Benefits of Coach Holiday Consultancy
Complaints are costly – really costly. An unhappy customer is not likely to book again, meaning you will have to spend to find another customer.
An unhappy customer will not only tell everyone they know about their experience but they will now also do this online and an online review can stay visible for a very long time.
On coach holidays something else can happen – an unhappy customer can impact the experience of other guests. Their unhappiness can spread and complaints can quickly grow into bigger problems, affecting many more people.
The best way to reduce complaints is to avoid them happening in the first place and that is the approach I use when consulting about coach holidays, whether to holiday companies or hotels.
Don’t Tell Anyone!
I don’t have many photos of me and this is a really old one just to show you I have been doing this for years
It’s from the time before there were cheap mobile phones abroad (my bills were horrendous!)
There was no 4G, hardly any internet and I travelled with reams of paper rather than a tablet
It’s when coach holiday guests booked all the excursions and there were Lire not Euros
Over 25 Years Experience of Coach Holidays
For over 25 years I have been taking groups all over the world on coach holidays.
During that time I have;
- Achieved highest revenue in country for program in Italy
- Achieved highest optional tour sales for program in Azores
- Trained other Tour Managers to take over in resorts
- Taken first departure tours and helped to fine tune the itinerary
- Gained consistently high scores (future work dependant on achieving target)
- Worked with guests from the budget to luxury end of the market
- Worked with hotels in a resort based role carrying out health & safety inspections and then greeting luxury travellers including those on the Orient Express
- Stayed in hotels everywhere from China, to Australia, to Russia and more
Vocation Not A Job
When I was young we went to visit Disneyland. We ended up on a tour at some point an I ended up helping the tour guide. I carried the flag for her and sat beside here.
I don’t remember this actually but my parents did and told me all about it. Perhaps that was the start of my interest in being a Tour Manager.
Later I met someone who had been a coach driver for various holiday companies. His stories of taking groups all over Europe were fascinating and I got to experience life on the road first hand when he did trips at Christmas (mainly because he got paid and I got to go for free!).
Our first trip was to Italy and the next Christmas to Poland. It was then I decided this was something I wanted to do and I applied to a coach holiday company.
A week or so later I was off to Italy to do 4 back to back tours. I didn’t speak any Italian but I was off and I have never looked back since.
I love travelling and exploring the world is something I continue to do and enjoy.
Some Tour Managers like an easy option, I have always preferred a challenge so I have never done the same tour again and again. I like to learn and explore and keep things fresh, even though it is often much harder work.
I love to be in the background, letting guests enjoy themselves and quietly making sure everything is going well.
To anticipate an issue and deal with it before it arises is a great feeling.
Want Some Help?
My coach holiday consultancy service is all about preventing problems from happening, with simple and effective tips and tricks to help coach holiday guests have an excellent experience, whether at your hotel or on your holiday.
I work with hotels to help them give even better service to guests staying with them on coach holidays.
I also provide in depth hotel reviews covering everything from online awareness, through to check out and follow up.
Think of it like an intense mystery shop from a coach holiday guest point of view.
I work with coach holiday companies to provide an in depth review of their tour experience.
Think of it like an uber intense mystery shop.
This covers everything from initial awareness, through to booking, reviews of suppliers and experiences, reviews of tour managers, drivers and guides. It is an extremely cost effective way to get detailed feedback on a tour and deal with problems before they become damaging complaints.
I also work with coach holiday companies to help them improve tours that are not performing as well as they would like. This service includes suggestions for improving itineraries, reducing issues and increasing revenue.
This is important so I’m putting it right here at the top of the page
Coach holiday guests don’t just complain to the coach holiday company if they have had a problem at a hotel
They tell lots of people and often leave poor online reviews as well
Coach Holiday Guests Can Complain
If coach holiday guests are unhappy with their experience they will complain – and not just to the coach holiday company that they booked and paid with.
They will also leave bad reviews referencing the hotel.
These can affect other guests view of the hotel.
Here are a couple of examples;
The Trecarn Hotel in Torquay clearly deals with a large number of coach holiday guests. There are lots of reviews on their site from these customers. Complaints include things to do with the hotel such as service and amenities which are clearly the remit of the hotel.
However, they also include comments about the coach holiday experience, the drivers and things which are clearly not the remit of the hotel but the holiday company itself.
These reviews are there for all to see.
The Hotel Thomas in Cannes is another example of coach holiday guest reviews. Most of the poor reviews are from guests who stayed there on a National Holidays tour. There are comments about the service, rooms and amenities but also about the length of the journey and the amount of travelling.
They may also leave a poor review for the hotel which reflects their coach holiday experience.
This review of the Britannia Leeds Bradford Airport was left in 2012. The hotel actually fared reasonably well, the main complaint was the soup. However, the biggest part of the complaint refers to the coach driver and how rude he was.
That’s a negative review, mainly about the coach holiday experience, online since 2012.
I Know What Makes a Great Coach Holiday Hotel
I could write a book about my experiences in hotels with coach groups. Infact, I am writing a book but that is another story! 🙂
During my time travelling with groups I’ve literally seen everything from blood stained bed linen, to bedrooms that were fire exits and everything inbetween.
I’ve also experienced every type of service issue – from meals repeated three nights running, to luggage taking several hours to reach guests rooms and luggage being lost before departure.
There are lots of things that hotels can do to make the hotel experience better for coach tour guests, but not just better, easier for everyone from reception, to restaurant to portering and more.
What Can You Do?
- Make sure you understand the different requirements of coach tour guest to other types of guests.
- Speak to the coach holiday company in detail to get a clearer understanding of their needs – don’t just rely on the contract.
- Speak to the Tour Managers to understand the needs of their particular group.
Simple Hotel Tips for an Excellent Coach Holiday Experience
Over the last 25 years I have been travelling around the world with escorted tours, coach holidays or touring holidays.
I have lost count of the number of hotels I have stayed in with groups over the years.
However, the experience for groups still seems to be vary greatly from hotel to hotel and sometimes from the same hotel month to month.
A good hotel experience can make or break a tour so here are my top hotel tips to make the coach holiday experience excellent.
Clarity About the Contract
The chain of communication between those that agree the contract for group travel and those delivering it can be very long and as a result things can get missed, forgotten or not included where they should be.
One travel company I worked with used to give it’s Tour Managers a copy of the contract (with all the pricing redacted) so they could see exactly what had been agreed with that particularl hotel/supplier. It was really helpful but it is rarely the case.
As such clarity about the hotel is providing is always helpful for the Tour Manager to make sure expectations align. Helpful details include;
Porterage – if this is included and whether it needs to be paid for by the Tour Manager or not
Meals and Drinks – what type of meal is included and what drinks are included as well.
Dining style – are guests free to dine at leisure for dinner and breakfast? Is there a reserved seating area for them?
Tour managers do not need to know costings or room rates as this is confidential and between the travel company and the hotel directly.
Advance Rooming List
I have spent hours and hours of my life changing rooms on arrival at hotels because hotel reception desks haven’t been aware of room requests, or more commonly the groups department (or whoever deals with group travel) doesn’t send the room requests through to the reception desk in time.
Check in is always so much smoother when I have had a chance to have a look at the rooming list in advance and check that friends/family travelling together are located close to each other, bed and room requests have been actioned. Of course room requests are just that, a request, so even knowing that they haven’t been possible in advance is easier to deal with than someone getting to their room and being disappointed. If their room request isn’t available at one hotel I am going to do everything to make sure it is at the next one for example.
Moving rooms on arrival is time consuming and frustrating all round. Guests are generally tired after travelling and it takes up a lot of time from front desk staff.
Even getting the rooming list a couple of hours before arrival is helpful and allows for any last minute corrections to be made.
Room Keys in Alphabetical Order
This is one of those things that seems blindingly obvious to me but it rarely happens. Room keys generally come in the order they have been allocated. Again this is time consuming as it just takes longer to go through all the keys. If the Tour Manager is new to the group, i.e. it is the start of the tour, they may not have everyone’s name memorised so trying to figure out who is who becomes much more difficult.
Assistance with Directions
Tour Managers may be visiting your hotel for the first time and are therefore unfamiliar with the layout. Having someone to help direct guests to their rooms, or to the lift and the correct floor, is really helpful. Often Tour Managers are being asked questions by guests so having a bit of extra help at check in can really ease the pressure.
Tour Manager Printed Room List on Arrival
Generally I have to ask for a rooming list when I arrive at hotel which can mean a delay, especially if there is a problem with rooms. Hopefully, you will have been able to send one in advance and even if you have a printed one on arrival is really helpful.
Porterage Ready To Go
The Tour Manager should have given you an arrival time for the group. You can always request that they advise you if it is going to be more than 10 or 15 minutes either way to help ensure everything is ready.
If porterage is included then they need to be ready for the group arriving and armed with labels/chalk to mark the bags and a rooming list. I have lost count of how many times I end up giving my rooming list to the porters because they don’t have one or they only have one list between several of them.
I always carry Sharpies and chalk because frequently porters don’t have anything other than a biro to mark luggage with. Passenger luggage labels can get very confusing if lots of room numbers get written on them.
If the Tour Manager has given you the time that they will be there then make sure everyone is ready and everything is ready. It is very common to arrive at a hotel and find reception staff still making up keys which is frustrating all round.
I have also been reprimanded by hotel staff for arriving 5 minutes early – unfortunately a guest heard that comment and then reprimanded the hotel staff for not being ready. Not a great check in experience as a result.
Sort Luggage by Floors
OK I have a confession here. I used to be a hotel porter. It didn’t deal with groups but I do know how to organise luggage. I think the problem is that panic often sets in when a group arrives. Instead of having a system of labelling luggage quickly and then sorting into floors the panic causes porters to start grabbing luggage and going.
This can often result in guests contacting the front desk or the tour manager because one bag has arrived and the other hasn’t or people on the same floor have not got luggage at the same time. This means that guests assume the luggage is lost rather than still being sorted out. A little time to organise pays dividends and ensures people get their luggage in an organised fashion.
Ideally you will have been in contact with the Tour Manager about the menu in advance. Pre-ordering may be required but if it is a set menu there will no doubt be some dietary requests to deal with. Generally, a Tour Manager will try and give you as much notice of these as possible.
It is really helpful for Tour Managers to know the seating arrangements for dinner. Are the tables 2’s, 4’s, 8’s etc? Are your staff going to show people to tables on arrival or should the Tour Manager do this?
Hotels have various systems for group meals. Some require the whole group to arrive before taking any orders, some go table to table and some as people arrive. Again it is helpful for the Tour Manager to know this in advance if possible because they can prepare guests. There is nothing worse than a guest coming into dinner 10 minutes late to find everyone seething because they can’t order.
It is also helpful to know what the situation regarding drinks service is in advance, again to help prepare the group. Is there a wine/drinks service in the restaurant? Are drinks orders taken with the meal orders or perhaps before or after? If there is no drinks service then you may need to organise extra bar staff 30 minutes before the group meal time to deal with the drinks orders.
Dine at Leisure Option
Giving guests the option to dine at leisure can be very welcome on some tours so if this isn’t going to cause your kitchen problems then perhaps discuss it with your Tour Manager. Some tours have lots of meals included and eating together every night at the same time can be difficult over the length of a tour, with guests appreciating a little more freedom. However, if there are not many meals included then dining together can be a welcome opportunity for guests to socialise with each other.
Tour Manager and Driver Dining
Often Tour Managers and drivers will sit separately from the group. This varies from company to company and from Tour Manager to Tour Manager so again it is one of those things that is good to check in advance.
I like to be somewhere where I can see everyone in the group so I can keep on eye on the service and if there are any problems.
If you would like to read the read the rest of this article click the button to get a free PDF which includes more tips to make coach holidays and excellent experience.
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- Coach Holiday Consultancy for Hotels
- Looking to start having coach tours staying at your hotel for the first time and want some extra support to make sure everything runs smoothly?
- Already have coach tours but want to improve the experience to ensure you get repeat business?
- Want to improve how you deal with coach tours and make the process from request to review simpler and smoother?
- Coach Holiday Consultancy for Holiday Companies
- Looking to get a detailed review of your experience from guest point of view from booking through to questionnaire?
- Want to improve complaints performance by getting insights into what the real issues are and how to resolve them?
- Want to mystery shop your tours and get detailed feedback on everything from suppliers to itinerary, timings & experience?
Get in touch to find out more about how my coach hotel consultancy service can help you – my services are based on years of experience combined with a pragmatic and practical approach to improvement.
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