The vast selection of safari experiences on offer in Southern and East Africa can make it quite a challenge for operators to select the right destination, offering and itinerary for clients. Tourism Update asked industry leaders to provide tips for matching the safari best suited to clients.
Wilderness Safaris Business Unit Manager for North America, Simon Stobbs, says: “The key is to understand your clients. This is best done by taking time upfront to ask the right questions. Some of the key questions would be what guests would like to see on a safari and if their focus is specific to wildlife, culture, photography, birding etc.”
He suggests that if guests are not first-time safari travellers it would be important to know what they previously enjoyed about their experiences, and what they did not particularly like, in order to align it with the right budget. Once guests engage about their personal preferences, one can match the suitable safari experience that fits their needs and expectations.
“As Wilderness Safaris operates in eight African countries, we’re very easily able to tailor to guests specific requirements and create life-changing journeys. As a result of our personalised safari building, we have many repeat travellers,” says Stobbs.
Travelling on a budget may hinder one’s safari experience, with safaris coming in at generally, quite a hefty price. One can cut costs if they opt for a group camping safari; this applies to solo travelers too.
Owner of Mfafa Safaris, Anne Briggs, says you need to find out a little more about your clients, all the while taking into consideration their budget, as well as what your clients are interested in doing and seeing.
Operators should check in advance if there will be any additional costs at park gates, in order to give a proper overview to their clients, as well as check for any hidden expense they may incur.
“There is a misconception that an amazing safari experience has to break the bank, which simply isn’t the case,” says Jenny Gray, Intrepid’s Africa Product Manager, according to Mashable, a global multi-media and entertainment company. “We trade the luxury lodges for authentic home stays and camping under the stars.”
Gray adds that travelling in a small group helps reduce costs significantly.
When it comes to the various options on offer, the type of traveller needs to be considered.
Briggs says solo travellers may want to join a group, or possibly do a package tour, whereas honeymooners prefer privacy and a romantic destination.
Solo travellers on a Privately Guided Exploration benefit from no single supplement charge and this is a great way for them to be part of a high-end safari and still enjoy value for money,” says Roberto Viviani, Wilderness Safaris Business Manager for Europe and the UK.
Briggs says it is vital to know the age of the guests to find out if they are special-need travellers who may require wheelchair access, or if children will be travelling, and their ages, as many activities and properties have age restrictions. She also says if they are very young, an operator will be limited in what they can offer.
Families will want activities that include children of various ages and have a slightly different variety of activities on offer, as well as babysitters on stand-by, mentions Briggs.
Therefore it is vital for operators to find out what is on offer at various lodges to ensure there are child-friendly activities to keep the little ones entertained. Operators must also check if age restrictions apply.
For millennials, operators must be on the look-out for places that offer WiFi access, as they tend to be active on social media, suggests Briggs.
Millennials generally prefer not to be offline, so operators must ensure the camps they are offering have accessible Internet connection, as well as electricity and sufficient plug-points for them to charge their devices.
Tour operators should also opt for beach and bush combos for the young millennials, as today’s youth generally enjoy ending their trip, soaking up the sun.
Viviani mentioned that multi-generational travel had increased over the years, therefore it is vital that operators match clients’ expectations with right product.
“Wilderness Safaris offers tailor-made itineraries and cater for the specific needs of multi-generational travellers,” says Viviani.
Briggs says senior travellers will most likely look for comfort and possibly ease of access to hotels and on tours.
Operators must verify that lodgings are well-suited to those who are more seasoned, with appropriate wheelchair access and facilities.