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Project Management for Travel Planning

Photo credit: Jeff Rodgers for Unsplash.  You will not believe how hard it was for me to select a single lion cub photo.

Photo credit: Jeff Rodgers for Unsplash.

You will not believe how hard it was for me to select a single lion cub photo.

Also known as: Just Because You Want Something Doesn’t Mean You Can Have It.

This one’s going to be a bit dry, I fear. But I think it’s an important topic to discuss and understand.

Planning a complicated trip is like building a house, or launching a new product. It has a lot of variables, a definite timeframe, and it costs money. Sometimes, lots of money.

In project management speak, those equate to the classic constraints inherent to any project: scope, time, and cost. Those three things determine the quality of the outcome. A shift in any one of those constraints necessarily means the other two need to shift as well in order to keep the desired quality. Typically, in project management terms, this concept is illustrated with an isosceles triangle (if one side of the triangle increases, the others have to increase in tandem; if one side shrinks, the others will likewise have to shrink).

Sexy stuff, huh?

I’m going to use safari as an example here.

Let’s say that you decide you want to:

  • Go on safari in East Africa in September (it’s now April), and that you REALLY want to see a lot of big cats while there (I can’t blame you; look at their widdle faces!). [SCOPE]

  • You want to spend ten days there. [TIME]

  • You inform me that you are fancy and really want a luxurious, old-fashioned tented safari experience. [QUALITY]

  • And you have $15,000 to spend (not including airfare, for you and your bestie; you’ll be sharing a tent). [COST]

Right off the bat, I’m going to advise you of a couple of things:

  • Typically, a luxury safari of that length costs, on average, a minimum of $10,000 per person before airfare. [COST]

  • September is high season for East Africa, as the Great Migration is still underway across the Masai Mara and Serengeti. [TIME]

  • Some of the best big cat viewing camps book out about a year in advance (I mean, they’re SO cute). [SCOPE]

BUMMER, right? Not to worry, you’re still going to have an amazing safari experience, we’ll just have to adjust the variables a bit. Ways we could do that include:

  • Reducing the number of days you’re actually on safari (for example, by spending a few of those days in a city or reducing your overall trip length). If your travel window is flexible, we could also try shifting your trip to a time that’s shoulder or low season. [TIME]

  • Increase your budget a bit. [COST]

  • Move the safari from East Africa (which prices in the US$) to South Africa (which prices in the rand, which is currently quite soft compared to the dollar). [SCOPE]

  • Stay at less-fancy camps [QUALITY] - we want this to be the last thing we consider changing.

We’ll get on the phone with my favorite safari supplier and talk through your options. Once you feel fully informed, you decide which variable you’re most comfortable adjusting and we’ll start pulling together your itinerary.

Before you know it, you’ll be lounging in your tent, napping off a delicious lunch, and running through the memories of all the amazing sights from your morning game drive.

Kathleen Sullivan