How I See You
Five days ago
Sally Smith (alias … ) talked to us about Walk and Talk Italy. She really wanted to go, the country was right, the timing was right and the price was right.
Four Days Ago
Sally Smith (same alias … ) applied for Walk and Talk Spain. She changed her mind and … that’s OK. We wrote back asking her if she really wanted Spain since she contacted us about Spain. In the meantime … she got an email from someone in Operations welcoming her to Italy. Ugh.
Three Days Ago
We got Sally Smith (yes … alias) enrolled in Spain. Chucked out Italy. (Sorry, Italy.)
Two Days Ago
Sally Smith (OK already … ) got an email from our Operations department welcoming her to Spain and suggesting she write her “Dear Family letter” in their native language … French.
Sally Smith left us a telephone message because we are closed for the July 4th holidays. Her “buyers remorse” period was ending that day. (By the way, we’re the ONLY travel company offering a 72-hour “buyers remorse” cancellation policy.) But I digress. She left a message saying she really needed more time because she originally wanted Italy, moved to Spain, got an email about writing a letter in French. And she wanted to make sure we were … uh … not having some kind of sun-stroke.
So … I’m the Executive Director. I listened to her phone message (I get them all via email) and I called her back. Within 30-minutes. And what makes this remarkable … or at least from Alias Sally’s perspective … I’m in London.
“Hello, Sally?” (“Hello, Real Name?”)
“My name is Randy LeGrant. I work at GeoVisions. I just heard your message all the way from London.”
“Yes. And it was important enough for me to call you back and give you the holiday weekend plus 2 more days for your ‘buyers remorse policy.’
“Yes … I’m in London. I listen to all our messages. I knew our US office is closed for the holiday weekend and I wanted to call you from London and give you extra time. You need to be absolutely sure you’re doing the right thing with the right organization.”
And I'm proud to say even on the 4th, two staff from Connecticut got in touch with Alias Sally to reassure her. We do make errors, and we do what it takes to make you feel comfortable about traveling with us.
So … How Do I See You?
When I read your emails and when I listen to your messages and sometimes talk to you on the telephone, this is what I imagine:
- You are giving up a lot of your time to go abroad to make a difference in people’s lives.
- You are spending a lot of your money to go abroad to make a difference in people’s lives.
- Lets add spending money and airfare.
- You think more about the people you are going to teach or work with than you do yourself.
- You don’t consider this a tour … it’s an opportunity to give back.
- This isn’t the cheapest option you found … you are investing in solving problems.
- You’re flexible. You want to leverage your time and money to make the biggest difference.
- You’re not “me.com.” It’s not about you. Rather, it simply involves you.
- You trust us so you deserve the very best service we can possibly provide.
- More than service, you want to make sure you’re always safe.
- Safety is the number one priority at GeoVisions.
- You really want to exchange your culture with another person’s culture.
- You want to teach your language and learn your host’s language. (Or brush up on it.)
- You like kids.
- You don’t mind living in someone’s home as a guest.
- You’re a pleasant guest … you help clear the table, you don’t sit in your room on the Internet and you keep your room tidy.
Admittedly, I could make a much longer list. But you have other things to do with your day.
Why Do I See You This Way?
We ask people after they have been in-country for a month, two months, three months and so on how things are going. Here’s what some of them have told us this week:
- I have been to a couple of soccer parties. Spaniards love their futbol and going to these parties was a great way to meet new people.
- My initial goal was to perfect my Spanish. Learning a language is a slow process, but I think that I have made significant strides. I am now able to have conversations with just about everyone and I am excited to see how much I will progress by the end of my trip.
- The internship is beyond any expectations. I have learned more than I could ever have hoped, and my supervisor has really helped me immerse in the culture.
- I came over with the goals to
- 1. Help My host family improve their English.
- 2. Try to learn a little German.
- 3. learn about another culture/lifestyle.
- 4. Go out of my comfort zone to experience new things.
- I have accomplished all of these goals, though in different ways and to different stages. I was not able to learn as much German as I hoped, as it was difficult without any formal instruction at all. It would've been nice to have just a small background on the language. However, the English of my host family has improved, so that has been rewarding to watch. Through lots of activities and great, long conversations with all different people here I have gained a great appreciation for their culture and lifestyles while also stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying lots of new things.
- I have had an amazing time so far. I was paired with a wonderful family who are very welcoming.
- Yes, thanks to my host family, I have traveled a lot. I have also done some weekend trips with other Au Pairs.
- Say yes to everything, try to speak to everyone in the native tongue, and don't get frustrated by inconveniences, learn from everything.
Where The Rubber Meets The Road
We do have people who have managed to go abroad with us for all the wrong reasons. They end up unhappy. And unhappy people want to write to the BBB and complain, write a negative review "to pay us back", and write a multitude of nasty emails, which takes up time since we want to reply to each one.
Writing this on 5 July, 2014 I can honestly write that these people I’ve just described comprise 0.64% of our annual participants. And we move 4,000 people each year all around the world. That’s 25 travelers out of 4,000 total travelers. Our goal is to keep getting that down to 20, then 15 and then 10. Ideally, in a perfect world, we’d like it to be zero.
But I can also honestly write here that if you match “how I see you” in the list above … you will be one of the many GeoVisions travelers writing kudos, like the ones above. And if you don’t match “how I see you” in the list above … all of us promise to do all we can to help you, support you and try our best to turn the experience around.
We would love to have you comment!