One way we are unique in the Korean tour industry is we are one of the few tour companies that accept cash payments with reservations. It’s risky. Because if the booked guests don’t show up, we don’t get paid.
We’ve been flexible and understanding with this. I mean, come on. People are on vacation. It’s a time to relax and not worry about obligations. I’d like people to also keep this in mind when they book, promise to pay cash when they show, and don’t show up.
Your booking affects others
Especially during peak season, our tours get full bookings quickly. We try to open extra tours to meet demand. Sometimes we max out completely and have to cut off bookings. So imagine if we have a waiting list of people wanting to join a tour and some douchebags don’t show up without informing ahead of time. Those people on the waiting list lose out. They could have taken those spaces. If you’re not able to show up, we give all our guests multiple avenues to inform us about it ahead of time. In fact, that’s why we ask for email addresses and phone numbers. It’s so we can contact you to make sure we don’t leave you behind if you’re running late. If you book a specialized tour and just not show without informing anyone, it reveals a lot about your character and level of maturity.
Our guides are paid per booking
In order to attract high quality guides, we offer them a profit sharing agreement. When they get large groups, they make a decent fee for their time and effort. When people don’t show up, they don’t get paid.
We are professionals with bills to pay
The tour industry is a service industry. We do it for the passion, not the money. But we do have expenses to pay. Bills, taxes, rent. If people book with cash and don’t show, it’s harder to pay those. We’re not some large corporation with money to burn. We’re a small business trying to make it against the odds against much larger dominant players. Every little bit counts for little guys like us.
Don’t steal people’s time
We are also one of the only specialized tour groups that accepts single bookings. On many of our tours, if only one person signs up, we still do the tour. Most of the other tour companies don’t. There have been a few times where I have journeyed out to the meeting spot for a tour, waited and waited, and no one showed up. For me or any of my tour guides, that time could have been used for other things–like getting some work done, spending time with family, meeting with a friend. Instead, I just took the trip into Seoul (I live outside the city proper) and waited for nothing. That’s inconsiderate and rude in itself, especially if the person didn’t prepay and promised to pay in cash upon arrival. It’s also rude when other guests are there waiting for someone who never shows up. I mean, I can usually handle the inconvenience of a single no-show, but I really honestly get annoyed when our other guests have to work around someone else’s rudeness. Just this weekend, we were doing a Dark Side tour. During one of our refreshment breaks, one party just up and disappeared. Didn’t tell anybody. So we wasted twenty minutes looking for them.
If you’re not going to show, or if you don’t want to continue with a tour, do the adult thing and tell someone first.
Recently, as our popularity has grown, we’ve been having a good many no-shows. In many cases, it’s just inconvenienced the group as a whole. But in others, we have had large groups book out an entire tour, promise to pay in cash, and not show up. They not only blocked out others from signing up, but it also caused a huge financial loss for our small business. It gets even worse when we make reservations at restaurants to prepare for these large groups who don’t show, and we have to deal with the restaurant owners who also have lost business. Again, these actions do affect others. We have been flexible, but too many people have taken advantage of our lenient policies. As a result, our policies are changing.
Tours will leave on time
Our guides will wait a maximum of fifteen minutes after the designated start time of a tour. Recently, one of our guides missed her last subway train because of a late tour start from a late arriving group. I personally hate making others wait because some people can’t anticipate that traveling across the vast city of Seoul takes time. I’ve lived here over twelve years, and no matter where I go, I always plan that transport will take between one and two hours. NEVER use taxis, as they will get stuck in traffic. Buses from Songtan take two hours at least. We get a lot of latecomers from that area who were surprised at how long it takes to go from Songtan to Seoul. If a guest does miss the time but still wants to join the tour, we give contact numbers and email addresses. Feel free to join us after we’ve started. If it’s just one person who has booked that evening, I’m not going to ask any of my guides to wait. I’m giving them instructions to just go home and not wait.
Large groups can pay in cash but must leave a deposit
This is our most significant policy change. Groups of five our more need to find some way to leave a deposit if they want to pay in cash. Or just prepay. I understand that if you’re getting your friends and co-workers together for a Dark Side tour or something that it’s hard to anticipate who might drop out at the last minute. This is my recommendation, and it works. Collect money from them ahead of time.
No-show Wall of Shame
This is our most controversial policy change. I’ve talked about it a long time, and I think it’s about time we implement it. You know, the tourism and service industry lives and dies these days on the whims of reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor. Uber started the model where customers themselves can be reviewed. I recently had to battle Trip Advisor to remove a negative review from a person who DIDN’T EVEN TAKE OUR TOURS!! One of the great thing about our tours, and the guides have discussed this, is that we RARELY have assholes on our tours. Everyone is so cool! We’ve even become lifelong friends with many of our guests. So here are the VERY FEW people who have booked and didn’t show up without informing anyone. This list will be continually updated.
|Date||Name||Tour||# Spaces||Cost (W)||Comments|
|5-5-2017||Bairbre Dunne Ward||Dark Side||3||120,000||Signed up with cash payment. Didn’t show. Guests waited 20 minutes. Didn’t respond to any emails after.|
|12-11-2016||Creede Williams||Chicken||5||380,000||Set up a special tour by request. Didn’t show or reply to emails.|
|10-21-2016||Hakeem||Dark Side||2||90,000||No show. No payment.|
|10-16-2016||Bhargav Bharadwaj||BBQ||7||629,000||No show. No reply to email. No payment.|
|9-30-2016||Toree Cardinali||Dark Side||1||40,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|
|9-17-2016||Antonio Chiaravalloti||Dark Side||1||40,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|
|9-17-2016||Kristen Cooper||Dark Side||2||80,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|
|8-12-2016||Akash||Dark Side||2||80,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|
|6-9-2016||Caroline Geiger||BBQ||1||99,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|
|6-5-2016||Joseph Lillie||Dark Side||1||40,000||No show. Guests waited. No payment.|