First of all I want to thank our agent for leaping us organizing our trip. He was very nice, helpful and professional.
We had a great trip in India, from November 4th to 14th 2015. What we really enjoyed with our travel agency is that the drivers and the guides were courteous, polite, nice and always on time. The car was great, very clean and very comfortable for the 2 of us. We enjoyed the daily calls from our travel agency to make sure everything was great. All the temples/ mosques or other buildings or museums were worth visiting. We used good and reliable domestic flights ( IndiGo and jet airway ). Always having a travel agency representative in the hotels or at the airports waiting for us, helping us with hotels or flight formalities were a nice help and a nice asset. Our travel agency clearly tried to make things as smooth as possible, which is always a challenge in India..............
However we think there is still room for the company to improve, especially in communication with us. As an example, they told us at the last minute that our Bollywood show was canceled because of Diwali festival. We cannot understand that this can be a last minute announcement. If they had checked before they would have noticed that that show was canceled in advance. Same thing for our cooking class which was marked for lunch on our program, and while we were driving to that class, we were told that the class was rescheduled in the evening. In parallel the cook told us that the class had always been scheduled for the evening. This show that they do not check a few days ahead to make sure that their timetable is correct. As a consequence we totally lost an whole morning in Agra, staying at the hotel waiting for the class, instead of visiting that great city. Same problem with our timing on the day we left Varanasi, flying to Delhi then driving to Agra. We left Delhi at 1 pm( totally on time vs schedule ) drove 4 hours to Agra, where we were supposed to visit the Agra fort. But the Agra fort closes at 5 pm. So this timetable was not working. As a consequence the day after, we had only 5 hours to visit the Taj Mahal, the Agra fort , drive to Fakepur sikri and visit the palace. We visited those 3 exceptional monument while running and felt extremely frustrated! Most probably the 3 most beautiful things to visit in India and we had only 5 hours. In parallel our guide that day was our least favorite. He was not very kind with us, just telling we have to go, we have to go...those 5 hours were the biggest failure of our trip...in Agra, we went to a choky Donny dinner. we had no idea what it was about,and thought it was only a restaurant with specialties from Rajastan. but in fact it is a huge fair, with the restaurant inside. If we had known about it, we would not have wore fancy clothes, as we eat sitting on a cushion and there is dust everywhere...those are little details, but the travel agency should better describe this in the timetable. Clearly explain how many hours of driving between 2 cities, some details like what to wear at special places, check in advance all our reservations ( Bollywood show, cooking class) because a last minute change is really frustrating , make sure we can do everything in one day to avoid running while visiting monuments. My agent had told me to buy souvenirs in Jaipur( carpets, clothes...) but did not tell us why. In fact in Jaipur everything is much cheaper because there is much less taxes than in other cities. This should be clearly explained beforehand to everyone, to avoid buying in Delhi which is very expensive and not the same quality as in Jaipur!!!! Another problem is the luggage limit on domestic flights . We took a flight from Jaipur to Delhi on our last day, before heading back to Newark. Unfortunately on Jetairway, you can only have 1 luggage per person, 15kg/ luggage. We had to pay $150 extra to travel, which represent 4% of our total trip. The travel agency should warn us in advance or consider another company when they know that we have all our luggage with presents with us just before heading back to the US.....the hotels were very good ( The hotel in Delhi is very modern and comfortable ), the hotel in Agra was our favorite, the hotel in Rajputana was very good too, but surprisingly in the middle of Agra . The hotel in Varanasi was not a good choice, as it is very old, dated, very noisy and the food ( breakfast and lunch) is really not good.our favorite guide was our guide in Agra, he is really great, explaining everything, very friendly. Our Diwali event in a restaurant, organized by our agency was great and memorable. Our cooking class was amazing . The travel agency should work much more with the chef in Agra. Not only the cooking class was good, but it was just the 2 of us with the chef and it was followed by a dinner with the chef and his wife, eating all the dishes we had prepared. We felt very welcomed and special....so to sum up, it was a great trip but the communication between us and the travel agency should be improved, the schedule should be checked in advance by them to make sure it is realistic....
every city brought us something different. In Delhi we really enjoyed the lodhi gardens because it was very quiet. In Varanasi, experiencing the River Ganges was at the same time beautiful and very very hard. But we were very happy to see that face of India. Agra is amazing and the Taj Mahal is even more beautiful and stunning in real than in pictures. And we loved Jaipur, the pink city.
i would have stayed less time in Varanasi, in order to have more time in Agra to visit at a normal pace the 3 monuments. Also, see the comments in the first part.
Travel Company's Comment
We thank you for your feedback!
It is great to know that you enjoyed the trip to India arranged by us and liked our drivers, guides, representatives and other services. It was our pleasure arranging the trip for you! Please find answers to some of the experiences shared by you.
1. Bollywood Show – We completely understand your disappointment with the last minute cancellation. Our team checks the status of all the activities and internal flights a week before and then a day before the actual date of activity/ flight. When our team initially checked, the activity was on time but when our team checked a day before, they came to know that the Bollywood show has been cancelled for the whole week. We communicated this to client and offered them to have dinner in a 5 star hotel instead, which they accepted and enjoyed. The cancellation was out of our control. Whenever we came to know about any cancellation, we communicated promptly to the client. The Bollywood show cancellation was communicated many hours before the actual activity schedule.
2. Cooking Class: Please note that the change in cooking class schedule was communicated a day in advance over phone by my colleague and the client was very fine with it and said to keep it at 6 PM instead of 5 PM. So, the point of client about the cancellation being communicated while driving to the class is not right. The point of client staying at the hotel in Agra for whole day because of the cancellation is also not right. In the first place, the cooking class was arranged in Jaipur and not Agra and for the day part in Jaipur, we had arranged a Samode Camel Safari activity, which the client cancelled themselves a day before. So, it was their choice of staying in the hotel and not going for sightseeing of Samode. The client chose to have shopping instead, for whole day for which the guide was arranged by us.
3. Travel from Varanasi – Agra and hectic schedule in Agra – We regret the inconvenience caused because of you not being able to visit Agra Fort on Day 1 in Agra. None of our clients taking the same flight from Varanasi – New Delhi have missed the same day Agra Fort visit till date. This is the first time that we have experienced this. This may be due to more traffic because of Diwali season and more time taken for exiting from airport. But, we shall keep this in mind that during peak seasons; we shall avoid giving Agra Fort on same day as travel from Varanasi – New Delhi.
4. Jaipur over New Delhi for shopping – It was clearly stated in email dated Oct 26 2015 that we recommend buying Carpets etc. from Jaipur. We had clearly stated that the best variety carpets are available here. As a matter of our company policy, we cannot comment on Shopping pricing as shopping is your personal decision and client may perceive that we have a shopping commission when recommending a particular city or a shop. It was your request of including Carpet stores in New Delhi/ Varanasi and we followed that.
5. Baggage Allowance for flight from Jaipur – New Delhi – The baggage allowance policy of airlines was communicated clearly to you with pictures/ pdf file in email dated 29 Aug 2015.
6. Hotel, Varanasi - We regret the inconvenience caused due to inclusion of thiss hotel. We wish to mention that there is a dearth of good hotels in Varanasi and since the trip was booked at the later stage the initial hotel suggested was completely sold out. Hence we booked the best hotel that was available here. This was communicated too over email.
7. Time Table – It is difficult to offer a fixed time-table to our clients as our trips are not like group tours but customized and personalized. Some of the clients may take more time at a particular monument/ doing some activity than the others and hence we cannot offer a fixed time. Also, as you may have noticed during the trip there are extraneous factors like traffic, flight delays, cancellations of activities, time required to exit the airport etc. impacting the travel times and hence it is difficult for us to make a time-table. We keep the trip/ schedule custom. For E.g. – You could not do Agra Fort on Day 1 in Agra and hence it was shifted to Day 2. You could not do Cooking Class in afternoon, so it happened in the evening.
8. Communication of Travel Company with Clients: Our staff member communicated with client every 2 days and got the guest feedback. Our staff member communicated all the last minute changes due to cancellations a few hours/ a day before the activity. We understand the guests’ disappointment but the cancellations are out of our control as well.
Steps taken by us to improve:
1. We shall not have Agra Fort visit in Agra the same day as flight from Varanasi – New Delhi during peak traffic seasons.
2. We shall mention the approximate travel times between cities.
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