We need to do a better job of educating our clients.
I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Always. But every now and then, I get a stark reminder that many people (some may argue “most people”) can be clueless or helpless or a combination of both. In either case, when it comes to travel, I think we need to do a better job of educating them; or, at least making sure that our assumptions are somewhat correct.
It’s out of my control!
Last week I escorted a group to a property in the Northeast, which can arguably be compared to the Northwest lately with all the rain we have experienced. While it did not rain the entire time, it did rain a good portion of the time. Nowhere in my marketing materials did I guarantee sunshine and 70 degrees. In fact, the property experiences it’s share of bad weather and does an outstanding job accommodating for it. Sure, some of the dedicated outdoor activities are curbed; but what can be done? Nothing! Yet several people in this group became visibly indignant because of the rain and one even asked for a full refund because of it. Of course, I never thought I would have to put a weather disclaimer on my documents, but apparently so.
The client did not receive a refund and future trips will indeed have a disclaimer about the weather, and that discussion point will be added to my workflow checklist. Sheesh.
You put the bison where?
Earlier this month, tourists to Yellowstone National Park took it upon themselves to put a baby bison in the back of their car because they thought it was cold. Really? I need to be blunt here—just how stupid could they be? Fist off, haven’t we all heard about not touching wild animal babies because the mother may reject them due to human scent? And that is exactly what happened. The baby bison needed to be euthanized. And secondly, a baby bison?! This is not a small animal! Baby bison calves are 40 to 50 pounds at birth. This bison (according to the photo) took up a good amount of the rear of a full sized SUV. And finally, this was against the posted park regulations about staying 25 yards away from wild animals.
But apparently, we need to step up our game here, too, and make sure that our clients know to make sure they leave everything they encounter on their trip just as they found it. I would think this is not necessary, but apparently it is.
So what’s happening?
I am not sure if people are programmed to de-program while on vacation, or if it is something else. As travel professionals, we try our best to set the expectations for our clients and usually we succeed; but of late, it seems we need to do more.
Here’s my new disclaimer:
Do not take any souvenirs from a diving trip. Ducking behind a Mayan ruin to relieve oneself is never a good idea. Walking out on a rocky outcrop into the menacing sea to get the perfect selfie will not turn out well. Recreating the Jack and Rose scene on a cruise ship is a bad idea. Drinking unfiltered water in certain areas will leave you incapacitated. All discussions of bombs and explosives should be had outside of the airport. As much as I try, I cannot control the weather. There is a 100% chance that people will speak a foreign language when you visit a foreign country. Leave bison calves in the wild. Stay away from the edge of the Grand Canyon or any steep cliff unless you are outfitted to rappel. Driving on the left side of the road is not the same as driving on the right. Do not make fun of people while a visitor in their country. Do your best to dispel that whole “stupid American” notion. Be a good ambassador to the US, to our agency, and to yourself.