“The driver is on his way.”
That was the text of Chacha (not her real name) to one of the joiners of her island hopping tour in Masbate. We’ve been communicating with her for days prior the event. We really looked forward for the trip! It was our first time in the islands of Masbate , and Chacha seemed nice and accommodating in her texts and chat messages. By the way she’s the owner of the tour company that we joined for our much awaited summer getaway.
As early as 2AM we were already at the meeting place in Alabang. And after waiting for hours, no one from the tour company showed up. More and more joiners arrived and we were still waiting and clueless inside the convenience store .
A friend finally had the courage to contact Chacha. He asked her “where are you” Of course, we were expecting that she would meet us there since she didn’t advise that she’s sending someone. That’s the proper protocol right? You need to meet your clients and assist them at the meeting place.
Lo and behold, we were surprised by Chacha’s reply. As my friend relayed to us, Chacha said, “Nasa Lucena po ako. Ito po name at plate number ng van, sakay nalang po kayo. Sinabihan ko na po driver.”
We were like what?! And then our story begins…
This is the number one sign that you’ve got a bad tour operator…
1. No one from the tour company showed up at the meeting place to assist us.
We remained calm, though some of us were getting frustrated. But that was just the beginning.
It was an awkward moment for all of us. The tour participants waited outside and eagerly waited for the van. I remember asking one another, “is this the van? Is this van?” To all tour operators, please don’t do this to your paying clients. We deserve your assistance from the very beginning of the tour. Don’t just leave us behind. Bad.
So when the van finally arrived, we immediately spotted it because we kept the plate number in mind. As soon as the driver opened the door of the vehicle, we immediately went inside. Luckily we got a nice spot at the first row seat.
Why we did that? Why we were so fast? Because we knew what’s going to happen next. Looking at the number of participants and only one van? we knew that the van was overloaded.
Which is the sign number 2.
2. We were 17 inside the van for an 8 hour travel!
It’s the same feeling of being inside the UV express, but the difference is we had huge bags with us. Imagine that. Besides, UV Express vans’ travel time is only about an hour or two. For us? We traveled for more than 8 hours. Unbelievable!
The family that also joined the trip were seated at the back of the van complained about the inconvenience. They even proposed to switch seats, which we just replied with total silence. Hahaha! So we decided to contact, the reason of this hullabaloo, the owner and ever likeable, Chacha.
She said to meet her at a fastfood in Lucena. All of us, would want to personally meet her to raise all our concerns, but Chacha has a different reasons for the meeting. She said she’s going to get the full payment in Lucena.
Another “What?!” moment for all of us. Hahaha!
Imagine that, the girl that caused all of our inconvenience and ruined everybody’s morning has all the thick face to ask for the full payment, and the tour hasn’t even started yet. Hahaha!
3. She has the guts to ask for an early full payment after all what happened.
I remember the family at the back of the van told us all, “wala munang mag pu-full payment!”
Which we all agreed. Come on! You weren’t even sensitive enough to give us a proper assistance from the very beginning, then you’re already asking for the money? Don’t get me wrong I also joined some travel events in which I paid earlier because I know the operator and also the kind of service they provide.
And this doesn’t apply to Chacha. All of us were first timers in her tour company.
To make everything even worse, by the time we met Chacha in Lucena, she told us something that made us lose our patience. She just dropped the bomb by saying the reason why she was asking for the full payment is because she’s not joining the tour.
So we asked, who’s going to join us, assist us? She paused and said, “naka set na naman po ang boat sa port, madali nalang po yun.” Facepalm.
Can you imagine our faces when she said that?
4. She planned to leave us and proceed with the tour on our own. No coordinator. Nothing.
We’ve had enough. We’ve had enough of everything. We’ve had enough of Chacha.
We were all firm with our decision. We are not going to pay full yet, and Chacha has to join the tour. If she can’t, she has to send at least someone to do the coordination for us. What is this trip DIY? Hahaha!
Chacha has to learn her lessons, and if most raised their complaints to her. I just told her one thing, “Chacha this is not how you do business.”
5. She has all those nonsense alibis.
When the concern about the overloaded van was raised to her, she just shyly said, “hehe sorry po hindi ko po alam na long-legged po kayo.”
(pigilan niyo ulit ko) hahahaha!
Is that the right way of talking to your clearly unhappy customers?
If this will ever happen to you as a tour operator, acknowledge the problem and provide solution. People who have gone through a bad experience will never accept these reasons. Come on, you know that from the very beginning. You actually planned to have 17 passengers with their huge bags in one van!
Chacha,clearly embarrassed, promised to have another van when the team goes back to Manila.
6. No effort from her to engage with her customers.
Chacha joined us. She has no choice right? What’s going to happen to her tour then if we refused to pay the full payment that early. Besides, that’s the right thing to do. Do I need to explain further?
But since there was already a bit of tension between her and her clients (funny), she just acted aloof the entire trip. After our dinner at Sombrero Island, she insinuated that she was not feeling well and went straight to her tent to sleep, or to be alone? No idea. Hahaha!
7. Always ensure the convenience of your clients first. But that didn’t happen many times.
When we were back to San Andres port in Quezon, Chacha had a contact, a house where we washed up and all.
Since there’s only one bathroom, most of us just took a bath outside the house ala probinsya style. I know you already tried that at some point in your life. Cool right? The thing is, only three people can take a bath at once, and we were like 17 plus Chacha, so that really took time.
While waiting for our turn, one of the participants said, “Oh tingnan mo nauna pa siya maligo kesa sa mga customer nya.” Surprised for what I heard, I looked at the area and saw Chacha there. Hahaha!
I mean it’s not an issue for me, but for some, it is, to those who are serious about customer service and all. So to all tour operators, always keep your customers convenience first before yourself. It’s your business right? You’re earning from giving the proper service to your clients, so be selfless for a while. It’s only during the duration of your trip.
8. No “After Sales” Effort
Most of the tour events that I’ve joined, I met lots of new friends and fellow travelers. After the travel, the tour operator usually creates a chat group with all the participants to communicate after the tour. It’s a good way for us to connect even after the trip. There, we usually share photos and sometimes laugh and relive some happy memories. I’m not saying that this should be done by all operators, but this is just a small effort to show to your joiners that you appreciate their patronage.
Let’s go back to Chacha. When we gave her our full payment during dinner, she got off again in Lucena, and then, we didn’t hear anything from her again ever. Hahaha!
I’m not saying that the trip was entirely unhappy. Actually, it was one of the most memorable. Aside from the inconvenience that happened, Burias Island was just too beautiful that all your frustrations, negativity will fade away. You’ll just remember the bad experience again by the time you arrived home. Hahaha!
Luckily, my blog post about Burias is getting pageviews! I even wrote about each island that we explored like Dapa, Animasola, Sombrero and Tinalisayan Island and all of those posts are getting good traffic, so there are readers who are asking me about the trip as well as the tour operator that we used.
I honestly tell my readers that I don’t recommend the tour company, advising them that there are a lot of events now posted on social media, they are free to check and choose the right one for them.
I just hope Chacha learned her lessons. She got the feedback from her customers right in front of her face when we had our talk in Lucena, the time when she was planning to leave us. Hahhaha!
Chacha’s tour is still in the business. I usually see her FB posts and ads. She still offers trips to Burias, and she even have a nice video of Burias as a way to promote her business.
But you know what, aside from marketing and those nice videos, she should focus more on giving her customers the service that they deserve. I really hope she learned something from our trip that she could use in her future trips and business. I really hope so.
Now, it’s your turn. Let me hear your experience. Got something to add? Share it at the comments section below.