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Is this quote for a package too much?

West Conshohocken...
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Is this quote for a package too much?

I've been communicating with an agent for a couple weeks regarding a custom tour for my husband and I and am wondering if the quote is ridiculously high.

The details of what's included:

5 nights at Bantry Bay B&B (includes breakfast)

4 nights at a Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

2 nights in Hazyview (includes breakfast)

transfer from airport in Cape Town to hotel

shark diving in Gansbaai with transfer to/from

rental car (automatic) for 10 days

flight from Cape Town to Hodespruit

flight from Nelspruit to Johannesburg

The price for the above is about $3900 pp.

Are they trying to pull one over on me, or is this actually reasonable and about what I'd get trying to do this myself?

Hazyview, South...
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1. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

Very much depending on the category of accommodation but it sounds reasonable to me as it includes the 2 internal flights as well as car hire.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

West Conshohocken...
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2. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

The accomodations are Villa Sunshine in Capetown, Shindzela for safari, and Perry's Bridge Hollow in Hazyview. So nothing extremely fancy, but also not really cheap either.

Am I thinking about this right that I should just have them get the skeleton of the trip figured out and then we can book/plan everything else like tickets for Robben Island, hiking Table Mountain, driving the Panorama Route, etc,?

Hazyview, South...
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3. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

I am sure they are not trying to rip you off, nevertheless, as you know the accommodation and the rest, why not book yourself online?

There is nothing special to the agenda that you would not be able to organise yourself.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

Edited: 04 September 2012, 16:43
West Conshohocken...
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4. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

Thanks for your help/advice Klaus. I guess I'm just worried about having no point of contact if things go screwy while we are there.

Also, is it too early to book a trip for a year from now (by myself or with an agent)? I ask because I am being pressured to decide now or else the spaces on hold might disappear. Is this normal? I've never dealt with an agent before and it seems predatory to me, but maybe I just don't understand how the industry works or how fast these accommodations go in SA.

Hazyview, South...
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5. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

In a year from now, I assume means September.

The private reserves are booked early, not sure about your specific one, maybe someone can advise.

Otherwise booking now is early and you could wait a bit. If you have specific places you want to stay at, book as early as possible, but that does not seem the issue with you.

It is very easy to plan and book yourself, thousands and thousands of people do that in a yearly base.

If things go wrong, wherever you stay, you will be helped.

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

South Africa
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6. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

Why not ask them for an exact breakdown of how they arrived at the total? It should not cost more to book through an agent, they earn some commission on booking the accommodation and you should pay the same as when you book direct. If not, something is wrong.

Here is my quick breakdown:

Villa sunshine about R600pp - total for 5 nights R3000 if I read their website correctly.

Cape Town airpot transfers - about R450 pp return.

Shark diving about R1500 pp including transfers (depends on operator).

Flight Cape Town to Hoedspruit - could not get a price for September 2013 but for 4 Nov (2 months from now) I got a price of R3494 pp.

Car rental 10 days about R400 pd for cheapest automatic - total R2000 pp

4 nights at Shindzela - R6750 pp (they have a longstay special, and I included no road transfers to lodge assuming you have your rental car. Timbavati entrance fees also excluded).

2 nights Perrys Bridge - total R1470 pp.

Flight Nelspruit to Joburg - can vary but about R1400 pp.

Based on the above the grand total comes to just over R20,000 pp. At current exchange rate that should convert to around $2500 at the most.

I don't see how it can cost $3900, unless I missed something. The above is just an estimate, done hastily and should not be seen as a quote.

My advice is to ask for a detailed breakdown, and then also get some quotes from other companies to compare with.

Your point about booking with an agent and having someone you can turn to is a good one. Some prefer having an agent in their home country, others prefer their agent or tour operator to be in South Africa, so they can easily contact them during their trip if necessary, and benefit from the first hand local destination knowledge and expertise. But it should not cost more than if you book everything direct. This price looks a bit too high to me.

I hope this helps.

Onne from Wild Wings Safaris

South Africa
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7. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

Also, it is not too early to book now for a year from now, but there should also not be pressure that you must decide right now. If they are overcharging you, they might want to put pressure on you to decide now so you don't have time to get a few other quotes to compare with. I would say the only part of your itinerary which may be at risk being full if you wait too long, is Shindzela (or any other low budget game lodge in the greater Kruger area).

West Conshohocken...
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8. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

I did push back a little this morning on them asking for a cost breakout and they said it wasn't possible because:

"we receive everything from the ground offices as a package rate as we get preferred rates which are confidential which are rolled into a package rate to give you the best possible overall package price."

I got similar hasty numbers wild-wings and that's when things started to seem fishy to me. I am confused because they have such good reviews everywhere.

Miami, Florida
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9. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

I won't ask you for the name of the company, however, if it is U.S.-based, I think we were working with the same one. I also worked with an agent, who was very nice and helpful, but their quote was outrageous and when i asked for a breakdown they said it was against company policy to provide one. So I researched the costs if I were to book myself and I ended up saving about $3,000. The only thing I couldn't book myself directly was the safari lodge (Lion Sands), but the lodge directed me to Rhino Africa and by booking through them I ended up saving 15% on the published rack rate (during peak season!). The other advantage of doing it myself was that I got to book my number one choice for the B&B in Cape Town (Boutique Manolo), which did not accept bookings through travel agents. So I definitely think you're better off booking everything yourself!

South Africa
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10. Re: Is this quote for a package too much?

It sounds to me if this agent is US based that it is one of those that don't have the required destination knowledge and first hand experience of Africa, so they book via an African based operator, get a package from them and have to mark that up to make a profit. In a case like that, they cannot offer a breakdown because it will expose how much they are overcharging you.

There are some notable exceptions, but many US based agents work via a local operator because they don't have the necessary expertise, and that adds an unnecessary layer of profit to the quote. One solution is to book everything yourself, like MTirado says. But if you still prefer to benefit from the destination knowledge and advice of a local expert, someone you can call if something goes wrong, someone to make all the arrangements and the convenience of one payment instead of multiple payments to all the suppliers, it makes sense to choose an operator based in South Africa who do not mark up the published rack rate and might even be able to negotiate a discount for you, as you saw with Rhino Africa.

I know many people feel safer booking with a US based company, but the top agents or operators in South Africa are very reliable companies with bonding insurance and SATSA membership, and usually have very well travelled tour consultants who are sent on regular educational trips all over Southern Africa. A decent company will typically employ local trip planning experts who have vast first hand destination knowledge, and they will not hesitate to give you a full breakdown of your quote, because they know their quote is the same or less than if you book everything yourself.

If you are still hesitant, check out the company on Tripadvisor to see what reviews they get.