BOOKING THROUGH A HUNTING AGENT or OUTFITTER DIRECTLY

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Kowas Hunting Safaris, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Kowas Hunting Safaris

    Kowas Hunting Safaris AH Veteran

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    We want to know from you if you rather prefer to book your African safari with
    - HUNTING AGENT or
    - the OUTFITTER directly
    Scenario: Prices are the same

    Which OPTION do you PREFER?
    WHY do you prefer this option?
  2. richteb

    richteb AH Enthusiast

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    Although I am not from the US I personally prefer to book through the Outfitter direct. I guess the main reason for this is that I know that the information about the hunt is first hand. I also think (but am not certain) that communication would be quicker regarding information that the booking agent may not have answers to at the time and needs to check with the operator.
  3. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    I prefer to deal with the outfitter directly, no sales person in the in between, that way I know what to expect. People will go through a hunting agent if they have doubts about the outfitter. I can understand that route too. Because until you visit a operation, there are always doubts in my head, that it will live up to your expectation. But by going through directly to a outfitter...you are saving them money, and they may make it up to you in other ways.
  4. joester

    joester AH Veteran

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    I've booked all my hunts except for one thru the guide/PH directly. I like to get to know the person over the phone, and vice-versa, I'm sure. I've been extremely happy & successful doing it this way and for me its much more personal. The only agent hunt I used was purchased at a fundraiser and that particular agent was misleading and less-than-honest...I ended up really liking my actual PH who I hunted with and will always go direct with him on future hunts My wife worked with a guy who acted as a booking agent of sorts by rounding up 4 other hunters for asst. US/Canada pkgs. so HE could hunt for free (he was in nat'l US sales & came across scores of hunters at sales mtgs) He essentially got a free ride but was not knowledgeable about any of the hunts...No disrespect to any booking agents but the poster of this forum asked for personal opinions
  5. Ontario Nimrod

    Ontario Nimrod AH Member

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    In my opinion, unless you or someone you know has hunted with the outfitter before, and you value that person's opinion, you are really taking quite a gamble on a high-ticket hunt like an African safari if you book directly. I think it's one thing when you're booking a $4000 whitetail hunt, but when you are talking about possibly a once-in-a-lifetime trip that will cost 4 or 5 times that amount, I would much prefer to rely on a reputable booking agent that has been in business for a number of years and offers a number of different outfitters in different areas (and has personally hunted with them).

    To me, the bottom line is that there are just too many outfitters out there that don't deliver what they promise (or worse), and as we've seen on this forum and elsewhere, your recourse is pretty limited after the fact. And you can examine as many websites as you want and talk to the outfitter all you want, but if a guy is out to scam you, he'll know exactly what to say because he knows what you want to hear. And so will the "references" that he gives you to call!

    If you do get taken, usually about the most you can do is not hunt with that outfitter again (obviously). Guess what, though...he says, "big deal". He'll just find someone else next time, so you're not really hitting him in the pocketbook, where it hurts. But if he stiffs the client of a reputable booking agent who sends him a number of clients every year, he knows that he's going to lose a lot of business.

    I've booked a number of hunts in a lot of different places, both directly and through booking agents. I've never been disappointed with a hunt booked through an agent, but I've had a couple of "misses" with direct bookings. Coincidence?
  6. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    My answer to the question - price neutral - I prefer to do the research myself and avoid "sales people"
    Many of the agents I walked away from gave me that feeling "being sold". (Fewer Outfitters.)

    If information was not freely available I would certainly consider an agent.

    There are going to be people who are comfortable with one of the methods of booking and not the other.
    Either way, there are "agents" that are crooked and "outfitters" that are crooked.
    Anyone can tell a story you have to judge their character at some point by some method.

    In speaking directly with the PH/Outfitters I learned how they managed problems and concerns over an extended period of time.

    Licensing, Professional Associations, Land Ownership, all can apply to Outfitters/PH's, none apply to the Agents.

    The outfits I hunted:
    Professional Association Members
    Licensed PH's; provincial
    Licensed Properties (CAE's, etc.)
    References, hunters and other PH's
    Interacted directly with the PH that guided me.
    Land Ownership of the property hunted on.
    Longer Tenure in the industry - family or the individuals.
  7. Bobpuckett

    Bobpuckett GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Good point I have done both, my first african safari was booked through an agent that had been booking hunts in africa for over 25 years the second one was booked for next year though the outfitter himself that I used the agent for last year. I have also bought a hunt through an auction which of course was not through a agent with a little research and recommendations from clients Dought I'll ever make that mistake again unless I really feel sorry for the guy or its free. But if your looking for a recommendation, you as an outfitter should do both sell hunts yourself and list you outfit through a good reputable agent that can work on your behalf if in the event you can't be there why loss a possible good client.
  8. Nyati

    Nyati AH Legend

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    It depends...

    I have booked directly with an outfitter who was recommended by a friend who had hunted twice with him, and went along with him on his third hunt.

    I have also booked with a reputable and experienced booking agent. A registered company who will sign a contract with their clients, which you can take to court if the conditions are not met.

    It specializaes in DG hunts and is owned by three partners, one of which will travel with the clients to take care of any possible problems, from clearing your guns at the airport, to taxidermy.
  9. Cliffy

    Cliffy AH Elite

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    As I've mentioned before- I've done both and been perfectly satisfied. My first 10 years ago was through a booking agent (well known and in the city I resided in for a face to face meeting). All the others (3) have been booked directly after going to Dallas Safari Club shows and talking directly with the PHs and outfitters. I haven't had a bad experience yet doing it that way. I haven't done an internet purchase yet but I have looked at all my planned hunts there before booking. A good website is a must in my book. Any company today (no matter what the business that doesn't have a GOOD web presence isn't really in business. It comes down to "face to face" time with me to get a feeling about the outfitter or agent.
  10. Ontario Nimrod

    Ontario Nimrod AH Member

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    In my experience, reputable booking agents will gladly put you in direct contact with the outfitter straight away. The booking agent has already secured his commission at that point, so it's in everyone's interests to make sure that you speak to the outfitter and get the "straight goods" right from the horse's mouth. I would not book a hunt through an agent that did not allow me to speak to the outfitter before I put my money on the line.

    Another nice perk of using a booking agent (at least it was on my first safari) is that I was able to pay my estimated trophy fees to him "in trust" prior to leaving for Africa. That way I didn't have to worry about taking all that money with me and not knowing whether I had enough/too much. Once my hunt was over, my outfitter advised the agent how much the total was, the agent asked me to confirm the amount in writing before he released the funds to the outfitter, and then refunded the unused fees to me. No chasing the outfitter for unused trophy fees! Again, you need to deal with a reputable agent, of course.
  11. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    If "doing your own research" means actually visiting the concession or at least talking to trusted aquaintances who have recently been, then more power to you. However, my experience has been that most personal research consists of browsing websites and calling references recomended by the site. Unless you have a fairly broad experience level with the current outfitters in the area you are tending to hunt, or you are going with an outfitter with whom a trusted aquaintance has RECENT experience, I absolutely would use an experienced consultant.
  12. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I also have booked Safari's both ways.

    The only items on concern is when booking with an agent you rely on what you have been provided.

    When booking with the individual you deal with and obtain information that is useful.

    Both ways have worked out.

    The issues i see are many when booking a Safari. The timing of your hunt is usually the determining factor in your success.

    Being the first or last is never the way to go. Usually setting up camp or the end of the season trophy selection is narrowed down with the current length of the safari season.

    Every country is different and ones looking to book a safari need to do there research to make sure you are in the prime time to allow you the best opportunity to succeed.

    When you have your country picked out then look for the best range of dates and look out a couple years to secure the safari dates on your terms and book your safari.

    If it is Lion & or Leopard and the concession only has 1 or 2 available make sure you do not show up towards the end of the season and they were harvested by an earlier party. How do you say Bummer..
  13. Mishigun

    Mishigun AH Member

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    OK, gentlemen, I confess from the get-go: I am a booking agent.
    Though on my business card it says "Hunting consultant". I do not like the term "agent", and, in my country, this term coinsides with the word "spy". But, I am what you call me.
    I have done quite a bit of hunting as a client in Africa and in North America in the 90s, and, for the last 10 years I have this wonderful job, the best I have ever had. I am completely immersed in my hobby, and, they even pay me. But, Anyway...
    First, I want to declare that if I were to book my own hunts, I'd do it personally, without any consultants, or, agents, or, anybody else between me and the operator, or, me and my PH. Why, because I love doing it. Because I never stop hunting; hunting is what I do. And, if I had the resources to do hunting as a client, I'd go thru all the research, planning, preparations, because all this is a part of the HUNT. When I leave one camp, and, one hunt ends, this is when another one begins. To me, the process of choosing, communicating, planning and preparing is already a part of this hunt. This is exactly how I used to address this so-called pre-hunt events: they were a part of the hunt, and, I have enjoyed them all thoroughly. I felt like everything was done by me: I worked out a plan, chose animals to be hunted, country, area, operator, and, very often a certain PH, I even used to bring my own single malt. The fact that somebody had to take me by the hand and lead me to a good spot, and show me which buffalo to shoot among a hundred of others, did not spoil the show: I still was the one who pulled the trigger. And, I was returning home with the laurel wreath and, immediately immersed myself into planning another triumph.
    Now, when I do all of the above (let's be honest) for a living. I understand the position of the people who are using people like me. Usually, they do not have time; and, most of the time they do not know the English language, so, they cannot communicate properly. Most of them can afford to hire interpreters to do the communication part, and, they went thru that stage, and, they understand that they need somebody who knows this stuff. And... they do not even have to pay for that, somebody else will. So, in my corner of the world, my education and my former amateur experiences have evolved into a new profession for me. Which duties I perform thoroughly, as thou I was to do it for myself. Information is the key here. There's 1 feature that can be considered a constant in modern type of hunting, especially when it concerns Africa: it is CHANGING. Governments change, areas get depleted, operators lose their areas, or, lose investments in some shaky deals while trying to get rich, quotas change, rains come late, migration can pass thru a neighboring area, moratoriums are introduced, even my strongest defence core, the PHs can betray you - they get divorced, or, they get stepped on, or gored, or, their "cruiser" dies. This list can go on and on. You see what I am driving at. A good hunting consultant has to be aware of a lot of this stuff. And, he has to be able to present to a potentiasl client several options. You want a biiig sable, there are 2 countries to go to, and, 3 areas to choose from, and,... bring your lucky charm with you. I wish my clients could speak English, I wish they could shoot better and... do some practising. I hope they will grow up from a shooting phase into a hunting phase. See, we in Russia are just beginning to grow as hunters. We did not hunt during the commy rule, we could not. Now, since the beginning of the 90s people just dived into the international hunting, 'coz it's cool and it's fashionable. I have received my hunting education in Michigan, and, I am trying to pass it on to my clients. These previous few sentences can be disregarded, I steered off a bit.
    What I pesonally think is: both approaches are acceptable. In one case you, as a client have to work hard to get your hunt well organized, and, it will not cost you a penny, but, a lot of time; in another case, you will have to find an honest and experienced agent (consultant), who loves his job, and, will do the planning for you, it will not cost you a penny, but, it will save you time. You choose, what's more important.

    Good hunting to everybody,
    Mike.
  14. Rohan

    Rohan

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    I am currently in the process of opening my own agency. I have been a keen hunter for twenty years but that alone doesnt qualify me to run a business. I therefore would appreciate any guidance you may have for a brother in arms. I would like to represent outfitters in South Africa first, all of them i would have hunted with first. I am also compiling a business proposal for a loan company for the funding so if you have any information on assets to be aquired and the like that will be very valuable information. I understand that i am a potential competitor but I think we have the very same mindset when it comes to the underlying objectives of the "hunting consultant" on a personal level as well as well as what quality agents should be like. However, i am inexperienced and need guidance, so what do i really know about the practice as such? I have a decent amount of theoretical knowledge but as you said things change in the bush unexpectedly and this kind of experience needs to be dealt with by seasoned consultants who know how to forsee certain problems and manage unsatisfied clients, after all they do pay a significant amount of money for a particular experience that they expect -have payed so much for it- should be delivered on que.

    I dont want a free ride from my clients or from the industry, i just want to always be out there and involved somehow, it keeps me ticking and its the one thing that makes sense to me in this world: feeding the inner caveman and being transparent with people.

    I would have applied for a job as a ph but in my country one must have a rifle for that and in my country it takes about three years for a license to clear...yes years! So, i will open a hunting agency that provides booking information and information about the outfitter based on first hand experience.

    Anyway, feel free to private msg me.

    I invite all criticism and advice and this particular thread has been extremely helpful.

    Regards
  15. Mishigun

    Mishigun AH Member

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    Hi, Rohan.

    Please, give me your e-mail address. I will send you my short message.
    My e-mail address is: mishiguns30-06@mail.ru.

    Regards,
    Mike.
  16. Rohan

    Rohan

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    hi Mike, is your email adress correct? I have attempted it and it wont go through. My server does not recognize it. I initially sent a lengthly message to the africahunting email adress, then when i attempted the one you gave me it cannot be sent due to error in the adress(so it says) please check because i have a msg i would like you to read.
  17. Rohan

    Rohan

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