.... Are we really working?
One of the pillars of the Latitude brand is to sell what we know and know it well enough to properly create an itinerary for a client’s dream trip that best matches their interests, time of travel, and budget. We are currently on a 3-week trip to Kenya and Tanzania to visit both new property offerings and old “standbys”, while checking out the accommodations, services, food, proximity to activities, guiding, wildlife density and activity, and literally “kicking the tires“ of the types of safari and transport vehicles available from each of the resources we sample.
Our trip covers stays in 15 properties, in a variety of styles and prices, and visits to 20 other lodges/camps/hotels, with some side visits to restaurants and shops in Nairobi. It also refreshes our knowledge of airport procedures, amenities, and bottlenecks.
See the slideshow of pictures of various property types from traditional tented camps, luxury tented, luxury villa/suite.
We can then know enough about a place to recommend it in the right circumstance and also remove properties from our library of recommendations when we don’t believe they fit the high standards of our brand or if it does not logistically fit with an efficient travel plan. We can also revisit properties we have used in the past to make sure they are maintaining those high standards, especially focusing on those under new ownership or management which may indicate a downgrade, or in some cases tweaks to make them an even better choice.
Some of the properties we visit are those that are highly marketed to the public or recommended by clients‘ friends as their recommendations are often the ones that our clients may ask us for. More often than not we find that these internet “finds” can be the wrong choice. An educational trip increases our knowledge of the market and allows us to properly meet client expectations or provide the “wow” factor that makes a trip truly memorable.
There are a number of factors we observe in our research that are important to the enjoyment of a trip.
For example, things we might learn that aren’t apparent or may be inaccurate in a safari camp description:
o The exact location of the camp
o Time is takes to enter the conservancy, the National Park, or wherever you will first see wildlife
o The conditions of the roads to get there
o The density of the wildlife and type of wildlife that is resident in the area
o The amenities in the vehicles such as charging outlets and camera mounts
o Vehicle cleanliness, how modern it is, how easy you can climb into it, how comfortable are the seats, the max number of passengers, and guarantee of a window seat
o For photos, will you have to stand up to take a picture? How big are the windows?
o Does the camp do laundry?
o Is the lighting good ?(in the bathrooms (especially)
o Are the beds comfortable,? Is there an option to add a triple? Are mosquito nets necessary?
o Availability of charging stations in the room versus shared in common areas. What, if any, adaptors are needed
o Availability and reliability of Wi-Fi; can you access it from your room or only in common areas? (If you need Wi-Fi at night this might be a factor.)
o How are the windows covered in the room and how are they opened/closed and are they inside or out? This can be a factor if you want to see the sunrise or experience the outdoors on waking.
o Is there a fan or A/C? What are the views? How close are you to other guest tents, to the staff tents and noise?
o Most important : Quality and image of the guides (experience, professional appearance, communication skills)
o What is the level of local community involvement – hiring and training, sales of local crafts, support of local cultures?
Visits to 35 properties in 19 days is not what we would advise as a relaxing vacation, but it is a vital part of our work that is more intense and thorough than most agencies or operators in the travel business. And yes, while it is our work, it is the most fun kind of work you can imagine.
For questions or to plan a trip, contact Linda@Latitudexp.com