“You Ruined My Holiday”

As a traveller myself and as a contributor to others’ special holiday moments, those words are the absolute worst I could ever hear. And, I’m sorry to say, I have heard them. Not many times, of course, but even once is bad enough.

As you know, I work at No Frills Excursions in Mallorca and I run the main office. This means that all reservations, one way or another, go through me. And I am responsible for every booking.

(learn more about my job here)

I’m pleased to say that things don’t normally go wrong. But we are all human, and we all fall victim every now and again to that terrible ailment called “human error.” It happens. I know that you’re nodding your head now thinking that even in your job, even if you are the best of the best, you can still occasionally slip up.

My problem is that when I slip up, someone’s holiday can be ruined. Yes, ouch.

Luckily I’m good at my job. Very good, even. And people don’t tend to get left behind, or get over booked.

It’s not just down to me, of course: as a company, No Frills Excursions is this year celebrating it’s tenth anniversary. That means we have had ten years to work out systems, to create guidelines and protocols and to iron out creases. And I’m really pleased to say that under my command in the main office, the operation generally runs like clockwork.

There’s something else that makes the operation of our excursions run so smoothly: we care. We really do care. This might seem obvious and normal but it’s not. How many times have I had to call a supplier who has not picked up my clients for an excursion and have got the casual answer: “well refund the money then”?

That’s what makes us different. When someone calls me to ask where is their coach, or when a guide calls me to say that people are missing, I see a hopeful family with small children who have been looking forward their whole holiday to seeing the dolphins at Marineland, standing out there somewhere, waiting for us to go and pick them up. I see the couple who have gone back from the beach early to get ready, have decided what to wear, have carefully dressed themselves up,  and are now waiting with increasing anxiety and worry, for us to go and pick them up to take them for a wonderful evening to Son Amar. I feel it. Other companies just say “well refund the money then.”

And that’s why one of our most known traits in Mallorca in our time-keeping on our pick-ups. We are always on time.

What happens when it doesn’t run like clockwork?

Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control, beyond my control: people sleep in, people forget what time they are being picked up and just invent it instead of reading their ticket, people go to the wrong place, a bus breaks down, hotels sell tickets without calling us with the booking, British people forget to change the time on their watches, and a million other things.

When the weather is bad, people want to go to visit the city of Palma. Today has been cloudy and tomorrow we have a storm forecast over our beautiful island. This means that today in the office we have taken a record number of bookings for our Palma Bus excursion. We are running five coaches just to Palma, an excursion that runs every day. In all, tomorrow, we have nearly 700 people on trips.

My job in the morning will be to co-ordinate the picking up of clients all across three resorts. And I can guarantee you that of 700 passengers we will miss some; someone will sleep in, someone will get sick, someone will have the wrong time and someone will be booked for tomorrow when they are actually going the day after.

Every time someone is missing or late, I will have to deal with it. And every time one of our guides calls us to ask if they can leave the stop with people missing I will see those people, hopefully waiting for their bus for their day out on an excursion that they looked forward to and got ready for. And I will tell the guide every time to quickly have another look before leaving.

What about when things go wrong and it’s my fault?

I’ve made myself out to be brilliant at my job and to be some sort of excursion crusader so far, haven’t I?

Well I’m not. I’m afraid that just because I care does not mean I get it right every single time. And as I’ve said, when I get it wrong we are talking about something on the scale of an anniversary couple who miss their big celebratory night. We are talking irreplaceable moments in people’s lives.

And I do get it wrong. Who doesn’t?

I generally don’t, thankfully, but just a few days ago I got it wrong twice in one day!

Situation number 1

One of our offices called me at 9pm to say that they had just taken a booking for a trip to Valldemossa the following day. Even though they had put the booking in the system they wanted to let me know because they expected that I would already have printed the guiding lists for the guides to pick up early the next morning. They were right, I had already printed the lists.

So no bother, I found the booking in the system and copied and pasted it onto the list of the guide whose coach they would go on. Easy, right?

Then the phone rang and someone walked into the office to book something and the situation was forgotten. We closed the office and went home.

Guess what I didn’t do. I didn’t print the list again for the guide, with the new booking on it. And guess what else, there were no other bookings at that particular pick up point so the coach wasn’t already going there.

The people appeared in the shop where they’d booked, an hour after the pick up time. They’d waited all that time for the bus and it never came to pick them up. And it was completely my fault. There was nothing that could be done. Those people had to be given a refund as they were leaving Mallorca the next day.

I was really upset and it spoilt my morning off (because I was not there at the time and, of course, my boss decided that it was appropriate to call me when I was off, even though there was nothing I could do. He just wanted it to spoil my morning, which it did – not that I didn’t deserve it).

Situation number 2

Later that evening, we had our coach to Son Amar. It was full when we got a last minute booking for four people. I was able to change the normal coach for a double decker and the people were able to go. It was a family of two adults and two children who had just arrived that same day, and that night was their only opportunity to see the show as they were only staying for a week and we only do the coach to Son Amar once a week.

I messaged the guide with the change of bus and the extras and she said it was fine.

And then later when it was time to start picking up, the coach got to the very first stop and the first people were late. They were Spanish. Spanish people are famous for being late. I called the hotel and the receptionist insisted that the people had left the hotel to go to the pick-up point.

The phone rang and it was the guests. They were lost. Between directing them to the bus stop and actually finding them the coach lost ten minutes. It had pick ups all over the place and was now running late at the very first stop.

As you know, we don’t like to be late. So we decided to start moving people. I sent Seamus in his car and Michael in the mini bus with a list each of people to move to the office to reduce the stops on the coach so that it could make up time.

We ended up with people from all over the resort waiting at the main office for the bus, after having being picked up by Seamus and Michael. It was well co-ordinated with the guide and everything began to get back on track.

Guess who I didn’t put on the list of people to go and pick up. Guess who we forgot to move. Yep, that lovely family of four who had booked last minute.

Long after the coach had gone the phone rang. “I have a family waiting here for Son Amar.” SHIT!

I quickly told Seamus to get in his car and go get them. I phoned the bus and told them to get off the motorway in Inca and wait.

Seamus picked up the people and ended up taking them all the way to Son Amar because he didn’t want to delay the coach any longer. And on his way back he called me and a few things started to fall into place…

It was 19:20 when the hotel called us. The pick up was at 18:00. That’s a long time to wait without calling us. Michael and Seamus had both moved people from that very point. How did they not see this family waiting there and realise there was something wrong?

Yep, you guessed it: the clients were late! They had just arrived that day from the UK. And guess what important thing they had not done. They had not changed the time on their watch. They went to the stop at 7pm thinking it was 6pm.

They were thrilled to get a lift all the way to Son Amar when they thought they would have to pay a taxi as it was their own fault!

What a nightmare of a day! I went home and drank two gin tonics and went to bed!

Filed Under: featuredmallorcameNo Frills Excursions MallorcaWhere I Am Right Now

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About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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