We had a great trip: it was a 2-week family trip to Argentina, and was lovely.
Setting up the trip, the folks at this South American travel agency were great: flexible, and very willing to adapt to our needs and budget. They made excellent recommendations of how to structure the trip, and adapt to what we were looking for (i.e. minimal travelling, and an active trip with lots of variety--no short order!!) The only real error they made, I would say, was recommended a day-long boat ride around the glaciers after having seen them the day prior--it would have meant being way too sedentary. Instead, we took a bus to El Cheltan for a specatular hike.
Once arriving in Argentina, however, I would say that the agency did not provide the support I would have received from a high-quality North American travel agency:
1. Transfers to hotels seemed wasteful--we ended up paying for a large van, when there were 5 of us.
2. We arrived in San Carlos di Bariloche on Christmas Eve. We were oriented, but somewhat misled about what would be available/open. We could not find a decent restaurant open. Further, it was not possible to speak to a member of the agency for even a few minutes of guidance. Response from the agency was "tough, we warned you".
3. When in Iguazu (the falls were a definite highlight of the trip), we got stranded at the airport because our plane got cancelled last minute. Not only did the agent not seem to really care too much ("just follow what the airline says"), but she never even called or emailed to make sure we made it back to Buenos Aires okay (which occurred the following morning). Further, the transfer we had paid for was wasted, and she said it was impossible to make any arrangements for transfer back to our Buenos Aires hotel.
4. The accommodations they arranged for us in Buenos Aires were atrocious. So much so, that we ended up finding alternative accommodations. Their response was that we approved the accommodations based on digital pictures, but I would have expected that they would have known something about where we were staying--it was nothing like the images.
As I explained to the President of the company (who is a lovely person, and cannot be expected to know everything about how her employees perform), what really matters is when things go wrong and how the company responds. I was less than impressed by their responses, and felt that they really were not too interested in doing any more than what was initially paid for. Further, we must have dealt with 5 different people over the course of planning the trip and the trip itself--having one consistent person who feels/assumes ownership would be better.
As such, I would not recommend this agency to somebody who expects excellent service after payment has been made.
Perito Merino glacier
Hiking in El Chalten
Horseback riding in Bariloche
Tango show in Buenos Aires
Visiting the Teatro Colon in BA
Staying at Hotel Smart 1828 in BA (we arranged this, but it was phenomenal)
Would have definitely pre-arranged to have mountain bikes rented or some other excursion on Christmas Day in Bariloche, with a definite plan for dinner on Xmas eve.
Would have dealt with a travel agency who I know more about--passed on by word of mouth.
Travel Company's Comments
Our local guide and part of our team received the clients at Bariloche airport and informed one more time about the “holidays” in Argentina, where everything is closed. Since clients requested an apartment, it was much more difficult to find even a place to eat. We talked with the clients during the trip planning stage and let them know about Argentines taking the holiday as a HOLIDAY. We have been communicate with the client during Christmas eve and Christmas day (total of 6 emails from our operations department on those two days) suggesting what to do and trying to confirm activities that the client didn't want to pre-book and it is extremely difficult to confirm on Christmas day, again when everything is closed in Argentina. We didn't call the client since we had a lot of emails communications with them even on Christmas Eve and after being assisted by our guide at the airport that same day.
Mr.Morris doesn't mentioned here is that he changed his flight without informing us ahead of time, while he was in Iguazu and informed us about the change afterwards. Unfortunately, since we had the transfer scheduled for a different flight that night, it was impossible to accommodate such last minute changes made by the clients without informing us ahead of the time. Then his new flight was re-schedule again and we could not confirm the new transfer because of the unknown time of his flight. We waited with our local transfer supplier as late as we could but when they closed that day we did not know yet his time for return on his new flight. We were in touch with them via email constantly and tried to confirm a transfer for them but it was DEC 30th PM and all our transfers were full. If he would have not change his flight we would have provided the transfer that we had reserved. Unfortunately a full day excursion turned to be a full 24 hours one and with Aerolineas Argentinas uncertain schedule we could not assist him much more.
I personally talked with Mr & Mrs. Morris about this. They requested apartment rentals in all the locations, we mentioned them that we dont normally offer apartments since it is harder to keep control of their services and impossible to have site inspections for all of them. They insisted that wanted an apartment and we suggested some that we use every once in a while and we had not complains before. This was approved by Mr. Morris and he even sent us a photo that looks like the one on line. We changed them to a bigger apartment of course complimentary but they decided to move to another hotel on their own. We were able to get a night refund and our company is refunding them one night as well.
We are really sorry that Mr. Morris is not happy with our services even that we work around the clock during the holidays with all my team so assist him. We did our best and accommodate them as much as we could with the changes they made on site as we do with all our clients.
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