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Booking/website difficulties.

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duncanblizzard
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Booking/website difficulties.

Unread post by duncanblizzard » Tue Feb 03, 2015 7:01 am

The website lists the BG4 as R865, but when making a reservation online, we are being charged R93.75 plus community levy.

Can you help us understand why?

duncanblizzard
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by duncanblizzard » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:07 am

I have played around some, and it appears there is a price increase some time in March. On March 1, it is the lower price. On March 31, it is the higher price. I haven't opened every date to see exactly when in March the price increases.

And I'm in the United States. I have called a couple of times, and maybe I'm not supposed to say this, but there have been language problems. In the US, people wouldn't say I have an accent. Obviously to South Africans, though, I have a strong and perhaps mostly unfamiliar accent. I don't think the people manning the phones get a lot of calls from the United States and thus they have trouble understanding me. I've had to send e-mails to get them to correct things done by phone. So it's either e-mail them or e-mail here. The forum seemed a better avenue for this since others are bound to have the same question.

I agree, though, that they have been nothing but helpful on the phones.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by saraf » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:27 am

duncanblizzard wrote:I have played around some, and it appears there is a price increase some time in March. On March 1, it is the lower price. On March 31, it is the higher price. I haven't opened every date to see exactly when in March the price increases.


SANParks now operate a low, shoulder and high season price range. This pdf document gives full details for prices to 31st October 2015
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duncanblizzard
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by duncanblizzard » Wed Feb 04, 2015 7:21 am

Thank you for the information.

It's too bad SANParks is further complicating the system. I know this forum is full of people who live and breathe Kruger, and something like this doesn't add confusion to a system they already know so well. For those of us new to safaris and self drive and Kruger, etc., it just adds a new layer of complexity that we have to figure out. This isn't at all obvious when booking reservations although I'm sure it's documented somewhere. It really is hard for a newbie to find everything on the SANParks site. I often wander aimlessly before I find something -- and run across things I'd never found before. And I've spent a lot of time trying to read everything.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by saraf » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:39 am

It's brought SANParks into line with the rest of the industry, and its allowing them to maximise assets. If they hadn't done it then they would have been accused in some quarters for being lax.
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by salamanda » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:02 pm

I think, however, that although the system works better for SANParks, it is not always easy for overseas visitors to use/understand and if they try to phone from overseas to sort out misunderstandings, there are often communication problems that we don"t experience. SANParks should probably take cognizance of this and perhaps include a questionnaire with overseas visitors' reservation forms that would help them (SANParks) to refine the system so that it works better for both parties. We all want happy tourists who really enjoy the experience.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by Elsa » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:59 pm

And I believe that in a recent poll 97% of the respondents were happy with the website.

I know it can take a while in the beginning to find all the info but generally I think its user friendly.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by salamanda » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:03 pm

Lepardfan wrote:I totally agree with you salamanda, but if you download the tariffs pdf format for sanparks, it makes sense on the fees charged between low and high season.

Low and high seasons are charged all over the world, that is how I see it


Sure Lepardfan, and I don't think that the seasonal change of fee is the real point at issue. I'm not trying to criticise SANParks; I think they do an amazing job when you consider the number of people booking all through the year. I just feel that it would probably be a good thing if they took cognizance of their overseas customers' comments and used them to build an even more user-friendly system.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by duncanblizzard » Wed Feb 04, 2015 6:15 pm

>>>>but if you download the tariffs pdf format for sanparks.....

You're assuming we even know where the tariffs pdf is. I've spent dozens of hours on the SANParks site, and I couldn't tell you where it is. I've also obviously missed the fact that there are seasonal price differences.

Let me walk you through how I typically make reservations for South Africa. On normal sites, they have a matrix of costs and availability by date. You scroll through a calendar, find your date, and see the price separately for each type of accommodation. Some charge more on weekends than weekdays, but this is obvious as you evaluate dates and options. It allows you to plan and budget what you'll be paying before you make a choice and try to book.

Let me walk you through how I typically make reservations for Kruger (the only SA National Park I've used for accommodations). I go into Kruger and pick my camp (say Lower Sabie). There is a matrix with the types of accommodations and their "base rate." Then there are columns for prices based on the number of people in the accommodation. There is no indication whatsoever that this base rate is a changing rate based on your date unlike most reservation systems. Maybe I'm ignorant, but I assume that will be my rate regardless of when I book because there is no indication whatsoever that it will be otherwise.

I then check availability and plan my trip (including budget). It's only once I book the accommodation that I learn the price isn't the base rate they advertised. At this point my plan is done and has to be re-done to accommodate the higher prices or the accommodations re-planned to meet my budget.

SANParks could make the site more user friendly by just adding two words in the heading to indicate the rates might change. For example under "base rate" in the heading they could say "low season." Then I know there is a low and high season and probably different prices and I know to look for price differentials. They could even put an asterisk next to "low season" and below include a link to the document with the seasonal price differentials to make it even more user friendly.

There are at least a dozen other ways they could indicate that there are seasonal price differentials in places that they only list the low season price.

>>>>I know it can take a while in the beginning to find all the info but generally I think its user friendly.

It is not user friendly for a newbie who doesn't understand South Africa, safaris, self drive, etc. I can tell you that a large percentage of Americans don't tackle the self-drive portion of Kruger for good reason. Many people told me I had to work through a travel agent because it's such a mess to do yourself. I am more persistent than most, and I find it to be very frustrating to get correct information.

And although the people on the phone are very nice, there is a big cultural divide and a big language divide that reduces the value of that avenue for us. Of course cost and time zone difference can also be challenge limiting the number of calls overseas visitors make.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:20 pm

salamanda wrote:I wonder how many of those respondents were from overseas? I think the majority of us South Africans are very happy with the website but we should be listening to those that are not . . . .

Sal, the percentage Elsa gave is from feedback options available to all users of the website.

At the bottom of many of the pages is the following:
ImageCapture by dinkybird, on Flickr

Selecting one the the options takes one to a feedback form that goes to the webmasters and from where feedback stats are drawn.
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:48 pm

Hi duncanblizzard

I am going to try and assist you where I can, and to make easier reading, will spit the replies into separate posts. We will also split this discussion to a different topic, but will PM you the link.
duncanblizzard wrote:>>>>but if you download the tariffs pdf format for sanparks.....

You're assuming we even know where the tariffs pdf is. I've spent dozens of hours on the SANParks site, and I couldn't tell you where it is. I've also obviously missed the fact that there are seasonal price differences.


If you look at the top menu bar of the website, accessible from any page you have open, you will see the Reservations tab, you will find all the info you need from that tab. Under 'tariffs' are the links to the comprehensive pdf tariff downloads:

ImageCapture2 by dinkybird, on Flickr
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:54 pm

duncanblizzard wrote:Let me walk you through how I typically make reservations for Kruger (the only SA National Park I've used for accommodations). I go into Kruger and pick my camp (say Lower Sabie). There is a matrix with the types of accommodations and their "base rate." Then there are columns for prices based on the number of people in the accommodation. There is no indication whatsoever that this base rate is a changing rate based on your date unlike most reservation systems. Maybe I'm ignorant, but I assume that will be my rate regardless of when I book because there is no indication whatsoever that it will be otherwise.


If you look just above the matrix with the types of accommodation, there is a 'Please note' which states the prices are the current prices and there is a link to the tariffs pdf there too.

ImageCapture1 by dinkybird, on Flickr
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:04 pm

Hi again duncanblizzard

Have you considered using Online Bookings? You will then be in full control of your booking, and can see the pricing as you make the reservations. There is a 5% discount for Online Bookings, but you do need to pay in full with a credit card when making the booking. There are some useful tuts here


We will forward your comments here regarding more clarity on the prices to the webmasters.
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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by DinkyBird » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:09 pm

duncanblizzard wrote:
salamanda wrote:Duncanblizzard, why don't you fill in a customer feedback form regarding what you have said here including the suggestion that you made. You can find the feedback form HERE


Unfortunately I've spent a lot of time in the past documenting and providing detailed feedback, and I don't even get a response.

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Re: Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

Unread post by arks » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:11 pm

duncanblizzard wrote:I can tell you that a large percentage of Americans don't tackle the self-drive portion of Kruger for good reason. Many people told me I had to work through a travel agent because it's such a mess to do yourself.

Duncan I don't know on what you base your "large percentage" claim here. I am an American and I have been visiting KNP and South Africa for 30+ years. Believe me, finding information and making bookings in the 1980s was far harder than it is today. Then most if not all communication was by snail mail, so it usually took 4-6 weeks to get an answer to a question. Or to get a booking confirmed.

But the basic information about South Africa and the South African National Parks in guide books has always IMO been excellent. And I certainly never had any qualms about self-driving in either the park or in the country in general. In fact, one (amongst many) reasons for my choosing South Africa for what I expected to be my African "trip of a lifetime" (who knew that it would turn into a lifetime love affair with the country), was the excellent infrastructure throughout the country -- good roads, good trains, good hotels etc. Plus self-drive is FAR more appealing to me than being part of a quided group.

I have been travelling to and throughout South Africa alone (and I'm both female and for some years now also a senior) for over 30 years and I would never, ever say that planning and making such a trip was "a mess" or in any way complicated. South Africa's tourist services and tourism infrastructure have always, in my experience, been excellent. And with the advent of the internet, websites and email, planning has become far, far easier. Perhaps you have unreasonable expectations?
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