Vive La Différence
This summer we’re taking a whole new approach to service for guests in our French villas, and the results so far have been very positive indeed.
Ahead of the game
Thoughtful, pro-active service is a key part of the Simpson Travel experience, but how do you deliver it to a high standard when your guests are scattered all over a country the size of France? After grappling with the scale of the task, Sarah Gorman and Jonathan Spencer from our French team realised that by contacting our guests shortly after they book rather than waiting till they arrive, they could deliver a much better experience. Travellers get plenty of time to think about what they’d enjoy doing, and the on-the-ground team have the chance to get ahead with reserving the best options before everything gets booked up.
A scientific approach
Cote d’Azur and Provence representative Sarah Gorman has worked in travel on and off since 2000 when she met her husband, who was serving with the Foreign Legion in Corsica at the time. Resident on the French mainland since 2016, Sarah explains where the pre-departure service idea came from:
“I’m a Bio-chemist by training, so I tend to take quite a scientific approach to everything! As our guests travel independently to France, we don’t have the opportunity to meet them all at the airport as we do in Greece for example, so we needed to work out a system that meant we could still engage with everyone and offer a really personal service. We do provide quite a bit of information in our website destination guides and villa books, but often people appreciate help with the logistics, and that’s where we come in. Ultimately, it comes down to time and distance, so instead of trying to visit our guests in their villas, which are spread over a vast area, we decided to get in touch before they travel. This year we’re contacting everyone by email, suggesting local services such as bike hire or restaurant bookings that they need, and luxury extras such as private chefs or in-villa massage treatments. The reaction so far has been very positive, and it’s really satisfying putting our local knowledge and language skills to good use making the bookings. We’ve even made hotel reservations for en-route stopovers, and people seem to really appreciate the peace of mind that comes from knowing these things are all sorted in advance.
Not a planner? Not a problem
“Of course, not everyone likes to think that far ahead, so we’re always just a phone call away to organise spontaneous requests and to sort things out when they don’t go quite according to plan. For example, last summer I was able to track down a teenage guest’s forgotten suitcase containing two very expensive tennis racquets. It had ended up at a Eurostar depot in Lille, almost 1000km from where my guests were staying, but we still managed to reunite them just before the end of the holiday. We also got involved rebooking flights when some of the budget airlines let customers down last year – after all, who wants to have to deal with that hassle during precious holiday time?
“Jonathan and I were a bit concerned that email might take away the personal touch, but in reality we end up getting to know our guests far better this way as we have the time to find out what they really want from their holiday and the opportunity to make it happen: win-win.”
If you’ve booked a holiday to France with us this summer, you’ll be contacted by the overseas team well before you travel. If you’re still looking for inspiration for 2019, you’ll find more than 60 beautiful French villas in our latest collection.