Tourvest Destination Management’s inbound leisure brand, Sense of Africa in South Africa, now offers guaranteed guided scheduled departure tours on a guided seat-in-vehicle, private guided or self-drive basis.

These scheduled touring options were available on 14-day free sale, no deposits required and no penalties for changing the tour date or cancelling 14 days before tour departure, said Karien le Grand, Product Development Manager at Tourvest Destination Management, noting that, in general, as guided scheduled group tours required adequate lead time to secure the necessary numbers, and prepare each departure, many operators insisted on a 30- to 60-day release/free sale.

Furthermore, COVID-related cancellations would not attract any cancellation fees, added Le Grand.

These new scheduled tours meet the new customer demand for more flexibility and shorter booking lead times and are suitable for any client’s preferred travel style, accommodating their level of confidence, flexibility and group size requirements.

Le Grand told Tourism Update that scheduled private guided tours were perfect for travellers who preferred to travel only with their families or friends instead of with people they didn’t know, guided by an expert in the language of their choice.

“Scheduled self-drive tours are preferred by travellers confident in navigating themselves through the country, but still have peace of mind with the guidance of the best route and confirmed accommodation,” she added.

According to Le Grand, guided scheduled departure tours are pre-costed packages offering guaranteed frequent departures and free sale availability.

“This saves time (no research required) and money,” she highlighted. “It is also easy for clients to create their own group tours by combining modular scheduled tours available, or by blocking departures for a specific client, and so they have full control of the group size and specific language tour guide requirements.”

Risks carried by operators

Le Grand explained that with scheduled tours, operators (not the client) take the risk to offer seat-in-vehicle guaranteed guided scheduled departure tours. “The per person rate offered to anyone wanting to join such a tour, is based on a specific breakeven guest number and not the minimum two-guest requirement to run the tour, in most cases.” Yet, the price per person rate is the same, whether the bus is full or not.

The frequency of these departures also depends on the extent of risk operators are prepared to take. Room allocations are secured with the relevant accommodation suppliers to enable guaranteed departures, available on a free sale basis.