It’s not likely you’ll meet Danise Zuidmeer but you’re certain to enjoy her work. Based in South Africa, she brings extensive travel industry knowledge, hard work, and attention to detail to Renedian’s Worldwide Crew. Chances are, she’s arranged your accommodations and tended to all the details before you even know you’re going to Africa.
Danise was born in Cape Town, South Africa, but grew up in Durban on the Indian Ocean. After studying to be a pre-primary school teacher, she realized her heart was in travel and began working for South African Airways (SAA). SAA required ground experience before flying so she worked in reservations for a year before starting as a flight attendant in 1979. In 1983 and seven months pregnant, she was forced to leave the skies. At the time, mothers couldn’t return to flying so she continued with SAA as a Reservations Supervisor.
In 1990, Danise and her family moved to Cape Town. Over the next seven years, she arranged domestic and international reservations for several travel companies, but her passion remained in aviation. She jumped at the chance to take to the air with Sun Air in 1997 and stayed until it closed three years later. She’d loved the company and stayed with its successor in a sales and marketing role, until 2004 when they, too, dissolved.
Done with the uncertainty of airlines, she moved into wholesale travel, working only with travel agents. She loved setting up four and five star tours for upmarket clientele to destinations like Viet Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, Russia, China, India, Scandinavia and South America, eventually specializing in Tahiti and its Islands, mainly Bora Bora.
The passing of the travel company’s owner coincided with a series of serendipitous events that led to her meeting Rene and the rest is history. Part time work with Renedian evolved to full time and her responsibilities grew to include tours in South America as well as Africa.
Renedian clients’ consistently seamless and awesome experiences are due in large part to Danise’s work behind the scenes. She books accommodations, reserves tables for dinner, and organizes excursions. Approximately two weeks before a trip begins, Danise introduces herself to guests, advises them what to expect during their first three days, and tells them who will pick them up. She’s the point person for guides should anything unexpected come up during the trip.
Arrival and departure transfers are part of her bailiwick, as is ensuring the crew’s first aid certificates, drivers licenses, passports, and work visas are valid. Her roles requires expertise in currency rates, tax laws, and contract negotiations for each of the sixty-three hotels Renedian works with—and that’s just in Africa. And that’s well before the tours even begin. Right now, she’s reserving for the 2021 tours.
In 2018, she was delighted to travel in the support vehicle on the Waterfalls and Wildlife tour. Driving overland is very different than flying between destinations and gave her a distinctive perspective. The wide-open expanses awed and amazed her. She met the people she’d worked with to arrange the tour. And it gave her an excellent sense of how Renedian clients experience their motorcycle safari.
Danise is intrigued by countries with an old history, where people have suffered to get to where they are today. Her fascination for that country’s history, people and culture is one of reasons she loves her work. “It doesn’t matter how rich or poor, or what colour you are. If you have that passion for your country and can work together, there’s so much to do.”
Her passion for working with aromatic essential oils has led her to research the combination of oils for healing and tranquility and learn aromatherapy massage techniques. It fits well into her goal to relax more in 2019.
“The last three years I’ve just been working and had no time for anything else. I’ve been reading up about different countries. Now I’m starting to read about different motorcycles. We don’t know what the future looks like but maybe before I’m seventy, I’ll be riding one of those!”
Photo credits: Danise Zuidmeer