TRAVEL AGENT OR TRAVEL DESIGNER?
Why it Matters
There is more to a vacation than booking a ticket with your local travel agent.
Of course, if a package holiday or cruise is your inclination then there is little more to arrange. You might choose from a small selection of preordained packages and opt for a particular tier of cabin, but short of these minimal personalizations, little is left to your decision.
Safaris, too, can be plotted, planned and proposed prior to your booking, with all the quintessential experiences accounted for. If this is your desire, it can be as simple as completing a form online, paying your deposit and waiting for departure.
At Rothschild Safaris, we have made the distinction of naming our staff ‘Travel Designers’. We aren’t booking agents, travel reps, or vacation salespeople – we are, resolutely, Travel Designers.
Though our role is poles apart from the average tourism service, the real difference lies in your experience, and it is in this that we pride ourselves.
The Travel Agent
To begin, let me first say that I have a great deal of respect for many travel agents. They do sterling service in providing a cost-effective vacation for their clients, plotting routes, booking flights, arranging accommodation and even reserving hire cars and transfers. In their own right, and in the tasks they perform, they provide an exemplary service.
However, it is in the restrictive nature of their roles, not in their talents or efforts, that the shortcomings lie.
Most Travel agents deal with travel and little more. They can get you where you’re going, check you into a hotel and book you onto predesignated tours. Beyond this they begin to flounder. If you wish to deviate from their predesignated routes or itineraries, problems begin to arise. You may incur additional costs, cancellation fees or even be stranded at the summit of Machu Picchu should you waiver from the schedule.
Then there is the travel agent who works in conjunction with Rothschild Safaris. They have often known their client for many years and taken them on numerous adventures. However these travel agents see the value of partnering with a company such as Rothschild Safaris. They understand the value in a specialist for certain destinations and their ability to provide more than a travel agent. A good travel agent will have a little black book of specialists that they will refer to as its simply impossible for them to know the entire world inside and out and do it well.
The moment you step through the doors of a travel agent, be those doors physical or digital, a significant transformation occurs. From an enthusiastic traveler, full of zeal and excitement for your next adventure, you spontaneously mutate into a number. That is, of course, unless your agent partners with specialists like Rothschild Safaris.
Your travel agent and the service they provide remain personal, but your experience is just one of a dozen, even several hundred, on the same voyage. You may well be fortunate enough to witness a pride of lionesses, cubs in tow, taking down and feasting upon a gazelle or see swathes of wildebeest plunge into the Mara River on their Great Migration, but you will simply be one of many. No sooner have you trained your lens and set your aperture than you are cajoled into moving on to make way for the next busload of spectators.
There are moments in which you might feel like the only people in the world, privy to sights and experiences for you and you alone. But these will be few and far between, and when the time comes for you to move on, you are left to your own logistical devices. Invariably though, your vacation will be on the clock, beholden to others and required to go with the flow, herded with the masses on a spectacular but utterly impersonal journey,
Another problem facing travellers when booking with agents is that you have little control over the application of your investment. Your ‘safari package’ may well include unethical exploits or unsustainable practices.
Your itinerary might offer a visit to an animal center that is little more than a petting zoo, gathering wild creatures solely for the purpose of entertainment. It may not be of the P.T. Barnham, dancing tigers variety of animal exploitation, but it is little less detrimental. Perhaps you will discover the nature of the experience beforehand, but even boycotting the day’s excursion has little effect, as your dollars have already been channeled towards the operation, thus validating its continuation.
Travel agents will often book such experiences in good faith, without the on-the-ground knowledge to realise that they are promoting anything unethical. Again, it is not their fault, it is simply that their restrictive role doesn’t allow for an acute awareness of such things.
This principle extends into conservation efforts, cultural activities and social responsibility. And even though certain venues, destinations and operations may not be creating harm as such, the positive potential of their service is far from being fulfilled.
The Travel Designer Difference
We proudly describe ourselves as Travel Designers, and it is for very good reason. We don’t simply book you on a tour or arrange your flights; we handcraft every aspect of your journey, from packing and preparation to airport transfers, accommodations, dietary requirements and much more.
It all begins with an initial conversation.
We have carefully crafted an informal interview of sorts, a series of questions that allows us a glimpse of your deepest vacation dreams. They reach far beyond simply your destination of choice or a handful of experiences you wish to fulfil. We learn about your culinary preferences, your personal hobbies, whether you are active and adventurous or searching for relaxation, even the specific animals you hope to witness on your journey. No stone is left unturned in our quest to unravel the formula for your perfect vacation.
From this initial consultation, we don’t simply select the most apt expedition from a portfolio of prearranged itineraries. We build your bespoke journey from the ground up, taking all aspects into consideration, from your budget to your medical needs, desired destinations and much more.
We will book accommodation that we know you will love, because we have been there ourselves. We will place you in the hands of the very best expert guides, because we know them and their professional levels of service personally. We will take you to the right destinations at the right time of year to see the right animals. And what’s more, you will often be witnessing them exclusively, free to spend as long as you wish observing and photographing them to your heart’s content and not ushered onwards by the next party in line.
Occasionally, with certain iconic sights, this might be unavoidable, but it will be the rare exception rather than the only option.
Your Personal Safari
Armed with this wealth of information about our clients, we are able to refine every detail, crafting an absolutely elite, bespoke experience from beginning to eventual end and beyond.
As you gaze across the Maasai Mara, the sun slowly setting on a truly remarkable day, a drink will be discretely placed into your hand. But this won’t simply be any drink – it will be your drink. Perhaps you enjoy Scotch on ice. This you shall have, but again, not just Scotch – it will be your favourite Laphroaig 16-year vintage.
When considering this topic, I often reflect on a particular client’s story. Having already enjoyed several days of his stunning journey, he returned to his luxurious tent to find his sheets impeccably turned down and a chocolate placed upon his pillow. Humbly, he took his chocolate to the staff, offered his thanks but declined the gift as his diabetes prevented him from eating chocolate. “Don’t worry sir,” came the reply, “we ordered diabetic-friendly chocolate just for you.”
This heartwarming anecdote exquisitely epitomises the lengths to which we and our affiliates will go to make your experience quite simply perfect.
Your Best Intentions
Many of our guests, whether returning or joining us for the first time, have a greater conscience for the wellbeing of the ecosystems, peoples and creatures they wish to visit. While it may not be absolute altruistic philanthropy, it is an admirable underlying concern that their actions and investments are, at least, doing no harm, if not actually creating ongoing ripples of positivity, conservation and sustainability.
To others, it may not be an initial consideration. Indeed, much of the Western World remains blissfully unaware of the impact – both positive and negative – that our decisions can have when considering a vacation. However, the reward in hindsight is always gratifying and the notion that your vacation has somehow contributed to the wellbeing of the remarkable places you have recently visited is a wonderful and lasting gift.
We tirelessly scrutinise not only the destinations, venues and experiences we arrange for our clients, but even our own practices to ensure that they are as ethical, sustainable and beneficial as possible, without compromising absolute luxury and exclusivity.
Private Conservancies offer premium accommodations and facilities, private game drives, intimate experiences and as much time with wildlife as you wish. Beyond this, their entire operation is focused upon reinvesting in conservation and the protection of fragile ecosystems. You might be able to visit the Serengeti of your own volition but to do so in an exclusively personal context, and one that provides vital support for communities and wildlife is not only absolutely priceless and irreplicable, it is something that few, if any, travel agents could ever achieve for you alone.
The Perfect Safari
A small confession: it is possible for you to imagine, plan, create and fulfil an equivalent itinerary on your own through a travel agent. In a sense, there is nothing we do that anyone couldn’t accomplish.
However, even the simplest of our itineraries take days to create, weeks to research and years to discover, learn about and refine. There is no compromising experience, both ours in the knowledge and awareness of your destinations and activities, and yours from the moment your toes touch the ground.
A travel agent can get you there, they might even be able to book some of the same destinations, but impeccably crafting the perfect safari, leaving absolutely nothing to chance, creating a bespoke vacation for you and you alone, escorting you every step of the way, from your first imaginings to several weeks after your return home and creating inimitable memories that will last a lifetime… that is the work of a travel designer.
Talk to our Travel Designers today about making a reality of your wildest dreams or refer your travel agent to the expert staff at Rothschild Safaris.