Blending Hospitality And Community - Dido Dima - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 119

Dan Ryan: Everyone, uh, Thank you for joining us. We're out here in, uh, we're in Kenya at the Keke Bush Camp with the camp manager Dedo dea. Welcome. Dedo.

Dido Dima: Thank you very much, Dan. Thank you for having me.

Dan Ryan: Uh, thank you for allowing me to experiment in doing this out in the bush, because I do these on location sometimes, but.

Never in such a beautiful, amazing environment with animals lurking out there that might want to have breakfast, have breakfast on

Dido Dima: Yeah. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Um, one of the reasons why I wanted to speak with you is when, when I first met met you, you were very clear that this is the place for you as far as being out in the, in the country, out in nature, and not in a city.

And it's very, It's often, but it doesn't happen all the time where people are able to find their purpose and live in their purpose.

Dido Dima: Hmm.

Dan Ryan: And as far as you being out here, being a camp manager and like an incredible host, um, I thought it would be fun to set up the camera and microphones and, and just talk to you about so our guests can learn from your experience.

So thank you.

Dido Dima: thank you very much.

Dan Ryan: Um, So we'll start with the first question of. Being out here at the Keke Bush camp, it's been incredible. Just made to feel so comfortable. Um, a lot of that has to is all from hospitality. Um, so let's start with how do you define it?

Dido Dima: So from where I sit, I believe hospitality is extending kindness. So as a camp manager, that means extending kindness to travelers and, uh, my guests who come from very many destinations to the Mara here, it's also that for me also extends to staff and the community. I mean, and one of the, to me also allowed me to add that hospitality is very dynamic for me in that it's extending kindness, as I said, to the travelers who come from very different places and also to the community around here, and also to to staff.

It's always very interesting. One, one thing that I really enjoy in my work is dealing with very different. Levels of hospitality. Uh, so one time you're dealing with a very sophisticated guest. Uh, from, uh, well traveled guests, uh, from the States or Europe. And then you move back, back of house 30 minutes later and you're dealing with one of your staff who, a community member who's never left the ma and he's giving you a challenge like, uh, have a problem, boss.

Uh uh, my. Goats have been killed by leopards last night, and you're dealing with this problem and 30 minutes later you're dealing with a baggage issue, a baggage stuck in one of the airlines. So it's very varied, like from, it's basically the different ends of the spectrum, dealing with a community guy with a very

Dan Ryan: of the life and death of a goat to a lost

Dido Dima: Yes.

Dan Ryan: and I, and all things That's, a good spectrum and all

Dido Dima: yeah. So that's all that, that I'm giving you the, my daily life, what I, what I deal with, and that dynamicism is what I enjoy here in the bush. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Well, I, I think one of the other super interesting things, particularly that with respect to the goats or other cattle and livestock is where this camp is situated and sustainability comes up a lot is a theme in design and just overall business in these conversations that I'm having. But could you just tell me a little bit, tell me and the guests a little, or then the listeners a little bit about, um, What makes this conservancy and camp unique as far as a model for travel and I guess like community conscious travel, if you will.

Um, and, and this model from our earlier conversations seems to be, I think it was the first one and then

Dido Dima: Correct. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: so that there's, um, there's kind of a, it's not a zero sim game. There's a win-win for the community. Also the, the camp and the guests of the camps and camps within this conservancy.

Dido Dima: Yeah. So we are situated in Olare Motorogi Conservancy, and it's a community conservancy, meaning the land here belongs to the local community. who've given it out for conservation. And then in turn, they then get revenue directly every month from tourism. And they're also allowed to graze, uh, um, a certain time of the year.

What this does is gives wildlife the habitats, that they really need desperately need. And Also it addresses the community's interests and that is livelihood into a Maasai, um, cows. Very, very, very important part of that conversation. So it addresses. Then as you're saying, it's sort of a win-win. For, for both one, tourism Players, wildlife, and the community.

So this conservancy was the first, uh, of its kind to adapt this model and this then was replicated in various, various conservancies. And we currently have about 10, 12 conservancy, uh, community conservancy models in in the Mara and also elsewhere. But this was actually the pilot, a back check to camp in terms of sustainability.

As you noticed, we run fully on solar. Uh, we are, so the Kenya has, uh, a sustainability gradings. So you have bronze, silver, and gold. We are at gold level and every year we come to be assessed. To see how much, so the goal is basically to leave very little footprint in nature that comes in design. The way our tents are settled are we, uh, killing flora and FA around there.

So the way there tents are, are designed then, If we are to fold this camp, it's fold and go without leaving any trace here in terms of energy, are we, uh, we are fully on solar a hundred percent in terms of how do we manage our, our waste. Our garbage and all these things. Yeah. So all our garbage here is recycled, uh, fast, separated at sourcing the various department and sections.

Then, uh, some are reused, like the bottles and all this, uh, in communities. Uh, and then some are sent then to Nairobi, to a recycling plant to upscale if you, if you like. Yeah. So that's the sustainability message that we're sending, uh, and for you to come. I know some travelers are like, we are traveling all this way and there's emission from travel, but so we are trying to offset this, uh, uh, whatever emissions you've created.

Getting here. Yeah. And also in you traveling here, remember you're giving the conservancy, uh, a lifeline. You're giving wildlife a lifeline. You're giving the community a lifeline. So, so it's sort of a win-win. Uh, if you look at in, uh, if you look at it in terms of sustainability,

Dan Ryan: Yeah, I, I enjoy that and it's really a theme within a lot of the entrepreneurs I know where it's not just. About shareholders, it's about stakeholders and here, um, the stakeholders being the communities, the farmers, the, the town, the conservancy, the wildlife, the fauna, the fauna. So there's so many different, um, stakeholders.

And just from my experience being here, I do get the feeling. I see it, but I also get the feeling. I, again, I have a small sample set because I'm only here for a couple of days. Um, that the community really is a, a huge part of the. Of the stakeholder community, if you will.

Dido Dima: Absolutely. The community is very integral in this. I mean, without the community, first of all, the animals, the wildlife, the Florian fauna could not have this land, uh, without the community. This camp would not run because 90% of our staff come from. Uh, the community here, like people who can walk to their homes from here.

And, uh, so the community then is, is very important to this, um, uh, operational camp and also the conservancy module.

Dan Ryan: Um, going back to your career journey to where you are here, um, I was also struck by, at a, at an early age, you knew that you wanted to be involved in conservation.

Dido Dima: Yes.

Dan Ryan: When was it that you found the intersection of, okay, I want, I want to be in nature, I want to help with conservation. But how did you find the intersection of hospitality into

Dido Dima: Hmm. So. Growing up, of course I grew up in a conservation area, in a wildlife area. So naturally then I fell in love with nature. Then I, through school, I went, I was lucky enough to be called to public university and I was enrolled in hospitality. And then my challenge was then to merge hospitality and conservation.

So I was lucky enough to go through a management trainee program and I had that opportunity then to train in the city and, um, the results in the beach and also, uh, in the bush. And of course, naturally I realized in the bush running a camp would give me that opportunity, uh, to be in hospitality. And also in, uh, in a wildlife area, as I mentioned before, I don't function very well in the city.

Then you remember, uh, I just can't find my way. I can't understand how everyone is in a rush, how people don't say hi to each other in the morning. I know, I know. It doesn't make sense, but you get, you get my point. Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Um, so also a lot of the topics that come up are. Within hospitality and with a lot of the guests that I have on are, have it revolve around people because, you know, through all the things that I've learned in doing this podcast, sometimes people say, Hey, Dan, what, how do you define hospitality? And I, I don't know if there's a, a binary, there's not a black and

Dido Dima: Mm-hmm.

Dan Ryan: definition of it, but if you were to take like a Venn diagram of all these different ideas and stakeholders within what hospitality means, um, So much of it has to do with the people, the people from the community, the pe, the guests, the people working here.

Um, but it's all about putting others first in a way that there's empathy, right? And because you have to attend to the needs and anticipate the needs of others and put others first. Um, How did you, I guess like, because all the people that I've seen here are just incredible and there's from, from the guards to, um, the cook to just the, the, all of the staff to your whole team, it's just been incredible.

And, but there's kind of a thread that ties them all together. Um, and so how do you. First of all, define like who, who are the best people to work here, and then how do you attract them and retain them?

Dido Dima: Mm. So first, as I said, uh, hospitality is all about attitude. You then, you train for the skill. So you really have to have that hospitality d n a in you and good thing the community here. Naturally, most of the community here, Pride themselves as very hospitable people and they enjoy extending hospitality.

And as I told you, naturally, like for the Maasais, a guest is a blessing. So they did not really see it as work to how we, uh, attract the right people and then maintain them. It's really through giving the locals the community an opportunity to grow. Like most of the guides, the most of the staff here.

I'll give you an example of your guide, Benja, I mean from the local community just went to high school from a very poor background. He was taken by Cheche and uh, he started as a room cleaner. And, uh, of course the, the owners of this camp were guides before and they noticed this guy has a guides d n a, and they took him to a guiding school.

Paid for by Cheche. And then again, now he was then given an opportunity to work for Chechen and he's now 22 years with Cheche.

Dan Ryan: Wow.

Dido Dima: Yeah, so that level of then loyalty is by giving people genuine opportunity to grow and, and, and understanding them and of course retraining and training them to the point that they understand a lost luggage is important.

As important as a dead goat. So, so, so making a community guy understand the lost luggage is as important as his got, then you really need to have that training and consistent, uh, uh, patience. Yeah. To, to grow with the, with the team.

Dan Ryan: So then thinking about growth, because Again,

Dido Dima: I feel

Dan Ryan: people are always changing.

needs of people, of all the stakeholders are always changing. Um, How do you continue that growth mindset. With the team here as as a leader.

Dido Dima: Mm-hmm. One is, uh, continuous training and, uh, and also one, nurturing people's interests. People's interests change. Someone started as a own steward now wants to grow to a guide. You have to appreciate that and not be like apprehensive and say, Hey, why, why do you want to move from the rooms and da, da da da.

No. You have to understand interests of people change and you try then to support them in that change. Yeah. So it's just being dynamic and just, uh, uh, keeping abreast of the travel wild, what the. Guest needs, say like Corona came with a different ball game. So you have to make people understand that this, I know we've been doing this this way, now there's a change now we have to keep on doing in a different way.

So it's just keep on improving, keep on making people interested, and also offering them training opportunities.

Dan Ryan: Now, as far as the other stakeholder,

in this, in Keke, the guest, um, for those who haven't been on Safari and they come here for the first time, there must be people who are comfortable And then

there must be people who are very uncomfortable because there are a lot of big.

Dido Dima: animals around. Mm-hmm.

Dan Ryan: here. Um, do you have any story of

Dido Dima: a,

Dan Ryan: of someone who, of a guest who came who may have been very apprehensive and nervous, um, at the beginning of their stay, but within their stay because of Your team. really helped them get to a place where they were at ease and, and Almost transformed?

Dido Dima: So dear. We have people who, who come here as first time safari guests. And they come here with a lot of fear. Their insecurity and I mean, just the drive from most of them, they pick up from the airstrip here to here is about five, uh, maybe at most 10 kilometers. And you, in a good day, you always see all the big cuts, elephants.

And you get here, the company's not fenced. And at briefing, a gut guest is like, And then you point them to a tent that is flapping because of the wind and it's, you know, sounds, looks wobbly and it's a tent and you're like the guest. I mean, you have to understand this guest says, Hey, am, am I safe? Safe? So we've had guests who come here and really scared, and one is then to give them a lot of information that they're safe and all that.

To give you an example is a guest who. Came in, single lady traveler in the tent, and we have a walkie-talkie system. That you really, you just have to use during an emergency. But this guest kept calling to, uh, for interesting stuff. We appreciate that such guests call, but you'll find, uh, this guest calling that, Hey, can I flash my toilet?

Can I switch on the light? We did attract animals. what if I cough? Will they, will they think there's an animal in here and walk into my tent? Uh, uh. If I snore, I might sound like a, an animal and walk into the tent. So all this is questions we get. They're very interesting. Of course, the common Maasai man who's used to sleeping outside is like, really?

Are they that scared? But then again, it's, it's the environment that we are in. Same way, the same Maasai, if you take him to. The city is like, oh my God, all these vehicles, am I safe? So it's

Dan Ryan: Yeah, how do I

Dido Dima: how do I cross the street and yeah, it's really, uh, people adapting to the environment and just getting used to it.


Dan Ryan: Well, I can say I woke up the other night and there I heard something outside my window and I looked, and there was a huge Cape Buffalo just like eating grass and rubbing its nose on the tent post, and they're

Dido Dima: Yeah, they are huge.

Dan Ryan: safe. I, I didn't feel, I was more curious. I, I wanted to watch 'em and or her, I don't know

Dido Dima: Why are you tempted to call the walkie talkie? The Hi. Hi. Uh, no.

Dan Ryan: but I, but I knew you were there. Just knowing you were there made me feel safe. Um, so if you go back to like, okay, so you always wanted to be in the bush in conservation. When did you know that you wanted to find that

Dido Dima: Hospital,

Dan Ryan: path for you?

Dido Dima: I'll say. Then probably around 22 years when I was in uni, that's when I realized hospitality is where I want to be, and then of course, contribute to conservation so that I can be in both conservation and and hospitality. So I would say second year of uni. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Okay. Um, so it's incredible what You guys,

have built here, um, as you

Dido Dima: see where

Dan Ryan: we are now and all the, all

Dido Dima: in particular,

Dan Ryan: taking with the community, the guests, the environment

the um,

Dido Dima: as

Dan Ryan: you look forward, what's exciting you most?

Dido Dima: what's exciting me is the conservancy model being replicated across Kenya and East Africa. That means more habitat. Habitat for. For wildlife, more opportunities for communities to partner with conservation. Uh, it's also Kenya has a lot of young people, so you see a lot of talented young people interested in hospitality and tourism.

That's really exciting. But that means then, uh, hospitality and tourism is a very sustainable, uh, venture. So that, that is exciting for me. Yeah.

Dan Ryan: it's, it's exciting for me too, 'cause I'm just seeing a lot of changes, at least within North America where sustainability, there, there was talks about it and real efforts 10, 8, 10 Years ago, Um, but it seems to.

be getting new, stronger winds in its sales and I think not just from within hospitality, but through all walks of light from, um, and I think it's because the retail.

Investor or shareholder is now demanding it. And um, I know it's exciting. I think that something has changed within the community at large and every little drop of water can become a ra, a waterfall.

Dido Dima: Absolutely. I appreciate

Dan Ryan: everything that you guys are doing here. and playing your part. Um, If people wanted to learn more about Keke or you.

um, how can they get in touch and learn more?

Dido Dima: So you, they can get in touch with me through social media. I'm on Instagram as Ddo dea Dima ddo. Now on LinkedIn also as ddo dea. Ok. We have a website, I should give you all this information.

Dan Ryan: Wonderful. Um, and we'll be sure to put that in the show notes so that people can learn more. I have it. I highly recommend it. Um, Thank you so much for our time together. Um, thank you for the incredible experience and to all of our guests, if you wanna learn more, check 'em out. I highly recommend this place.

And, um, if this has changed your idea on hospitality and sustainable hospitality and community hospitality, Please pass it along because we grow by word of mouth and we keep growing every week and we wouldn't be able to do it without you guys. So Thank you And thank you.

Dido Dima: Thank you very much. It was amazing to host you, uh, Dan. A lot of fun at dinner. We definitely miss you at the dinner table tonight. All I do, would you like to stay more and be one of the guides here?

Dan Ryan: I'd love to stay Bo but I gotta get back to my kids. Maybe when they're off in college. I'll come back.

Dido Dima: Good idea. Good idea. Good. Thank you.

Blending Hospitality And Community - Dido Dima - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 119
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