Time to re-brand "Houseboats"? Help us do it.

Wild Zambezi • 31 October 2016

When you’re in the business of promoting travel to Southern Africa, and you’re trying to make people understand that there’s more to this part of the world than just Cape Town and the Victoria  Falls, getting across the concept of a “houseboat” on Lake Kariba is sometimes a problem.

The Southern Africans have no trouble understanding what a “houseboat” is (and anyway, many of them have been experiencing the delights of this type of Lake Kariba safari holiday for years.) 

But, for anyone coming from elsewhere (the Americas, the Middle and Far East, Europe and even Australia and the UK) the term “houseboat” has confusing connotations.  Not everyone is convinced that this is an option they should consider as an add-on option in their safari holiday planning.  

Why not?  After all.... what more could you want?  Spacious, comfortable (sometimes luxurious) accommodation of the mobile kind with fabulous, ever-changing scenery provided by a combination of the water, the mountains and the grassy lakeshores ; a crew of friendly and staff who will do all the hard work and attend to your slightest need; exciting fishing, game-viewing by boat with incredible close-up wildlife and birding opportunities; a perfect climate modified by a cooling breeze, an endless supply of cold drinks and ice, delicious meals eaten “al fresco”, spectacular sunsets and sunrises.....  What part of PERFECTION don’t they understand?

In discussion with visitors from various parts of the world, it seems that the term “houseboat” is mis-understood.  Here’s what they think a “houseboat” might be......



Mmmmm.  A conceptual problem. 

In Europe, especially, a “houseboat” is a rather grubby barge-like vessel moored in waterways, rivers and canals and occupied by dodgy “down-and-outs” who have nowhere else to live (or who choose to live the “alternative” lifestyle).   Sometimes these vessels are “done up” and rented to holiday-makers for bijoux boating experiences.    But.... you get the idea... 

They think.....“Houseboats” are NOT things that one does on safari in Africa .......

So what to do?  How to convince these people that they are missing out on one of Africa’s best kept travel secrets?

We think that “houseboats” need a bit of re-branding.

Instead of “houseboating” on Lake Kariba, we should be talking about “cruising” and “safari” combinations.  Zambezi Cruise Safaris have hit this nail on the head already.... but the idea needs to be more widely applied.  And, we believe that the name needs to be changed. 

But to have impact, we need to decide on a re-brand and stick to it.

What shall we call them instead?  Cruiseboats?  Safari Cruiseboats?  Boating Safaris (a bit downmarket?)   Safari Cruises?  Cruising Safaris?  Floating safaris?  Water Safaris?  Lake Safaris?

Wild Zambezi would like to hear your ideas on new names for re-branding Lake Kariba’s “houseboat” experience.

Post a comment online below, or drop us a line with your suggestions.  We'd really love to hear what you think!

Comments (3)

You are very right you know. And houseboats in Europe are considered exactly what you show on the photos. In general people have no idea about the concept houseboat & safaris. Most of our clients also assume there will be other guests on board. So we sell it as a Private Lake Cruise & safaris. Safari Cruise ..or Safari Lake Cruise sound nice too

Jeany17 November 2016
Many thanks Jeany, for these very useful insights.

Call them: Safari Pontoons, and Advertise on Airbnb as Waterbnb

bonnie nortje1 November 2016
Thank you for your suggestions, Bonnie! Good ideas! Only problem is that some of the boats are not Pontoons (there are a lot of monohulls) and also, the cruises are usually fully catered or self-catering - not just B&B. But we get the concept!

We market them as "luxury houseboats" to communicate the experience!

Mareike 1 November 2016
Good idea, Mareike! Thank you.

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