Arriving at one’s destination to find it not available is probably one of every traveler’s fears. This fear can obviously be eliminated or at least made highly probably with careful and disciplined planning and one would think. Traveling in South Africa is, as has been said before, one of the worlds best kept travel secrets. South Africa offers visitors great accommodation options to suit all tastes and also some extremely efficient and well known travel agents and accommodation portals.
The writer would however like to share a frightening experience, after booking with RCI, Resorts Condominiums International, part of the Wyndham Worldwide group I was informed, after having already left home on vacation, that the accommodation in Stellenbosch, South Africa was not available to us. The reason we were told was that the owner had withdrawn their accommodation units from RCI, having given notice some months previously to the RCI agent in Cape Town. The RCI agent had neglected to process the withdrawal on the RCI system and the booking agents had unknowingly allowed our booking to be conformed.
What made this incompetence worse was that we had in fact phoned the owner of the unit, two days prior to departure from home and she had confirmed via e-mail that the booking was in order and they were “looking forward to our arrival”. If one generously accepts that mistakes can happen, one would also believe that a large well know holiday organisation would take every step to make an alternative arrangement by organizing alternative accommodation for us, irrespective of any cost or inconvenience, merely as a token to show their customer commitment.
RCI managed to find accommodation for us in a different town. Now for personal reasons this was not acceptable to us, was rejected and RCI were requested to seek accommodation in Stellenbosch as a replacement, they refused and hid behind a reference to “terms and condition”, refunded the booking costs and walked away form the situation. In my mind, contracts do not protect an organization from incompetence, RCI were incompetent in every sense of the word and compounded this by not “biting the bullet” and assisting us with replacement accommodation.
The matter continues and will do so until my family and I are comfortable that we have either received due consideration for our traumatic experience, the spoiling of a holiday look forward to with much excitement or alternatively, that we ensure other RCI members and potential members are fully aware of the risks and lack if service commitment that seems glaringly evident.
The tourism potential in South Africa is an asset to us all, largely untapped but it has the potential to create jobs and bring much needed foreign investment to South simply do not need stories like this eroding this potential and Companies like RCI need to be taken to task.