The latest luxury safari equipment is for exclusive use: Travel Weekly
Exclusive use safari camps and villas, private air charters, and even island redemptions have always been in demand for upscale and affluent travelers seeking the ultimate in luxury. The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced this demand from a much larger demographic of travelers and opens up unique opportunities for the travel industry.
âThe concept of exclusive use accommodation has always been a great concept. These types of vacations have always been popular with the ultra-healthy market and even celebrities, but the trend has definitely been accelerated by Covid,â said Luca Franco , founder and CEO of Luxury FrontiÃ¨res.
According to Wayne Nupen, regional tour manager for AndBeyond, there is, for example, a growing trend towards longer stays where clients work while on vacation or use natural places as a classroom. Exclusive use properties are the ideal response to this new trend.
The need for families to spend time with the people they love and care about has influenced people’s shopping behaviors and the way they want to consume travel, said Karl Parkinson of African Bush Camps. This has been the driving force behind the rise in requests for exclusive use properties.
Marcelo Novais, Managing Director for North America at Ker & Downey Africa, said he has also seen a noticeable increase in demand from small groups of friends who are looking for remote destinations that offer space, privacy and distance from others. travelers.
Novais explained that exclusive use accommodation offers travelers several distinct advantages. From a Covid security perspective, most exclusive use lodges and villas provide guests with dedicated staff who will self-quarantine prior to arrival to ensure guest health and safety.
Maija de Rijk-Uys, Managing Director of Go2Africa, said that as a travel agent she more proactively offered accommodation for private use as a safer option, helping allay customer concerns about travel. during a pandemic by allowing them to be left alone. “safe” bubble.
But there is so much more than the simple element of social distancing that plays a role in the popularity of exclusive use properties or buyouts. On the safari side, these accommodations are not only socially distanced by design, but allow for a highly personalized experience, Novais said.
âGround operators share unique information about each customer’s preferences with properties prior to travel so their experience can be personalized,â Novais said. âThis level of customization can range from the unique experiences included in their daily itinerary, to the type of cuisine prepared by the villa’s private chefs, and even the type of wine and gin that must be obtained before guests. arrival.
“Customers can also enjoy the flexibility of a private safari vehicle, guide and tracker who will work hand in hand with them to customize their safari to suit the wildlife they wish to see,” he added.
A guided walking tour with Jabali Ridge, an elegant Asilia Africa camp in Ruaha National Park in Tanzania.
According to Kristen Korey Pike, Founder and CEO of KK Travels Worldwide (a Virtuoso Advisor), this high level of personalization requires a practical and flexible approach.
âThe ability of our safari lodge partners to meet the most specific requests continues to amaze me. With sufficient advance notice, we can have the precise brand of Greek yogurt requested by the customer available at breakfast in the middle of the day. bush! ” she said.
This expectation of high-level customization and flexibility is likely to last long after the virus has been conquered, according to a number of African scholars. And it offers a unique opportunity for the travel industry to collaborate more closely to create experiences that cannot be duplicated.
âPersonalization is essential,â said Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel. He said research shows customers will spend more when experiences are tailored exactly to their needs.
âLuxury travel represents the best opportunity for revenue growth. Travelers are looking for experiences they couldn’t book on their own if they didn’t book with an advisor, âhe said.
De Rijk-Uys said this “new world” has meant properties and travel service providers have had to become more dynamic and flexible to stay in the game.
âThere are a lot of people who are adventurous enough to travel and have their own experiences, so if your offering is standard, there isn’t much that sets you apart from your competition,â she added.
Suzanne Bayly-Coupe, founder of Classic Portfolio, agrees, saying now is the time for travel counselors to show their creativity.
âMake routes to achieve balance and moments of immersion,â she advised. “Don’t be afraid to add something unusual to an itinerary that can be the wild card and, in most cases, becomes the highlight of a trip.”
Before the pandemic, there were already a multitude of exclusive use properties established across the African continent. However, several exclusive use properties were launched amid the pandemic and more followed in 2021.
Proper communication and collaboration between ground operators in Africa and travel experts in the United States could also open up incredible opportunities for travelers who might have thought that exclusive use property was beyond their reach.
Charter flights are often the âcheaperâ option for groups of friends traveling together compared to regular flights. Meanwhile, small boutique hotels are often open to negotiating the exclusive use of their property for large groups. âWe need to work together on reservations and help each other,â Nicky Coenen, Managing Director of Last Word Intimate Hotels & Safari Camps Group, said during a webinar at WTM Africa recently.
Gordie Owles, Commercial Director of Asilia Africa, agrees.
âExclusive use doesn’t just mean private jets and lavish villas that can accommodate 14 people. Single mobile camps also offer exclusivity, and many exclusive use homes, if filled, may offer better value than booking individual tents in a camp. Based on this, through judicious business partnerships, most levels in the market should have this opportunity if they wish. “
Dave van Smeerdijk, co-founder of Natural Selection, added that even at the main safari locations there are affordable options. âAt Natural Selection, we are proud to offer different price points in the wild places where we operate. Safarihouse at Etosha Heights Private Reserve [in Namibia] is a great example of a good value exclusive use property in a prime gaming area, âhe said.
Experts agree that the trend for exclusive use properties is here to stay, as travelers increasingly seek to connect with each other in meaningful ways.
Pike said most people have now gotten used to more personal space.
âI don’t see today’s luxury travelers looking for crowded destinations or accommodation options where there are alternatives,â she said, adding that it will be up to the travel advisor to work with its customers in order to provide as much detail as possible to local partners. exceed customer expectations.