a nice treat to relax in the comfort of 1st class before our flight to Johannesburg.

A somber atmosphere awaited us in Atlanta. The usually bustling airport was remarkably quiet. It was clear that COVID-19 had a huge effect on people's moods.

What impressed me though was the general feeling of solidarity that seemed to exist among those that were there. It was almost as if people were thinking: "Hey, we're in this thing together, let's make the most of it!"

And that my friends is the way I think this war against the virus should be handled. Together, we will win this thing!

Until next time...

12 January 2019

2019 USA Marketing Tour

On January 7th, 2019 I embarked on my annual marketing trip to the United States and Canada. Arriving in Atlanta GA early morning on January 8th, I got into my rental car and headed off to my good friend and client - Mike Chamberlain in Bishop...

As always, it was great meeting up with my friend and a privilege to meet his lovely family. Details were finalized for Mike and his son - Austin's 2020 hunting safari and a good time was had with some great people.

9 January 2019

Warner Robins - GA

Next stop was Warner Robins where i visited with Jim and Jen Cowart who were kind enough to invite some friends over for a get together at their home that evening.

Always great to meet new people and make new friends. I'm currently working with Jim on putting together a group hunt in the near future.

9 January 2019

Peach Tree City - GA

Someone I consider as one of my mentors from my days in the Force - Col. Louis Kriel immigrated to the USA some 14 years ago and I'd been making plans to visit with him for several years now.

2019 was the year when everything came together and Louis and I met for lunch in his hometown of Peach Tree City GA en route back to Atlanta airport. Fantastic to meet up with an old friend after 27 years and enjoy a "Springbokkie" together!

11 - 13 January 2019

Great Rockies Sport Show - Bozeman MT

And then it was off to Bozeman MT for the first of the three hunting expos that I will be exhibiting at this year. My good friends - Kim and Janet Yearsley - from Idaho made the trip up to Bozeman out of own accord to come help me out in my booth.

Kim and Janet hunted with me for the first time last year and a wonderful friendship was formed. Not only did they spend tree days in my booth with me, they also hosted me in their home for two nights after the show and invited a bunch of their friends over for an evening of talking about Africa!

15 January 2019

Duchesne - UT

Onwards to Duchesne Utah to meet up with the Poulson family. Alan, Vicena, Wade and Brooke joined me on a hunt in September last year and vowed to return.

During an evening of fun and laughter, not only did we firm up details for their next hunt, but half of Duchesne will be coming with them next year LOL. I'm looking forward to hosting Wyatt, Ryan, Paul, John and their families together with Alan from Utah and showing them our beautiful part of South Africa!

16 January 2019

Beautiful Utah and Wyoming

Next destination - Billings Montana and so I continued with my road trip through some of the most beautiful country I've had the privilege of experiencing so far in the USA.

My route takes me through Vernal and Rock Springs before an overnight stop in Riverton WY. Then onwards to Billings MT for the Great Rockies Sport Show that runs from Jan 18th thru 20th.

18 - 20 January 2019

Great Rockies Sport Show - Billings MT

This is my first visit to Billings and I've already met some great people. I'm in Booth 39 and open for business.

Billings was good for me and I'm working with quite a few Montana clients towards making their African hunts become a reality.

When I look at some of the animals that some of my competitors display as "trophies", I just again realize how fortunate clients of CT Safaris are when it gets to hunting for mature trophies of high quality as opposed to "ticking them off on the list".

21 January 2019

Eatonville - WA

And off I go to Eatonville outside Seattle for a brief visit with my friend - Frank Putnam at his beautiful property with the most gorgeous view of Mount Rainier!

Great seeing Frank again and enjoying some adult beverages with him whilst waiting for a peak of the mountain through the clouds.

25 - 27 January 2019

SCI Calgary Chapter International Hunting Expo - AB Canada

It's always a pleasure visiting with my friends (more like family) - Daryl and Collene Payne here in Calgary. Our friendship dates back to 2011 when Daryl and Col first hunted with me and they've been graciously hosting me in Calgary on my annual marketing trips ever since.

My neighbor and partner - Frits Hoogendijk joined me in Calgary and helped me manning my booth together with Daryl and Glen Puschner. Within the first couple of hours we already sold a hunt at the show and are looking forward to hosting Adam Luca and his partner next year.

It was a great idea for the African Hunting Expo to join forces with the Africa Show and SCI. The new show is busier than what it was before many serious hunters are in visiting the show.

By the time the show closed Sunday afternoon, 8 new clients had signed up for hunting safaris with CT Safaris.

We also did our promised draw after the show and one lucky hunter won his deposit back. To see the live draw on Jan, 27th 2019 please click HERE.