African Safari Tour Rates & African Safari Prices
Rack Rates for Safari Camps, Lodges & Hotels
AFRICAN SAFARI PRICES - Rack Rates for Safari Camps, Lodges & Hotels
Rack Rates - What are they?
Rack Rate is a term used to describe the nightly rate that a traveler will pay if they choose to deal directly with a camp, hotel owner or other supplier, instead of booking the accommodation through a travel agent. While some suppliers in the safari and African travel industry will gladly deal directly with a traveler, many are not equipped to do so (inadequate direct booking departments and staff) and so prefer to have agents handle all bookings. As such, if the traveler deals directly with the supplier, they will typically be charged the rack (or published) rate.
When adding up rack rates to get a "ballpark" estimate of a trip cost, don't forget to add in transportation costs for travel between the safari camps and/or other lodging. Transfer costs are not included in Rack Rates. This cost can be quite substantial if it involves flying, which is often the case for safaris in remote, wilderness areas. Transfer costs, especially flying in non-commercial charters, are often not published, and sometimes not even available to the agents (as when suppliers bundle accommodation and flying together for multiple night stays).
How are Quotes calculated?
Suppliers provide quotes to agents as an STO (sell to Tour Operator) rate. This is simply a rate discounted below Rack rate. Agents are then supposed to quote clients AT OR ABOVE the RackRate / Suggested Selling Price. The difference between the STO rate and the Rack / Selling Price quoted to a client is the agent's profit (before subtracting all its own expenses). Generally, the more business an agent provides to a given supplier, the better the STO rate that agent will receive.
A supplier's quote to an agent may not break out charter flying and transfer costs separately. This is especially true for suppliers who own their own charter flight companies and package camp rates and flying costs together. Furthermore, there may be price breaks for a booking staying a certain number of nights in a supplier's camps, in which case, specific nightly rates, by camp, become further blended.
Using Rack rates to approximate your Travel Costs
The Rack rates on the country-specific pages here (see links at top) are a good way to begin estimating the cost of an itinerary. Again, please remember that transportation costs are not included in Rack rates. Please also bear in mind that an agent may not have the information itself to break out every line item of an itinerary, as flying and multiple-night discounts may be blended in the quote the agent itself receives from a supplier.
Nonetheless, we believe that Rack Rates provide a good benchmark for prices charged to a client (for accommodation only) and we hope you will find them useful.
So, why use a Travel Agent?
A safari or other tour in Africa can involve many accommodations and transfers, but it is generally quite possible for a traveler to book his/her own tour by contacting each supplier directly. However, the price paid by booking directly will be the Rack Rate. Therefore, if an agent is essentially charging the traveler the same price (Rack rate) that he/she would pay by booking the trip directly with the suppliers, then having an agent's expertise, experience, and support (during and after the trip) is just added value for the same price.
Everyone wants to pay a fair price and receive optimal value and a tour to Africa can be a significant investment. We believe a travel agent should add considerable value to a client's overall experience.
Bottom line, if your agent is providing good value (spending time making recommendations, offering alternatives, providing their own first-hand experiences and expertise, dealing with all logistics of the trip, and making special requests with suppliers), then paying RACK RATE (and even slightly more), while also reaping the benefits of a good agent, is an excellent value.