[Case Study] Hidden Africa discovers simple, secure and swift travel payments with Flywire

In the three years that Seán Hough and Chad Le Helloco have been running their luxury safari business Hidden Africa, they have revolutionized the safari experience across seven countries in Southern Africa.

Hidden Africa is redefining safaris, appealing to a new demographic of travelers from the US and Australia, and their innovative approach has earned them the title of "Safari Outfitter of the Year" at the 2024 LuxLife Travel and Tourism Awards.

Hidden Africa at a glance

Cape TownHeadquarters
8Team members
7Destination countries
US & AustraliaCustomer bases
$25KAvg. trip cost (USD)

For Hidden Africa customers, the journey starts with a conversation. Hidden Africa travel planners aim to forge a relationship, and craft an adventure where every detail matters. Getting these details right is critical, according to founder Hough, simply because safaris are often a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After a long, hot day exploring the wilderness of Southern Africa, Hidden Africa customers retire to hand-picked hideaways, located in stunning locations. Here they receive impeccable service, world-class food and wine, and the chance to recharge for their next adventure.

Flywire hidden africa featured staggered image 2

Problem: Frequent payment issues, credibility at stake

As a digital start-up, competing with established brands in the safari industry, Hidden Africa wanted to impress its clients from their first interaction. As Hough explained, “half of the enjoyment happens before the actual safari,” and they aim to minimize stress for clients at every touchpoint – including how customers pay for their trips.

With the average safari costing around $25,000 USD, these payments are significant. Despite using a major South African payment gateway, Hidden Africa's clients faced frequent payment problems – including having payments declined with no explanation. This caused headaches for clients and introduced risk for the brand. As Hough pointed out, “all you want as a brand is to look like a credible business, and it’s embarrassing when payments are declined.” Le Helloco added, “it doesn’t just cause frustration, it’s a brand issue.”

There were more issues. Each payment is time-sensitive for Hidden Africa. Itineraries are meticulously stitched together by working with different partners for accommodations, transportation, and guides, with the goal of providing a seamless experience for the client. But delays with receiving funds impacted Hidden Africa’s ability to confirm bookings with its partner vendors, threatening that experience.

Service is paramount for luxury travelers. Hidden Africa travel planners are often required to be available outside standard working hours. Unfortunately, their payment provider was less responsive and the Hidden Africa team often had to wait over 24 hours for a response from a generic support email address, tarnishing the excellent service Hidden Africa prides itself on.

All you want as a brand is to look credible, and it’s embarrassing when payments are declined. It doesn’t just cause frustration, it’s a brand issue.

Seán HoughHidden Africa
Hidden Africa

Solution: Payments perfected with Flywire

Hough and Le Helloco had heard about Flywire from their peers in South Africa’s close-knit travel industry who already used it and it came highly recommended.

With Flywire, Hidden Africa now offers a simple and secure payment experience for customers. Travel planners send a payment link to their customer. After seeing the total payment amount due in South African Rand (ZAR), they see the amount in their local currency and can choose their preferred payment method to complete the transaction online.

Furthermore, once a client has paid, Flywire’s regular progress updates fill the customer with confidence that their payment is safe. Hidden Africa has been able to confirm bookings two days sooner because of the transparency the Flywire dashboard provides. Customers have access to Flywire’s around-the-clock multilingual support, while Hidden Africa benefits from a dedicated relationship manager, whom they can call on if needed.

What Le Helloco and Hough appreciate, more than anything, is that they can now focus on doing what they do best - designing spectacular safaris.

Hiddenafrica Marataba Mountain Room View


Trusted, secure payment portal for global travelers
Local payment methods available to customers, confidence boosted
Real-time visibility into transactions for clients and staff, peace of mind delivered
Around-the-clock multilingual support for customers
  • Flywire has been exactly what they promised to be and have never let us down. Their high tech but high touch approach is exactly what we needed.

    Sean HoughFounder, Hidden Africa
    Founder, Hidden Africa
  • When you have a good partner, you just know you can achieve success with them and, without a doubt, Flywire is contributing to Hidden Africa’s growth.

    Chad Le HellocoHidden Africa
    Hidden Africa

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