Use caution when booking

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Jul 28th, 2003, 03:31 PM
  #1
LizFrazier
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Use caution when booking

Hope I don't ruffle too many feathers on this, but I have become aware that some posters/observers are making referrals to agents based on telling us things on this site, or observing our postings of what we are planning.
I think we all know that we end up paying for that in our price, so I would recommend that you not use your email address here, or your full name. Fortunately my husband has a different name than I, so I'm protected somewhat in that way.
If you don't mind the extra expense involved then this won't bother you. But if you book your on your own you can still be affected. Referrals aren't free. Most of us give help here gladly, but some take advantage and use this to their advantage.

A word to the wise......
 
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Jul 31st, 2003, 07:58 AM
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Maybe it is just me but what are you talking about?
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Jul 31st, 2003, 09:55 AM
  #3
LizFrazier
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Sorry let me explain. Most people don't know how many travel agents use this site for business. Folks come here for help as well they should. We all pitch in and give all the help we can. My problem is,and it shouldn't be my problem I admit, but it irks me when some one uses a hidden agenda when giving help. That is, use my information and I want a referral out of it or somesuch. I see it getting overwhelming when an agent harangues someone they helped "voluntarily", then badmouths them here because they wouldn't tell who they booked with. We have them who also share, share, and share and neither get nor expect anything for it. Truly trying to help make a persons trip a wonderful experience. Selwyn is the perfect example of this type. He helps people with Capetown and assists them in finding safaris.
One agent here even had the audacity to make a referral without even posting here or asking the person if he could. So a traveller would be caught totally unaware and not tell the company she was NOT referred by anyone. Sometimes this may not cost you, or seem to, but it costs you eventually because after so many referrals that person will get a free trip or somesuch.
So I just want people to be aware this can happen and to prepare. Periodically I post about it and get the wrath of some on me.
I have nothing against agents, I use them. I just want to be aware of what all I'm paying for when I do. Liz
 
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Jul 31st, 2003, 11:09 AM
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And your point is...............
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Jul 31st, 2003, 11:18 AM
  #5
LizFrazier
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Sometimes what you don't know can hurt you. If you don't care, just ignore it. Thats prettty much it. Have you been to Africa? Liz
 
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Jul 31st, 2003, 12:28 PM
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I've been to Africa many, many times, and have a trip planned to Kenya/Uganda/Rwanda in August, and I admit, I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about? Is your point that you've made a lot of referrals and that those persons should mention to the agent that you referred them so that you get a discount or free trip. If that's the case, please say that in all your posts so that readers will mention you.
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Jul 31st, 2003, 01:03 PM
  #7
LizFrazier
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That is what happens or can happen. If its declared to you, its fine, if not then we end up paying for it whether we like it or not. No I am not an agent if that is what you are asking. Some are and don't declare it. Thats the point. It probably hasn't happened to you. Or if it has you don't know about it. Lots of folks don't know or care how it works. Perhaps you are one of them and so don't worry about it. Enjoy your trip. Post us a good report when you get back. Please. Liz
 
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Jul 31st, 2003, 07:04 PM
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How about giving us some specific examples, LizFrazier. Thanks
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Jul 31st, 2003, 07:46 PM
  #9
LizFrazier
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Pat
Have you been to Africa yet?
 
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Aug 1st, 2003, 03:45 AM
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LizFrazier, thanks for asking
We are in a process of deciding where and when to go on our first safari. This is a reason why I read and try to understand many posts here. Sorry but I still feel confused about yours. You are telling to use caution but I do not know when and regarding what.
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Aug 1st, 2003, 04:21 AM
  #11
LizFrazier
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Pat-
I can see that you don't. I'm not going any further with it. If you are serious and want information on Africa, you probably need a travel agent to spend time explaining things to you. You'll find many recommendations from tried and true ones here. Just ask if you are serious. If you are just killng time, you can still read and enjoy the posts.
Just use the search box at the top of the page, put the country in that you are interested in, and we have covered them all. You'll get a ton of information and just concentrate on that. You'll have days and days of good reading with trip reports and helpful advice. Liz
 
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Aug 1st, 2003, 11:28 AM
  #12
Peep
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I don't get it either. It sounds like you're warning people not to ask questions on Fodors???
 
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Aug 1st, 2003, 11:38 AM
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Thank you Peep, Pat2003 and Thit_cho, I don't get it either
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Aug 1st, 2003, 12:05 PM
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I am so confused...I thought it was just me that did not get it.

I talked to a space alien once and he made more sense.
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Aug 1st, 2003, 12:08 PM
  #15
dlm
 
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I think Liz's point is the following (and believe me, I could be wrong, she is very cryptic): Liz appears to be concerned that there is a travel agent lurking on the boards who recommends a hotel or some other service to a poster. The poster accepts the recommendation, books the hotel, and posts that on fodors. Then, the scheming travel agent calls the hotel to get credit for the poster's booking. I'm not sure why this practice (even if it occurs, which I doubt it does with any frequency) is particularly worrisome. Liz, is this what you are talking about?
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Aug 1st, 2003, 01:22 PM
  #16
sandi
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Hi Kevin -

I kept reading these and I am as confused as it appears is everyone else!!!

Bye the way, loved your remark about the "anvil" /iron in Egypt! You're a hoot!
 
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Aug 1st, 2003, 02:29 PM
  #17
LizFrazier
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You guys are absolutely right! This is way too deep for you. I'd seen some of this actually on another board in one of the threads and it made perfect sense to me and explained a lot of what I've seen here, but I've had a pretty varied background and we're not all at the same point. Sorry, I won't get into the deeper stuff here. I tend to fit pieces of a puzzle together where some people don't even see a puzzle. I love figuring things out. :->
 
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Aug 1st, 2003, 03:35 PM
  #18
LizFrazier
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dlm-
Didn't see your post at first. Yes of course, was it really that hard to understand? It does happen and more than you realize. Since it isn't something most people care about it shouldn't have been brought up. It is something I almost got burned on when I went to book my Kenya trip and went to an agent recommended here. The bid came in $1500 higher, so I changed and was quoted reasonable prices with another agent, and then all the prices changed and the price jumped up over $1500 higher. They were both recommended here. When I booked on my own the price was exactly as posted on the camps website. So I think it does happen and I was caught unawares. When I checked around I saw someone else mention this on I think it was the Europe board, I'm not sure where, I can't find it now.
But when such world travellers do not get it, then I don't care if you don't.
Kevin though really has a serious problem. You get more sense out of a space alien? Really, you talk to space aliens? And you were the one who told a serious poster with a question to pack large rocks in their suitcase? Yeah, that really made sense to me.
However, that aside, when I find those kind of comments, I simply avoid that thread. Maybe its just because its slow now and everyone is a little bored. So back to my book. Liz
 
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Aug 2nd, 2003, 06:43 AM
  #19
sandi
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This has been a very difficult year for tour operators to Africa and elsewhere in the world.

Price lists are published about 6-mo. ahead of the dates listed with a caveat "prices not firm till booked".

This year, unfortunately, the USD was very weak against most currencies, the SARand speciafically going from a high of about $USD/10SAR (1-2 yrs ago) to a low this year of $USD/7-8SAR - that's about 20%.

Accordingly, lots of operators had to have their itineraries repriced. That's why many of us saw the prices for a camp like Singita go from a rate of $650-$700/nt/person to over $1,000/nt/person.

Generally, in checking prices for a trip we had planned, we found the prices for the itinerary we designed were just about the same from two companies I received quotes from.

I can even recall when we did our first trip to Kenya, had used the A&K itinerary as a guide but the prices were way out of line. So we found another tour operator and we were able to save approx. $1500 person.

A&K and the other big operators build alot of their overhead into their prices and there is a market out there willing to pay. On the otherhand, there are smaller operators who don't have the overhead and can be more competitive with their prices.

That's why you have to shop around.

As an aside, a friend was booking a trip to Australia, New Zealand and mid-way before they made final payment all prices were adjusted upward because of the currency exchange of $USD and AUD$. It happens and this should be clearly defined in the brochures or proposals you receive from a tour operator.
 
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Aug 2nd, 2003, 08:31 AM
  #20
LizFrazier
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Thank you Sandi for your detailed post. If I may ask you one question and I will understand more of the process.
I really became aware of this when Rocco was planning his trip and went into such great detail when posting. I learned a lot from him. I've thanked him many times for passing this on to us, but one thing I should have asked and didn't know to ask was this: If a camp in Africa charges a rate, and that is the rate. When an agent books it, there is an amount they are paid for booking. Thats how commissions are paid here in the U.S. Whether you are buying furniture, cars, etc. We pay a rate and the salesman gets a commission paid by the retailer. That is what we are led to believe anyway. The same with airlines and all of the various things that an agent books for a person.
So, if we have access to the rates, and we seem to have so much now that information is so easy to obtain on the internet, a person should be able to figure out what something will cost on their own. No problem yet. But when an extra $1500+ dollars is added to that bill, who gets that? You check all the camps, airlines, etc. and still the bottom line comes out way too high, then I object. I am assuming the agent is paid by all of those businesses, then why am I charged so much more?
I appreciate the situation that bookings are way down and the poor guy has to eat and support a family, but isn't that over the top? I count how much I have to spend on a trip and when it jumps that much, uh oh, trip off.
So when I booked directly with the camp, I paid the advertised rate and it stayed the same. Even now when the final payment is due. I know Governors Camp would have given a fee to an agent for booking me, the same as I am paying a fee to their employee by going through them, but it doesn't seem to go up from the posted rate. In fact someone posted that the rates on the Mara are dropping drastically due to lack of tourists. I rather thought I might have a nice surprise when the final payment was due.
So I do really understand the situation with agents, and I don't have anything against them. If anything I appreciate them more now than ever when I see how difficult a job they have to make everything work like clock work. But even though I will gladly pay the asking rates, I can not afford to make up to them for what they lost from someone else. I simply can't and most of us here can't.
I am sad to say that I could not be taking two trips to Africa within 5 months of each other if I hadn't booked on my own. I would rather preferred not to do that. It was very difficult.
But since I brought this whole subject up when an agent made a referral of someone here without asking if it was okay with them, I could only think they had something to gain by doing it. Someone would be paying extra. If not why didn't the person ask first? I would have been delighted if someone would have offered to help me and could get me these trips within my budget. I am retired and I budget trips. I too am hurting because of the economy. Big time. I said this would be my last trip to Kenya. I meant that. Unless the economy improves, a lot of people will be curtailing travel, new cars and much more.
I really do appreciate your help on this as I think you should have a good knowlege about "how things work" due to your extensive travels. You seem to be very well versed.
Thanks for answering if you will give me your opinion. Liz
 
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