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Perfecting the art of travel

From sponsoring a major IPL team, to producing movies, bringing artists to South Africa, working for the united Nations and serving as President for ASATA (Current) and various other bodies abroad, Dinesh Naidoo has led a distinguished, successful and honourable life.

For many who will not come close to his lifetime worth of achievements, for he humble forty-seven year old, it is just the beginning of greater things to come.

Born in Merebank and currently married with one son and a baby girl, Naidoo has ensured the joy in his career never dampens, this, he feels is achieved through the diversity of Serendipity Group where each day varies from the next.

“My schedule varies from day to day and I think that’s an exciting part of my life, you never know what tomorrow holds” says Naidoo.

Looking back at his achievements, Naidoo said he stumbled into the travel business by accident.

After having completed matric, he studied Software Engineering at ML Sultan (now known has Durban University of Technology) but did not feel the passion and decided to go to America with a group of Hindu students to represent South Africa in the Parliament of World religions in 1993.

Naidoo got a job at the United Nations working on conflict resolution in Copenhagen for two years.

“I came back to South Africa in 1995 in search of a job but could not find anything that I was passionate about, so I accepted a job in a company as a public relations person”.

Travelled often to India, and through that Naidoo saw the opportunity to service the needs of the travel trade in South Africa.

In October 1996 Serendipity Tours was born. Serendipity Tours is a dynamic company that is masterful at ensuring efficient, hassle free travel.

Serendipity Tours, a division of the Serendipity Worldwide Group, specializes in corporate, leisure and incentive travel worldwide. With branches in the major cities in South Africa, Serendipity Tours serves as a superb catalyst for out-bound travel & tourism in multi-cultural areas as well as to clients in other provinces of this emerging and progressive country.

Serendipity Tours is a multi-award winning company with well-deserved accolades from various suppliers.

“Our mission is to perfect the art of travel by managing and exceeding the expectations of our clients through creativity, commitment and customer care, whilst focusing on excellence in quality and dedicated professionalism,” says Naidoo.

As a young out of the box entrepreneur, who has been your mentor, and has assisted you to shape Serendipity Tours as one of the major players in the travel industry? 

Serendipity Tours was started by three partners, Mr. Lal Jayamaha, Mrs. Carol Du Preez and Mr. Dinesh Naidoo. We three came from different backgrounds, with different cultures and was born in different decades. This cosmopolitan partnership gave us a unique edge in the travel industry. 18 years later we are still partners and have taken the company to being number one of the top ten IATA brands in South Africa.

Serendipity brand has come a long way. What has attributed to the success of the brand?

None of us had any formal training in the travel industry, so we widely read and travelled to gain the experience we needed to build the brand. Our biggest strength is our employment of the correct staff and we treat everyone with the same respect. Our team believes in the philosophy that “we work hard and we play hard”, thereby ensuring we have a lot of fun in what we do.

With the economic industry being so volatile world-wide, whereby consumers / travelers are holding on to their wallets and are spending wisely. What has Serendipity done differently to sustain themselves in the marketplace?

Understanding the new generation of clients is the key to growing and sustaining your market share. We also understanding that we do not own most of the products we market therefore our USP (unique selling point)  is service. We also play in different spaces in the South African travel industry, we wholesale, retail and we manage a consortium of independent travel agents.

The major international trend is to diversify businesses and Serendipity brand has diversified into different segments. Tell us about this?

Under the banner of the Serendipity World Wide Group we have different divisions that can cater for business from multinational companies to doing a booking for a man on the street.

  • Serendipity ICE (Incentives, Conferences & Events) handles major corporate events and conferences, with a team that understands what corporates require.
  • SITA Worldwide Group (SWG) manages ticketing for over 400 travel agents across South Africa.
  • Serendipity Sport handles all the match tickets for major events around the world, namely the English Premier league.
  • Serendipity Events manages shows, concerts and events with our major event being “Cruise with the stars” on the MSC Opera.

What is your vision for Serendipity Worldwide Group?

To be the leader and First choice Travel Agent and Tour Operator in Africa. To be the number one IATA producing travel agent in South Africa.

What is the secret to your success and what advice can you provide to young entrepreneurs?

If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You must love what you do.

  • Be innovative: Create something different that will stand out.
  • Your employees are your best asset. Happy employees make for happy customers.
  • Lead by listening: Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis.
  • Be visible: Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras.

What do you enjoy most about being the Group’s Operation Director of Serendipity Worldwide Group?

Working in an industry where most factors that affect us are beyond your control, therefore I  thrive on the different challenges that face us on a daily bases. I have a great team around me and this makes it easier to adapt to change quickly.

With his motto  “18 till I die”, Naidoo said he tried to enjoy every opportunity that presented itself because life is a journey of memories and the more memories one could make the better the journey is.

Naidoo has no regrets throughout his life. He believes that failure is a stepping stone to success and if you do not have obstacles in your way you will not appreciate the end results. “Some call it luck, but I believe that luck is when preparation and opportunity meet.” adds Naidoo

Reflecting on morals and principles, he said it was important for people to believe in punctuality, honesty, and loyalty.

“The old way of doing business was very selfish. I use a selfless model rather than selfish model in the way I operate. I believe in teaching and sharing my idea’s with the people around me. The more people I can assist in succeeding, the easier it is for me to succeed.”


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