You can tell a company’s in trouble when it no longer knows what to call itself and nobody illustrates this better than MyTravel (or is it Airtours). If I hadn’t known that Airtours rebranded itself MyTravel some years ago, I might have been left very confused by their constant name changes.
While we had a very good holiday with very little contact with our tour operator, we decided this would probably be our last package. The whole package concept is simply struggling to remain relevant in an age when it’s so easy to find and book hotels yourself and when flights are so cheap. But more than that MyTravel Airtours simply fails to add any value to the holidays it sells. In fact, it takes value away.
Right from the start the shear size of the operation caused them to trip up. We were about to board our plane to Faro, when we told to return to the departure lounge. A Palma flight had broken down and our plane was needed for those people because some of them had to meet a MyTravel Airtours cruise. It would be unfair to hold up the cruise ship, because the facilities on the ship aren’t as good as those at Manchester Airport. At first it was to be four hours before we’d get any further information. In the event they gave us someone else’s plane and we left just three hours late, leaving a domino of delays behind us.
Every plane will have passengers aboard with excellent reasons for getting to their destinations on time. If we’d been meeting a third party cruise or whatever, MyTravel Airtours would have done nothing. Better to go with a company where delays are more likely to be contained, like a budget airline.
In flight, we got a film about the perils of foreign travel. ‘When you’re abroad, it can sometimes feel like home. But as experienced tour operators, we know things are different’. The upshot was don’t book any excursions with anyone other than MyTravel Airtours, because the locals aren’t to be trusted.
On arrival we got a welcome pack that promised ‘open now and make your holiday extra special’. How so? Well there was very, very short list of excursions the rep would be selling (e.g. reps’ cabaret, but no dolphin watching, cave tours, big game fishing, jeep safaris or boat trips). We could buy a phone card, complete a customer satisfaction questionnaire (five reasons to do so provided) and pay extra for our seats on the flight home. That’s right for 8.5 Euro each we could book seats now (instead of at check-in). We’d sit together (just like we do anyway), but might be separated by an aisle. If we didn’t like our seats, that would our tough luck.
Coach transfers are one way MyTravel Airtours claims to add value to a holiday. Our resort was just 45 minutes drive from the airport, but it took 2 hours 45 for MyTravel Airtours to get us there on the way home because we had to visit so many other hotels in other resorts on the way.
Finally, they try to add value by including in flight entertainment. On the way back we had Scooby Doo 2 which was pretty poor but that’s not their fault. This was: just as the villain’s been unmasked and said, ‘and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for you darn kids’ and the mystery is about to be explained, they cut in with ‘MyTravel Airways has exclusive in flight offers on J-Lo Glow. Shimmer and glow with J-Lo Glow etc.’. Had we cared how the film ended, we’d have been mightily pissed off.
Of course they could innovate. On the day we left, MyTravel Airtours dumped a couple with a young child at the hotel. Their room wasn’t ready and they were told they’d have to wait four hours in the heat with no baggage. They’d have been travelling since the early hours. Yet MyTravel Airtours had completed three pick-ups for the homeward bound before 7am that morning. Knowing the rooms are there, why not use some muscle to get them cleaned earlier for check-in on arrival? Why not cut time waiting around by completing airport check-ins on the coach? Yet MyTravel Airtours seems to have little concern for the customer experience.
We didn’t bother with the customer feedback form because it was very, very long and mostly concerned with gathering demographic data for marketing purposes. And while it may sometimes be a little cheaper to book a package, the value tour operators subtract from a holiday makes going independently all the more worthwhile.