Travel Galore: Sure Travel Leisure Or Sure Travel Labor?
Every year in November, my boyfriend and I would go out of town to celebrate our anniversary. And for our 4th anniversary, we decided to visit Ilocos.
Since we have a very short time sorting things out, we’ve decided to just check online for affordable packages that we can buy for the said trip. We’re very fortunate that we were able to come across a travel agency offering such deal. We got it from Travel Galore.
Note: This post is not to bash the agency but just a raise some points that they can benefit from the bad experience we’ve encountered. After all, feedback are good market research.
Anyway, this is the package that we bought.
So far, the tour was OK. For a joiners tour (opposite of the exclusive tour), one must NOT really expect so much since you only pay less compared with the exclusive tour.
Here is my review of the Travel Galore’s Ilocos Tour.
- Since this is a joiner’s tour, you will be together with many tourists making the whole package more affordable compared with an exclusive tour.
- Apart from its affordability, there is already a ready-made itinerary for the days that you will be staying in Ilocos.
- Transportation, too, is a very important consideration. You will be riding the same bus from the starting point (Manila), going to the different places listed on the itinerary (Ilocos Tour), and going back to Manila. So it is less of a hassle looking for a public transportation and drivers that will not take advantage of you in Ilocos if you will be going there as a backpacker.
- Speaking of the bus, I must commend that the bus that Travel Galore provided is quite decent. It has an extra legroom that even my food and DSLR fit on it while I still have the comfort to move and slouch to sleep. It was also cleaned every day from the trash that tourist left at the end of the day (guilty here).
- The chief tour guide, who happens to be the husband of the owner, was very accommodating. He’s very kind and you will feel that you are given the best treatment as a tourist.
- While a joiner’s tour will prove itself to be really, and will always will be, more affordable compared with an exclusive tour or just going there as a backpacker, the major problem would be the inconsiderate tourists that always come late despite the designated timeframe that must be followed in the itinerary and the agreed cooperation amongst tourists set by the tour guide. There are some tourists that went back to the bus 30-45 minutes late thus making us late for the places that we need to visit. More so, some inconsiderate tourists will exceed the time given to us in a designated place for picture-taking making it more likely for us to skip other places indicated on the itinerary because it is already either too late or is already closed.
- Thus, time will be a big issue contributing to a domino effect or other cons like not being able to complete the itinerary.
- If you’re an adult that doesn’t go well along with kids, then this trip is not for you. As I’ve mentioned, this is a joiner’s tour which means that you will be with many people in one bus. And this includes a crying baby while you’re sleeping, children running in the bus’ aisle, or children shouting while playing games without their parents telling them to behave or whatsoever. You’ll really find it so inconsiderate for these parents not owning up to their children.
Now this part will be quite subjective for me to write about. So I just want to own this up as my own as this was my personal experience that turned out to be sour towards Travel Galore.
So here’s the story. One of the payment options of Travel Galore is to pay the 50% of the whole payment as the initial payment for the full package and you can, later on, pay the other half in their office in Ilocos. My BF and I already paid the amount in full while my other friend, Gian, and his officemate, Patrice, decided to only pay the partial amount and pay there the other half as stated in their terms and conditions. Since my BF and I already paid the full amount, they said that they’ll consider it as the 50% payment of the whole group. I said OK and it was fine.
Come the day when we’re in their office in Ilocos and we’re together with the other tourists who will be paying their full payment. We waited for our turn. Then suddenly, a very nice woman named Regina Bagaoisan (she is the owner probably as indicated in their DTI registration) told us that the amount that we need to pay was P5,616. Confusion and shock were so evident in our faces. We asked her why but before she started to explain, I told her to just let the others pay first and we’ll discuss it after everyone else is out because we felt so much shame and fear. Shame that we need to look like liars there with other tourists looking at us. And the feeling of fear that what if (but I was already so sure that something was wrong with the computation) we were required to pay the said amount and we cannot give anything. Then our trip and 4th anniversary will definitely be ruined. Crap!
Then it was our turn to duel with the confusion that the both parties were faced. She said that we were late to cancel the reservation of the other one who backed out. (We were supposed to be 5 but the other one backed out just days before the tour because of work schedule conflict). It was a clear violation on our end of their reservation guidelines that we need to cancel at least 7 days before the said date of the tour. And honestly, it was our mistake. So we told her that we didn’t know and we don’t have the money to pay for that as we only have the exact money for our 3-day trip as well as for our pasalubong.
Regina was kind enough to let it pass and told us that since we are first-time customers, hopefully, we still book in the future (which in my mind was already an option to repay the kind gesture). Then I told her to re-compute the amount that we need to pay although I already know that we need to pay P4,998 for it. But lo and behold! Despite subtracting the amount of the 5th member who backed out, we were down to P4,998 which was still higher compared to the amount that I was sure of due to them.
The complete print screen of the payments that we’ve made.
Then I already felt angry in that instance. I calculated to her all of the payments that we have given her by checking the screenshots and chats that we’ve exchanged prior to the tour. I told her to list all our payments and I will be stating all the payments that we did. While I was stating all our payment amounts and date of payment, Regina was also validating it on her laptop. Then suddenly, we came to one payment where she said we never paid. It was the other P2,499 payment of Gian and Patrice for their 50% down payment. I gave her my phone with our exchange of messages showing a screenshot of the payment. Then she double checked again on her list and she said to one of her assistants that they probably weren’t able to list that specific payment. With a sigh of relief, she apologized to me saying that it was their fault.
This was the computation that I showed her. I kept it as a remembrance for a very traumatic calculation made in my entire life. LOL
For an introvert like me and for a tourist who has a budget that’s just right for the specific tour, such instance was a traumatic experience. I told Regina my dismay about it and went back to the bus. It turns out that we were the only passengers being waited and causing the delay. With shame and anger both consuming me, I went directly to my seat.
When we reached the hotel, Gertes Hotel, the only thing we would like to do was rest. But before we can fully do that, it seemed that the series of unfortunate events are just about to start. First, we were supposed to be staying in 2 different rooms. Hello! My BF and I were supposed to celebrate our 4th anniversary so expect some canoodling. But the Travel Galore wasn’t able to book 2 rooms for us because as she said it was a “miscommunication.” Second, Gian already decided to take the extra bed on the floor aside from the two beds available so Patrice can sleep on one bed of her own. But obviously, the owner of Travel Galore called the owner of Gertes informing them that we were only 4 and that the extra bed must be removed. I was like “Oh my, this bitch!” So we were left with no choice but to use the beds by twos.
Travel Galore, with its unfortunate events offered us, as a travel agency is a different issue. And Gertes as a hotel is another issue, to say the least. Food is OK. And when you I say OK, it means it’s not. And the worst part was the bathroom has a very weak water flow that my urine is stronger compared to it–and I meant that in a literal sense. Thus, it is very hard to flush the toilet. You need to either wait for a few more minutes for the flush to refill or fill the bucket inside to do the flushing Filipino style. Either way, it will also take more time. Then I realized that there is no good service in a cheap (I would rather use the term cheap instead of affordable) price.
In conclusion, would I refer Travel Galore to my friends? Yes but with reservations. Yes because objectively speaking, they have delivered the majority of what was stated in the itinerary. Yet there are reservations because subjectively speaking, there are things that should’ve gone well if Travel Galore only properly documented our payments and at least compensated for proper service from their not-so-proper ones for our accommodation. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Oh well.
Let me just remind you of your mission statement. Perhaps, you forgot.
For a first timer like me who joined a joiners’ tour using a travel agency, I am entitled to my right to have high expectations of what they are to offer because it will be the standard that I will be holding on to my next travels. But I am also constrained by the price of the package that will remind me that I should also stick with what the budget is vis-à-vis with reality. Yet weighing the two, I am still firm with my verdict that Travel Galore has provided a below average service for an average market price.
So you decide if you will go with it and if you can bear some of the misfortunes that I have presented. And I hope that Travel Galore will take this positively as a free market research that they can use on their end to become better not for us who had an unpleasant experience but for those succeeding ones who will entrust them some of their special life’s events.
The Four Of Us: (L-R) Gian, Andrae (my BF), Joemz (yours truly), and Patrice.
Travel Galore: Sure Travel Leisure Or Sure Travel Labor?
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