BAN ALL AGENTS

Old Dec 1st, 2007, 08:36 PM
  #41  
 
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Tinlizzy2
You have so little confidence in your fellow man.


Not quite - I have little confidence in my fellow Fororites based on my experience with the Asia Forum some years back.

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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 08:43 PM
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Nyama/BwanaMitch- It's Deja Vu. The TA's will get defensive and upset. Regular posters will start shouting TOUT every time a TA posts and everyone here will have the same trepidation while posting in the future whether it is this forum or another.
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:00 PM
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Too repeat what leely said above -
"I appreciate the "expert" advice, but of course I make my own decisions--and anytime someone's an expert, I naturally have to question his/her credentials. Especially where $ is concerned!"

Only fools believe everything they read on the internet. Even what is on Fodors!!! You have to analyze all opinions and advice from the perspective of the writer. On safari reports for example, once a poster said of a camp that it was the best ever. And it was because it was the only one they had been to!!!!

And to repeat my question above - what is wrong with a poster being a TA and simply stating so? That is, without mentioning their specific product or specific services. The Fodors FAQ that nyama quotes above can be interpreted this way. Or it can also be interpreted that any know TA is banned, period. Well, we know that the latter is not the case so why not the former?

regards - tom
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:03 PM
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"this is advertising of a free service."

Does this mean I can promo it at the end of every post like:

www.luangwablondes.com



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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:05 PM
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:-? Hmm, I sometimes promoted bush hotels here, places such as www.umojawomen.org/info2.htm. I better shouldn't do that...
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:08 PM
  #46  
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Well said Tinlizzy2

And this is exactly where the conflict starts on this site.

If a regular paying guest posts here that Sabi Sabi ,for example,is the best lodge in the SSGR I will respect his statement-this is after all his experience!!I will never take a confrontational tone in responding to the statement and be very sensitive in giving my opinion.

But how can I keep quiet if a TA is pushing a particular lodge as a ''payback'' for a freebie???
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:24 PM
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luangwablondes -- I'm not sure. It's still advertising... and even if it's a free service - having your own website must mean that your're a professional, waiting for your next victim. Or did I get something wrong here?
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:41 PM
  #48  
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I am not related with any of the major operators in Botswana (or in any other country) and I'll definitely don't get preferential tariffs to promote certain places or camps.

My posts can be provoking sometimes (like the "safari myths") but this has only to do with me. Like in the real world, there are people who you like or dislike. Well the same applies here on the board.

I don't have a hidden agenda at all and believe it or not I never sold any of my pictures (or tried to). If I wanted to, I wouldn't post them on a website like Aardvark, where everyone can download them.

As mentioned in an other thread long time ago, I use(d) this forum to have a look what other people have been seen. The information I need can't be found on these forums but is provided by people on the ground.


Best regards,

Johan (which is my real name)
 
Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:46 PM
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Tom -- Fodors sells information in form of their travel guides and the services on this website. They regard this forum as an extension to their services. It can't be in their interest to open this forum to other professionals who would by-pass these offers.
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 09:54 PM
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nyama - Huh? Does this explain why Fodors allows known agents to post? Known agents do post here, yes?

regards - tom
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 10:07 PM
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Tom -- IMO they tolerate it if it happens in a very discreet way, simply because it adds value to the forum. Most known agents here havn't been uncovered because of any aggressive behaviour or promotion but just because some forum members (often satisfied clients) didn't handle it in the same discreet way.
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 10:14 PM
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I have no problem being clear about what I do and have never concealed it nor have I tried to promote it to gain customers here.

Dennis is correct that I am a fulltime wildlife biologist and I am not an agent.

Tinlizzy is correct that I do operate as a safari guide, probably more accurately a wildlife biologist trip leader in that I occassionally lead small groups on safari. In that capacity I do design an itinerary and I handle the booking arrangements. This is why my trip reports sometimes will mention traveling with clients or that I visit a certain area due to a special wildlife interest or to find good deals for the trips that I lead. I'm just open about it but I don't solicit on this board and thus it rarely comes up.

Dennis is also correct that all my groups have consisted of friends or recommendations that have come via friends or organizations that know me and asked me to lead for them, thus they are opportunity trips that find me rather than me actively seeking clients. There is no website, advertising or any kind of outreach for me to get groups. This is unlikely to exceed 3 trips a year and probably (historically) less than that.

Lastly, lets be clear on Tinlizzy's statement that I will cancel a group if there are not enough clients (that sounds awful). I do not ever cancel on a group that I have booked with me. I'm assuming this was inferred from years ago when a University asked me to lead a special wild dog trip for them to Zambia. I had posted the itinerary on the board during my initial planning for feedback on the itinerary. The University marketed the trip and only had one couple book who had to cancel due to a health issue. Later when someone asked about my trip I said it was canceled so I assume this is why you thought that. I have only led a few trips and never canceled on a client.

I do not think this role taints my input at all but as others have suggested people should decide who they want to trust and who they think have other motives. Anyone who doubts me is of course welcome to ignore all my posts.

For the record I'm one who thinks that having agents here adds a lot to the value as long as they are not soliciting and self promoting and I also think it would be a good idea to have some kind of identifier so everyone knows who the pros are. If Fodors wants to ban everyone that's fine with me too and I will still gain from reading about people's experiences but it will become relatively worthless for knowing about new developments at camps and lodges.
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 10:25 PM
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Well put, Bill.

John
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 10:34 PM
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The Fodors FAQ's posted above state "...can come for unbiased, independent information about travel." An agent cannot give independent or unbiased information about any part of their post that may, in any way, impact on their business, regardless of what some of the inspirational geniuses would like people to believe. This includes comments on lodges, ground operators, tours etc. that they use.

To suggest there is nothing wrong with them posting providing they acknowledge they are a TA is ludicrous because all that does is acknowledge their post is not unbiased or independent. It is still of no value to someone like myself who wants to hear personal experiences, both positive and negative, untainted by commercial considerations. I want my deliberations on the merit of a post to be based on personal feedback. When commerical considerations come into play, it is effectively 'cash for comment'. I do not want to have to separate what is absolute fact and what is marketing because I dont have enough personal knowledge to know. It was no accident that 'advertorials' were invented - they were done to give the impression it was personal opinion being discussed by friends when in fact marketing puffery was alive and well. This is what a post by a TA is when a recommendation is made - an advertorial.

Much depends upon the integrity of the TA. I have been reading these forums for a couple of years now and there are a couple of agents that it took me some time to realise they were agents because they were obviously careful to provide neutral, general and broad information without making recommendations or showing preferences. These type of agents are very useful with their local knowledge and they should be welcome provided they maintain the spirit and intent of Fodors and not make any attempt to solicit or promote their own business and only provide neutral information.

So, should agents be banned? No, because it would be impossible and futile to try but secondly, properly regulated they are very useful. Have a look at how much of this forum has been wasted over the last two days about an individual agent(or agents) who have behaved poorly. It is annoying that their peurile drivel is even aired. I suggest the best way to stop the issue of agents is for Fodors to strictly interpret and enforce the "no business rule" and suspend the evildoers. I am sure the screams of "tout" by posters will alert Fodors when a TA steps over the line. A third reason for not banning agents totally is any business needs to improve their services and this is a great forum for an agent to get first hand information of the type of safari experiences people are looking for change their business accordingly to meet changing client needs. A true global economy when the client and provider are on different continents.

The two clowns at the centre of this debate should merely be ignored. Yes, people are aggrieved by past experiences with them but making them the centre of attention seems counter productive.

Peter (a non-TA from Oz)
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 10:38 PM
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PredatorBiologist- you're right, that did read awful but that's not how I meant it. I was only trying to tell Moira you were not a TA and it was only that one story of you having to cancel a trip because of other people that made me aware that you were a guide.
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Old Dec 1st, 2007, 11:00 PM
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No problem Tinlizzy -- I didn't feel accused of anything and I'm happy to be clear to everyone on my status.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 01:05 AM
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First, my response posted in a different thread (since it relates to this one as well) -

-----
I haven't been here in awhile but now that I've returned to catch up (and continue trip planning) I'm truly saddened at what has happened to this forum. Instead of trip reports and other helpful Q & A threads it's become nothing but gossip and, for lack of a better word, crap. It's sad. I've always found the information provided here to be extrememly helpful. Several of you have even continued that help via email off the board and it's been greatly appreciated. I can't imagine that any newbies would believe how helpful and informative - and nice - this forum used to be. I hope that the old forum sanity returns soon.
-----

Now, having said that... as for agents, I've gained a huge amount of knowledge from some of the ones that post here - as in the ones that have been here for awhile and aren't pushing an agenda. The ones that pop out of nowhere with no history on the board just to push a certain company, those are the questionable ones (and I think most people can spot that troll-ish behavior from a mile away). There are several people here that post their reports and answer questions without a mere mention of their companies, etc. Personally, I see nothing wrong with that. What it comes down to is information... how each person chooses to use that information is up to them. None of the agents are telling anyone they MUST use their company in exchange for the information provided here.
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 02:48 AM
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Hi! I'm sorry if I was wrong in saying that Predator Biologist is an agent, but he did mention "clients" which made me think he might be acting as an agent.

I think the real question is whether someone (whether they are an agent, a safari guide, or other industry insider (Bwana Mitch?) gets preferential treatment (lower rates, better rooms, etc) from the camps. That's what we need to know to evaluate whether someone's write up of a camp may be biased.

For example...was PB's recent trip to Botswana an "educational"? Did he receive "educational" rates? (I'm NOT accusing PB of anything, this is just an example!).

Sometimes it's clear when a trip was an "educational", and personally I think that's fine...I've enjoyed reading Sandi's trip report from her "educational." But I do think it's important that "educationals" are distinguished from trips made by regular paying travelers.

So maybe instead of -A for agents it should be -II for Industry Insider, since we seem to have several flavors of industry insiders here?

Moira
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Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 04:05 AM
  #59  
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I firmly belief that these forums can't be the major source of information on which a decision of a client is based.

Also there doesn't exist something like "the ultimate safari" just based on names of camps you or your travel agent skillfully picked out.

Like I stated before, it's a dynamic environment and things do change over time (environmental/animals move and die/guides aren't there anymore/weather isn't the way you expected it to be/...)

If you look f.e. at Duba Plains, what's going to happen with the male lions in that area in the near future will probably have a serious impact on the pride dynamics.

Enjoy what you get to see and get patient. Spectacular things don't happen all the time after every corner.

As being regularly on safari, I'll have a pretty good idea how the safari industry works ..., but I don't make a profit out of it in any way. If I did, I would be there for the wrong reasons.

Johan
 
Old Dec 2nd, 2007, 05:14 AM
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As much as we like to feel that this is our site. It's not ours to micromanage.

My feeling is that most of us are smart enough to figure out who's selling/snowing us.

This site has giving me an amazing amount of free knowledge to help with my trips. While some of the info. is biased it reflects the real world and one needs to cut thru the BS to get to the core.

As for those who lay claim that the newbies are taken in by the TA's here, I don't buy it. Most people who come here seem somewhat intelligent enough to make their own decisions.

The minor amount of people who do get sucked into the TA vortex here, would have most likely ended up with a lousey TA on the outside as well.

These are the same people who don't shop around and compare and are taken in by gimmicks. They're looking for quick and easy and usually end up with crap that they paid too much for anyhow.
Is this really an issue of concern here or is it sour grapes?
I've got to say, we've lost some fascinating info. givers and I hate to see more leave. Not that I contribute here, but I used to love stopping by to get my Africa fix.
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