Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A PNG success story on the Internet

Fuzzy Wuzzy Expeditions, a 100% Papua New Guinea-owned trekking company, is the new kid on the block that’s taking the Kokoda Trail by storm through the Internet.

It’s a far cry from early 2004 when I first met an enterprising young man named Defol Jabbar(pictured second from left, back row, with a group of trekkers and porters along the Kokoda Trail).

He had just set up his new trekking company and the next three years would be a steep learning curve.

Mr Jabbar has slowly but steadily been building up his client base since 2004, albeit, without a professionally-designed website.

His website http://www.fuzzywuzzy.com.pg/ was properly designed and uploaded last November and the sky is now the limit.

Mr Jabbar, as far as I know, is the first Papua New Guinean owner of a trekking company to have a proper website.

Many overseas trekkers and tourists prefer to use 100% locally-owned companies; however, the catch is that few of these companies are Internet-savvy.

The lucrative Kokoda Trail market is dominated by foreign-owned companies, many of whom use Papua New Guineans as fronts, and Fuzzy Wuzzy Expeditions is indeed a breath of fresh air.

It has already secured major corporate clients such as SP Brewery and Telikom, while the number of site visits and hits increases by the day.

The situation for many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) all over the world, including Papua New Guinea, is that an entrepreneur (such as Mr Jabbar) owns a small or medium enterprise.

The company produces an interesting product such as organic coffee or arts and crafts, or provides a novel service such as taking tourists across the Kokoda Trail.

The problem: How do we use the Internet to sell the product or service?

The general methodology is to plan, analyse and enact E-marketing activities.

This methodology can be used by anyone who wants to use the Internet to access customers.

Components include:
• Goals – What do we wish to achieve through E-marketing?
• Resources – What resources can we expect to support our actions?
• Actors – Who are the marketing actors in the E-marketing process?
• Spaces – Where will our E-marketing take place online?
• Actions – What specific E-marketing actions should we take?
• Outcomes – What outcomes should we expect from our E-marketing activities

“We started in 2004,” Mr Jabbar says.

“I got clients on an ad hoc basis.

“My biggest problem was setting up a website.

“At the end of the last trekking season, I felt that I had to build up a proper website.

“I’m the first local operator on the Kokoda Trail to have a proper website.

“There are about 20-30 operators, all of them foreign-owned, who have their own websites.

“There are only a few local operators, and of these, I’m the only one to have a website.

“Since the website was uploaded last November, there have been a lot of visits.

“Without a website, I found it very hard to get clients.

“Now that the site is up and running, I have been receiving a lot of querries.

“Everyday, I get about 10-15 querries from interested people and trekkers, who want to make bookings for 2008.

“As a local operator, my prices are very competitive.

“My prices are very cheap.

“I regard this as a very big achievement in my life as well as my own small business.

“I also utilise the website to sell whatever I can to people overseas, such as the Ghost Mountain

Trail (between Gabagaba in Central province and Buna in Oro province).

“I can also sell other tourism products from the Oro province on the website.

“We are also looking at selling products from other provinces.”

Mr Jabbar is proud that corporate icons such as SP Brewery and Telikom are utilising the services of his company.

In fact tomorrow, Saturday, January 19, Fuzzy Wuzzy Expeditions will be taking senior Telikom managers for a one-day “Kokoda Taster” from Owers Corner to Imita Ridge, returning the next day.

“We are preparing to attract corporate companies in Port Moresby to encourage their employees to participate," Mr Jabbar said.

“SP Brewery is the first company to support us as a local operator.

“They have already done two Kokoda treks, one in May 2007, and the other in October 2007.

“The general manager of SP Brewery and all his top managers did the trek.

“They have three more treks coming up this year.

“We thank them for their support.

“Telikom is taking the ‘Kokoda Taster’ on the 19th of January.

“Telikom PNG has five ‘Kokoda Tasters’ this year.

“They want to get all their employees involved in this programme to get them fit, healthy and sharp-minded.

“They are also planning two or three major treks in 2008.

“On these treks, they’ll also be looking at setting up their telecommunications network along the trail.”

Mr Jabbar was a banker before being bitten by the tourism bug.

“After I left the bank, I was mayor of Popondetta,” he recalls.

“I walked as the research officer for (former Oro MP) Peter Oresi.

“I saw the potential for tourism in Kokoda and decided to get into the business.

“I set up the company in January 2004.

“Now that I have a website, I think that I’ll do better in 2008.

“I’m now looking at the possibility of building a guesthouse in Kokoda.

“I have already obtained a piece of land in Kokoda for this purpose.
“I’m expecting a lot of trekkers for ANZAC DAY.”

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