Five months into the lockdown, Holden Safaris is making good use of time by polling Travel Advisors and offering webinars.

Holden Safaris is in Newport Beach, California, an area rich with some of the most experienced travel advisors as well as a pool of highly discriminating travelers.  The APTA Orange County chapter is home to more members than most other chapters in the country.  The company reached out to some of these travel advisors with questions about their experiences with clients moving forward after these extraordinary times.

Charging Consultancy Fees: It probably will not surprise you to know that many of those polled said that they are charging consultancy fees.  And those that are not, are considering it for the future, especially now with the enormous cancellations that have taken place, reducing income to virtually nil.

Expectations of working with a tour operator post COVID-19:  Most advisors say that they will be looking very closely at the cancellation policies, making sure that clients sign to show that they know the risks.  They will support those tour operators who are most knowledgeable and who are totally in tune with the protocols and who maintain a relationship with their properties and ground staff to offer the very best in communication, service and reliability.

Suggestions to update supplier terms and conditions post COVID-19: Advisors are asking for very clear and transparent charges for cancellation or changes. They suggest that cancellations should be more flexible to earn the confidence of the client to book. In periods of uncertainty, a final payment due date that is closer to departure.

What is the most important service you expect from Holden Safaris? The most common answers were reliability, excellent communication with clients with professional 3-way conference calls, current and first-hand knowledge, and confidence that clients will be taken care of on the ground in Africa so that advisor does not get the 2:00 am phone calls.

Perhaps you were one of the lucky travel advisors to catch the live version of Jim Holden’s recent webinars.  Last month, Safari Jim, as he is known to be called, gave an interesting presentation on how we strengthen the travel distribution chain and provide travelers with meaningful safaris. After Jim participated in many webinars with DMC’s, lodge owners, and fellow safari operators, it became apparent how even more important the travel advisor and safari operators are in selling safaris for the future.  It is essential that the travelers be truly prepared for their experience to give it meaning.  Safaris are more than driving through the game parks looking for the big five.  Jim talks about the “Little five,” the differences between hotels and lodges, and immersive experiences in culture and lifestyle.  It is difficult for travelers to learn all these things from the internet.  There is nothing that beats the explanations and passion that travel advisors and safari operators offer to those whose bucket list includes an Africa safari.  Lodge operators are depending on us to make it clear to the traveler what they can expect.  You can see the presentation here.

Earlier this month, Jim offered what he calls part 2 of the presentation from June.  The webinar entitled “Locked Down Breakout – The New Safari and How to Sell It” looks at the new protocols in place for safaris and new ideas to make safaris more fulfilling and taking advantage of some of the more rare experiences.   Learn all about it as you watch the presentation here.

We would love to hear from you.  Whether you have additional comments to add to our polling questions, or feedback on the webinars.  Email Jim Holden at

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