Excellent pre-trip planning and support; room for improvement during trip - solved at the end
I planned two safari trips with Wayfairer this year. The first, in Kenya in March, went without a hitch. Planning was courteous and responsive and local partners were spot on for what we were looking for. Memorable staff, beautiful lodge, and astounding animal sightings. Logistics went smoothly.
Trip two comes along in June for a longer, two week adventure spanning Rwanda, Uganda an Tanzania. Things in Rwanda and Uganda did not go well. Local partner was unprofessional. Sent a guide that did not speak English, had next to zero professionalism or knowledge and did not know the way to hotel. This would have all been OK had we received a prompt response and solution from Wayfairer. Our emails went unanswered and private messages followed the same route. Eventually, I reached out to the local tour operator hired out by Wayfairer and it happened to be the case that Wayfairer had not even communicated the situation to the local travel partner. They were appalled and immediately sent another driver. This was a world away: professional, courteous, knowledgeable. As we tried to figure out what had happened, this is what we were able to discern: Wayfairer subcontracts to a reputable local partner for Uganda and Rwanda; lets call them "A". Said local partner then subcontracted the hotel for our driver/guide. The hotel then went on a third round of subcontracting and hired a small, new, non-reputable Rwandan agency to deliver the service. Agency "A" did not know the hotel had further subcontracted. Needless to say, neither did Wayfairer.
We completely understand that hiring local partners is normal and part of the way travel works nowadays. What is problematic is that in this case communication channels were not established, we got no response from Wayfairer which were the only ones with which we had communicated, and there was no accountability for what took place while we were there.
Once we left Rwanda and got plugged into their Tanzania partner, the trip was everything it should have been from day 1: engaging, professional, surrounded by experts during the game drives and caring staff at lodges.
Wayfairer did eventually react, apologize and issue a refund for the transportation costs of the Uganda leg of the trip.
All in all, I think it is a well put together agency with its values in the right place. It just needs to smooth out and address the growing pains of receiving more bookings and keeping track of their clients all the time, regardless of who they have subcontracted out to.