We thought OneDayOnly’s travel deals were dodgy – only to find some that are pretty good

Business Insider SA
OneDayOnly travel deals
OneDayOnly travel deals
  • Daily deal website OneDayOnly does not have a perfect record when it comes to accurately representing the true size of its discounts.
  • When it started promoting local travel discounts of up to 60%, we were suspicious.
  • With the local travel industry in disarray, many lodges are dodging daily deal sites like these and offering deep discounts direct to the public.
  • We found a few examples where it was cheaper to book directly, or take advantage of special offers.
  • And yet some of the deals offered by OneDayOnly were competitive when compared to hotel and lodge rack rates and in-house specials.
  • They are, however, non-refundable, and come laden with terms and conditions that may make realising your dream holiday difficult, if not impossible.
  • For more stories go to

Daily deals website OneDayOnly does not have the best track record when it comes to accurately representing discounts on the products it sells. The website has twice fallen foul of South Africa's advertising regulators and came up short in a Business Insider check on promised versus actual discounts.

None of that has slowed the site in offering an ever-changing set of deals available for 24 hours – which continue to vary in the veracity of the claimed discounts. And expansions have seen forays into the travel industry, with the site recently promising discounts of 60% and more at game lodges and hotels.

Considering just how hard Covid-19 has hit South Africa's high-end tourism industry, these promised discounts seemed unlikely. Luxury travel discounts for South Africans are everywhere at the moment, as these previously foreign-traveller focused businesses have turned to South Africans with caps in hand – and those reduced local rates have largely been to the detriment of travel sites offering similar deals to OneDayOnly's

Before Covid-19, many of these lodges didn't care much for South African rands - and when they did run restricted discounts like these, they typically sold them to agencies and travel deal websites, who tacked on their commissions.

This practice of selling accommodation at rack rates or less directly to the public has meant many travel websites and clubs have been unable to offer any meaningful reductions on the prices people can get from the hotels and lodges themselves. 

To our surprise, however, OneDayOnly seems to have negotiated some pretty good deals either directly or through partners like Flight Centre - and although some are overstated and available cheaper than they advertise, some do actually stack up.

Plenty of caveats do apply

Even so, you'll have to shop carefully.

The deals are subject to limited dates and availability and offers apply only to certain booking windows - some as short as two months. Your preferred dates, or anything at all suitable, may ultimately not be available - and given the buy-now, book-later voucher method, you won't know this until you've been rushed into a payment for fear of losing the discount. 

Most of the deals work on a voucher system, which means you buy a voucher from OneDayOnly or their partner and then have to go through a secondary process of securing your accommodation with the lodge. So there's quite a lot that can go wrong between forking up your R100,000 and getting that Instagram shot at the spillover pool.

In some cases, the deals are also non-refundable, which means you may pay upfront for a holiday you can't take - and then won't receive your money back, or you'll have to enter into protracted discussions with the lodge itself. Given that many are offering these deals as a way to stay afloat until they can charge normal foreign tourist rates again, this might be tricky - and OneDayOnly makes it very clear that any disputes will be between you and the lodge.

The deals will likely also exclude certain items - usually things like flights, transfers, drinks, conservation fees, and some excursions, and may also be for the least popular rooms on the property. And most force you into taking multiple nights for at least two people; single occupancy or shorter stays are mostly off the table.

The deals also change regularly - so what Business Insider SA was able to verify today might not be quite as competitive the next time the deals roll around. In most cases, especially when the deals appear too good to be true, it pays to contact the lodges directly or visit its websites before impulsively buying a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Lastly, many lodges are also offering direct discounts and specials that make direct comparisons difficult. They may throw in an extra night for free if you book a certain number of days, or include things like meals, drinks, or expensive activities like hot air balloon flights or spa treatments that the deal website doesn't.

But with these caveats and risks in mind, and if you have particular flexibility with dates, then there are some pretty good discounts on offer. 

Here’s what we found on last Tuesday’s run of travel discounts:

Mont Rochelle Two-night stay including breakfast

Offer: R8,998 per couple

Claimed discount: 48%/R8,402

Actual saving: R8,302

Savanna Private Game Reserve Three-night stay including game drives and meals

Offer: R99,999 per four people

Claimed discount: 56%/R125 001

Actual saving: Exactly as stated

The President Hotel Two-night stay

Offer: R1,899 per couple with two children

Claimed discount: 24%/R591

Actual saving: Exactly As stated

Savanna Private Game Reserve Three-night stay including game drives and meals

Offer: R29,999 per couple

Claimed discount: 60%

Actual saving: Exactly as stated

Honeyguide Tented Safari Camps Two-night stay

Offer: R9,299 per couple

Claimed discount: 45%

Actual saving: The lodge is offering a direct deal of 60% off at R3,998 per couple per night, with a child under 12 staying free

Kloof Street Hotel One-night stay

Offer: R699 per person sharing

Claimed discount: 26%

Actual saving: None. The hotel is offering the same room for R220 cheaper, at R458 per person sharing, which includes breakfast. Full rates are R220 cheaper than OneDayOnly’s claimed retail rate.

Kloof Street Hotel One-night stay including breakfast

Offer: R1,499 per person sharing

Claimed discount: 40%

Actual saving: The hotel is offering the same room for R401 cheaper, at R1,098 per person sharing. Full rates are R295 cheaper than OneDayOnly's claimed retail rate.

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