All of our itineraries are complemented by a detailed itemised costing which shows you exactly where each cent of your money is going. These costs are the same as what you would pay if you went directly to each supplier (although there is invariably some minimal movement both up and down in these days of dynamic pricing).
As part of that policy of transparency we have also broken out and itemised our management fee of 7.5% of the total value of the services booked. We implemented this a number of years ago on the feedback of some satisfied business-savvy clients who saw clearly that we could not maintain our high service levels on the low margins available in New Zealand travel.
New Zealand is a small country a long way from anywhere with small visitor flows and small, often independent, accommodation providers. This means the trade rates they offer travel professionals such as ourselves are nowhere near the level expected in the rest of the world. Add to this our service levels - ie. the sheer amount of time we devote to each client - and it quickly becomes clear that the pricing is skewed to our disadvantage. It is a fact that each itinerary will cost us several thousand dollars in time and materials.
Over the years we have had a number of questions as to what this goes towards. These are some of the categories:
- time spent developing plans for each client, one-on-one. We have not repeated an itinerary in 15 years of business. One-off creation is an expensive business.
- time spent by senior management developing every itinerary, without fail
- time spent in-country ensuring the itinerary goes as smoothly as possible: calling each provider and briefing; calling pre- and post- activity or accommodation; making weather switches; making client requested changes or additions. etc etc
- time spent travelling the country, inspecting, evaluating, coaching, persuading, creating
- staff costs - currently under New Zealand law staff need to be paid time and a half plus a day in lieu for working public holidays. We are available to our clients while they are in country. Truly available. And very often availed of. This has a cost which internet booking agencies don't have
- local regulations - you wouldn't like to see the red tape we have to put up with and which we protect you from. We have this red tape because we do things right.
It's a fact of life that time costs money and if you want to remain in business you don't do too many things for free. And yes - you are right - the fee doesn't even begin to nearly cover our costs and we invest substantially in our product every year.
And you will find that many people don't have overheads as low as ours and therefore have the same sort of mark-up (usually quite a bit more) allocated elsewhere in their itineraries as they too cannot survive on air alone. So be sure to compare apples with apples if comparing is your style. In my experience in life, you get what you pay for.
So what does this mean to you:
- I book with an internet booking agency, take pot luck, have no specialist advice, no support in country, everything is off the shelf and it costs me (an arbitrary) NZ$10,000
- I book with Ahipara, proven specialists and world leaders in New Zealand travel, absolute in-country support throughout my trip, access to exclusive people, places (if I want) and the same itinerary as the one above will cost me NZ$10,750
Seems like a no-brainer to me.
We have had a question as to whether this 7.5% is applied to the planning budget or the actual budget (sometimes there are cancellations or additions). The answer is - whichever is the highest - as the 7.5% is a general work estimate number and any changes would of course increase workload.