Leigh McGlone review 26 Apr 2014
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
The parks were my favourite part of the trip, I also really enjoyed walking on the Great Wall and the live show in Xian.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Make sure there are others coming on the trip, ask the tour planning person not to take you to factories where you feel pressured to buy things and expect to bring lots of extra money for tipping the guides, supper and shopping.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I do not feel that it reduced the environmental impact but it did support local people.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
My vacation was good. I am disappointed with the travel company for many reasons:
1. I was told I was going on a group tour and did not find out it was just me until I arrived (a heads up would have been nice).
2. The first tour guide I had in Beijing was very nice but had little to no experience and it was apparent. The driver got lost a few times and the sent his friend to drive one day because something came up.
3. The front desk hotel staff at the Vacation Inn Express were extremily rude and not helpful at all.
4. I was told this tour did not take us to places where we were pressured to buy things, but that was not the case, it happened 3 times (Pearl place, Jade place and silk place) I would have rather not gone to those places. I do like to see the
history parts not the pressure to buy things.
5. The driver was 45 minutes late on my last day in Beijing.
6. The tour company accidentally booked an extra day at the hotel in Shanghai and I think I am stuck paying for it.
There were other problems as well, I would not recommend this tour company. I met other tour groups while traveling and their guides were much more friendly (not that mine were not, they just were not as friendly as others). They told me about the 1.5 hour commutes to meet me every day etc. and that made me feel bad. I don't think that is professional.
I also am receiving tonnes of junk mail from the company and would like to be taken off the list.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for booking your vacation with us. We appreciate your feedback and sorry to have learned that you were very disappointed with the arrangements that was made for you through our company.
Firstly, with regards to the group tour, sometimes we may get last minute bookings for these tours and do not know the full numbers until the day before. I do agree that you should have been told that you were the only one that was on the tour before the day, or at least have booked this tour a few days beforehand. We have taken steps to make sure that these things do not occur again on future trips.
In the itinerary that was sent to you through our travel advisor, it had specifically included visits to factories and shops, as the booking made for you was for a group tour. These are included in all group tours. However, there should have been no pressure for you to buy anything. I am sorry to know that you have felt the pressure to buy things. I am looking into these issues to ensure that this kind of things will not happen in the future.
For private tours, side visits to shops and factories are never included, unless specifically requested by the customers in which we get them to sign a disclaimer.
I am also sorry to know that your tour guide and driver did not meet your satisfaction and arrived late on your last day. I am very surprised to have also learned that the hotel staff at the Vacation Inn Express was rude and not helpful and We are looking into these issues to ensure that this kind of attitude would not happen again in the future for other clients.
As the tour was from 17-24 April, from an earlier email dated 19 March, a request for an extra night for the 24th be made at the hotel, as it was understood you were departing on the 25th. I have therefore made arrangements for reimbursement of the night of the 24th for the hotel, as well as part of the service fee of the guide/driver in Beijing for you for the total amount of US$150.00.
I have noted your request to have your name removed from our mailing list. I also want to clarify that how our trips benefit the local community and minimise the impacts on the environment: Firstly, we employ local people as our guides which belongs to the areas we visit. In Beijing, we recommend to take a rickshaw to tour the old Hutongs, which is more comfortable than walking or biking by yourself. Also it can reduce the air pollution. You can get close to the local people by visiting these hutongs. It also creates more job opportunities for the locals. Secondly, since 1998, we have formed a partnership with Helping Hands Volunteer Association, and donate money to help the disadvantaged children in a local orphanage each year. We also help kids in poor areas, and have donated clothes to people who need clothes to keep warm in winter. Now, we always dedicated ourselves to charity by donating a sum of money to the local charity institutions to help the orphans every month.
Once again, I am sorry for the experience you had in Beijing and have appreciated your honest feedback which will help us in the future.