Marguerite is the Policy and Development Manager for Oyster. She manages the company’s quality of support and supervision, safeguarding, access to medical care, safe transport, and accommodation.
What is your favorite travel memory?
My favorite travel memory is sailing over to Lamu from the mainland in Kenya – on a local wooden boat packed with cheerful villagers, several animals, and lots of smelly fish! People were chatting and laughing with us, even though we had no idea what each other was saying. Lamu was an unforgettable place, with its Islamic culture, rich trading history, and ancient bustling streets. I loved it!
What is your favorite part about working with students?
They are great! They are very keen to see what's out there, and challenge themselves. Many of them are extremely passionate about conservation or social issues.
They bring loads of enthusiasm to their project, and also come away with insights into the things they care about. Some of them are planning careers in these sectors but, even if they don’t, I’m confident they will go on to be a force for good in our slightly messed up world.
If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?
We have a project in Namibia where you track desert elephants and work with local villagers to protect their water supplies. It ticks every box for me. You camp out under immense, starry African skies (no light pollution), and do something very practical for a small community. And, of course, there are elephants!
What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?
We manage to keep it personal and engage directly with the people we send away. By getting to know customers, we can respond better to their needs and solve any issues easily.
I'm proud of the team as individual people – all well-traveled, compassionate, engaging, and friendly. I am particularly proud when we recently won the Gap Year Travel Specialist of the Year award from SME News.
What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?
You need to keep coming back to your customers' wants and needs. Listen to them, rather than make assumptions about them. Also, you need to be alert to trends in the market. There is no point in providing a service that nobody wants, even if you love the way you have always done things. Be prepared to adapt.