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Welcome to Experience Africa.

Please visit Elephants in Peril

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 back” experiences.

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 agents.

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 Butterfly”.

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 luck.

Thank you for reading

Nick Ray Ball,
Chairman: Experience Africa