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The Trials & Tribulations of a Tour Operator

I sometimes wonder if it is worth actually writing about this all but of course it is! The world is now such an “easier” place to live in with information being so quick to access but you can still be wasting so much time. I want to speak to a human! I do not want to wait and listen to music telling me how easy it is for me to communicate with you, via email or whatsapp or just go to our web site. I do not want to listen to your choice of music and press 3 and then 5 and then 10 and then 8, I want to speak to you and I would like to speak to you within 5 minutes, is that so hard? Last week was just so stressful that I have decided to laugh about it and not give way to tears!

Within my rant I also have very limited words of wisdom at this point.

  1. Book your holiday with a small company or a company who when you ring, you do not have to go through a world of recorded messages. A company where the person you are speaking to has a name. A company who either picks up immediately and answers the phone or where you get to leave a message which will be picked up hopefully within 24 hours, you then get a call back. Large corporate companies particularly in travel and hotel groups seem to fail dismally with this service.

  2. Last week I spent days calling travel companies who had a team. Love the team, they look so lovely in their web site pose. “MEET THE TEAM” is the title. There is Stefano who works on web design, Giulia who is a wedding planner, as is Michela, Franca, Debbie, Suzanna, Marcello, Maurizio, Giovanni, the list is endless. Lots of people and then when I call, there is nobody there. Do you think it may be wise to get someone to answer the phone? Perhaps have Emilio as the telephonist!

  3. Do not be afraid to ask questions. It does not matter how stupid it sounds but if it is something that you are not sure of, do ask as sometimes it may be down to simple human error or it may be one of those things that no-one ever thought about and is actually wrong, both in design and yes I am going to say it; Ethically! Everyone seems to be so caught up in small prints but if something seems wrong then it may be or is wrong and companies should get your feedback as when the computer says No, it should actually be saying yes on so many levels.

  4. Always get someone’s name so that there is accountability for the answer you are given and then if you need to take it further, you can refer to that original person. For example, I called hotel reception at a London airport and the answer came back as one thing. I call again after a few weeks, different person answers and the information provided previously has now changed. What is going on? Can anybody help me? Is there anyone there who can take on the responsibility or just state clearly…”I actually do not know the answer to that” or “Leave it with me and I will look into it for you and call you back”.

  5. Call this number…! And so it starts. You need to speak to this department here is the number. Thank you. Dial the number, recorded message, press 5 if you need special assistance (which on this occasion I did), press this number. Ok done. Recorded message, for further details check out the web site. Ok so get to your computer and find the web site and head to special assistance to then be told you are supposed to call the airline, which you do but it was them who gave me the pre-recorded number to call in the first place. Try to locate a different number and yes, after about 3 hours of speaking to a “team” of people and recorded message machines, there is a number hallelujah. So you call, someone answers the phone and then puts it down. Call again, the cheek of it, this time it is busy. Call again as this is completely unacceptable, engaged. Call again and I can feel the nerves in my neck tense. Just rings and rings and rings. I access the complaint section for the airport and have to download the form to complain as it is just not right that they can get away with doing this (put the phone down). There is no number to call for this very busy London airport to lodge a complaint or even get general information or assistance, is this right? I file the complaint online and send it through and call the number one last time, the phone is answered and before there is any reply, I shout DO NOT PUT THE PHONE DOWN. There is someone on the other side of the line. What do you mean, I mean you answered and put the phone down, that is just wrong. I did not put the phone down it was the line. Yeah right I hear myself mutter but I need to persist as special assistance for my elderly client needs “resolving”.

  6. Then there is the complaint form I have filled in. I receive a confirmation from the airport, wrong name and wrong issue. If you want to park your car call Manchester at this number. But my complaint has nothing to do with Manchester or parking! I write back. Can you please provide a reference number? Yes but it is the same reference number you have but it has nothing to do with this client. Still waiting on this one.

  7. You spend so much time sometimes going through things as everything needs to be so perfect for my clients as I want them to remember every detail of their trip so I send our suppliers/hotels as much information as I can to ensure that there are no hitches and that everything runs smoothly. So I advise reception of this (corporate International Hotel Group) that I have this wonderful elderly lady who is staying with them only because her flight the next day is leaving very early. Can you please ensure that the morning of her trip to Calabria, someone goes to her room and assists her with her bags to reception so that airport assistance can help. She has to be there by 0400 hours. Of course, great wonderful etc.

On Saturday morning at 0425, I receive a call from my client on the mobile, No-one has come to pick me up. I think I may have missed the assistance; I may have damaged my shoulder…… Do not worry I answer, I will call the hotel. I start calling. I call and call and call and there is no answer. I keep on calling. It is now approx 0449. I call the client back. Contact has been made. Someone has called her to say that they are going to pick her up but there is still nobody there. I call the main number, the main booking number. They answer and a voice says how can I help. I explain. Oh Goodness that is awful. Let me try. I hang on. The voice returns after a 5 minute hold. I tried but no one is answering, I am so sorry, is there anything else I can help you with. No. Have a nice day. Are you serious?!!!

And then we come to the airlines but I have to leave this for another day as far too much to do!!!

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