The Week in Focus: G Adventures gets it right

The Week in Focus: G Adventures gets it right
By admin

Adventure operator G Adventures has made a lot of noise over its plan to operate every tour from January 1 irrespective of the number of bookings it has taken.

And I don’t blame them, for it’s a strategy that deserves recognition.

Founder of the Canadian-based company, Bruce Poon Tip, is unquestionably a self-publicist. He has opinions which, by and large, he isn’t shy to share and that gets him and his company noticed. Fair play to him.

Such a stance will irritate some, and there will be those who regard the tour guarantee move as a marketing and PR exercise. In one respect they are right. It is both of those. You only have to look at the coverage in the trade media – Travel Today included – to see that.

But Poon Tip’s assertion that it is fundamentally wrong for a customer to pay, in good faith, many thousands of dollars and then be told a matter of weeks before departure that the tour has been cancelled, is surely hard to argue against.

I sometimes think the industry loses sight of the paying customer, no matter how many times it tells itself it doesn’t.

Take all the talk of travel agent licensing and consumer protection, a subject covered in this column last week. The conversations are largely about how reform – which is certainly required – will benefit the industry without too much regard for the consumers who will seemingly lose what limited financial protection they currently have.

Put yourself in the shoes of a paying customer who has handed over vasts amounts of money for a tour. How would you react if you were told that the tour you have booked and paid for may not operate on the dates you have chosen? What other industry says that to its “valued” customers?

If it happened to me I would be livid.

People book time off work, they book flights, they make all manner of travel arrangements. The least the industry can do is give them what they paid for.

G Adventures clearly has technology to carefully assess its inventory to minimise its losses. But there can be no guarantees, no sure fire way of knowing what will sell and what won’t, particularly when you’re dealing in off-the-beaten track destinations.

The company’s approach may have PR exercise stamped all over it. But it’s the right approach.

Meanwhile, the ‘will they, won’t they’ Air India saga is a turning into a farce. More than two years ago the carrier grandly announced plans to operate daily services to Melbourne from Delhi. The flights never materialised.

And for months now, possibly longer, we’ve been hearing how it intends to launch into Melbourne and Sydney later this year. Well it’s now mid-October so the airline is cutting it mighty fine if that timeframe is to be met.

Common wisdom has it that Air India will not bring its aircraft to Australia until March at the earliest, as we report in today’s Travel Today.

It must be enormously frustrating, not to mention irritating, for tourism bodies and airport officials who, it seems, have grown wearily cynical. “They will believe it when they see planes on the tarmac,” is how Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy described the attitude of airports.

It’s also frustrating for travel agents who must have been looking forward to booking passengers on direct service rather than routing them through Asia.

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver is the moto here.

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