Newmarket Holidays

Meet The Newmarket Holidays Team!

9 Comments

Welcome to our new regular blog feature. We wanted to give you a bit more of a flavour of what goes on behind the scenes of making your holidays happen, so here you’ll find the first in a series of short interviews with a few friendly faces from the many different departments here at Newmarket Towers.

To kick things off, we’d like to introduce you to the mind behind the Newmarket brochures, our recent rebrand and indeed just about every aspect of our marketing that you can imagine – Group Marketing Director Phil O’Sullivan.

Meet the Team… Phil O’Sullivan
Phil receiving the award for Best Operator to Italy at the 2012 British Travel Awards

What does your role at Newmarket Holidays involve?
I am the Marketing Director for the company, so I spend my time overseeing the production of everything that is seen by our customers and our newspaper and travel agent partners. With the exciting way the business is growing and changing, my role is constantly evolving too, so not only do I have to consider press advertising and brochures, but also emails, Facebook and everything digital.

How long have you worked here?
I don’t know where the years have gone! I am now in something like my 23rd year with the company. It is a great place to work, with great people and of course superb customers, so I have
never wanted to leave.

What’s the best part of your job?
Being creative, having an idea, and then seeing the fruits of that labour.

What would your dream holiday be?
I have been lucky enough to go to some fantastic places over the years. The tour around the west coast of America was one highlight – in fact I went back to Las Vegas again very recently, and am still recovering! I travelled to Hong Kong and China not long ago, which will live long in the memory.

My current favourite destination is Croatia where I have been for the last couple of summers. It is beautiful, and like the Med used to be years ago. I would heartily recommend it to anyone.

Who would your dream travelling companion be, and why?
If I don’t say my lovely wife Jo and my two great kids they will never speak to me again… so Jennifer Lopez will just have to make do without me!!

What’s your top travel tip?
Do lots of research before you travel – it is amazing how a little bit of local knowledge goes a long, long way when you are abroad. Also, travel with the attitude that “this is my fun time”. If your glass is half full, not half empty, you will enjoy yourself so much more!

9 thoughts on “Meet The Newmarket Holidays Team!

  1. Dear Sirs

    Holiday to Switzerland at Chateau D’Oex. Hotel Roc et Neige, 14 – 19 May inst.

    We would like to complain about your planning and organisation of this holiday.

    We are 4 friends who have been going on a short holiday break at this time of year together for many years. We have been to many countries together though not to Switzerland. When we were younger we would make all the arrangements ourselves. You could say that we are seasoned travellers and know what to expect. As we have got older(we are all now over 70), we have relied on travel companies such as yourselves to make the arrangements for us and thus reduce the strain – you may know that stress is something to be avoided particularly as you get older!

    Your Holiday promised to meet our need for good food, amazing scenery, interesting excursions and all at a reasonable price. We booked in good faith expecting a professional customer focused approach from you.

    The first hint that all might not be well was when we checked the hotel on TripAdvisor and saw adverse comments. One particular report was vitriolic. You are aware of this report as your Tour Manager, Roger, raised it as an issue with us as soon as we arrived in Geneva. We are not interested in that report, which confuses your responsibility with that of the hotel management, except in as far as it sets the scene for our own expectations and subsequent complaints. Indeed a far as the Hotel Roc et Neige is concerned we will be making a positive comment on TripAdvisor.

    The first issue;

    You used EasyJet as the carrier to Geneva. EasyJet introduced on booking-in from 30 days up to 2 hours in advance of the flight on 1 May but there was advanced advice of this of which you must have been aware. We tried to use this facility but could not because you had entered the names of more than just the 4 of us on your booking order and thus also on the Advanced Passenger Information form which is filled in online. As we were worried that we would not be allocated seats together, we telephoned your office who said it was not possible to book in online; but on speaking to EasyJet they said that for £3 per seat (£12 each way), we could book specific seats together and we paid this. However, EasyJet did say at the time that we would have to book-in online for our advance reservations to work. Having tried this again without success, we telephoned you and explained what we had been told but you refused to do anything because it would be a breach of the Data Protection Laws.

    When we got to Gatwick there was a huge queue at the ‘Bag Drop’ and we didn’t get to the front until an hour before departure. Guess what? The reservations that we had paid for had been released. We then had the hassle of trying to get seats on a plane that

    *We had reservations through you
    *We had paid for specific seats.
    *That Easyjet had overbooked!!

    Yes, at one stage it even looked as though we wpuld not get on! It was only through making a considerable fuss and the intervention of a more senior member of EasyJet staff that we managed to get seats albeit not those that we had reserved – small mercies. Of concern was the statement made by staff that we had got on only by them bumping somebody else off. No glory in that if true. We know that another couple who were on the same API from us us were allocated seats well apart from each other. Perhaps you will receive a complaint from them as well.

    Not a good start to our holiday. Stress levels high. Angry at you for putting us in this position.

    It is not for us to tell you how to do your job, you are the professionals. But was that a customer focused approach? All cause because you either ‘ didn’t want/couldn’t be bothered to’make each booking with EasyJet an individual entity. The 4 of us should have been one booking. You must know all of this – the new booking-in system has been operational since the beginning of May. Unless somebody in your office didn’t know how to do it – in which case you should have found a way round the problem (use the phone to speak to your customers and find a solution) – customer focus! As a result of all this, we have lost our seat reservation fee of £12.

    Now we come to the second issue:

    We are met by Roger at Geneva Airport OK; hang around a bit waiting for everybody to be rounded up; lost a chap off the Manchester flight that cam in an hour earlier; eyebrows raised, what’s going on here? Remember we have been up since a very early hour, had all the hassle at Gatwick and know that we have a long drive ahead of us. Finally the man and his wife – guess you will get a complaint from him as well. He’s been up since 3 am and is really liverish.

    Coach starts and off we go. Chance for a nap before we get to Chateau D’Oex. Our Tour Manager Roger comments on the criticisms
    made on TripAvisor. We are happy to accept his assurance that they are over the top. Then he throws a grenade into the discussion – he is going to drop us off at thr Jardin Anglais in Geneva for 2 hours whilst he goes back (with all our luggage) to pick up another lot of clients from another flight arriving from who knows where. We are going to have to wander around a strange park until he comes back to pick us up.

    OK so it wasn’t raining when he left us. What would have happened if ot had been?Incidentally there were no benches in the park that day either. But more importantly, why did we not know when we booked that this was going to happen? At the very least we could have been prepared, our guidebook amongst other things was still in the luggage hold. Not exactly good customer focus.

    We can guess why this happened – it is called cost cutting. You have tried to save money by using only one coach to collect clients from 5/6 separate flights and that cannot work without causing gross inconvenience to the majority both on the way in and on the way out

    We are aware that you have been arranging holidays in Chateau D’Oex for a number of years and one of the features is good value for money, particularly in a place like Switzerland. What we find disappointing is that our complaint would not have been made had there been a bit more forethought by yourselves. Sort out your approach to EasyJet booking in and give a bit more advance guidance to customers if they are to be dumped in foreign parts. For example Riviera Travel (with whom we have travelled) at least give you a map showing the sights to see and advise you on where to eat. This is a small thing that costs very little but helps a lot.

    We look forward to your early response

    Yours sincerely

    Geoff & Gill Smith
    Ian & Beryl McLaughlin

    • Hi Geoff.

      Thanks for the feedback, and sorry to hear you ween’t entirely happy. We’ve asked our Customer Services Team to look into this for you and then get in touch directly. Hopefully you’ll hear from them very soon.

  2. Went to Lille and Bruge on the 30th Nov 1st Dec Weekend. No complaints about the Holiday. But we wanted to go to the Chocolate Factory to get some Tobacco and some Chocs. We only wanted a quick visit we were banned from visiting there could you tell us why. We had to get it in Bruge which we did not want to do because it was quite a way to carry it back to the coach. We are not happy at all, we have never been refused a visit to the Factory before.

    • Hi Rosemary. Our Tour Managers are actually instructed not to make stops like this. Any previous Tour Managers who have allowed such stops will have been doing so without our agreement. Sorry if that’s a disppointment, but it’s one of the ways we try to minimise potential problems with the smooth running of the rest of the itinerary.

      We hope you understand.

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