sightseeing and driving

Everything was fine, until…

We booked a three-day holiday in Iceland. Everything was fine. Then came the northern lights trip. Having been let down on two previous nights, on our last night we went out to see the lights. Now it’s not rocket science – if we sit under clouds and light pollution, we aren’t going to see anything. So, the 4 coaches all decided to sit in a car park, yes, you guessed it, under clouds and light pollution. We stay there for almost 2 hours, no suggestion of changing location, just coaches full of disappointed, out of pocket customers. On the way back to the hotel, the guide did not say a word, but just laughed and joked loudly with the coach driver, probably at our expense. I have told our travel office all about this and have suggested they do not use these guides again; they basically spoiled the holiday with their lack of duty of care and effort. Of course, as we later learned, other excursions saw good light displays at other locations on all three nights. My advice would be to create your own itinerary and book with a smaller local company to find the lights.

Verkefnið

  • Would it have been possible to communicate better with the tourists. Is it important to explain the choice of location, for example?
  • How might it have been possible to give the tourists a positive experience, in spite of not seeing northern lights?
  • Should the tour guide have told the tourists the jokes which he and the driver were laughing at? What is the extent of the tour guide´s and driver´s duties of service?

Worst and Rudest Transportation Company

Worst experience ever, and so unprofessional. We had a car scheduled for 7:45 am – it never showed up. We call, and he says, “Oh, you’re not on the list.” I get transferred to someone else. He says, “Wait there! The driver will be there soon.” Extremely abrasive and rude. Well, the driver never showed up, so I called again, and they said it would be another 10 minutes. The driver storms into the airport arrival area, yells my name at the top of his lungs and he says, “come with me.” We get to the car, he makes us load our own luggage, and we proceed to the AirBnB. During the drive, he’s taking calls, texting and is even on-line. Ridiculous. The company doesn’t give him the right address, so he groans when I tell him the correct one. Once we get to the condo, he literally throws our bags onto the wet concrete and tells my friends “hurry up and go!” Yes, I’m not kidding, he actually said that. Not sure what we did to make him so mad, but he was not happy. Worst experience and impression of Iceland. I’ve never had a worse experience, couldn’t believe it. Instead of spending $250 on a car for 5 people with this company, take a bus. They are very friendly and a much, much more reliable form of transportation. Hope this helps!

Verkefnið

  • What effect do their dealings with the service desk have on the client?
  • What is the effect on tourists of poor service when they arrive in the country?
  • How could the driver have given better service?
  • Is it possible to give good service with a limited grasp of the language?

We arrived at the airport and the driver was nowhere to be found.

After a long flight, we arrived at the airport and the driver was not at the arrival centre. We called a number and were given the driver’s cell. He told us he had us in his car! Well, I guess he had picked up the wrong people. He told us to sit tight, and he would drop them off and return in about 45 minutes. It was too late in the evening to get a shuttle, and we had prepaid, so we waited… and waited… and waited…. 90 minutes later and still no driver and no answer on his cell. We called the main number again, and to his credit we were told to just order a cab and they would pay the fare. However, this was a very unprofessional experience.

Verkefnið

  • Does it make a difference at what stage of the holiday a customer experiences poor service, e.g. on arrival in the country, as in the above case?
  • How can such mistakes be avoided?
  • How could the driver have reacted when the mistake was discovered?
  • Should the people who answered on the main office number have followed the matter up?
  • What effect can this kind of service have on tourists‘ experience of the country?

Excellent glacier experience

This company was excellent! We booked a trip for January to the ice caves on Langjökull Glacier. We were transported to the glacier base camp. Our tour guide was wonderful! He was very knowledgeable about the area, the glacier and the creation of the cave, and he had a great sense of humour! He answered all our questions, whether they were technical about the trip or random about Iceland. Both he and the driver of our monster truck monitored our safety and comfort several times. There were guests of all ages, including young children, and the guide was great with everyone!! After two hours of driving, we reached the base camp. There the climb started in a truck specially designed for the glacier. The tyres of this truck have an inflation regulation mechanism and it can be driven even if there is zero visibility, using specialised apps and GPS. The guides provided shoes and crampons. The caves and man-made tunnels are well maintained. Sunset at the exit of the caves will remain etched in our memories forever. A short blizzard punctuated our return to the base camp. The truck made the travellers feel so safe that most of them were snoring, possibly reminiscing about the journey in their dreams.

Verkefnið

  • How do the weather and driving conditions affect the tourists‘ experience?
  • How important is equipment?
  • Is concern for the passengers important in special conditions?
  • What created a strong feeling of security and well-being among the passengers in these conditions?
  • How can drivers and staff members meet the needs of different age groups?

Comfortable buses and excellent service

We found an excellent bus company which we used for most of our stay in Iceland. They are a very dependable company catering for tourists. They are very prompt on pick-up and drop-off and responded quickly to all our email inquiries. All their buses are spotlessly clean and have free Wi-Fi. The drivers help you with your luggage when they pick you up at the airport or at the hotel. They have knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides. For the Golden Circle, our guide was entertaining and very helpful. For the northern lights, our guide was particularly determined that we should see the lights, and we did. Cancellations of tours (due to bad weather) are notified by email early enough for you to re-schedule them and make plans for your other tours. We will certainly recommend our friends to use this company in Iceland, especially during the winter, as the weather and road conditions are highly unpredictable.

Verkefnið

  • How important is punctuality?
  • How important are cleanliness and other conditions in the vehicle?
  • Is the driver obliged to load the luggage?
  • Do the attitude and behaviour of the tour guides and drivers affect the tourists‘ experience?
  • Is the way in which customers are given information about tours and any changes important?

Trip to a geothermal spa

Our trip to the pool was booked as a package by the travel company. We had been told previously to be at a particular bus stop at 12.30, so we were there by 12.15 to be on the safe side. We checked each bus that came in, to see if it was ours (apparently they sometimes use ‘partner’ companies). After waiting for over an hour, my friend went into our hotel and asked them to phone and inform the company, which they did. ‘Were we at the right stop?’ – ‘Yes!’. They told us to catch the next bus in a few minutes. Another half hour passed. No bus, so my friend returned to the hotel, where reception phoned again, and we were told they would send a car – it was a minute away. Another half an hour passed – still nothing. We both returned to the hotel, by which time we were extremely cold and had missed our time slot at the lagoon. I spoke to someone in the office who said she had GPS proof that the vehicles had come but we had not been there. I refuted this and asked why I would have rung repeatedly if this were the case, and she implied that I was lying. Appalling customer service. Thanks only to our travel agent, it was rearranged for another day. On talking to other travellers on various days, it became apparent that we were not the only people this had happened to. We would not use them again.

Verkefnið

  • Do there need to be signs at bus and taxi stops?
  • How should the bus be marked?
  • Do vehicles need to show both the name of the company and the destination?
  • What effect does the response of the member of staff who answers the telephone have?
  • How could this problem have been solved?

Great tours but much too long

We did a few of these tours when we were in Iceland, as they were part of our package. One of these was the northern lights by boat. We would not do this again. Too many people and too crowded. People were rude and only cared about their own experience and photos. You stay out for too long. However, we did have some cool experiences. We also did the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon tour, which was good but too long for one day. They should have broken this up in to two separate days, as it resulted in our being out from 8:30am-10pm, which was way too long. The Golden Circle tour also included some cool places, but they made us stop at a tomato farm, which we felt was a waste of time and money and just an attempt to get you to buy things. Some very cool experiences but improvements could be made to the tours we went on.

Verkefnið

  • Does the number of people on a tour affect the experience?
  • How important are organization and scheduling?
  • Is it important that the descriptions of the trip and the timing are accurate and adhered to?
  • Are foreign travel agents sufficiently familiar with the conditions in Iceland to organize trips?
  • What is the best solution when tourists want to do both the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon? Are some tourists‘ expectations realistic?

One bad experience reflects on another

Northern lights by land. Unfortunately, we did not see the northern lights during our trip. The first night the trip was cancelled, the second evening we went but did not see anything, and the third evening it was cancelled again. We understand that this is obviously not the fault of the bus company, and we just had bad luck. However, we do think in hindsight that another trip would have been better. You are taken to a car park with around 6-7 other coaches, which does not make the experience as memorable as it might be. Weather conditions were poor, and we overheard the guides discussing this right from the start. We felt that perhaps they could have driven to another location to try there, if they knew there was no chance at the first one. Perhaps this would be easier in smaller minibuses or a jeep and would offer more flexibility. Therefore, next time we would book a northern lights tour as a smaller, more personal experience. Perhaps offering hot chocolate or cookies included in the price would mean that if you don’t see the lights at least you get something for your money, not just a bus ride!! Overall, we would definitely recommend this company for transport to the airport, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, but would take a northern lights tour in a jeep to make it a more personal and special experience, with more chance of catching the lights!

Verkefnið

  • Is it important to compensate customers when an experience does not come up to their expectations?
  • What could have been done to prove that they actually intended to find northern lights?
  • Would it be better if fewer buses parked together in one place?
  • Do smaller vehicles offer more flexibility?
  • What effect does one negative experience have on an otherwise good level of service?

No northern lights and no refund

Prior to our four-day trip to Iceland, we pre-booked several excursions and activities, including a northern lights experience. Unfortunately, our northern lights excursion was cancelled on the day, due to poor weather conditions. Disappointing, but quite understandable, and we accept that there is no guarantee that you will get to see them. We received an email notification of the cancellation from the tour operator, and the message went on to say we needed to email them should we wish to join the tour on the following night. I emailed back to them the same afternoon, saying that, regretfully, we would be unable to go on the tour the following night, as we had other plans, and a very early start the following morning, as we were departing for home. In fact, we found out that the tour was cancelled again the next night, too. I emailed asking for a refund. No response. I emailed again the following day. No response. Now, 5 days and 5 emails later, still absolutely no response or acknowledgement of my emails. I expect the tour company probably has many refunds to process. However, they are very quick to take your money when you book your tour. Just very poor service indeed – no refund or explanation (so far). So, beware fellow travellers. It is probably better to book on the day if the sky is looking clear.

Verkefnið

  • Is it important to reply to customers promptly?
  • What benefits are there in not refunding customers for a trip that is cancelled?
  • What effect can complacency have on the business‘s reputation?
  • What could a staff member have done differently?

Pickup at the airport

Our pickup at Keflavik airport was a disaster! We told them that our flight was scheduled to arrive at 11:55 am, but we were booked for a noon departure. The driver did arrive at that time, but rushed out in a hurry, leaving us to deal with our luggage. We did our best to keep up and found that he had parked right at the back of a parking lot. When we arrived near (NOT at) our hotel, he just pointed up the street to indicate where it was, even though other minivans were able to pick up and drop off passengers right in front of the hotel. We deeply regretted booking a round trip with the same agency! Luckily for us, the return trip to Keflavik airport was far better. We were collected at the appointed time by a courteous driver, right in front of our hotel. He helped us with our luggage both at the hotel and at the airport. Clearly a mixed experience for us, but one we urge others not to repeat. I must congratulate the online support team. We were informed that our departing flight was delayed, so we missed our connection. They responded promptly and helpfully and were willing to change the date of the transfer. It just does not make sense that a company that takes such good care of their clients online can provide such an awful service in practice.

Verkefnið

  • What effect does the driver´s manner have on the passengers?
  • What part does a knowledge of languages play in customer relations?
  • Is it important for a driver to make an effort to meet customer‘needs?
  • Is it important that a driver provides information about the destination and that he is familiar with the route?

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