Mala Mala question

Old Jul 1st, 2007, 10:04 AM
  #1  
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Mala Mala question

Do you use a TA to book a trip to Mala Mala. I read alot of people just book directly, so I am wondering what the advantage is to use a TA. They don't discount the rates for long term stays
so can a TA get you a better deal?
CarlaM is offline  
Old Jul 1st, 2007, 01:13 PM
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I used a TA.

The TA was able to:
* arrange all flights from US to JNB (business class)
* flights within South Africa to MM
* the hotel at the airport (Sun Intercontinental at the Airport in JNB)
* a local travel agent to meet and greet us coming and going from the JNB airport
* the 12 nights at MM

We could have certainly booked all of the hotels, travel flights ourselves online. But when I checked on costs for flights (business class) from Idaho in US, the prices I found were more than what she was able to get for us with the agency's discounts. We were also able to get pricing for economy as well to do a comparison.

As far as rates at MM, I believe there are not any discounts available to the persons that book online. I would imagine the TA may get a lower rate for rooms, but that probably becomes part of their (hidden) fees for booking the trip.

It probably isn't necessary to be met at the airport in JNB, if you are a seasoned traveler and no the ins and outs of international airports and travel. We could have done that on our own as well, but it was nice to have someone meet us. Hand us our itinerary and be there in case flights had been delayed. She was a very pleasant person and was a joy to talk to someone from JNB. She had lunch with us before we headed back to the US and she was a knowledgeable source on SA and we enjoyed her prespective on the history of Africa and the people who settled in JNB. She also pre-checked us in the hotel and we just walked right up to counter and were immediately taken to our room, after a long and tiring trip. She also arranged a porter to take our bags to the airport the next morning for our flight to MM.

Hope this helps.
-Granny Joan


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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 02:45 PM
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Thanks GJ. I will be using my FF miles for this next trip and know my way around JNB airport. If I remember correctly you booked MM main camp but got upgraded for your entire stay at MM? Do you think your agent had some pull with this? Did you mention who you used, I can't recall?
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 03:43 PM
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Carla,

I'm not sure if the agent had pull on the upgrades or not, but she was aware that we were upgraded when I emailed her after the trip. We had been to MM before and it is possible we were upgraded due to the fact that we were repeat customers or possibly just because we had booked for such a long time.

We were upgraded to Sable for 8 days and Rattrays for 5 days. What a treat!

I used Intrav, a company that we have traveled with on prior trips. We had taken a private jet tour with them to Africa prior to this trip and I remembered they did custom trips to Africa, as well as a couple of our standard trips each year.

The TA tried to talk us into another option, but we insisted on MM and prevailed. I guess they are surprised that someone might like to stay at one camp only. Our previous trips had included 8 or 9 African countries and itineraries with 3 days in each country. We just wanted to go back to MM and enjoy the entire time relaxing and doing game drives. It was perfect for us.

Have you been to MM before?

- Granny Joan
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 05:29 PM
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My TA books MM for me now, though I have gone direct in the past. It can be a bit of a hassle getting everything sorted out directly, and so I leave that to my TA.
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 06:23 PM
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Hi CarlaM

I book directly with MM and have no trouble. For me, there was no advantage booking with a ta, in fact, everything took so long to get back to me, taking into account the time difference. I do get the ta to book all my flights, which is getting a bit messy, as I now leave MM in the morning and go to the international airport nearby by a small plane so I get in an extra gamedrive the night before and part of one in the morning and no nights in Johannesburg.

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 06:32 PM
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Thanks GJ, this is all good info for me to digest.

Matt and Kaye, sorry if this question is out of line, but since you both are frequent long stay clients of MM, do they offer upgrades, discounts or private vehicles, anything? Would you mind sharing who your TA is Matt? You don't have to answer if I am being too nosey, I will understand. Thanks all.
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 08:42 PM
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Hi CarlaM

No, they have never given me a discount for long stays, and that is their policy, which I have always known upfront. Neither am I given a private vehicle, though staying a long time, I can sometimes get lucky and have the odd day by myself, which is a real luxury, especially after having fellow guests from hell so to speak, and I am sure we have all had our share of them!

I have been given two nights upgrade to Rattray's soon after the camp was first opened, and I loved it so much that I have returned each visit just for 3 or 4 nights during my visit to Main Camp. I have also been given a suite many times, when I have only paid for a room.

They look after me very well, so I cannot complain. In the gameviewing side I think I am a bit difficult, as that is my real passion, while on the accomodation and food, as long as it is comfortable and I am fed, I am very happy. So the ranger side with the gameviewing is my top priority by a long way, and I have always had great fun and great gameviewing with all the rangers.

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Jul 1st, 2007, 11:36 PM
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My 2 cents. Nope, never heard of MM discounts.
I also wonder if the sales commission payed by MM to TAs is not somewhat less than average. Anyone know? Or, in general how does the sales commission paid to TAs vary within the "safari industry"?

regards - tom
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 05:40 AM
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Tom, I have also wondered about whether the TA's got any discount back from MM as my TA was reluctant to put me at MM for the full 12 night stay, insisting that I might not be happy with that and was pushing an alternate itinerary. The TA was pushing Thorny Bush and Lion Sands which I assumed might be giving her a larger fee than MM. Just my thought and no reason to substantiate that thought.

Kaye, I agree that the rangers and staff do treat the guests very well and each of the camps whether Main, Sable or Rattray's provide nice accomodations for great gameviewing. There is so little difference in the Main and Sable camp that I believe MM is missing the boat in filling up Sable camp by charging the extra for those rooms.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 06:48 AM
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My TA is Nicky Glover of Eyes on Africa.

MM generally runs at about 80% occupancy - they have no need to give discounts.

We have been upgraded to Sable from Main, but that's it. We have not had a private vehicle, but when the four of us travel, we always get the vehicle to ourselves, so I guess that is private. I'm sure if camp was at 100% they may add someone to the vehicle.

If a TA was pushing against 12 nights in one location, they were probably just wating to make sure you had a good trip. Imagine being 12 nights if you hated a place. I have booked so many trips with Nicky that she does what I ask her to. It's only when we decide to go somewhere new that she has to answer a lot of questions.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 10:02 AM
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Thanks to all, very helpful info.
CarlaM is offline  
Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:23 AM
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I think I have heard that MM pays a 5% commission to TA's. (But I could be wrong.) I booked direct and used TA once (former TA?).

I think the people that book direct and save MM the commission should get free drinks/wine. That's $50 per day for a couple. I don't know why we whine about paying for drinks. I guess it's just the principal of the thing. And I do believe some people do drink more (way too much) when it's "free".
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Hi Sundowner

I do not understand the complaining about paying for drinks either - if that is a real priority for some, and amazingly it seems to be, then don't go to MM. For me, someone who drinks very little, I am thrilled to not be paying for something I do not have! Especially when I have a niece with me who is not old enough to be drinking, and I have to pay for her as an adult. The drinks are not free, you are paying for them, which is fine if you have them! I do not see there being a principle in the thing at all! The principle would be paying for it and not drinking it!

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 08:30 PM
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Well, there is "drinking" and there is "drinking". I'm glad your young niece is not "drinking", drinking beer that is. Does she drink soft drinks, Cokes? No, only bottled water, well good for her. But that is still "drinking".
How about your flight to Africa. Did you get free soft drinks? Or, beer or wine? You pay for those whether you partake or not. AND so did your niece.

How about laundry, MM does your laundry at no cost. Why don't they charge for that? I rather object to paying for other peoples laundry since I do not need to have mine done at MM. I turn my underwear etc inside out and wear it for another seven days. (I can't afford to stay at MM longer than six days anyway).

regards - tom
ps - I'd trade free drinks for seeing lion cubs. Now that makes perfect logic does it not . Now see what you've started Carla !!!!!
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 09:25 PM
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Yes Tom, the girls will have a soft drink with dinner and the older ones a glass of wine maybe, and I am happy, yes happy to pay for that. I drink just the tap water, not a bottled water drinker. If I am there by myself, I rarely have dinner, so again, not an issue!

I do my own laundry at MM, as the girls do theirs, so that is not an issue. As for the airlines, once again I drink the water and if the girls have a soft drink, flying business I am well aware I have paid for those, and I am happy for them to have one or two soft drinks. I know I have paid for the wine etc etc, but I am hardly going to guzzle it down, just because I have paid for it.

I just do not get your position at all, while mine is quite clear - I like having to pay an account for the drinks that I consume - not paying a lump sum that includes drinks, and I do not know the figure they include in places like Singita, Lion Sands, but I am pretty sure I would not come close to it!

Kind regards

Kaye

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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 10:22 PM
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I confess, I just jumped in to stir the pot and try to start "something"

regards - tom
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 01:03 AM
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Tom

Why??????????????

Kind regards

Kaye
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 01:05 AM
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Why not ????????

regards - tom
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Old Jul 3rd, 2007, 01:27 AM
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Tom

I suppose I figured most people had better things to do with their time - this is something I might expect from my 12 year old nephew!

Kind regards

Kaye
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