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Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Sydney
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Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Hi guys

Many of you assisted me with booking our honeymoon safari earlier in the year for which I am still very grateful. I ended up booking (and paying the deposit) with Sunny Safaris back in January for our safari which starts this weekend.

In about March I enquired with the hotels I had specifically requested just to check if Sunny Safaris had made the right bookings. Some had received the bookings, some had not. I followed this up with the Sunny Safaris representative who kept assuring me that it was all ok and there's no need to worry. I thought that they would get the message that I would not accept any hotel swapping on their behalf.

Fast forward to this week, being just days before the safari, and the Sunny Safaris rep has informed me that some of the bookings weren't able to be made, but not to worry as I will be upgraded if this is the case.

It sounds a little suspect to me, I just wanted to know whether this is standard practice, whether there is any cause for concern and if there is anything I should do or check now or on the safari?

As always, your help is greatly appreciated!

Bristol
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1. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Do you have any specific details as to which lodges there have been problems with? Were any of them from the Serena chain as I have seen comments on TA before where they have overbooked rooms in their lodges and then some people have had to be changed to alternative accomodation at the last minute.

Any more information would be appreciated.

Sydney
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2. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Yes, one of the problem accommodation was a Serena lodge, the other was a Sopa lodge.

The Sunny Safaris rep does seem to be suggesting that the booking was cancelled last minute. However, it's hard to tell, especially when these were the two hotel booking that werent able to confirm to me any booking when I checked.

Isle of Man, United...
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3. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Sounds to me that the problem lies with the Lodge chains and not Sunny.

No confirmation of bookings means that they were holding things open for Group bookings.

Just ensure your 'upgrades really are that and not just a different Lodge. Find out where they are now and let us comment.

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Tanzania
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4. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

It is common for the "lodge Chains" to hold bookings and then at the last minute to bump the clients off in favour of group bookings.In this instance it is hard to tell the safari company is often promised 'they will clear" meaning I dont have a vacancy right now becaue of group booking but will when your clients are ready to travel.

This is a nuisance and the operator often gets blamed for lying etc etc.

Most operators operate in good faith. I would ask Sunny for the upgrades and make sure you get them.

Canada
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5. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Just before we went on our safari in June two of our lodges, both Serena, were changed at the last minute due to overbooking - one the week before we left and the other the morning we left home. They had both been booked 10 months in advance. Our safari operator was even more angry than we were and had a huge fight with Serena officials - had them in his office that day! As he said, it looks bad on him as the operator. In both cases we were upgraded to other non Serena accommodations and he got us free drinks at Serena's Kirawira luxury tented camp, where thankfully our booking was not bumped.

From what I have read this is fairly common happening with Serena.

Saint Paul...
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for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
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6. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Quite common with Serena. Almost never happens anywhere else. That's my experience anyway.

Isle of Man, United...
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340 reviews
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7. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Is there nothing that you Tour Operators can do that could stop this iniquitous practice? Surely if enough of you got together and slammed them things could only get better?

Or is the answer just to tell your clients upfront that you will not book them into a Serena Lodge for that reason?

I know TZ is not UK but a large chain tried this a couple of years back where it became their common practice to book folks elsewhere in the chain because of a practice of Over-booking and relying on 'no shows' like the airlines do.

There was a large outcry when word got out and they ceased doing it.

Saint Paul...
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for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
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8. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

We frequently tell people that we hesitate to book Serena for this very reason. Sometimes the travelers really want Serena. Sometimes it's the only thing available.

We've tried communicating with the folks at Serena. Experience shows that hasn't worked. I could threaten them to stop sending clients. Right, that'll hurt them. Er - I think not.

Now, it's not like every booking is bumped. Most bookings are honored, but every now and then they play games. BTW, usually it does come with a request from them to upgrade to Kirawira or something like that. Usually, if we stand firm "NO WE WANT WHAT WE BOOKED" they will back down and I presume they look for another sucker. Usually.

Saint Paul...
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for Tanzania, Serengeti National Park
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9. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

Additional note: I don't think Serena has ever left us high and dry and completely without an option. AND, often when they say something like Serena Serengeti is full, you can have Mbuzi Mawe, we often come back with "No, if you want them to move, give us Dunia" (or something else that costs a lot more and that is not theirs) - that's a somewhat effective strategy.

Isle of Man, United...
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10. Re: Sunny Safaris and hotel bookings

I like your way better.

So next time I want Kirawira or Dunia I will get you to book me into Serena..(Kirawira I think I would like. Not sure Dunia is my scene though.)