What are the three absolutely critical questions a responsible buyer should ask when engaging a balloon safari operator?

Your balloon operator must comply with the following 3 legal requirements. The law requires that documents referred to in 1 and 2 (issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority) must be displayed at the supplier’s premises.

 

1.1. Valid CAA Air Service Licence

Can your balloon operator produce proof for your inspection of possessing a valid LICENCE to conduct business as an air service?

Generally a non-scheduled domestic air service.

 

1.2. Valid CAA Air Service Operations Certificate

Can your balloon operator produce proof for your inspection of possessing a currently valid AIR SERVICE OPERATIONS CERTIFICATE (or an official letter of exemption)?

This ensures that on the last CAA inspection the air service complied with all the legal operational requirements such as pilot licensing and currency, aircraft (balloon) licensing and airworthiness, aircraft maintenance personnel qualifications, ticketing procedures, safety and emergency procedures, passenger legal liability and 3rd party insurances, air navigation regulations and the like were in place and constantly updated.

 

1.3. Vehicles Licenced with SATB for Paying Passengers

Can your supplier produce proof that the vehicles used to transport your passengers are Licenced to transport fare paying passengers?

This fact is overlooked by many travel buyers.

The nature of ballooning requires that the participants have to be transported back from wherever the balloon lands to the original take-off venue and is, thus, an integral element of the package.

 

If any of these THREE CRITICAL QUESTIONS can not be answered with a definite YES

  1. The wellbeing of your passengers will be prejudiced b) Their insurance will very likely be invalidated and
  2. Your credibility as a responsible person will be in jeopardy

What are some of the most important facts to consider when engaging a balloon safari operator?

2.1. Alignment with Recognised Equitable Tourism Initiatives

Q. What is the BEE STATUS of Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris?

Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has been rated as BBBEE compliant and 100% PRL (procurement recognition level) by BEE Rating Solutions. (ABVA Membership No. 049)

 

Q. Are TOMSA contributions proffered by Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris?

Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris is a voluntary contributor to TOMSA (Tourism Marketing South Africa, a division of TBCSA) responsible for international marketing initiatives for the benefit of the South African tourism industry in particular and the country in general.

Employment Policy
We abhor tokenism as much as racism.
We employ on criteria of attitude, ability and aspiration, but also realize that for our clients there is derivable benefit to be gleaned from utilizing the services of BBBEE compliant service providers.

Thankfully, self-assessment forms are now a thing of the past (and they took forever to fill out for each and every client who asked.)

Now, as only a recognised assessment agency’s certificate may be considered we engaged the services of one, and without making any tokenistic tap dance it would appear that our “score card” was well enough balanced to give us the requisite qualification for BEE compliance with a PRL (procurement requirement level) of 100%.

In summary we believe that we are an “equal opportunity employer” and have continually demonstrated our commitment to invest in the upliftment of every one of our employees and our community who are prepared to make the effort. Thus a greater benefit comes in the consequence of a proactive approach.

2.2. Membership of Respected Tourism organisations
(Which attest to the credibility of financial stability and assurance bonding, leverage and social conscience.)

 

Q. To what respected tourism business associations does Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris belong?

– SATSA (Southern African Tourism Services Association) National member since 1981

– CEO Bill Harrop currently serves on the Johannesburg chapter committee as well as the National Executive Council. Harties Tourism

– GM Dave Atherstone is Membership Secretary

– Crocodile Ramble

– Mogale Tourism

 

Q. To which respected tourism community and environmental associations and community initiatives is Bill

Heritage Environmental Rating Program

Entabeni Rhino Orphanage

A broad based internal charity account is in place for meaning ful ad hoc contributions to a wide variety of organizations including education, health, medical research, police forums, child welfare, etc.

 

Q. To which respected tourism business and community associations do individual staff members of Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris belong?

SKAL (worldwide tourism executives organization)

CEO Bill Harrop has served as National President and Johannesburg President Marketing Manager Sarah Bauling has served on the Johannesburg chapter committee Travelbags (South African Women In Travel)

Marketing Manager Sarah Bauling currently serves as the Vice President

2.3. Industry Awards in Recognition of High Service Standards and Safety
(Giving unbiased proof of organizations ability to produce top class results.)

Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris is proud to have been the first recipient of the SA Tourism Welcome Award for the Best Tour Operator 2006.

The company and various staff members have also been recipients of aviation safety awards.

 

2.4. Strength and Long Term Financial Reputation
(Giving assurance of credibility, financial security, good standing, financial bonding and leverage.)

We are confident that credit checks with various agencies will attest to our good standing. If we can’t afford it, we don’t buy it, and often joke that if any organization avers that our account is overdue we suggest one first looks at the quality of their service to see if we received what we were told and are thus disputing.

 

2.5. Time in Business and Extent of Experience
(Giving proof of commitment to fulfilling requirements to organize the clients experience to produce the best possible result.)

Established in 1981, Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris as been in business for over 33 years, verification that we are the most experienced balloon operator by far.

2.6. Ongoing Staff and Crew Assessment and Training Programmes

Training in-house

Staff are constantly trained in-house by qualified personnel in piloting, crewing, office procedures, restaurant waiting and food preparation service, they are encouraged and financed to take practical or management courses relevant to their aspirations for progress and upliftment.

Tertiary education in South Africa

Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris was the first ballooning company to enrol and finance all their pilots and senior ground staff at the Cranfield Aviation College for initial courses and annual refresher courses in crew resource management and carriage of dangerous goods.

Education courses overseas

Other courses have been financed for various staff members to travel overseas, some to the Disney customer service course in Florida, USA, some to study and qualify in (aircraft) balloon repairs and maintenance in Bristol, UK.

 

2.7. Size of Aircraft and Vehicle Fleet

(Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris is the sole owner of the largest passenger carrying capacity fleet in Southern Africa which enhances flexibility of utilization, as well as the assurance of a programmed fleet management plan without operational disruption. The need to employ numerous sub-contractors who might have a parallel interest is also minimized.)

Our smaller balloons can carry between 4 and 8 passengers and the larger ones between 16 and 18 passengers (plus pilots) each. In March 2008 we ordered the manufacture of another 18 passenger balloon for delivery in October. Dependant on service availability, we can fly 50 to 70 passengers at one time (and twice that number on a “double hop.”)

Each balloon has its own 4 x 4 retrieve vehicle and trailer as well as its own dedicated passenger bus for the guests.

What are some other facts to consider when engaging a balloon safari operator?

Business hours

Full staffing compliments during normal office hours, but also 24/7  availability for client service (we are definitely 23/7/52.)

Own operation base and dedicated catering equipment

VERY NICE TO HAVE

(No conflict of interest, better control of operation, no reliance on sub-contractors. Our clients get our undivided attention.)

Our traditionally exquisite Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant situated at our main operations base in the Magalies River Valley – in the middle of one of the safest and most reliable ballooning areas in the world – welcomes you with top notch facilities and first class service. (We’ve come a long way from the original little table in a cold dark field.)

Carefully selected choice of various areas to fly

(Our Licence is valid to fly balloons all over South Africa and we are able to offer a comprehensive choice of other well researched areas to fly.)

If you would like us to explore the possibilities of flying from other dream locations let us know and we will see if it is feasibly safe, reliable and cost effective.

Acknowledged leadership in the tourism industry

The ultimate “Hollywood Compliment” of copiers and “me-toos”

Please note the inverted commas Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris and any similar words you may read elsewhere.

With reference to plagiarism, Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has made every effort to acknowledge the owners of any material that we did not originate. Should there be omissions we would appreciate contact from the relevant people to ensure an equitable solution is speedily concluded.

Where do you fly from?

Western Gauteng and North West Province.

Most of our flights take place 70 km North of Johannesburg in the beautiful Magalies River Valley in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site which, incidentally, boasts some of the safest and most reliable ballooning weather in the world.We also offer Game Viewing balloon flights in Mabula Private Game Reserve in the Northern Province as well as Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the World Heritage Waterberg Biosphere, Limpopo Province. Special flights are available in other areas of South Africa but are researched for feasibility and are quoted individually. Just give us the details.

 

When do you fly?

Early, every morning of the week including Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting and provided we have a minimum of two people. Departure times are confirmed when you book.

 

Do we need to book before hand?

Yes, we need to check availability and we also need you to give us information which includes the following:

  1. Each person’s full name and weight
  2. The contact telephone number where you will be staying the night prior to flying.

 

How fit do we need to be?

Ballooning is suitable for adventurers from 7 to 70 (although our oldest passenger to date is 92 years old) Participants should be nimble, be able to jump unassisted from a height of 60cm and stand for the duration of the flight.

What do we need to wear?

Clothing should be warm enough for the chilly early morning but should be “peelable” because the sun, excitement and probably the champagne will soon warm you. “Country” shoes are also recommended. No high heels please!

 

What do we need to bring?

Cameras, Video Cameras. Spare memory cards and batteries. Ballooning offers some most spectacular photo and video opportunities.

 

Why do you fly so early in the morning?

The air needs to be stable, in other words very gentle surface wind and no thermals. As the day heats up thermals and wind generally get stronger.

 

How high do we go?

We are able to fly anything from a millimetre to a kilometer high.

 

How many people can fit into a balloon?

We have a fleet of 5 balloons, our smallest balloons take between two and eight passengers and a pilot, the biggest 3 balloons can each take up to 18 passengers and a pilot.

 

How do you know how many passengers a balloon can take?

The number of passengers each balloon can carry depends on the weight of the passengers, the size of the balloon “envelope”, the air temperature and the proposed height of the flight.

 

How long do we fly for?

Most balloon flights last about one hour.

 

Do you have facilities for the disabled?

We offer disabled bathroom facilities and have wheelchair friendly ramps throughout the Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant. Also please refer to requirements for flying disabled persons.

Get to know us better!

facebook

Search!
Search across our website