As always, my first passengers arrived at the yard an hour early so they were sent to wait in the office while I had my all important cup of coffee! Once the caffeine had hit I was ready to face my audience! So once the luggage was loaded and we were all on board I got on the microphone and introduced myself. I had a very cheery response from them all and I was thinking I was in for a good few days with them. We set off for our first stop of the day in Winchester.
Winchester is a lovely city to spend a couple of hours, but even so I had people asking, "why are we stopping here? I want to go to Southampton." Never mind that it was printed in the itinerary when they booked on the holiday, I'm sure half of these people can't read!
So from there we moved on to Southampton for 3hrs free time, and I was getting very similar questions. "Why are we here for so long?" Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with these people! I mean, I know Southampton is a funny place and not the most desirable but it's what they've booked and paid for! Give me a break! Having said that, the majority thoroughly enjoyed their day and it would have been an easy one for me had it not been for the ear bending!
While I was in position waiting to pick up to transfer everyone to the hotel, I had a phone call from my office to say that 2 ladies have checked into the hotel already and not to wait for them. Our hotel is just outside of Fareham, about 30mins away in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, so that wouldn't have been a cheap taxi! Anyhow, once I had a full compliment we set off for the hotel.
When we arrived at the hotel the duty manager came on board to welcome us while the porters dealt with the luggage. The first trolley was nearly loaded when another 'suit' came rushing out saying, "no, no, they need stickers on first!" So the boys unloaded the trolley to put stickers on with room numbers, and started to load again. Meanwhile, the duty manager had invited everyone off the coach to collect their room keys from him on their way into the hotel, to find he had the wrong room keys! Now there was a queue of my passengers at the reception. Once they had their room keys they were stopped by the restaurant manager who wanted to take a pre-order for this evenings dinner, so everyone was queuing again, and the boys with the stickers weren't doing much better! What an absolute shambles! Couldn't organise..........!
I recognised the duty manager and so once everyone was safely sent off to their rooms, I asked him where I knew him from. He had been transferred from the sister hotel in Bristol which I have stayed in and I remember it being equally shambolic there! I was starting to dread dinner when he told me the restaurant manager had also moved to this hotel with him, and I should think he was dreading the next two days now I had reminded him of who I was! Don't get me wrong, the rooms are of a very high standard with the majority of my people having four poster beds! The staff are over the top helpful and the food is good, when it comes! They just have no idea of how to efficiently manage a large group of people. I can see the next two nights being hard work!
I parked the coach and went to collect my key to be told I hadn't been booked in and they were trying to find me a room. Here we go, the trouble has started! Eventually, I was given a key. I have a disabled room with the biggest bed I have ever seen and a wet room with a chair so I can sit and rest in the shower!
Once I was settled in my room I got in touch with the ladies who had arrived at the hotel early. One of them had not been feeling well and wanted to arrive there quite quickly, but she is ok now and at least she had the thoughtfulness to get in touch with my office to let me know the situation.
We went for dinner and as expected, service was very slow although the food which was delivered was good. After dinner the restaurant manager asked me how I thought things had gone. I said the food was good but I wasn't going to mention the speed of service because no one had complained about it to me and we only had one more evening meal here, but he asked, so I told him! Hopefully, they may be a bit quicker tomorrow.
I'm now going to bed. Sleep well everyone!x