Double bookings on Campsites





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  1. #1
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    Default Double bookings on Campsites

    I had a client on the phone today, checking on their vouchers, ask me that because one of our clients (who posted here on the forum) was double-booked (DWNP error - both clients had Confirmations) at a Deception Valley campsite, does that mean that booking through us would mean more of a risk in getting double booked. Um - No! Absolutely not. It's not a planned mistake, it's a random one and can happen to anyone (yes, even agents)

    There's been so much talk lately of Double bookings and I have seen and heard of it much more this year, (and more last year, than in previous years) so it is a really big issue at the moment.

    The Govt here work on a High cost, Low impact Tourism model and a few years ago, wanted to do away with Self-drive all together. They wanted only tour operators in the parks, on mobile or lodge safaris. and they were going to increase the current Park fees by over 500%. Luckily, this didnt happen and so you are still able to camp in the parks - BUT the demand for space is great, and number of campsites is small. The Govt don't want to tender any more campsites in the parks due to congestion. (they dont want huge amounts of vehicles around a lion kill and already, the Chobe River Front in particular, is too congested). But it's a very fine balance and a very fine line.

    So I thought I'd post a few notes :
    (please add to my thoughts and give your suggestions forum members)


    *) There are Privatised campsites (SKL, Xomae, Kwalate, Intertourism, Khwai, Sankuyo etc), and there are National Park campsites (Most Kgalagadi camspites, some CKGR campsites and the Njuca Hills) in Botswana.
    BOTH are at risk for double bookings - they are run by humans
    but ....National Parks more so (as it's understaffed with big workloads, and everything they do is manually written, not computerised at all anymore - their computerised system crashed in 2014).

    *) You have an equal chance of having a double booking on a campsite whether you book yourself, or through an agent (any agent). It's a random human error and not one that targets any specific group of people. It happens mostly during the high season busy times (June/July/August/Sept/Oct) but not necessarily always.

    *) If it's a privatised campsite that has double booked you, you have a good chance of asking for your money back. If it's National Parks, they'll apologise, but will never refund.
    DO try to complain to both (or ask your agent to complain for you) as it puts pressure on these companies to do better in future. The more "ammo" we have as agents with this regards, to present to the Wildlife board, the better our voices will be heard.

    What to do if you get to your campsite, and someone else is on there (or shows up to stay) :

    *** FIRST THING to do, is to ask them for their paperwork. As we know, (recent threads on here), some people take a big chance and stay on campsites they are not booked onto, hoping no-one else shows up or that they will appear to be in the right place and you'll have to move. Always ask them to see their booking sheets and confirmations.
    If you have bookings and they don't, they should leave. Check at the campsite for a Campsite manager to help you (most privatised campsites have these). Or at the National Park gates for the Wildlife officials (or call the National Park gate closest to you).

    If you both legitimately have bookings, and it's the error of the National Park or Privatised campsite themselves:
    a) both try to be accommodating and nice - it's neither groups fault and you're both as put-out as each other.
    b) the campsite manager or Wildlife official should move you onto a reserve site, or look at their booking sheets for another site for one of you to move to.
    c) if no other site is available (or if you cant find a campsite manager or Park official), then try to share as best you can or bushcamp closeby until you can reach that operator to help later.
    d) if you do find an empty site nearby, make very sure that no-one comes to it (who is actually booked there) and if they do, give them their site and explain what happened. I find that most self-drive people with a love for the bush will try to be as accommodating as they can and will sympathise with you. But don't go and hijack someone else site just because you were double booked (other people shouldnt have to pay for the mistake of the operators on your behalf)

    It's very easy to get angry, but that's not going to solve anything at that time and your anger generally gets put on the shoulders of other clients out on a holiday at the time (It's not worth ruining two groups trips that they paid lots of money for). Just try to do the best you can to have a wonderful trip anyway, and then call/email your Campsite Operator or Agent when you get home to report it.

    At the end of the day, you paid money to be there and this shouldn't happen, but at the moment the reality is that it does. It makes you angry as clients, and us (as agents) just as angry - so reporting this every time is essential, to best complain to the relevant operator.

    National Park gates Telephone numbers to save :

    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS MAUN - +267 6861265
    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS LINYATI +267 6200221
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SOUTH GATE +267 6830085 / 6830086
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KASANE +267 6250486
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SEDUDU GATE CHOBE +267 6250235
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KHUTSE GATE +267 5960013
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NORTH GATE +267 6830082
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABUASEHUBE +267 6530081
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR Matswere GATE +267 6530084
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR XADE GATE +267 6530088
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAKGADIGADI +267 6530077
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAK - PHEDUDU +267 6830161
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SAVUTI +267 6200218
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NXAI PAN +267 6830091
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABABE +267 6200219
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS GABORONE +267 3180774 / 3971405

    I hope that helps in some way.
    Have a lovely week everyone,
    Best regards
    Tara


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Thanks Tara.

    Must say that reading all the negative stuff one here regarding double bookings has tensed me up a bit about our upcoming trip in August/September. But thank you for the numbers, will make sure to have them and the Sat Phone ready.

    To people who have experienced this, and to people who camp regularly in Bots, is this something that happens very frequently (as in chances are 90% that you will find someone on your site) or every now and then (chances 10%)?

    Regards,
    Stephan
    "All of us get lost in the darkness. Dreamers learn to steer by the stars"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Thanks Tara, This is so useful. It happened to me once, and I asked the unwelcome interloper to join us for dinner. He turned out to be THE Expert Scorpion man in Southern Africa, and we had a wonderful time together.
    So.Its a good idea to be understanding and accommodating.

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by Groenman View Post
    Thanks Tara.

    Must say that reading all the negative stuff one here regarding double bookings has tensed me up a bit about our upcoming trip in August/September. But thank you for the numbers, will make sure to have them and the Sat Phone ready.

    To people who have experienced this, and to people who camp regularly in Bots, is this something that happens very frequently (as in chances are 90% that you will find someone on your site) or every now and then (chances 10%)?

    Regards,
    Hi Groenman. We do hundreds of bookings a year, and it happens probably three of four times a year that we know of (but we only hear of it if it's our clients or if they post on the forums). It happened to two of my clients this last year. However, a few years ago, you'd hear of it once or twice only - it seems to be a little more recently (maybe due to increased demand and more travellers? I'm not quite sure). Definitely more so now that the computerised system for the Parks has gone. We're trying to put pressure on them to get this back, but allocations through the Govt always take time. They are privatising more of their campsites (they recently gave Mpayathulwa and Mabuasehube away, which should help a bit with the workload on them). Perhaps they'll privatise more in the future.

    There is a current thread on here, where a traveller says it happened to him in the Hwange National Park - so it's not just Botswana.
    Africa is not as technically advanced as the rest of the world. Things here are always harder, take longer, and don't work as efficiently - but if it did, it wouldn't be Africa. You come for an adventure. All we ask, is that you come with a good attitude, a friendly smile and have a great holiday anyway.

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by taraleegoosen View Post
    ...

    The Govt here work on a High cost, Low impact Tourism model and a few years ago, wanted to do away with Self-drive all together. They wanted only tour operators in the parks, on mobile or lodge safaris....
    ....
    May this never but never happen.........it will be the end of me visiting botswana
    2007 Fortuner 3 D4D, 4x4
    2015 Ford Ranger 2.2

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by Groenman View Post
    Thanks Tara.

    Must say that reading all the negative stuff one here regarding double bookings has tensed me up a bit about our upcoming trip in August/September. But thank you for the numbers, will make sure to have them and the Sat Phone ready.

    To people who have experienced this, and to people who camp regularly in Bots, is this something that happens very frequently (as in chances are 90% that you will find someone on your site) or every now and then (chances 10%)?

    Regards,
    We have been to Botswana three times and it has not happened to us once. We visited CKGR 2X, Mabua/KTP 2X, Moremi 1X. We have had a few times that others also thought they had our site booked, but checking the reservations vouchers did help and made clear that they had booked another site. So, maybe we were lucky, I read also other stories of people with bad luck and undesired problems.

    Rik

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by taraleegoosen View Post
    I had a client on the phone today, checking on their vouchers, ask me that because one of our clients (who posted here on the forum) was double-booked (DWNP error - both clients had Confirmations) at a Deception Valley campsite, does that mean that booking through us would mean more of a risk in getting double booked. Um - No! Absolutely not. It's not a planned mistake, it's a random one and can happen to anyone (yes, even agents)

    There's been so much talk lately of Double bookings and I have seen and heard of it much more this year, (and more last year, than in previous years) so it is a really big issue at the moment.

    The Govt here work on a High cost, Low impact Tourism model and a few years ago, wanted to do away with Self-drive all together. They wanted only tour operators in the parks, on mobile or lodge safaris. and they were going to increase the current Park fees by over 500%. Luckily, this didnt happen and so you are still able to camp in the parks - BUT the demand for space is great, and number of campsites is small. The Govt don't want to tender any more campsites in the parks due to congestion. (they dont want huge amounts of vehicles around a lion kill and already, the Chobe River Front in particular, is too congested). But it's a very fine balance and a very fine line.

    So I thought I'd post a few notes :
    (please add to my thoughts and give your suggestions forum members)


    *) There are Privatised campsites (SKL, Xomae, Kwalate, Intertourism, Khwai, Sankuyo etc), and there are National Park campsites (Most Kgalagadi camspites, some CKGR campsites and the Njuca Hills) in Botswana.
    BOTH are at risk for double bookings - they are run by humans
    but ....National Parks more so (as it's understaffed with big workloads, and everything they do is manually written, not computerised at all anymore - their computerised system crashed in 2014).

    *) You have an equal chance of having a double booking on a campsite whether you book yourself, or through an agent (any agent). It's a random human error and not one that targets any specific group of people. It happens mostly during the high season busy times (June/July/August/Sept/Oct) but not necessarily always.

    *) If it's a privatised campsite that has double booked you, you have a good chance of asking for your money back. If it's National Parks, they'll apologise, but will never refund.
    DO try to complain to both (or ask your agent to complain for you) as it puts pressure on these companies to do better in future. The more "ammo" we have as agents with this regards, to present to the Wildlife board, the better our voices will be heard.

    What to do if you get to your campsite, and someone else is on there (or shows up to stay) :

    *** FIRST THING to do, is to ask them for their paperwork. As we know, (recent threads on here), some people take a big chance and stay on campsites they are not booked onto, hoping no-one else shows up or that they will appear to be in the right place and you'll have to move. Always ask them to see their booking sheets and confirmations.
    If you have bookings and they don't, they should leave. Check at the campsite for a Campsite manager to help you (most privatised campsites have these). Or at the National Park gates for the Wildlife officials (or call the National Park gate closest to you).

    If you both legitimately have bookings, and it's the error of the National Park or Privatised campsite themselves:
    a) both try to be accommodating and nice - it's neither groups fault and you're both as put-out as each other.
    b) the campsite manager or Wildlife official should move you onto a reserve site, or look at their booking sheets for another site for one of you to move to.
    c) if no other site is available (or if you cant find a campsite manager or Park official), then try to share as best you can or bushcamp closeby until you can reach that operator to help later.
    d) if you do find an empty site nearby, make very sure that no-one comes to it (who is actually booked there) and if they do, give them their site and explain what happened. I find that most self-drive people with a love for the bush will try to be as accommodating as they can and will sympathise with you. But don't go and hijack someone else site just because you were double booked (other people shouldnt have to pay for the mistake of the operators on your behalf)

    It's very easy to get angry, but that's not going to solve anything at that time and your anger generally gets put on the shoulders of other clients out on a holiday at the time (It's not worth ruining two groups trips that they paid lots of money for). Just try to do the best you can to have a wonderful trip anyway, and then call/email your Campsite Operator or Agent when you get home to report it.

    At the end of the day, you paid money to be there and this shouldn't happen, but at the moment the reality is that it does. It makes you angry as clients, and us (as agents) just as angry - so reporting this every time is essential, to best complain to the relevant operator.

    National Park gates Telephone numbers to save :

    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS MAUN - +267 6861265
    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS LINYATI +267 6200221
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SOUTH GATE +267 6830085 / 6830086
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KASANE +267 6250486
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SEDUDU GATE CHOBE +267 6250235
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KHUTSE GATE +267 5960013
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NORTH GATE +267 6830082
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABUASEHUBE +267 6530081
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR Matswere GATE +267 6530084
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR XADE GATE +267 6530088
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAKGADIGADI +267 6530077
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAK - PHEDUDU +267 6830161
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SAVUTI +267 6200218
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NXAI PAN +267 6830091
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABABE +267 6200219
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS GABORONE +267 3180774 / 3971405

    I hope that helps in some way.
    Have a lovely week everyone,
    Best regards
    Tara
    wow

    Thanks Tara fr advisin others..we agents are alwsys under presure like operators not updatong their files only to find that our clients sufer on arival.

    thnx

    Maile
    NDM Travel Agency
    We book:
    Public Campsites/4x4 Hire /Lodges/Park Permits/ Private Camps/namibia Camps
    Safari Activities/Game Drives/Transfers/Scenic Flights/House Boats/vic Falls

    Website: www.ndmtravelagency.com
    Email 1: [email protected] - CHAWA [Cell: +267 76702579]
    Email 2: [email protected] - [Cell: +267 76702602 ]
    Tel:+267 6800264
    https://www.facebook.com/NDMTravel/

  11. #8
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Real unintentional errors do happen and one should always be aware that in the rare case that it does and after checking vouchers and documents then both parties have to live with the error and try make the best of things until it can be sorted by management and hopefully one party can get a reserve site. Being "grown up" about things is also not easy especially if one has been planning and paid up for the trip for a almost a year.

    Imagine that it happens with you and you then decide to move to an empty site close by after having an hour or two's discussion or argument of who is right and who must move on, and an hour later the real site owner arrives to take up hi site. You will immediately duck and dive and fumble for your voucher/booking docs in the hope that the real owner will feel sorry for you (remember, its getting dark, the kids are hungry, the old MiL is grumpy and that homely fire you have going ). It is then that you become a site hijacker!!!!

    So unless you have obtained official approval (written) then you must not make the call to move onto a so-called empty site- because you cant be sure.

    Also, I don't think that it is good advice to suggest that one should bush camp! This should not be allowed under any situation!

    If you are"in the right" (both of parties in the case of a honest mistake) and your year old planned holiday I spoilt, then a refund is not foremost n my mind.

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Quote Originally Posted by taraleegoosen View Post
    National Park gates Telephone numbers to save :

    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS MAUN - +267 6861265
    DEPT. OF NATIONAL PARKS LINYATI +267 6200221
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SOUTH GATE +267 6830085 / 6830086
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KASANE +267 6250486
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SEDUDU GATE CHOBE +267 6250235
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS KHUTSE GATE +267 5960013
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NORTH GATE +267 6830082
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABUASEHUBE +267 6530081
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR Matswere GATE +267 6530084
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS CKGR XADE GATE +267 6530088
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAKGADIGADI +267 6530077
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MAK - PHEDUDU +267 6830161
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS SAVUTI +267 6200218
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS NXAI PAN +267 6830091
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS MABABE +267 6200219
    DEPT OF NATIONAL PARKS GABORONE +267 3180774 / 3971405
    Thank you very much for this info Tara, much appreciated. Looking forward to our tour starting in less than 2 weeks!

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  14. #10
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    Default Re: Double bookings on Campsites

    Hi Tara

    I have emailed you regarding our planned itinerary

    Look forward to your response

    Regards

    James Champion
    [email protected]

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