Most days, Jock Safari Lodge operates like a happy, well-oiled machine and this is thanks to the hardworking nature and friendly managament style of General Manager Louis Strauss. Louis oversees the much-loved wildlife mecca of Jock Safari Lodge in the Kruger National Park with passion and a deep understanding of the African bushveld. We thought we would profile Louis online so that you, the reader, guest or hospitality student could learn a bit more about what happens behind the scenes at Jock Safari Lodge. Below is a short Q&A.
1. How did you come to be the General Manager of your property?
I opened up Nkomazi Tented Lodge for the company in 2008. Straight after the opening I started visiting Jock to assist with management and ranging. I was eventually asked by Joe Cloete (Shamwari Group General Manager) to take over the operation in the Kruger. Needless to say, Joe didnít need to ask me twice. Although I enjoyed my time at Nkomazi (an awesome property) itís been a lifelong dream to settle in the Kruger National Park with my wife and 2 children. I started my career in the Lowveld and itís always felt like home. The Kruger National Park now has me firmly in its grasp and it would take a lot to draw me away from Jock.
2. How would you describe your management style?
I believe in a very hands-on management approach. You canít run a safari lodge from the office, you need to be proactive and work closely with the staff to ensure all the guestsí needs are looked after. I still jump in occasionally to cook the eggs if the pressure is on or to take guests out on game drive when there is an emergency. The only place where I donít get pro actively involved is the Spa as I think I will leave it up to the professionals!
3. What motivates you? How do you motivate others?
The privilege to work in the wildest place left in South Africa gets me out of bed long before sunrise. I try to make some time to get out of the lodge on a daily basis. Even it means to inspect some road maintenance. I see it as my reward for a long day in the lodge. Watching my children growing up so close to nature is also very special and a real motivator. I motivate the staff by trying to let them realize how special it is to be in the Kruger and at Jock. I praise staff regularly for good work in front of other staff and guests and try to criticize behind closed doors.
4. What is your favourite creature feature of the property?
The old style safari feel that you get at Jock is very special. The old Jackalberry tree where we have pre-dinner drinks has been used by travellers, explorers and rangers since the mid 1800ís as a base camp. If only it could tell storiesÖ
5. What are the Unique Selling Points of your property?
Apart from the famous story of Jock of the Bushveld we operate in the oldest part of the Kruger National Park where the balance of nature is so unique that you find most creatures (big and small) that lived here thousands of years ago. It is truly one of the last remaining wildernesses in Africa.