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 for their support over the years for assisting in already (almost) getting us fully booked for the 2012 hunting season!