The Importance of Good References in the Safari Business

Discussion in 'Hunting Conventions, Shows & Events' started by CT Safaris, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. CT Safaris

    CT Safaris AH Enthusiast

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    Shortly after I took the "bold leap into the unknown" and started my safari company - now almost 10 years ago - I was introduced to a successful Outfitter (since passed) from my region who, when he heard about my endeavour, asked me an interesting question: "What is the state of your references?" Well, I thought the question was a little silly at the time as all of us who have hunted professionally understand that references form an important part of any future business...

    What I did not understand as a rookie Outfitter at the time was exactly HOW important and powerful references from past clients can be in the safari industry...

    Whilst the internet is a most valuable marketing tool, the same medium has made it possible for just about every second "Tom, Dick and Harry" to become an "Outfitter" and every second "John, Peter and Paul" who has been to Africa once to become an "Agent"...

    The dilemma that many potential clients therefore often face when thinking about booking a safari is: "Whom can I trust and who should I book with?" At the same time Outfitters/Agents are asking themselves the quesion: "How can I convince the client hat he/she should trust me and how can I convince him to book with me?"

    I have found that a good Reference is one of the most important marketing tools of all... As the saying goes - if you are happy with the service you got from someone you will tell your close friends about it... if you're not - you will tell EVERYBODY and I am happy to say that (although I've never analysed this) probably 80% of my business came from referrals / repeat clients...

    In this regard I would like to give thanks to the individuals (some of whom are members of this and other forums and which can be viewed at Testimonials Chris Troskie Safaris) for their support over the years for assisting in already (almost) getting us fully booked for the 2012 hunting season!
     
  2. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Great post Chris!

    As I always say "The single most important thing you need to do to ensure that you are booking with a good hunting outfitter is check their references. The outfitter should provide you with more than a few references, especially clients who have hunted with them within the last year and you should call many of them."
     
  3. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Chris good post.

    For those of you that are on Facebook you should become a friend of Chris, and stay in the now with his operation.

    I know i am.
     
  4. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Chris you are right on the money about references.
    I'll bet you are glad you listened to your mentor!

    As an outfitters who wants to be around for a long time you will care. It's those T,D & H Outfitters who might not.

    As someone looking at those references you are provided you also have to find out something about their story to get perspective on their views of the trip, outfitter, etc.
    Are they now "the new agent" or just loved the hunt.
    Are they still on an emotional high from being able to shoot more than one animal in a trip, or seeing so many critters they can't believe it still when they got home.


    Also, if I am given all wonderful stories I want to know what went wrong (small or large) and how it was managed by the PH, Outfitter, Agent. Ask what they did not like and what could be improved.
    These were the truly good references I got to talk to.

    How does the persons trip compare to what you want to do.

    I was given a reference that had only hunted Leopard while I was hunting Kudu. Although, the fellow was pleased with the outfit, it told me nothing about Kudu hunting.

    Chris, you know where your bread is buttered and it shows. Congrats on your success.
     
  5. shangwari1

    shangwari1

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    Chris.
    You are very right to value good references,it is very cruetial to have those.But out of my personal experience i have learned that it is allso important to get your references \ client to put up hunting reports on these forums to put their experiences in full view to other potential clients.
    I never thought of this to be important,but times changes and technology reaches a point where everybody can get info from the internet.So what i will be doing this season is to have a PC available for the clients and ask them to put a hunting report on the forum before they leave Africa or soonest after they arrived back home.This just makes it much easier for both the client and outfitter.
    happy hunting
     
  6. James.Grage

    James.Grage GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    How true...We have at times many thousands of non members on this forum at any time reading what is on here.

    Many lurk for years before making there first post. Many will post after a first or second safari, however many never do.

    Jerome added the outfitters button so that members could add a report for members to indicate what there experience were. However anyone can use this feature to look up a PH or outfitter or hunting club to see the reviews.

    More and more PH's are using facebook to post pictures and comments, some making weekly entries for all to see. I have about 40 of these as friends and have moved them into there own grouping for easy access.

     
  7. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    James,

    I agree and concede that I was a "lurker", this site can be intimidating, when you first start reading the posts'. A lot of you guys were not Legends, elite, or fanatics, when I first started browsing this site, but you had something I didn't, Africa.... I only dreamed of it and you guys were living it. However you guys welcomed my in-experienced comments on hunting and shooting (bases more on what I have hunted in the states) with open arms, which was rather pleasing. Thanks guys, this is a really great site to be a part of, I have learned a lot.

    Scott.
     
  8. 35bore

    35bore AH Elite

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    James,

    Sorry about that, was not trying to hijack this thread. I agree that references are very important in any line of work, that's why I plug my outfitter/PH every chance I get (although I won't since another outfitter started this thread):cool:

    Very good post Chris.
     
  9. Diamondhitch

    Diamondhitch AH Legend

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    Congrats on booking up Chris! Word of mouth is certainly a powerful thing. I certainly would not have booked with anyone that did not have many solid references.

    I found it interesting as well that recently your clientel have shifted dramatically from the US to Canada, no doubt because of the recession.
     

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