to Experience Africa
We are currently uploading our new website, please bear
with us, we expect it to be fully operational before the
New Year. For bookings please contact Zenda Scholtz on +27
796 119 464. To contact Nick Ray Ball please email Chairman@S-World.tv
Experience Africa is the luxuries and safaris extension
to www.CapeVillas.com, established in 1999, awarded a Condé
Nast recommendation for “best Luxury Villas by the
sea” in 2009.
We have four key words, which collectively create the foundation
for our company and your experience in Africa.
Experience, Innovation, Truth and Ecology
Our founding philosophy is “Experience.”
In the world of Travel, particularly in Africa we have found
the experience desired by one group or family can vary considerably
from another. For instance, if we consider safaris there
are many variations.
From viewing the great Wildebeest Migration across the planes
of the Serengeti in Tanzania, set against the backdrop of
Mt Kilimanjaro, to quad biking across the desert sands in
Namibia, to the wetlands of the Okavango Delta in Botswana,
or a BIG 5 (Elephant, Leopard, Lion, Buffalo and Rhinoceros)
experience in the Kruger Park, South Africa.
One also needs to consider the style of the accommodation:
Classic, Modern, Super Luxury or Authentic. Then and of
course the size of the establishment needs to be considered,
from large and lively to small and intimate. On top of this
comes family considerations, not many safaris accommodate
children, and those that do vary enormously from “putting
up with children” to “mummy, mummy can we go
Carry Hampton has been consulting with Experience Africa
since 2009, Carry is not an agent, rather a travel writer.
In the course of writing for various books published on
safaris, Carry has visited and reviewed over 200 different
venues, there are but a handful of people on earth with
that level of hands on experience.
When it comes to Villas, the difference in experiences is
as acute as it is for safaris, having 13 years experience
in this particular field and being a division of Cape Villas,
the only villa company in Africa to be recommended by Condé
Nast Traveller tells its own story. However, if you are
booking in Cape Town in a Villa or Hotel, we wish to further
add to your experience.
From knowing exactly which three out of the fifty odd wine-farms
in Franschhoek are best to visit or knowing the best scenic
hikes across Table Mountain and beyond, knowing a lawyer
that will be available at 1am on New Year’s Eve (true
story,) or simply knowing where the party is. If you want
advice, we are happy to provide it.
Innovation: There is more to Experience
Africa than meets the eye, much more! Experience Africa
is a part of S-World and American Butterfly, which collectively
tell the “story so far” of innovations not just
in travel, but in all businesses. Specific to travel if
we go back to March 2011 we can see the earliest considerations
in terms of a business plan, created for VIRGIN The_Virgin_Business_plan_in_Retrospect
Later that year, in August a more considered version was
adapted to Facebook FaceBook
Travel. Before the New Year is with us, the latest version
will be available on www.AmericanButterfly.net For now,
we will just share one specific point from the Facebook
Travel plan, which is simply that Experience Africa works
more like a Real Estate Agent in terms of commissions and
adopts the independent contractor agent approach over staff
Usually in travel, an agent’s commission ranges from
2% and 15% of the profit made from the booking, the balance
going to the coffers of the travel company. However we take
the real estate agencies approach, where our agents work
on a 50% commission. The rational is customer centric, as
with greater reward our agents need to make fewer bookings
so Experience Africa clients receive far more time and attention,
attention that is needed to fulfil our experience philosophy.
Experience Africa takes the long term approach to business,
believing this initiative will promote repeat business and
word of mouth marketing, all in all a win, win initiative.
Truth: As mentioned in the above Facebook
Travel link, the truth of the matter is, the vast majority
of travel agents and tour operator’s steer customers
to venues that offer greater commission, regardless of value
or quality for the client.
The world of commissions is a varied world. In travel, commissions
are in terms of Rack Rates (Public Rate) and STO’s
(Standard Tour Operator rates). Luxury hotels have a Rack
Rate which they display to the public, even if a guest informs
the receptionist they can book the hotel 30% cheaper on
line, the receptionist will advise the customer they are
not allowed to offer a direct customer discount. As by taking
and discounting a direct booking, they risk upsetting their
main booking sources, which are sometimes direct from travel
companies and sometimes via the travel GDS’s (Global
Distribution Systems) who power the on line booking websites.
Commissions range from 15% to 50%, depending on the travel
venues marketing policy and the relationship between the
travel company and the venue. Alongside these considerations
is your particular agent, who, if they are keeping abreast
of things and keep up personal relationships with the reception
and booking staff at the travel venues, will be aware of
under occupancy periods where greater discretionary discounts
are offered. Please remember your agent, has two negotiations
to do, one with yourself and one with the travel venues.
When it comes to booking villas, safaris and some luxury
hotels a good agent can make an additional saving of between
10% and 30%.
An intricacy in the travel industry which is often misconstrued,
is the company’s commission. Question: knowing that
sometimes, half of your booking fee will go to the travel
company not the provider, would you rather work with a company
that made a strict promise to charge a maximum of a 20%?
Of course, one’s first answer would be yes. However
it would be the wrong answer.
We adopted this 20% commission cap approach until 2009 and
were very self-righteous about it. However after a we made
our largest single booking for $300,000, It was time to
reassess the strategy, as the winner was the venue not the
customer. It was a fair booking, discounted by 10%, the
Rack Rate being $333,000, but chances are we could have
got a 50% discount, but this would have cut our profit from
$60,000 to $33,000.
If we were to do it again, we would attempt to attain the
50% discount from the venue, lowering the price from $333,000
to $166,500. Then add the commission we would have lost
being $27,000 as such lowering the client price from $300,000
to $195,500 a 42% discount, as opposed to a 10% discount,
where Experience Africa makes exactly the same.
For the record, far from forgotten, this particular clients
company is now central to the innovation project “American
This is one example, there are many variations, but one
fact, clients pay money to their agent and without the clients,
there would be no company. So in pure business terms, it
just makes sense to negotiate a deal that sees the client
save money, even if it means the companies commission rises
above 20%. This said, in the 2012 marketplace, competition
is fierce, it seems now days any one and their dog can put
up a website and pay some money to Google and get enquires,
so for the best part, most agents including ours go below
the 20% mark, just to make the booking, practically on bookings
over $15,000 and especially on multi leg luxury holidays.
Where the real truth comes in however, is simply that when
you receive your invoice, it will state quite clearly what
the venue is charging Experience Africa and what commission
we are charging, the only thing we ask in return, is, if
you have received a large discount of a venue please accept
our commission may be based on the full rate.
Ecology: Experience Africa’s ecological
ambitions are entwined with the American Butterfly Project,
which claims to have created a mathematical solution to
global warming; it will be on line before the New Year.
Despite being rather technical in certain areas, as a whole
it’s quite something and well worth the read.
American Butterfly is currently being assessed by South
Africa’s most famous physicist, Oxfords Professor
David Pettyfore CBE, if the mathematics are correct; it’s
going to be a big deal, and do great good. Please wish us
Thank you for reading
Nick Ray Ball,
Chairman: Experience Africa