It’s not just about pushing buttons

A lot of the work I do isn’t just about pushing buttons. A lot of research often goes into what I do. I’ll give you a few examples

A client wanted a diving holiday in Budapest. I have to admit I was clueless on this so I started off googling it and I quickly found the information on the two dive sites in Budapest but there was no information on what licenses were required or when the dives would be.

Of course I tried phoning the main diving school which is information that can easily be found on google but the response is a message in Hungarian, a language I don’t speak. I then tried emailing and tweeting them which also drew a blank as neither the diving school nor the tourist board bothered to reply.

I tried PADI and BSAC and also drew a blank there. OK so this is where I needed to use my contacts. I called an Eastern European specialist who was also clueless about this but at least they knew a ground handler they could contact and converse with them in Hungarian to get the answers we needed.

I had a client who asked me for a boutique hotel on the beach in Thailand. This might sound like a very simple request but finding these hotels involves having to read every description for clues, sometimes the hotel is called boutique in the description so that’s easy but it also involves eliminating chain hotels or hotel that contain the words resort, tower, club or village and looking for number of rooms in 3rd Party descriptions as very few independent hotel actually state how many rooms they have. I also have to look at the hotels to see what they look like. A hotel with 60 rooms may look like Colditz and have 4 floors where another with 85 rooms might be a spread out in a peaceful bungalow set up. A lot of hotels abuse boutique to simply mean small rather than small and luxurious with special extras and facilities

Very often a client will want to be in a specific area  which they prefer or for a specific reson like a concert. Sometimes the client might be going for a business meeting and the hotel being used is very expensive so I will find them a hotel nearby that is cheaper.

Flights in themselves are simple, anyone with an ipad can do them but they won’t combine an outbound with easyjet and return with BA. They won’t check the most convenient routings for you as well as the best price and they won’t tell you who does flat beds in business class, how you can prebook seats, nor compare luggage allowances on each airline. They won’t tell you if you have to prepay luggage nor what visas you need.

If I have clients travelling by rail  I try to put them near the station or on a direct metro so it is also convenient for the attractions. If I have a client who specifies a concert or sporting event, a day trip that goes from the main square I try to make it easy for them to find it by finding a hotel close by where budget permits.

If I have a disabled client who needs an adapted room, what are their needs? Certainly a flat area free from cobbles, step free access to all areas and lifts. They may also need wider lifts, handrails etc.

There is no button that gives me this information and it often involves having to call many hotel often with a language barrier  to check firstly whether they have suitable rooms and step free access and also to check whether they will guarantee availability. Bizarrely I rung a hotel in Tenerife who had disabled rooms but wouldn’t guarantee them. Pointless.

If I have a small child they may need cot space, childrens clubs, childrens pool, easy access. Usually this is easier as the websites often indicate family friendly but what age the kids club cater for is more difficult

Sometimes I need a speicalist holiday like a walking holiday or a diving holiday  so sometimes I would use a specialist company who have the structure and contacts in place

If I put together a rail holiday I would often have to use paper railway guides as not all routes are available on googlemaps or Rome2Rio. For instance I had a request for China. According to the above sources the route would take 10-13 hours. When I actually drilled down into it it was actually 3 hours

Free wifi is another one. More websites do have a wifi symbol but is it just in the lobby or in the rooms. Even worse was a lady who had electromagnetic sensitivity and cannot be anywhere near wifi, telegraph poles or underground cables. I tried my best by ringing every single hotel in a certain area of Kent, not easy to find as hotels with websites also have wifi. I eventually spoke to one who did their very best to accommodate her.

Often personal experience is something you just cannot google, and I have been to over 75 countries so there are many places I can actually claim this, but also I have many people in the industry I an call on to tell me how much a meal is in Barbados or whether there is a reliable bus service in Dubrovnik or whether it is safe to get a taxi in Pnomh Penh, how well the wifi works

Sometimes a friend will recommend a certain hotel or property but you know it isn’t suitable for your client and another would suit them better. I have many friends over all walks of life with different tastes who love the ambience of a certain hotel but it isn’t one that we would like but it might suit other friends or other clients. It is the same with your friends, they may not have the same tastes as you.

Sometimes there are things that you can do as easily as I can but I am using my time and not yours. For instance, a client wanted to go for Christmas Markets so I printed off a sheet for her of where they were, opening times and how to get to each one from her hotel. In this instance I did use google but it was something that the client didn’t have to do. Similarly I will tell what plug you will need, what terminal you will go from and all sorts of other bits of information that I will anticipate that you will need.

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