Recently the elder son went to Malaysia after claiming the prize he won by winning the city round of the quiz. The contest was hosted by Thomas Cook. Now, personally I do not go for organized trips with travel agencies unless it is planned by my sister’s agency so I was curious to see the experience that my son would have.
For starters, the person that I interacted with really had very little knowledge of visa procedure. He made us do unnecessary paperwork though I told him explicitly that it would not be required in my son’s case. But I see that inefficiency is the name of the game when it comes to large travel planners. Recently, I had a bad experience with a large travel firm that botched up my visa for a brand collaboration travel. Forget being aware of visa procedures, they have a lackadaisical approach to travel. Anyhow, we did as we were told and as I had predicted all the paperwork was returned in a week’s time.
Then the son set off for the trip along with a classmate and a teacher. Other children and teachers from different cities were going to be joining them in Kuala Lumpur. First, they booked in the cheapest airline possible and no meal both ways. Then on the day when they arrived early morning, no breakfast or even check-in to the hotel was on the cards even as they arrived at 6 am local time hardly catching any sleep as they had a late night flight. The kids had to buy their own breakfast and freshen up at the airport before taking off for sightseeing that early in the morning. They were also put up in one of the cheapest/budget hotels possible with 3 people sharing a room. The less said about the facilities the better.
The breakfast included in the hotel tariff had a grand total of 4-5 items on the menu mostly inedible. While the sightseeing with an a/c coach was fine, the kids were left for long hours at malls/outlets/shops, which was clearly for the sake of commission. One redeeming factor was that they had a swift process to reach out to their emergency contact/tour guide when needed.
And as their return flight to Bangalore was again at night, they were checked out of the hotel at 12 and just dropped off at the airport. Fend for your lunch and dinner as again no meal was booked on the flight and nothing was given at the airport.
Overall, while it was an experience for the son to travel on his own, the overall management of the tour reeked of cheapness and less thought. If Thomas Cook was looking to win some brownie points, I can assure you that it did not. Since children were traveling to a foreign country, a bit more sensitivity while planning would have helped. After all it is the small touches which add to the comfort and delight of a travel experience. This, however, was a travel tour organized badly. Sadly it was an exercise in saving money more than giving memories to last a lifetime.
Have you experienced anything similar with your child’s trip?