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“Lorraine Melvill is the savvy entrepreneur who put South African plastic surgery on the map and gave the country's tourism industry a major boost at the same time with her concept of 'Privacy in paradise.'"

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A SOUTH AFRICAN CASE STUDY (AND OTHER IMPORTANT LESSONS THEY STILL DON'T TEACH YOU AT BUSINESS SCHOOL...)

How to create a global success story in SA Lorraine Melvill

- How to stop being a victim - how to turn a shocking exchange rate to our advantage - How to build an international brand without spending a cent This might sound like the advertising copy for a quick-and-easy way to make a fortune but it's a philosophy which is fast becoming the basis for a recognised SA business case study.

Lorraine Melvill is the savvy entrepreneur who put South African plastic surgery on the map and gave the country's tourism industry a major boost at the same time with her concept of "Privacy in paradise."

Recognizing that South Africa was uniquely qualified to capitalize on a niche market, ("I knew we had fantastic surgeons and an exchange rate that was only going to get better for anyone with dollars,") Melvill, a former marketing executive, worked with local plastic surgeons, put up a Web site and opened the doors of her company Surgeon and Safari in 1999. Her formula for combining top-class medical facilities with an opportunity to enjoy SA wildlife has proved to be a hit with international tourists in search of a nip and tuck with a view.

It's the kind of concept which makes many entrepreneurs kick themselves for not coming up with the idea first. But it's about much more than spotting a lucrative gap. It's about taking action and doing it with such flair and attention to detail that her competitors (and today there are plenty) are still forced to use her as the benchmark for success.

Lorraine's is a story of how to overcome personal adversity; how by capitalising on our country's unique strengths, it's possible to launch a global company; how to capture the interest of the international media and how personal attention is still the hallmark of yet another business success story.

Her success with Surgeon and Safari offers valuable lessons for South Africans looking to break into the global market, regardless of their product.

QUOTES

"The Surgeon and Safari business model is a wheel (with Surgeon and Safari at the hub, acting as facilitator)," she says. "It's the converse of a conventional business model - which is based on a pyramid of profit and which thrives on ego."

"I didn't want to fall into the classic South African victim role again. I wanted to ensure that at Surgeon and Safari we serve quality. Yes, we have a favourable exchange rate - but we're still going to offer the best product we possibly can. Surgeon and Safari isn't cheap. It's value for money. There's a big difference."

"You have to overcome the victim role to empower yourself and to be able to sell the country and the concept."

 

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