Travel Resources, Agency Guide and Tips Every Traveller Should Know
This page lists several travel resources and gives advice on which travel agency to use. The page can be used by any traveller, but where applicable, focuses on Cape Town and South Africa.
When you go on a trip you need to find a place to stay (eg hotel), long-haul transport (eg airplane), local transport (eg car hire) and if on holiday, local attractions. Finding and booking these can be quite daunting, especially if you have not been to the destination before. This is where travel agencies come into play as they assist you to find a good merchant.
There are two types of travel agencies namely; the traditional travel agency (TTA) and the online travel agency (OTA). If a travel agency makes the booking on your behalf then the merchant gives the travel agency a commission (about 20%).
Things to consider when dealing with a travel agency include; agency reward program, cancel refund policy, travel insurance offerings and bundle deals. Many more things to consider are found in the next section.
2. TTA vs OTA vs Direct Booking
With TTAs you have the advantage of working with a personal agent that has training, resources, experience and expertise (eg visas). TTAs often charge a fee for their services. If things go wrong, especially while on your trip, having a personal agent at your disposal is extremely valuable (especially to make alternative arrangements). They can even let you know before things go wrong. Bear in mind that when it comes to money and brokers (in any industry) that you need to find a trustworthy TTA.
OTAs have all the digital advantages. They are good at creating a very user friendly interface and you get instant confirmation. If you use a OTA then all your bookings are done in one familiar interface and you only have to enter your personal information and credit card details once. All your itinerary information is available online from any device (even your past trips). With OTAs you get a long list of available merchants and you can compare prices, services and reviews. Most OTA’s have a 24 hour customer service line, but they are not as efficient as phoning a TTA agent.
If you book directly with a merchant and there are any problems, it’s easier dealing with the merchant directly without involving a “middle person” (OTA or TTA). Hotels sometimes offer “added value” to guests who book directly with them such as free spa treatment, an airport transfer etc. Another advantage of booking directly with a merchant is to make use of their rewards program (eg if you use the same hotel chain or airline you can get great rewards). Bear in mind if traveling very long distances that it’s often cheaper to use different airlines along the route. If you are using a Agency (OTA or TTA) it is still worth checking if they can make use of the Merchant rewards program (would be nice to earn double reward points). With an Agency you normally still earn points/miles to fly but you cannot use them to buy a ticket.
3. Online Travel Agency (OTA) Websites
There are many Online Travel Agencies to choose from (locally and internationally). Below is our selection, from a much larger list. If coming to Cape Town we recommend booking with a OTA that has it's head office in Cape Town as they will have good insight into the city. It's worth visiting each one to see which site works best for you.
|Agency||Extracts from their About Us||Head Office|
|TravelStart||"search for flights" - "reserve your hotel and rental car" - "employs a team of more than 200 staff" - "offices across Africa and the Middle East"||Cape Town|
|FlightSite||"choice of flights, car and accommodation available locally and abroad" - "travel portal for South Africans to make local and worldwide travel arrangements." (meet the team)||Cape Town|
|SafariNow||"local booking site for South Africa and East Africa" - "team of 45 people" (meet the team)||Cape Town|
|SA-Venues||"hotels and accommodation in South Africa. Find safaris and tours, and travel packages" - "'must see' attractions, day tours"||Cape Town|
|TravelGround (LekkerSlaap)||"find and book accommodation anywhere in South Africa." (meet the team)||Cape Town|
|Sleeping-Out||"South African accommodation guide" - "a division of Dining-OUT, South Africa's biggest Online Restaurant Directory."||Cape Town|
|Agency||Extracts from their About Us||Head Office|
|Expedia||"Expedia, Inc. is one of the world’s leading travel companies, - "more than 20,000 employees worldwide"||Seattle|
|TripAdvisor||"TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site" - "With more than 500 million reviews and opinions"||Boston|
|Priceline||"Priceline.com is part of The Priceline Group, the world leader in online travel & related services"||Norwalk|
|Bookings.com||"the world leader in booking accommodation online. Each day, over 1,200,000 room nights are reserved on Booking.com." - "part of the Priceline Group"||Amsterdam|
|Orbitz||"Orbitz.com is owned by Expedia, Inc., one of the world's leading travel companies."||Chicago|
4. Traditional Travel Agency (TTA) Lists
There is a huge number of Tradition Travel Agencies in South Africa. Below are some directory listings of them.
|ASATA||Members of the Association of South African Travel Agents|
|Yellow Pages||South Africa’s largest online database of local businesses.|
|Yellosa||Companies offering travel agents in South Africa.|
|RainbowNation||Websites directory of South African Travel Agencies.|
|Linx Africa||South African tourism directory of Travel Agents|
5. Vacation Rental Websites
Vacation rentals are becoming very popular. Two of the big advantages of renting someone's home or holiday house is that it has all the amenities you need and it has lots of space. You also get to experience a city like a local.
|Website||Extracts from their Website|
|Airbnb||3,000,000+ Listings Worldwide and 191 Countries.|
|Expedia - HomeAway||With over 2 million unique places to stay in 190 countries.|
|TripAdvisor - Vacation Rentals||Search for holiday rentals in 190 countries.|
|Booking.com - Holiday Rentals||Your choice of 669,227 holiday rentals.|
6. Accredited Membership Organizations
If you are looking for extra peace of mind you can check if a merchant is an accredited member of an association.
|Association||Extracts from their Website or Wikipedia|
|Cape Town Tourism||"Members enjoy a number of benefits, such as accreditation" - "recognized as trustworthy associates of an official tourism body in the city which provides peace of mind to visitors."|
|Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA)||"focused on the accountability, integrity, and quality control of the tourism industry" - "To become a SATSA member, a business must prove annually that they adhere to the highest standards of professionalism and service."|
|Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA)||"Travellers who entrust their travel in the hands of an ASATA-accredited agency are assured of professional service, ethical conduct, trustworthy behaviour and that they are dealing with a market leader so they can Travel with Peace of Mind."|
|International Air Transport Association (IATA)||"trade association for the world’s airlines, representing 83% of total air traffic" - " IATA members include the world’s leading passenger and cargo airlines" - "Travel Agent accreditation is available for travel professionals."|
7. Destination Marketing Organizations
|Organization||Extracts from their Website|
|Cape Town Tourism||"City of Cape Town’s official regional tourism organisation, responsible for destination marketing, visitor and industry services."|
|WESGRO||"The Official Tourism, Trade & Investment Promotion Agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape. Let us help you do business in an inspiring place."|
|South African Tourism||"South African Tourism is mandated to market South Africa internationally as a preferred tourism destination."|
|Brand South Africa||"Brand South Africa was established to help create a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa."|
8. South Africa Entry Control
|Entry & Exit Formalities||A good overview of requirements to enter South Africa.||Lonely Planet|
|Visa exempt countries||Passport holders who are exempt from visas for South Africa.||Department of Home Affairs|
|Traveling with children||Find out which documents you will need when travelling with your children.||Department of Home Affairs|
|Visas and Requirements for Entering||Applying for a Visa (if needed). Requirements for entering South Africa.||Department of Home Affairs|
|Customs Requirements for Travellers||Customs requirements when arriving in South Africa.||South African Revenue Service|
|What to Expect at the Airport||A quick overview of the process and requirements at the airport. (Brochure)||South African Revenue Service|
|Customs Travellers Guide||More detail about the arrival process and the various allowances. (Brochure)||South African Revenue Service|
9. Other Travel Resources
|Phone or Email the Tourism Office||This is probably the most useful resource on this page. They are very helpful and offer a wide range of services to visitors planning or on a trip.
• Cape Town Tourism Contact-Us
• South African Tourism Contact us - South Africa or International
|Tour Operators or Tour Guides||Cape Town has a huge number of Tour Operators. To find one we suggest the following:
• Contact Cape Town Tourism
• Check SATSA's List
• Check TripAdvist’s list
• Western Cape government’s Registered Tour Guides online tool.
• Check with your hotel’s concierge desk.
|City Attraction Cards||Attraction cards save hassle, time and money. Visitors to Cape Town have three cards to choose from, each with similar and unique offerings. If you don't have a car you might want to make sure your card includes the hop-on hop-off (City Sightseeing) bus.
• iVenture Card
• Cape Town Pass
• Locals can also consider the My Green Card (family of 5 can save 80% on a visit to both Cape Point and Penguin Colony)
|Get a SIM before leaving||Buy a SIM card for your cell before you leave. Have it delivered to you or collect at airport on arrival. Give everyone your contact number before you leave.|
|The City's approach to responsible tourism||Simply put, responsible tourism is tourism that creates better places for people to live and to visit. Read more about the City's approach to responsible tourism.|
|Visitor Centres||Why not visit one of Cape Town Tourism's official visitor centres.|
|Cape Town Visitors Guide||Download a PDF of Cape Town's official Tourism Visitors Guide . Published by Cape Town Tourism and updated every year.|
10. Cape Town Travel Books
There are many travel books on Cape Town. Below is our selection of online shops which list books meeting the search criteria "Cape Town Travel".
|Takealot||South Africa's biggest online shop (my Broadband).|
|Loot||An up and coming South African online shop.|
|Exclusive Books||A popular South African place to buy books, now also has an online shop.|
||"Largest Internet-based retailer in the world by total sales and market capitalization" (Wikipedia)|
|eBay||"An online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell a broad variety of goods and services worldwide" (Wikipedia)|
11. Fifteen Tips Every Traveller should know
Expect things to go wrong, its part of the adventure and often results in the best stories. If driving, expect to make lots of U turns.
Make a point of speaking to local people, you will learn so much.
Surprise the hotel housekeeping staff with a tip.
When on a booking website, or any website where you give personal or credit card information, make sure it’s a https website. Information passed from your computer to a https website is encrypted.
Make copies of important documents (digital and paper). Email yourself a copy. Keep a spare passport photo.
Get proper travel insurance (don’t rely on your credit card’s free travel insurance). There are a few reasons for having travel insurance but the big one is medical bills. Many medical aids do not cover hospital bills abroad and credit card travel insurance only covers smaller medical bills.
Always have some emergency cash with you.
Take your favourite medicine with you, the chemists (pharmacies) abroad have different manufacturers for medicine.
When in a country where they drive on the wrong side of the road, make sure to look in the opposite direction (to what you are used to) when crossing the road (especially if you only have to cross one lane to an island in the middle). You don’t want to use the travel insurance for that mistake.
Research local events for your destination city for the time you are there.
Always travel with a proper credit card. It makes things much easier (eg most car hire companies require one). Credit cards usually have fraud protection. Pay off your credit card in time to avoid those interest charges.
Get good shoes. Tourist walk a lot (and why not).
Speak to your doctor to confirm medical precaution you may need to consider for your destination city.
Let your bank know which country you are going to so they do not suspect fraud when you card is, all of a sudden, used in a different country.
Get a real time (or text to voice) language translator app on your phone if in a foreign language country.