Monday, November 14, 2011

Be careful who you take advice from

"hell's gate"

I started Adventure Antigua using a tiny locally built boat back in December 1999 taking a max of about 4 guests snorkeling and sightseeing. Together with my team we have managed to grow this company to the point that on a maxed out day we could take over 100 guests. The way we were able to do this with very little help from the uncooperative banks here was by simply making sure that all of our team mates loved working on the boats and that we all had the ultimate goal of making sure that our guests' day with us was the best day of their holiday. Anyway, of course there's plenty more to it than just that, but if you judge us by our reputation especially as seen on sites like tripadvisor then I think you will see that we have been very successful. "Word of mouth" is how we get almost all of our business and we are always acutely aware that our performance on the boats will be judged and will be talked about back at the hotel, on the cruise ship, back home and also on the internet.
When people do internet research about our company they usually enjoy the tour even more because they end up getting exactly what they expected. Thankfully more and more people are doing this type of research before the come on holiday and we are getting more and more satisfied customers.
Every now and then people arrive here who didn't have a chance to do any research at all and have to ask for advice on what to do while here on the island.
We get bookings from almost all the hotels, guest houses, villas and other types of accommodation because after over ten years we are well known locally. That being said there are several resorts here that have such high front desk turnover that their staff are often unaware of what's on offer. Unfortunately many of these front desk people are not encouraged to learn about the various tours on the island and despite our best efforts confuse other tour companies with ours and vise versa. There is one hotel I can think of which happens to be one of the most expensive of all here in Antigua that asks us at least two or three times each year what time our kayaking tour starts. We gently remind them that we don't do kayaking or deep sea fishing, telling them our tours consist of.
Hotels are on such a tight budget that they front desk staff often are doing way too many jobs and can't possibly do a good job of being tour reps as well. Tours are booked and or are booked and canceled without us every knowing. Funny enough most of the cancellations that we are not notified about come from the most expensive three hotels on the island.
Another problem with waiting until you get here to find out what's good is that there are many people employed on the beach and even within the hotels by certain tour companies to only sell for them and not to reccomend any others. This means that you don't always get a balanced opinion of what's on offer.
Anyway, my point in all of this is that I think that if you are coming to Antigua on holiday you are often far better off doing research on tripadvisor or Antigua Forums than waiting until you get here to find out what's good and what's a "must do".  If there any hotel managers reading this, then I urge you to have your front desk staff monitor those sites above. Google search a company to find out more if you would like to send your guests out with them. While you are at it check what people have been saying about our company recently. Click here and tell your staff. Your guests will enjoy their holiday that much more.