$3000 difference in quotes for the same safari!

Aug 23rd, 2010, 04:52 AM
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$3000 difference in quotes for the same safari!

I contacted 3 operators for quotes for a trip to Western and Southern Tanzania. I picked the lodges and dates and the amount of time to be spent at each destination. I contacted 3 U.S. based companies and 1 London-based company. Two of the U.S. based companies are well known to me and one I was not familiar with, but recently read a rave review on this site. Quotes from 2 of the U.S. based operators were over $3000 more than the other 2, for an identical itinerary. My question is, should I bother to tell the high priced quoters what I found out even though, at this point, I have no intention of using them now or in the future?
phernska is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 06:09 AM
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Are all of the transfers included and the same (is one overland, one airplane)? Anything else that might be different? Int'l airfare included?

If they are the same, I guess I would tell them why you are going with another operator, without being too specific.
christabir is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 06:56 AM
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Yes, you should absolutely tell them. In fact, you should email the quotes to them. One of several things will then follow.

They may tell you why the cheap quote isn't real, in which case you might want to think twice about booking it.

They might match the cheaper price. This happened to me on our Southern Tanzania safari simply because a new discount was being offered and my chosen tour operator hadn't heard about it yet. He immediately matched the lower price, even though we had already struck a deal.

You will never hear from them again, in which case you know for sure that you're better off using someone else.

What have you got to lose by pitting everyone against everyone? Competition is what makes the world go 'round.

Post back and let us know.
TC is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 09:33 AM
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No need to tell them.The difference in safari cost might be based on the ground handler they use in the destinations.
Gitau is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:05 PM
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I would inform the high bidders. Could be a valuable learning opportunity for you and them.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Not knowing who the "named" US tour operators are, some are simply expensive, for the same itinerary you can get from others for less.

If you think it will make you feel better to advise any of them of the price discrepency... sure do so. If not, then don't. Unless, of course, you wish to travel with one who is higher priced and wanting to try to negotiate. You're the buyer, so it's your decision.
sandi is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:34 PM
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Is there any reason why you cannot/did not post the names of the companies in question?
ekscrunchy is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 07:22 PM
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I think Sandi is right...two of the companies are simply more expensive than the others...it has nothing to do with the ground handler.
I did email one of the companies (whose quote was about $4500 more than the lowest quote!) to let them know about the difference in price. I couldn't help myself because the person I was dealing with was trying to feed me a bunch of BS about the high cost of the in-country air transfers and my single supplement. Never heard from her.
I'm reluctant to name the ripoff companies because they seem to be popular on this forum and I don't post here very much and didn't want to stir up anything. On the other hand, I'd like to 'out' them just as a warning to others. I'll think about it.
I will say that I'll be using Fish Eagle Safaris for this trip.
phernska is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 09:13 PM
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Good idea that you wrote to different people and ended up with a great choice. Being ripped off isn't something you ought to put up with ......... Just ignore the ones who lost the business. As you so mentioned above, there is no need to put up with their BS. What would be the point in writing to them? Their loss..... if they are so interested let them write and ask you why you didn't follow up with the booking.
HariS is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 05:41 AM
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I have learned a few things in the industry in the past 10 years, and one thing that took me a while to figure out was that some operators don't prepare for future problems very well, like vehicle breakdowns (a company needs to have extra vehicles just in case), camp repairs (extra tents), camp maintenance with infrastructure (sometimes extra Bedford trucks) and other misc items. Newer vehicles cost money, better guides cost money and running a good operation costs money.

I don't know what your itinerary looks like, but if the itinerary has the same parks but different camps, that may explain at least some of it. If the itinerary is the same with the same exact lodges, then my expectation would be that the prices would be much closer together. The only difference is going to be quality of vehicles, guides and any other additional services that may be offered.

Anyway, just my take on how things work in the industry. I am not trying to defend anybody, but rather offer some additional points to why their prices may be different. A good example would be explaining why a town car to the airport costs more than an old yellow taxi. Same itinerary, different quality of service.
andybiggs is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:12 AM
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That's a lot of difference but not unusual - I think most of us will have experienced similar when planning trips.

Sometimes there are differences - some operators included unlimited mileage per day, others don't. Some include all soft drinks and snacks in the vehicles, others don't. Some use much better vehicles than others. And ditto on the drivers and guides - a good guide makes a huge difference.

But sometimes it's simply taking a bigger margin of profit from each client or maybe one of the expensive ones subs it to another company who sub it in turn to the ground operator = more people taking their cut from the same customer.

IF I have a feeling that I trust and like a company who have quoted for me, I will let them know another operator is coming in cheaper. If I'm equally happy with everything about the cheaper operator I go with them.

In any case, at the beginning, I made it clear to all that I was obtaining quotes from 3 operators (that's how many I usually get quotes from) so it's simply a matter of letting the others know I chose to go with someone else.

Once, I did go for the more expensive operator, I had only approached two for quotes. I went with them because they clearly took a lot more time discussing the details of what I wanted, liaising with the ground operators, passing on special requests for us... I felt that our trip was in safer hands with them. The other operator, when I told them I was going with the other, immediately responded by saying they'd match the price - and were flabbergasted when I said the others were more expensive but that the poor service I'd received from their apparently award-winning team was the reason they lost my custom.

Sometimes it's about more than price.
Kavey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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"If the itinerary is the same with the same exact lodges, then my expectation would be that the prices would be much closer together. The only difference is going to be quality of vehicles, guides and any other additional services that may be offered."

The above would be rather NOT the explanation as lodges/camps certainly don't put special cars/guides on the road just to qualify for a higher rate. Also inclusions are identical unless spa treatments and champagne are included in the higher bid - which I also doubt. That certainly would be too much an over-head.

Maybe charter flights instead of scheduled is the reason.

IF there is not a lot of consulting involved then I would go for the more favourable quote - and let the others know only if I wanted to negotiate further.

BUT - all of the TO deal NOT all with the same ground agents. A better ground handler offering new cars, better guides, refreshments onboard and more lux treatment. But surely that doesn't qualify for such a difference.

The difference itself is enormous and I am wondering why they are still in business or there are many clients who love to deal with lux pricing agents for some "stupid" reasons (their affluent peer books there?).

spassvogel is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:02 AM
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All details are identical...same lodges, etc. etc.
Hari, I appreciate your comments and, if asked, I'll tell. I guess the moral of the story is, when planning, put it out to several companies. The fact that a couple of the quotes are THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS higher than others tells me that novice safari goers are getting ripped off. And, that would've been me not that long ago!
phernska is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:18 AM
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Just wanted to add that I low-balled the high priced quote. The difference between Fish Eagle and the highest bid from another U.S.-based company (that got a rave review on this board) is a whopping $4935! There is absolutely no difference in the itineraries or air transfers.
phernska is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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I would still be interested to hear the defense these companies put out for the higher quotes.
TC is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 08:36 AM
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The one company I did inform (the one that came in $4935 over Fish Eagle) has not responded....I may out them.
phernska is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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Hi Phernska,

Long time I heard something about you.

A lot of people are just too lazy to do a little bit of research and some companies know this and try to exploit it.

Certain ground operators try to organize their American market so that shopping around is very difficult or almost impossible.

You shouldn't be afraid to drop names but if you don't that's your decision.

Guys like Andy, who are earning their bread and butter by leading trips in Africa, should refrainn from making ridiculous comments in order to defend the safari industry:

See why:


Cost: 14.980 USD (1 night in Johannesburg + 8 nights in classic wilderness camps) for an "exclusive" photographic safari.

Another great example of an overpriced safari:

Micato's safari named Botswana's great herds (p88-89)


17.900 USD for 11 nights in high season (1 night in JNB + 8 nights in Botswana + 2 nights in Vic Falls)


skimmer2 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 12:09 PM
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Too bad skimmer2 is back here.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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Hey Johan...Thanks for being frank and including those two examples. Okay, here's the story:

In January I was lurking on this board and read a thread about Mahale and Katavi and decided I wanted to go there. My recent safaris have been to Botswana and Zimbabwe (where I'm headed in October) arranged by Fiona at Ngoko Safaris, who I cannot say enough about--this is a shameless plug for her and Benson. Unfortunately, Ngoko only does Southern Africa (although they are expanding) so I had to found another outfit. The post I read about Mahale and Katavi mentioned Africa Travel Resource, Expert Africa, and Tanzania Odyssey. I contacted all three as well as Eyes on Africa. I specifically asked for a quote for 4 nights at Mwagusi in Ruaha, 3 nights at Chada in Katavi, and 4 nights at Greystoke in Mahale traveling solo in September 2011. Eyes on Africa came back with $14,820, Africa Travel Resource with $14,478, Expert Africa with $11,791, and Tanzania Odyssey was around $11,500 (their quote was more informal). All of them, except Tanzania Odyssey, included an overnight in Dar. None included international airfare. Because I was looking so far ahead, I told all the companies that I would be in touch later in the year. Of course, I had already eliminated Africa Travel Resource and Eyes on Africa based solely on the price quoted. And, I intended to use Tanzania Odyssey because of the email exchanges--I found them very responsive and extremely knowledgeable. So, all this took place in January.

A couple of weeks ago I received the email newsletter from Tanzania Odyssey and it mentioned a discount from Nomads (Greystoke and Chada) for 2011. So, I contacted them, thinking I should firm up my plans and take advantage of the discount. Again, I was lurking on this board and read a post about a last minute safari someone planned using Travel Beyond and raved about the company and the service. Having never heard of them, I contacted them. Coincidentally, I received an email newsletter from Fish Eagle Safaris, which I've known about, read great things about, but forgot about, and decided to include them in the mix. Well, Travel Beyond came back with a quote of $15,645, Tanzania Odyssey with $12,309, and Fish Eagle $10,710.
phernska is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 12:49 PM
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Hi Phernska,

Really appreciated you brought it to the open. I hear a lot of similar stories but I can't publish them as I have to respect the privacy of those people.

Hopefully it will be an eye-opener for those whose eyes were/are still closed.
skimmer2 is offline  

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