With 25 years of experience as an organizer of safaris and holidays in South Africa, we offer you a few tips on how to avoid the booking blunders that do not make for happy holidays. So, when wooed short-notice by your wanderlust, bear these pointers in mind and perhaps also consider using the services of a reputable booking agent or tour organizer who will have your best interests at heart.
Booking Blunder #1
The first booking blunder is not booking at all! South Africa has very busy peak holiday seasons and times of year, such as long weekends and school holiday periods, when hotels are fully booked. Impulse travel may be fabulously free-spirited and it may work well for roadtrippers arriving in incy-wincy towns that are all but on the map, but in general, gone are the days when travellers can arrive at hotels and guesthouses, eager and unbooked, without risk of being turned away. So do secure advance bookings.
Booking Blunder #2
If you’re booking on the basis of a last-minute offer, be aware that this may not be one of the best rooms in the house. The solution is to check with the agent or hotel exactly what the room does and does not offer.
Booking Blunder #3
Avoid paying cancellation fees by being sure that you are going to travel before paying deposits. If you’re booking a little while in advance, do take out travel insurance for those unforeseen circumstances.
Each establishment determines and applies a cancellation policy at its own discretion, but bear in mind that up to 100% cancellation fee is usually charged on cancellations within 30 days of date of travel.
Booking Blunder #4
Be sure that you know what costs you may need to incur in addition to those you have already paid or expect to pay. If, for example, you are going into a game reserve, entry and / or conservation fees are usually charged at the entry point. They are charged either per vehicle, per person or both and these will generally not have been included in the rate you have paid. Check beforehand what the reserve fee is and also importantly, the gate closing time.
Booking Blunder #5
Double check arrival and departure dates on your own correspondence and on all confirmations from agents / tour operators / hotels. Be very careful to select the correct dates when making online bookings – errors can be costly!
Booking Blunder #6
Be very clear about any particular requirements and requests you may have. Not all rooms at seaside hotels have sea views! Be clear about whether the room reserved for you has what you’re expecting, and have the agent / hotel confirm your exact requirements. If you are wanting something very particular such a private dinner in a special location, be specific and give the lodge enough notice to pull out all the stops. Incredibly special experiences can be arranged for you!
Booking Blunder #7
Beware of travel booking scams. Last-minute travellers in a rush to secure accommodation are perhaps particularly susceptible to scams such as false advertisements requesting hefty deposits from unsuspecting travellers.
Use a Reputable Travel Professional
Play it safe by using the services of a reputable travel agent or tour operator and choose a company that has a proven track record. Length of operation does not necessarily guarantee excellence, but is probably a reasonable marker of reliability. It can be very helpful to work with a travel professional who develops long-term relationships with their clients and who comes to know clients’ particular preferences and interests. It is always helpful to use an agent or operator whom you can reach after hours, in the event of an emergency.
Exclusive Getaways has been in operation for 25 years in South Africa, booking South African safaris and holidays in the luxury bracket, and marketing the country’s leading lodges, hotels and guesthouses. Our booking office is open for business from Mondays – Fridays 08h30 – 16h30 and we offer an emergency after-hours service. Call us on +27 21 797-7122 (international) or 0860 102 907 (local) or mail us for assistance.