In the world of international hunting there are several ways to book your “hunt of a lifetime.” It could be at conventions such as Safari Club International, or a local show, the Internet, word of mouth or through a booking agent. The easiest, and honestly, most reliable way to book a hunt will be through a booking agent. Here’s why:
Deciding where to go can be a headache, figuring out flights, transfers in arrival cities, hotels, licenses, included and excluded, among other considerations. Most people who can afford to hunt internationally don’t have the time to do all the research, due diligence that it takes to find your perfect destination. This is where an agent/consultant can save you massive amounts of time and frustration.
A good agent will ask questions to understand the desires of the customer then using his or her connections and expertise to pair you with the right outfitter for your expectations. There are so many considerations, not to mention the fierce competition with more wingshooting lodges in Cordoba Argentina than the rest of the country. How do you choose? Price? Ease of transportation?
An agent is not married to one lodge or destination. Detail Company Adventures, for example, can work with 15 to 20 outfitters in Argentina alone. While there are some great operations in the world others are not so great. An agent has been there and already knows the product and can protect their customers through an intimate knowledge of the operation. If you ask 30 outfitters about their business, 28 will tell you flat out that they’re the best. How can you tell who is and who isn’t? An independent agent is beholding to no one but their customers.
Getting to the destination can sometimes be a feat in its self, which is why we always suggest purchasing flights and travel through an agent. Upon arrival in, say, Buenos Aires, we have in-country representatives who will shuttle you through the city, take you shopping, to dinner, or sightseeing. We have worked with these people for years and know they provide excellent service. Having years of experience and references trumps “Trip Advisor” reviews any day. Another thing to think about is transfers, and traveling as a hunter. Not all services found on the internet are hunter/gun friendly. We’ve saved you the leg work of finding a decent city tour or other side trip.
The airlines (cue horror music) are not hunter friendly. Period. We deal with the various airlines every day, and here is where a good booking agent can really help their clients out. While most of our trips go through without a hitch, there is always a chance of something happening. A good agent is on-call most hours to help fix a delayed flight, missed connection or lost bag. For example, Detail Company Adventures has several ways of helping out our customers either through our travel agent or connections we have at the various airlines. Several times every month we get a late-night call from a client whose flight is delayed or they missed a connection. More often than not we can get plan “B” going and get our customers out of the jam. Travelocity does not do this.
From the hunting licenses to flights to passports, there is a ton of information that needs to be compiled and processed to the lodge, airlines, or transfer/tour operators. This takes time and knowledge of what each step of the journey might need. If a group of eight shooters wants to go to Cordoba, Argentina the amount of information gathered and sent to the outfitter can add up to hours of work. This is yet another way an independent agent can help make the trip easier and more enjoyable, by compiling the information from the group and handling the details.
Find an agent who can recommend numerous lodges and sort out the best hunting trip. Talk to several agents and pick one you like and trust, then put them to work. A great agent’s number- one concern is his or her clients. I’ve learned from some of the best out there and can tell you that the agents who take every trip personally are always going to be the ones with longevity. If they’ve made it longer than five years in this business they normally have it figured out. (Detail Company Adventures has been in business nearly 30 years.)
A good booking agent can be your best asset for managing the risks involved in an international hunt. So the next time you’re thinking about an international adventure. Be sure to give me or any agent a call.