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Christmas Presents

Planning your adventure

Jo Austin investigates the influences that have changed the way in which people plan, prepare and book their trip

Booking an African safari in the late 1990s was an adventure in itself. It used to involve phoning or writing a letter to a specialist tour operator with expert knowledge. Brochures were the norm and clients would expect to be sent an itemised itinerary, a map and printed air tickets. They would then go to the library to do some further research, read a guidebook, visit their bank to order travellers’ cheques and probably buy a phone card to give them cheaper rates when calling home.

Today, however, habits are changing. The main shift has been towards online. When Chris McIntyre joined Sunvil (Expert Africa), in 1994, the company was making bookings by fax, and telex was still in use. “I had to insist that I needed a PC for my spreadsheets and tailor-made quotes!” he says. His 1996 Bradt guide to Zambia did not even include an email address. But now he admits that this year could be the first time that Expert Africa relies on the web for bookings instead of a brochure.

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