Rack rates for safaris

Reply

Aug 4th, 2012, 07:52 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 2
Rack rates for safaris

I have been to safari in Tanzania and S.Africa. I am planning on going again with my wife and was interested in the Sabi Sands area this time. Last time, I paid the rack rates, even though I booked through an online company called Safarinow-they had a lot of options and I booked a few days in Capetown too with them and booked Hoedspruit to Cape town flight myself. I am wondering is there any benefit of going through an agent? Are there any agents that give discounts on the rack rates? Just trying to see what kind of rates I can expect?

Currently looking at Londolozi, Sabi Sabi or Mala Mala, plus a few days of the Hamilton tented camp in Kruger. ( They seem to be lower priced, so thought I would mix up a few days of that with a few days of luxury.) But just wondering who might be a good travel agent for getting a good rate. Just in the planning stages now -Not looking for anything over $750 a night sharing p/p.
PPaso is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 4th, 2012, 08:58 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,215
Don't know. But many camps give a good discount for "long stay", like, pay for 4 nights stay for 5. The &Beyond camps there like, Exeter, Kirkmans, for example. Some camps give discount to returning guests, but that is probably not going to help you. You need to investigate this yourself otherwise your TA might simply do what you ask or keep the discount themselves.

If you haven't been in Kruger National Park, you should try it. We love it. Rent a car (JNB airport), drive (6 hours) to Kruger and stay at one of the huts in a Kruger rest camp. For less than $200 per person per day which includes your Avis rental car, hut, meals in camp restaurant. After staying in Kruger 3-4-5 days you can drive it up to a Sabi Sand camp where Avis will collect it.
http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 5th, 2012, 10:19 AM
  #3
dcd
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 4,711
From what I've read here and elsewhere, some travel agents do get discounts off some of the rack rates and will pass that along to you, as well as keeping some for their fee. See: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html

Until yesterday, when I pulled the trigger on our trip to S. Africa next year, I was working with 3 agents to get quotes and itinerary ideas. I received different lodge rates for the same camp from each one.

The downside to getting multiple bids for the same lodging is that each agent will put a "provisional hold" on a room there. Because some of these camps don't have many tents/rooms, you may be holding a significant number of the available rooms or one of your agents may be shut out of one or more of the lodges if there are very limited openings to begin with.

I ended up going with Sun Safari out of Cape Town (http://www.sunsafaris.com/). I couldn't find much online about them except from a frequent poster on this board, pixelpower, who has used them on several trips and has said great things about them.

My agent has been extremely prompt, knowledgeable and helpful. They also had the best prices on not just the lodging, but the transfers. But it's still a little early to pass final judgment, as the trip is a long way off.

I found recommendations for tour agents here and on tripadvisor. For instance:

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...mendations.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-operators.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/afri...-nightmare.cfm

http://safaritalk.net/topic/8744-a-c...s-kruger-2012/ (this is pixelpower's report on another site of his most recent trip)
dcd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 5th, 2012, 06:03 PM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 2
Thanks for the links! I have a lot more infor to go over now.
PPaso is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 6th, 2012, 12:09 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
Normally, rack rates should be just a bit higher than booking through an agent. There's a simple reason for that; lodges will never undercut agent's prices, as they fill up the majority of their beds.

An agent should also take over any promo from the lodge. IOW if there's a "stay 4 pay 3", it should also be on the proposal of the agent. And agents also have better tarrifs for transfers and even local flights.

So it should be beneficial to your wallet to book through an agent. Not that you will economize a lot, it depends on what you have spent. But even if it's only 100$; that's still two nice photo books in the bookstore of Jo'burg airport. ;-)

Another benefit when using a TA, is that you don't need to book everything yourself. That can be quite tricky when your itinerary features 4 lodges. By the time you booked the first three, the fourth may be out of rooms.

Sun Safaris has a bit of an extra advantage if you book one of the camps they co-own in Klaserie. Very sharp prices!

---

I can understand that Sun Safaris isn't very know; seems like lots of people still prefer agents that live near to them, instead of trusting their money to an agent based in Africa. So understandably, most talk here on Fodors is about them. But the big agents based in Cape Town, Arusha, etc are very much OK.

Actually, lots of EU- and US-based agents use African agents, without customers ever knowing. And then they add an uplift, which means bye bye cheaper prices. ;-)

Ciao,

J.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 6th, 2012, 05:32 AM
  #6
dcd
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 4,711
PPaso,

I was able to retrieve this link to a tripadvisor thread addressing your question and giving some more insights:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Botswana.html
dcd is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 8th, 2012, 02:27 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 730
Most safari lodges have provisions in agent’s contracts forbidding them from selling their lodges below their published (a.k.a. rack, a.k.a. website) price. One theory is that if an agent can afford to discount a lodge then they should simply charge full price and spend the excess marketing the lodge. There are lots of arguments surround this fundamental pricing question.

Sun Safaris is a great outfit. They are based in Cape Town and the owner Brett Thompson is a friend of mine. I have been on safari with him as my roommate in Namibia and I see him in Cape Town. I can endorse them from an angle of friend and competitor!

Craig Beal – owner – Travel Beyond
2011 Travel & Leisure A-List Agent for Botswana & Zimbabwe.
Safari_Craig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 9th, 2012, 01:54 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 221
Not sure i fully agree that booking direct is always more expensive than going through agents (for fear of under cutting). I think it depends when you book and where you stay. Most of the times I agree that certain agents get better rates. However, I have definitely optioned better direct rates at Royal Mara and Mara Explorer by going direct.
philw is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 10th, 2012, 05:35 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 813
philw,

If you've got TA's with higher prices than booking direct, then it means you're shopping at a TA that takes an uplift on top of the prices of another (local) TA.
pixelpower is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 10th, 2012, 09:25 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 221
Hi Pixelpower

Whilst I agree with you that this is mostly the case (for the reasons you suggest), it is not always true when booking late, particularly at small privately owned camps.

Phil
philw is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 10th, 2012, 09:33 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 104
PPaso
Yes you can.
You just have to know where to look. Unfortunately the safari industry has changed in times with many many new comers trying to hop on the bandwagon. Sad to say but true.

Mark
Taga_Safaris is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:38 AM.