To survive the COVID-19 crisis
Ubon Safari, Maidstone, Kent
Ubon Safari arranges bespoke luxury safari experiences in Eastern and Southern
Africa. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the continent’s remarkable wildlife and
jaw-dropping landscapes – imagine hot air ballooning over the Serengeti or canoeing
in the Okavango Delta – then their unique holidays are tailor made for you.
Everything looked positive for the company in 2019. After eight years in the business
they boasted an established client-base in the US and a growing number of UK
customers too. But then COVID-19 struck and threw everything into turmoil. These
were worrying times indeed for owner Umang Gossain and his wife Beena.
Few industries have been hit harder by COVID-19 than tourism. International travel restrictions and lockdowns in several countries forced Umang to cancel all holidays for the foreseeable future. “Everything stopped, full stop,” recalls Umang. “Business ground to a halt completely”.
This was devastating financially. Although some customers postponed their holidays until 2021, many demanded immediate refunds. There were also practical problems. Deposits needed to be repaid even though, in many cases, the funds had already been passed on to suppliers.
If ever a company needed government support then Ubon Safari was it. However, the challenge of identifying the best support schemes for their particular business and then understanding the various application processes proved extremely difficult. They simply couldn’t find the support they needed.
“We were confused by the whole system,” says Umang. “We desperately needed a helping hand but didn’t know where to turn”. Fortunately, however, Auker Hutton stepped in and gave them the guidance they desperately needed.
Tony Burgoyne’s help made a difference immediately. He explained what their options were, identified the best course of action, translated the opaque terminology on the government websites, and helped them to submit an application. Having felt completely lost, Umang suddenly found some certainty.
After weeks of doubt a plan was in place. After furloughing Beena they applied for help through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). They also considered the government’s Bounce Back Loan scheme but decided to stick with CBILS.
What immediately struck Umang was Tony’s highly professional yet friendly approach. “Tony always reserved time for us no matter how busy he was” says Umang. “He goes through everything in great detail and also puts you at ease. You can ask him any question without feeling stupid”.
With their CBILS loan finally on the way, Umang feels much more confident about the future. Although things will be challenging for a while – he doesn’t expect normality to return until March 2021 – the company’s future looks secure. “We’ll get through this, definitely, I know we can”.
Tony’s help has proved invaluable. He keeps Umang abreast of the evolving situation, reviews his cash flow, and helps him plan for tomorrow. Above all, however, Umang feels valued. He knows that Auker Hutton will support him and answer his questions promptly.
“Surviving the current crisis is obviously our main priority at the moment. It’s hard to look too far ahead”. However, with the company’s finances now on a firmer footing, they are thinking of ways to adapt even if COVID-19 lingers into next year.
“We’re lucky because safari holidays are suited to social distancing” says Umang. “Customers travel in their own groups, with a vehicle to themselves, in big open spaces. We also send our guests to small camps in remote destinations far away from packed beaches or crowded cities”.
Consequently, if any company is well placed to bounce back from coronavirus it’s Ubon Safari – especially now they have a reliable accountant to help them on their journey.
"“Tony goes through everything in such a detailed manner. He explains things in such an easy way - not an accountant’s way - but an easy way for a layman like me to understand”"
Ubon Safari, Maidstone, Kent