We have been building up to Go Golfing’s 25th-anniversary celebrations in a few weeks’ you’ve been sharing some of the fun and crazy stories in Go Golfing’s history. It’s fair to say I don’t love all of your jokes, but I’ve really enjoyed some of your stories.
You know how closely we work with all our partners to make sure they get it right – accommodation, golf courses, buses, functions and entertainment etc. When they get it right, it’s fantastic . . . and when they fail to deliver to our high standards, well, you’ve seen how it can impact on our clients and our reputation.
That’s right. I have 25 years of scars, from when things have gone wrong and we’ve just had to fix it.
Hawaii in 2018 is one that comes to find. I still regularly attend counselling to try erasing that from my memory.
The whole cruise itinerary changed the day before the cruise started. Just when I had redone the whole itinerary, they then put everything back a day, and then once the cruise started, they changed ports again. I pulled more strings than a puppeteer to get out of that one.
But being a hurricane, most clients were understanding and appreciative of what we put together.
Whilst that was somewhat of a challenge, it wasn’t the hardest. There’s one that happened in about 2012 or 2013 that I can still remember like it was yesterday. It was the China tour and well, unlike COVID-19, it’s hard to blame China for this one.
At the end of the China tour, we had a 4-night stopover in Hong Kong. 12 months earlier we had reserved our accommodation in a 5-star hotel. We’d paid in advance, sent them all the bookings, rooming lists, arrival details, dietary requirements, you know all the standard things we send.
On the day we were arriving, I had a call from the manager advising they had overbooked and couldn’t accommodate our group.
I was in disbelief.
I said, “No way. You’ll need to move other guests. We booked these rooms more than 12 months ago.” He was very apologetic, but, there was nothing he could do.
We had 3 hours to get this sorted
So I asked where he had organised for our group to stay. He said, “Well, that’s also a problem. We’re trying, but there’s a massive convention in Hong Kong and everything is pretty much, fully booked.”
Now I was fuming. I recall saying something along the lines of “If you don’t sort this out, you’ll end up with our tour bus in your hotel lobby.”
Our group had just boarded a flight from Xian, where they have the Terracotta Warriors, to Hong Kong, so we had 3 hours to get this sorted. I was angry but felt we had enough time to sort it out.
I started ringing hotels from here. One after another, no vacancy. After about an hour I called the manager back to see if he’d been able to sort us out. Sadly, no. I continued calling hotels, and like Mary and Joseph in the Jesus story, no room in the inn. By now the group is due to land in 30 minutes.
My dad, Terry, was hosting the group and I sent him a text to urgently call me when he landed. My dad is very gifted, was a much-loved Go Golfing tour host, but when it comes to his mobile phone, he’s challenged.
I ring the bus company that is picking our group up from the airport and advise of our hotel situation and I ask them to get a local guide on the bus and give the group a guided ‘city-sights’ tour while we find another hotel.
Thirty minutes after landing I get a call from Dad. I told him the hotel can’t help, but I’ll get it sorted.
“Emily, the guide with you, is going to give the group a guided tour of Hong Kong while I sort out accommodation.”
LET ME TELL YOU, THIS IS ESSENTIAL
Dad has always been great in a crisis and I hear him on the microphone addressing the group, “Welcome to Hong Kong. I know this is the first time here for quite a few of you, so we’ve organised a bonus tour of Hong Kong so you can learn a little bit and get your bearings before we check in to our hotel.”
I didn’t have the gift of the gab before I started this business. But let me tell you, it’s essential.
The guided tour has been going for nearly 2 hours. Dad has now called me a dozen times. I’m smart enough not to answer, but send him the odd text. “How’s the city sights tour?” “Is the bus comfortable enough to sleep on?”
I’m ringing hotels, I’ve even started holding 2 rooms here, 3 rooms there as a worst-case scenario.
The group is about to start the second lap of the city tour when the hotel manager calls me to say that the 6 star Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon can take our group, but it’s about $500 per room per night extra. We’re staying 4 nights, that’s about $30,000 extra.
I tell the manager to book it in and send the Peninsula Hotel our room list, client passports all the details and transfer the money we’ve paid across to Peninsula.
I’m straight on the phone to dad and tell him we’ve got a 6-star hotel for the group. He doesn’t even let me finish and I hear him on the microphone to the group.
“WOW 6 STAR”
“Has everyone enjoyed the city sights tour? (I hear clapping and cheers). Thanks Emily, you’ve been a fabulous guide (more clapping).
Now, at Go Golfing we like to go above and beyond to look after you. Sometimes 5 star isn’t good enough for you guys. Anyone object if we upgrade you from our 5-star hotel in Hong Kong to a 6 star one?”
I hear cries of ‘awesome’, ‘wow 6 star’, ‘sounds fancy’ from the front of the bus. Then one client asks “which hotel.”
You see, Dad had got on the microphone before I’d even told him the name of the hotel or where it was. So, suddenly he’s back on the phone and sees my text, “Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon.”
He’s always had my back, this time I had his.
That’s What Defines This Business
Yes, $30k would have been a massive hit. But we ended up brokering a deal with the original hotel and we paid about half each.
We deal with hundreds and hundreds of hotels, golf courses and suppliers in 31 countries.
In spite of our best-laid plans and follow-ups, shit happens sometimes. It’s no use playing the ‘blame game’, that doesn’t help our clients.
It’s how we solve problems, how we work with suppliers to find solutions, that’s what defines this business.
Well friends, hope you enjoyed that story from our past, I will be sharing the story of Go Golfing’s takeover of Fancourt Resort, South Africa’s #1 golf hotel, and my favourite in the world, in next what you’ll here about next week as we lead up to Go Golfing’s 25th anniversary celebrations.
In the meantime, you can catch up on the stories I’ve told last week here
Stay safe and happy.