Walter's Feedback on 40-Day China Tour
|Client: Walter (Male) Ask Walter about his experience||Age: 60-75||Nationality: Austria|
|Tour Date: July 12, 2011 - August 20, 2011|
|FeedBack Date: September 5, 2011|
To China Highlights
c/o Supervisor Ms Angela Gong
I have announced Mr Michael Hu to send a report with personal comments about the trip he has organized for us so professionally. The most relevant impression was the difference between 1989, when my wife and I had the chance to visit some parts of China (incl. e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, but the Garden towns, Nanjing and Xian etc, too) and now: We have visited a totally new China! It changed to the much better!
I have the impression that it is really a wish of China Highlights (= CH) to get personal and subjective information of customers to integrate helpful hints to offer better and better “great China trips”. This could be a support to the cooperation between Austrian and Chinese scientists, who cooperate since years within EURASIA Pacific Uninet, but for other friends of China, too. This was the reason to spend not less time for this report -additional to the valuations I made in the past:
1. Basic service:
a. Excellent cooperation with the tour manager Mr Michael Hu
b. The 24-hour Service works effectively (but it would be enough if the offer would be given for the working hours without weekend and public holidays)
c. Of special relevance was: the personal telephone contact with the tour organizer during the period of planning the tour!
d. The service of Michal Hu during the tour was very efficient and friendly: (e.g. to solve the problem with a letter which was sent to a hotel in advance)
e. Contact with guides (incl. the handing over of train tickets) was effective (may be it would be helpful to have their mobile numbers in advance), helpful even for additional needs (e.g. Chinese writing for a book, taxi to train… etc)
2. Security- Package:
a. Mobil-phone: an excellent idea!
i. It causes the feeling of security (maybe additional offer with additional payment: for a partner: What happens if he / she is going lost? -No problem if he/she has a mobile-phone!)
ii. Indispensible for the tour because of the cultural differences between the western and eastern persons: A short call between the related Chinese person and the tour manager via mobile phone can solve such difficulties. (e.g. our luggage in Beijing)
iii. Mr Hu could solve all the small problems which occurred quickly and efficient
b. ”Please bring me to the hotel“ in Chinese characters: the offer of CH (= China Highlights) allows to reduce the integration of guides and therefore of costs for individual travelers like us.
c. Nomination of a contact person of the customer at home -a preventive measure
d. (insurance, feedback center, contact addresses in the towns which are in the tour program -with Chinese writings: helpful if anything unexpected would take place.
e. Evaluation of the work of the guide (motivation and control of the guide, BUT: valuations e.g. between hotels not directly comparable: valuations depending on the expectation: Hotel with 3 stars causes other expectations then a hotel with 4 stars.
3. Basic information
a.in advance: Your Tour Summary, Your tour guide and Tips Notes
This offer is nearly unique and a trade mark for CH: Especially the offer of videos, and Photos but the Guide book, Information about climate etc., too. I think this should be a model for other travel agencies. CH should extend this, e.g. with a videos of Tibet)
b. During tour: the information which was given was according to the expectations -all in all: a brilliant job!
4. Individuality -Flexibility: We have to give marks for flexibility in any valuation: Flexibility is -in my understanding -not very close to the mentality of the Chinese or-ganizations and the guides up to now. But it is of great relevance for the success of indi-vidual travelers. Therefore it is a very good idea that China Highlights focus on this goal.
a. You realize this goal with your offer to organize the tour:
i. Key point: Chinese text for taxi for the hotel
ii. Offer to select with respect to the financial and professional aspects e.g. hotels, transport offers etc.
iii. Selection of ”vista points“
iv. The offer to modify the starting time for tours with the guide
b. Limiting factor: You cannot know in advance how ”speed“ the customers consume the proposed offer, and what kind of consequences can be caused by the weather etc. Therefore more flexibility during the day would be needed. But the guides look usually only on the list to see what they have to offer. . . Therefore it should be clear that the customer can use the support of car, driver and guide for 8 hours a day. If there is free time then the local organization should know that the customer can ask for additional service (but has to pay additional entrance fees and price for gasoline -if the additional vista point are not very close to the “official program”
c. But in our special case: we could realize – with the help of Mr Hu – an individual tour with the security of a guided tour!
a. The new speed train system is very efficient, comfortable, cheap and easy to han-dle (one exception: train to Lhasa from Xining! See later),
b. Flights are were cheap and in time (without the “official shift” of our flight from Lhasa to Beijing via Chengdu and the “weather based” shift of Chengdu - Beijing )
c. The individual cars are comfortable and new: one exception: the very old and risky car D.L. 0092 from Lhasa to Base Camp and Shigatse.
a. Mr Hu and his local team did a brilliant job -we have recommend him and CH to the other Austrian Scientists (cooperation within EURASIA Pacific Uninet)
b. Up to now the best offer we received from a travel agency worldwide.
c. Under the umbrella of China Highlights: Individual Travel through China is similar to an individual travel through Europe or America.
SOME POINT FOR DISKUSSION
(1) Arrival with the cruise in Yichang There are no or only single taxis at the pier. Offer this cruise just with transport to the hotel or to the airport/train.
(2) Train from Xining to Lhasa: It is nearly impossible to catch the train without the help of a native guide: Therefore offer this ride just in combination with a guide.
(3) Please announce that the photo with Panda costs 1000 Yuan (and for feeding the panda 500 Yuan): This is only of interest for a person who is willing to support the research institute.
(4) Please inform the guests that -because of the high temperature -pandas are easier to see in the morning -as we have done, but others did not!
(5) Recommend to go by train to Lhasa and with airline back to Beijing or Shanghai and not with airline to Lhasa and with train back . You need the time in the train for adaptation. We have seen many tourists coming with the plane: they had big problems -we are not. And the trip with the train is an unforgettable experience! Nobody should miss the different types of landscape who goes to Tibet. Therefore not only two flights to/from Tibet.
(6) Underestimated within European Guests are the Grottos in Datong (Wolkengrat-Grotten) for us more impressive then the Longman Grottos.
(7) Underestimated is Pingyao: really a must.
(8) Underestimated -but maybe especially for experts -the ”old Chinese Wall“ near Datong.
(9) For about 50€ you can get a small computer to translate (even sentences) from English (Russian, French, German, Spanish..) to Chinese (very helpful if you have individual wishes e.g. on the market, - maybe to rent/borrow from CH?
(10) Inform customer (especially in longer trips) about the option to send luggage to a hotel (very reasonable price: UBS 30 kg 300 Yuan from Shanghai to Beijing): more comfort in traveling especially in longer trips
(11) Seniors (female older then 60, male older then 65) even from Europe receive re-ductions for the fees in museums, etc. if they have their passport with them (in Datong it was offered by the cashier)
CH is asking regularity about an additional Wow!
Here a proposal especially for European (male) seniors:
(Often) Such seniors would like to reach without any danger and without additional special bodily load (high altitude!) BY FOOT 'a peak: They would like to say to their friends: 'I have been BY FOOT on / claimed up a peak with e.g. 5256 m', or 'The highest peak I claimed / I have been in my life just with my one power was 5256 m' and would like the document this with an impressive picture:
All this you can offer in a very simple way: Some hundred meters from the base camp in direction of the Mount Everest there is a small hill -used by the monks for their prayer flags (impressive on the photo!). Why do not you make this small hill to a 'memorial peak' in memory of all the Tibetan and Non-Tibetan persons who died on their way from/ to the base camp to/from the Mount Everest? (Such a monument is missing but needed according to our understanding) For such a reason maybe the monks would accept to install a stone plate with the text: (e.g.) 'In Memory for the Tibetan and Non-Tibetan persons died on their way from the base camp to the Mount Everest' This plate could be fixed nearly to the top of this peak -so that the small stand-point in front of it can be used as position for the person to make a photo of the person(s) on the top – with the Mount Everest in the background! (I add photos of the 'Memorial peak')
There is no need for a special way: Just simple trail -like in the Alps: And a sign: 'To the Me-morial Peak 52xx. m'