No, you can’t ride a lion on safari — why more companies are telling travelers ‘no’ these days


It is one of many dirtiest phrases in hospitality — and vacationers could also be listening to it extra today.

The journey company Uncover Africa needed to say it when potential purchasers requested if their younger son might journey a lion whereas on safari.

“After we stated no to using a lion, the visitor requested what different wild animals he might journey,” stated Susan Swanepoel, a senior journey marketing consultant at Uncover Africa. “I reminded them that they have been wild animals, and there was no risk of this taking place.”

In the long run, she stated, the vacationers determined to not journey with the corporate, saying “they have been going to go to India the place their son would be capable of journey a tiger.”  

That is one of many strangest requests that Swanepoel and her colleagues have fielded through the years. However there are a lot extra.

There was the Japanese firm that needed Japanese meals, ready with Japanese substances by Japanese cooks, for some 6,000 friends for six weeks surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. (Swanepoel stated the corporate she was working for on the time efficiently pulled this one off.)

And the visitor who needed a brand new, unopened jar of crunchy peanut butter current at each meal throughout an 18-day safari within the Kalahari Desert and Botswana.

Different asks are extra maddening than logistically tough. Just like the time a pair touring with Uncover Africa — who requested a feather pillow on the left facet of the mattress, and a foam pillow on the best — known as at 10 p.m. to say the pillows had been combined up.

“I requested if they may swap the pillows themselves because it was late, and the housekeeping workers had already gone to mattress,” stated Swanepoel. “The reply was no. They needed me to pay money for the camp supervisor to go to their tent to vary the pillows round for them.” 

An uptick in uncommon requests

Andre Van Kets, director and cofounder of Uncover Africa, stated there’s been an uptick in such requests, particularly amongst people who find themselves new to safari holidays.

“First-timers usually have probably the most uncommon requests,” he stated. “However that is okay. It is our job to assist them perceive what is feasible and what’s not.”

Social media additionally performs a task in ‘hyping up’ something uncommon.

Andre Van Kets

director and cofounder of Uncover Africa

However inexperience is not the one purpose some vacationers have unrealistic expectations, he stated.

“Social media additionally performs a task in ‘hyping up’ something uncommon,” he stated, including that viral posts usually lack context explaining what they depict. “As a journey operator, it is important to create reasonable expectations. And typically that does imply saying ‘no.'”

Over-the-top requests — just like the Uncover Africa shopper who requested to assist breed a white rhino — might, partially, be an unlucky facet impact of the journey business’s success in offering flawless, end-to-end experiences. Paradoxically, glorious service might have worsened a rising sense of traveler entitlement.

The consequence might be cyclical: The extra vacationers are given, the extra they need.

The ‘previous code of conduct’

Yngvar Stray, the overall supervisor of the luxurious lodge Capella Singapore instructed CNBC that within the luxurious lodge business, the “previous concierge code of conduct” is to say sure even earlier than realizing the query.

“So long as it is authorized and morally right,” he added.

“As a journey operator, it is important to create reasonable expectations. And typically that does imply saying ‘no,'” stated Uncover Africa’s Andre Van Kets.

Supply: Uncover Africa

When requests violate legal guidelines or firm security guidelines, they’re simpler to reject. Plus, there could also be different methods to succeed in the specified consequence, stated Van Kets.

“For instance, if a traveler needs to see a wild rhino up-close. We merely cannot provide that to anybody in each safari vacation spot. It is simply too harmful,” he stated.

“However in sure parks, at sure instances of 12 months, we will organize for friends to affix a wildlife vet in a helicopter-based rhino-darting conservation train.”

Different causes corporations are saying ‘no’

Modifications made within the title of progress — sustainability, security, well being, animal welfare and extra — additionally garner pushback from vacationers who lament the “new means” of doing issues.

From an eco-resort knocked for not having air-con within the rest room to banning single-use plastics in airports and lodges, some vacationers complain concerning the very modifications that others demand, leaving the hospitality business in a seemingly no-win state of affairs.

Van Kets stated his firm encountered resistance after it restricted its safaris to “genuine wildlife settings,” which it defines as areas the place predator and prey roam freely with out fences separating them. That meant safari parks and animal sanctuaries, which he stated “are actually simply glamorized, large-scale zoos,” have been out, he stated.

“If friends have restricted time or budgets, and demand on visiting these services, then it is their selection to take action,” he stated. However “maintaining the ‘actual factor’ alive and properly for future generations, is what we’re all about.”

Cities are spurning vacationers too — in some cases, a whole lot of 1000’s of them. In arguably one of many largest “no’s” of the 12 months, authorities in Amsterdam launched a “discouragement marketing campaign” in March with a message aimed principally at younger male vacationers coming to the town to celebration: “Keep Away.”

Fewer providers, increased charges

Some vacationers are studying requests, as soon as regarded as normal, are being minimize on account of ongoing staffing shortages within the business.

Kristen Graff stated housekeeping did not clear her room as soon as throughout a three-day keep in a Los Angeles lodge this January. She stated she later discovered cleansing was out there, if she booked it.

She stated she understood the issue to a level, however “it is not like I am paying cheaper charges.”

In different cases, vacationers are revisiting lodges they stayed in earlier than the pandemic, solely to comprehend perks that when got here normal with bookings have now vanished.

In line with Expedia Group’s Traveler Worth Index 2023, about 82% of the business suppose customers are understanding of limitations like these. Nonetheless, it is seemingly that buyer loyalty is taking a success, stated Cheryl Miller, the chief advertising officer for Expedia for Enterprise.

“Finally, it comes right down to the person traveler and their expectations,” she stated. “Nonetheless, it is essential to keep in mind that customer support is not only about assembly expectations. It is also about exceeding them.”

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