"Obviously these second- and third-tier hunting operations have modest marketing budgets and often seem to hope clients will appear magically. For almost a decade now, Sunspots Safaris (800-266-6132; www.biggamehuntingnewzealand.com) has turned up at the gate of many of these second- and third-echelon operations with first, a plan, later, with clients. There are strings attached however. Each new operation added to the Sunspots fold does not necessarily replace another; rather, it is added to an ever-expanding list of options. Thus, all of Sunspots' guide/outfitter clients are competing against each other and must offer a good package deal if they want to attract hunting clients.
"Sunspots Safaris is owned by Rodney Smith, who lives in Portland, Oregon. His parent company, Sunspots International, has been selling vacation trips to the South Pacific for 22 years, and in 2004 officially added hunting to the business. Smith forms partnerships with properties and guides who have access to high quality hunting but who may not know how to market effectively in the States.
"Smith's hunting roster is now very large, but many other operations are eager to be added to the smorgasbord. Most booking agents deal with just one or two operations and prices are what the operation asks plus or including commission for the agent. Sunspots Safaris has rattled the New Zealand hunting industry cage by making his operators offer trophy hunts at a price Smith can sell to his clients. Sunspots' client outfitters would obviously prefer to see fewer dishes on Smith's menu, as they feel (correctly, it seems) that he is playing them off against their competitors. But Smith argues this plan gives hunters more choices and........(continued)