David Kamau is Director of Sales and Marketing at Hemingways Travel. He studied International Business Administration for his undergraduate degree at United States International University (USIU) Africa.
David also holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Strategic Management from the same institution.
What drew you to sales and marketing?
I love to engage with people, so from an early age I knew I wanted to pursue a career where I would have the chance to interact and work with different people. I thought sales and marketing, which involves a lot of customer interaction, would be my best bet. I went into marketing during my undergraduate studies, but my parents convinced me to major in finance, which I pursued for my undergraduate studies. But after graduation, I deliberately only applied for marketing jobs and have since built my career around that field.
What does your role consist of?
As Director of Sales and Marketing, I am responsible for growing the company’s revenue and customer retention. I am required to regularly make new customer acquisitions, develop and implement policies and practices to engage and retain our customers, promote market intelligence in the business and develop value propositions for our customers. Marketing intelligence is data that can be used to influence and enhance a company’s marketing efforts.
How important is your role?
Sales and marketing are at the heart of any business. The role involves many direct face-to-face interactions with clients. Therefore, it is crucial for me to make clients feel free and open to share their concerns. The role provides clients with support, lets them know that their concerns are being addressed and that they are well taken care of. The Sales and Marketing Manager also facilitates negotiations on behalf of customers and with suppliers such as airlines and hotels.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I start by consulting my agenda early in the morning to confirm my appointments for the day. Once I’m done, I scan through the day’s newspapers to keep up to date with potential business opportunities and what our clients are up to. I then go through my emails, attend all scheduled meetings, and prepare for future meetings. If I meet with an existing client, I prepare the information needed for our interview. I end my workday by preparing presentations for future meetings, or finalizing RFPs and Requests for Proposals and RFPs. My final agenda is the management of any pending contracts.
If you were to hire someone to work with you, what qualities would you look for?
For me, the ideal candidate for a job in sales and marketing must be a go-getter with a can-do attitude. They should also be articulate, eloquent, confident, calm, analytical and able to solve problems. Finally, as sales and marketing is results oriented, I would look for a well-organized candidate.
The majority of companies you have worked for are travel agencies, what informs this career choice?
Although sales and marketing is a requirement for many businesses in different fields, I have found the travel industry to be the best fit for me as it requires a lot of innovation and creativity which is the one of my main strengths. The travel industry is constantly changing and I get a lot of satisfaction when I come up with new solutions and new products to meet the needs of our customers. I also like to travel.
What challenges do you face working for a luxury travel agency?
The biggest challenge we face is direct competition from suppliers such as airlines and hotels that sell directly to customers. There is fierce competition for customers. However, at Hemingways travel, we have met this challenge by offering travel agency services such as assisting customers in choosing destinations, transport, accommodation, booking reservations and informing travelers on passport and visa requirements.
What are some of your accomplishments that you are most proud of?
I led the successful rebranding of Express Travel Group to Hemingways Travel and created a new online travel agency that allows customers to book and pay for their stays on our website. I have also signed a number of large travel clients. In my role, I have also achieved a 99% customer retention rate, which I attribute to excellent service, excellent customer relationship management and teamwork.
What would you advise someone interested in pursuing a career similar to yours?
You must be passionate, visionary and good at execution. You must be passionate about your job and always know where you are going and who you are targeting as your next client. You must also be good at formulating and executing strategies. Sales and marketing are results driven. I also urge those interested in sales and marketing to be patient, as building a career in this field takes time. However, the hard work eventually pays off.
How do you relax?
When I’m not working, I enjoy golfing, travelling, spending time with my family and friends and watching Formula 1.