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Geneviève Dardanne: A woman’s will power

She started her career as a tourist guide but with her motivation and perseverance, she achieved success. Geneviève Dardanne has 35 years of experience in the tourism industry. In 2011, she launched her own company ‘Kreola’. What is her vision for the future? “Our vision is to always keep our passion during our journey,” she says.  21st century women are like superheroes. Besides taking care of their home and looking after their children, women play several roles on different platforms and contribute to the community and society. Geneviève Dardanne is certainly one of those women who give their very best at every level. Stemming from a family of 9 children, Geneviève grew up with strong family values. Married to Dany since 21 years, she is mother to one daughter, Jenna and one son, Luca. Besides looking after her family, Geneviève is a hardworking woman. “I am the kind of person who needs challenges; I always start from zero and obtain great satisfaction in the process of developing. I am an optimist, though very down to earth. My main challenge is to balance my professional, family and social life. Being a woman makes it more challenging; I want a career, I want to be a human boss, yet make profits, I want to be a great mother, a supportive wife, a reliable sister, a confidante for my friends and be present for the CSR activities. That’s why we say women are multi-taskers,” she says. Geneviève started her professional career in the tourism industry in the 1980’s as a Tourist Guide with Concorde, speaking French, English and Italian. Thereafter, she moved on to the hotel industry taking up a job at Le Meridien Paradis (Beachcomber) as Guest Relation. Later, she became the first Mauritian delegate of the French tour operator, Jet Tours. “My scope really expanded when I joined White Sand Tours DMC (Destination Management Company), where I learned on the job. I started as Marketing Executive and left 12 years later as Manager. I was then offered the opportunity to work for an international brand – Hilton, and was back in the hotel industry. I started with the opening of the hotel in Mauritius as Commercial Manager. This was a real university (which I never had the opportunity to attend after school for financial reasons). Ten years of continuous learning and travelling have contributed to me becoming Business Development Director for Hilton Mauritius and Seychelles,” she explains. Setting up of ‘Kreola’ Given her extensive experience and network, in 2011, Geneviève decided to launch her own company ‘Kreola’. What pushed her to make the big leap? “It was very much like mission accomplished for Hilton, no real scope as I did not want to be Hotel Manager, nor move abroad for family reasons. I had gained experience of local and international chains. I needed a new challenge, working for myself! My two partners, colleagues, friends, namely Prycille Fong Sing and Giovanie Laurent, really pushed me in this way and there we were in 2011 with the opening of Kreola DMC.” Geneviève adds that having been both in a DMC and the hotel industry, she understood that the real strength of tourism in Mauritius is guest experience. “We have high profile hotels, quality services, but there is more to it. I wanted the guests to experience the authentic Mauritius, and this is what Kreola is all about,” she states. Destination Management Company, Kreola ensures the marketing of Mauritius at various platforms and destinations. “We handle from hotel/villa bookings, welcome at airport, transfers to hotels, we plan the guests’ stays, weddings, excursions, special moments, and provide assistance until the guest departure. We also work with Exotismes (No.1 French Tour Operator in Mauritius), NG Travel with its Kappa Club in the East, La Cle de Iles in Switzerland.” Kreola also has its own recipe to be successful in what it does. “There is one and only way to make it happen: your team members… It is all about people, how authentic and true they are with our visitors. When we recruit, we always try to see the stars in their eyes and how passionate they are about working in the Tourism Industry,” explains Geneviève. 2016 will be Kreola’s fifth year of operation. However, the journey has not been without difficulties and challenges. Kreola faced a big challenge by starting operations during the global economic crisis. “With experience, expertise and networks, we made our way through. But the most difficult challenge was to get an operating license. We had the No.1 French Tour Operator but could not get a license! It took us six months to be able to get a desk at the airport to operate. But this is Mauritius, there is always a way out. One of our DMC competitors helped us out during the first six months until we got all our licenses sorted out,” she proudly reveals. Kreola managed to differentiate itself and now displays an impressive progression by striving to innovate. The company started with 15 employees. In 2012, it handled nearly 15,000 guests with a turnover of Rs 44 million. Four years later, Kreola has 60 employees with a turnover of approximately Rs 115 millions. “The first year, we started with the French market, we are now developing the UK market, we welcome guests from Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Reunion, but we also looking for new opportunities like the USA and Canada,” highlights the founder and managing director. What is Geneviève Dardanne’s vision for the future? “We now handle 30,000 guests after four years. We will definitely grow but we want to stay a human sized company. We know the name and profile of all our team members, we know what our guests are experiencing, we have time for all our partners. Our vision is to always keep our passion during our journey.”
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