Creating memorable moments and minting money while at it
Thursday, January 13th, 2022 00:00 | 4 mins read
Popularly known as Flaneur 254 on her online pages, Khangai Odima likes to believe that she is a global citizen.
Other than Kenya, she has lived and worked in the United States of America, Uganda, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Sudan and has travelled to 19 countries for work and pleasure.
“I studied International Development and Law and have worked in the humanitarian and international development sector for over eight years now. I am also the managing director at Flaneur 254 Journeys, a travel company.
I love travelling both locally and internationally, hosting group trips, curating luxury travel experiences, travel blogging and most recently creating quality travel content on social media.
I also come from a family of avid adventurers— my parents and siblings are seasoned travellers, having lived and worked in different parts of the world,” she shares.
Coming to birth
Khangai’s company has been a work in progress over the past few years, but it got a face in 2019 when she bumped into author Elizabeth Gilbert’s post on Instagram on women and travel.
From the post, she learnt the word flaneur, which in French is a 19th Century term for a “stroller” or a “loafer”—a man who saunters up the boulevard in aimless enjoyment, going wherever he pleases for the sheer delight of it.
“The word made a lot of sense to me and I decided I will intentionally set out on my flaneur path, redefine the term flaneur to encompass women in travel and hopefully inspire other people to set out on their journeys as well,” she poses.
“In 2020, I took part in the Ariela Accountability Programme, a one-year initiative focused on supporting women to intentionally grow in all aspects, which helped me set actionable goals- one of which was to resume writing and pen down my travel experiences.
This led to the birth of Flaneur 254 Journeys in July 2020 and the rest as they say is history.
We have since hosted various group and private trips in Kenya and Tanzania, partnered and collaborated with various brands and hospitality stakeholders, as well as built a travel community,” she intimates.
A day in the office at Flaneur 254 entails three major tasks; organising and hosting luxury group trips for people looking to travel within a group and meet new people.
In 2020, they primarily focused on beach destinations, but expanded to bush destinations in 2021 and are already enjoying the diversity.
They also curate customised private trips- both bush and beach for solo travellers, squads, families, couples, among others, including logistical and itinerary support.
And lastly, they major in quality travel content, partnering with like minded brands and service providers in championing accessible and affordable luxury travel in Kenya and beyond.
Being in the unique position of both travel planning and travel content creation- Flaneur prides in her maxim: ‘Not just content creation, but conversion’.
Like any other business, Flaneur 254 has not been without its ups and downs.
“One of the things we are proud of as a business is the joy on my clients’ faces when they experience things for the very first time, such as their first time to Lamu, first time swimming in the ocean, first time jumping off a cliff, first time on the Northern part of Kenya, first time spotting leopards, first time swimming with dolphins,” she smiles.
Another upside in the journey has been building a community of travellßers and adventurers, #teamflaneur.
“Friendships have been formed, networks established, fears conquered and jokes turned into reality.
We have created a strong community. Part of the organic growth can be attributed to great reviews and feedback resulting in direct referrals and visibility,” she says.
There have been challenges too, especially since it is a new product in the market space and with a lot of competition.
“For a fairly new company, it is my goal to continue building my client base,” she says, noting that she has learnt that not all inquiries will convert into business. she is, however, happy about increase in sales, increased opportunities for brand deals and organic growth in their social media communities, which have been a great learning space.
Effects of lockdowns and curfews and new waves of the pandemic on the travel space also have posed a challenge to the new business.
It has become increasingly difficult to plan months ahead due to the uncertainties of the pandemic.
But it is noteworthy that there has been an immense increase in, especially local travel.
“From where I sit, I am excited with how Kenyan tourism is unfolding. Dynamic, growing and multi-faceted are just a few words to describe the current state of tourism in Kenya.
With many darts directly thrown at the sector due to the pandemic and the state of the economy, it has been interesting to see the flexibility and innovation that sector stakeholders have employed to continue meeting the needs of clients against a constantly changing context,” she says.
“I guess the biggest shift in the tourism and hospitality sector has been the increase in local tourists and steps towards environmentally sustainable tourism.
As for international travel, in my opinion it is still very uncomfortable due to the unpredictable nature of lockdowns in various countries.
However, this is the time to travel as much as possible. Go out there and live your best Flaneur life,” she she in ending.