Blame culture is too rife, says Hays Travel Gateshead branch manager Colin Burns.
Passport validity, Estas, online check‑in . . . these are things that strike fear into customers and agents too. But lately I’ve been wondering where our responsibility ends when it comes to customers having the correct documents to be able to travel.
It’s a tricky one as we all want to provide the best service for our customers, but they have to take some responsibility for making sure they comply with the rules.
We were discussing this in the branch recently and I came up with this scenario: you go to a dealership and buy a car, then drive away happy and excited.
Two miles down the road you get stopped by the police, who discover that your licence expired three months ago and you have no insurance. The car is towed away, it costs you a fortune to get it back and you get points on your new licence. Would you think of going back to the dealer to say it was their problem for not checking you had the correct documents before you drove off? I think not.
[Customers] were quite shocked when we said that if they failed to get [Estas] the holiday company would not be obliged to give them their money back
Recently a customer wanted to book a family of five on a late deal to Florida. We said they would need to obtain Estas. They were quite shocked when we said that if they failed to get these the holiday company would not be obliged to give them their money back.
The blame culture we are living in seems to make people believe that it cannot be their fault when things go wrong and that someone, somewhere should pay for the error.
But so long as we have provided the correct advice, customers must surely accept the responsibility for obtaining what they need to travel?
Anyway, changing the subject completely, in recent weeks I have been questioning the value of review sites. I get that every genuine review is that person’s own opinion based on their own tastes and expectations, but sometimes they simply do not reflect the reality.
For example, I recently returned from my holiday in Corfu. A few weeks before, we had been tempted to change our accommodation after reading things like “more like a cat sanctuary” and “the whole place stinks of cats” online. There were even pictures of cats lying on the beds in the apartments. We decided to go anyway and look at moving once we were there if it was as bad as the critics suggested.
Every genuine review is that person’s own opinion based on their own tastes and expectations, but sometimes they simply do not reflect the reality
But the reality bore no similarity to what we had read. Yes, there were cats, but the owner advised everyone not to feed them as she did this in their own area of the complex.
There was no cat smell and we did not see any litter trays or mess. In fact, we were so impressed, we may book the same place next year.
We have had several customers who have had the build-up to their holidays ruined after reading poor comments in reviews, only to find that everything was fine when they got there. So, my advice has been to either not read reviews or, if you do, to take them with a pinch of salt.
Anyway, I must go now as I have to delete all those review site apps off my phone and check my passport validity ahead of my November trip. Enjoy the rest of the lates season, everyone!
The great sunbed dash
How long will it be until the 6am sunbed dash is recognised as an activity offered by hotels? I was watching Good Morning Britain recently when they did a live segment from a hotel where this “event” was taking place. I couldn’t help but laugh at the people who had queued from 6am to claim a prime spot right by the pool, before trying to play it cool when the gates opened at 9am by casually strolling to their desired sunbed.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the people who had queued from 6am to claim a prime spot right by the pool
But, amusingly, they sped up after noticing their fellow competitors were hot on their heels – it was like watching an Olympics walking race! Here’s an idea: why not put your towel on the bed at the same time as your backside, instead of hogging the loungers all day?
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