Dear Travel Agents,
How fun it is to travel with a group of people! Many travel agents love doing this for many different reasons.
Reasons aside, let’s address creating a stress-free time abroad. As I mentioned last week in my previous blog, travel and life are beautiful, fun, but never perfect.
- As soon as you receive the emergency phone number for contact abroad (while still in your own country) call that number to make sure it is correct and that someone, a real person who speaks English or another language you are fluent in, answers it. Tell the person when you will be arriving and ask how many people answer that number, and if all speak fluent English. Ask if that number works 24/7, or if there is another number to call just in case.
- If the bus or transfer is not at the airport when you and your group arrive, call the emergency number that you have already tested before leaving your country. KEEP YOUR COOL AND KEEP SMILING. Once the person arrives, use some humor and ask why she/he was not there when you arrived.
- What to do if the hotel does not have your reservation? The person doing the transfer and/or the tour guide is supposed to do the check in. Do not let that person leave you and your group before they do the check in for all, and give you the information for the next day.
- In case the rooms in the hotel are not adequate for any of your guests in the group, first make sure that expectations were addressed before coming to the country. A 5-star hotel in the US is different than a 5-star hotel in a third-world country. If this is not the case, and the room is really not adequate to standard, SMILE, speak nicely to the front desk AND IF NEEDED, talk to the manager. If this does not work, call the emergency number and ask them to deal with the hotel. CONTINUE SMILING!
- In case the tour guide is late in arriving: SMILE, take the tour guide to the side and with humor, tell him/her how excited the whole group is and that they don’t want to miss a thing, so time is important for all members of the group. KEEP SMILING!
- If some people in the group cause the whole group to be late, here you have choices. You can ask the tour guide to stick to the time table and ask the whole group to be on time. You, the tour organizer, can call the delayers or speak to them on the side. Humor and a smile will go a long way with that!
- In case the driver gets a flat tire – that is too bad. Call the emergency number, but I am sure the driver and the tour guide will have already done that. Be patient. No one is at fault, and the group will look to you for your behavior. SMILE and explain that flat tires happen, and suggest something creative to do with this time instead of complaining.
- If some people are cold and others are hot on the bus, ask all who are cold to raise their hands (or hot). Ask all who are cold to move to the front of the bus and all who are hot to move to the back and have the back of the bus turn the air conditioner on! SMILE!
- If anyone in the group does not eat what is being served or is allergic to that food, talk to the tour guide. If that doesn’t help, ask with a SMILE to speak with the waiter or the chef and see what can be provided for that person. Remember, some countries do not have gluten free bread or lactose free items. Humor will help you with both your traveler, and with the people of the country.
- Sometimes, one of the “highlights” of the trip is closed. That can happen; perhaps a President of a country is there for a visit and an important site must be closed to the pubic. As the organizer, find out what happened and with humor and a smile, tell your group that like in life, things happen that we don’t have any control over. Try to find another “highlight“ and make the best of it.
I am sure you have other situations to share. Please feel free to do so, or ask for more of my ideas.