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Booking Sabi lodges - direct or through agents/companies?

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Nov 6th, 2005, 11:49 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 26
Booking Sabi lodges - direct or through agents/companies?

I was wondering if anyone could tell me if it is better booking direct with a Private Lodge in the Sabi Sands and paying the 'rack rates' or whether I can use an agent or travel company who could get me a better rate. I've organised most of my trip to SA myself but have been told that these 'rack rates' advertised are the Maximum. Can I get a deal? Just trying to get the bucks to go further (maybe afford somewhere slightly more luxury). I also need advice on booking the domestic flights from Cape Town - are the smaller airlines reliable?
I can't leave booking 'til the last minute - This is a special trip & I won't rest until it's all booked, I don't want to leave it all to chance. Thanks everyone - your feedback has already been very helpful.
NeilB is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2005, 08:55 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Great question, I wonder the same. If there is no price difference between booking direct and using a tour/travel agent then the agent must get a commision. Which is ok. I found it curious that at every camp we stayed at last Sep 2005, Nsefu, Khwai River Lodge, and Mala Mala, they all had vacant/available "huts" during part of our stay. For example, of the four nights, two would be at camp capacity and maybe for two nights there was a vacant hut. This surprised me considering how far in advance you must make reservations. Maybe these vacant nights were all ready paid for so it was no big deal for the camps. Anyway, any thoughts on this?
regards - tom
ps - you there Roccco?
cary999 is offline  
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Nov 6th, 2005, 09:23 PM
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cary999,

I think with the overlapping visits that the camps experience that this often creates vacancies.

Although a camp may not be available for someone's requested four night stay, chances are that maybe on Night #1 and Night #3 they are available. However, this would make it impossible to book someone for a desired four night stay for their dates.

Group A may want the lodge from August 10th - August 13th (4 nights)

Group B may want the lodge from August 16th - 19th (4 nights)

Individual travelers may arrive, for example on August 13th to a full camp, then see the camp empty for the next two nights and then see the camp full again on the 16th when Group B arrives.

Also, it is my understanding that some bigger tour operators make large block bookings and then try to sell those bed nights. I really don't know what happens if they are not sold...whether they are given 100% credit back by the lodge or if they have to pay a percentage or the entire bed rate.

For example, on my very first visit to South Africa, I tried to book Singita with one operator but it was unavailable. However, I was able to book it with another operator so I am thinking that operator must have blocked off some nights, but who knows?
Roccco is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2005, 06:31 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
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IMO it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Generally speaking though an operator/agent is most often used when logistics become a chellange for the traveller. An agent of worth will be able to book flights, transfers and other oddities that you might not think you need, when booking a lodge in the Sands.

Frankly if you understand where you want to go and how to get there, then book it yourself. You might find that establishing a dialougue with the lodge could allow you to negotiate a discount. Remember that an agent/operator doesn't do this admin for you for nothing, they work off commissions and you could argue with the lodge that as a direct booker you are in fact sacing them this margin, and challnege them to pass on some of it tou you. I would think that you could argue up to ten perecent. If you pay by credit card, then it costs them money. If you wire the funds you are likely to face charges. You need to evaluate those values before discarding the agent, who will face those charges should you elect to use an agent.

Which smaller airlines are you referring to? Companies such as Kulula.com, Nationwide, Sa Airlink and Sa Express are reliable and frequently less expensive than their big brother SAA. The downside is that they don't neccessarily have the frequency that meet your needs.
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