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Would have been so much better with a decent tour leader

4 Jul 2016

Kathy Feeley

Tour leader Fred was rude ,arrogant, patronising and sarcastic on a daily basis, The riding pace was way too fast on the first day for many guests and we were reprimanded for stopping to take photos .The bikes were not adjusted correctly for many riders .There was only one person to lead 36 riders and one of the guests took on the responsibility of being the sweep. This was not appropriate . Fred could not cope with groups of fast and slow riders and eventually he decided to stay with the slow riders and let the fast ones go ahead. This decision was made after the group expressed their unhappiness about the first days ride . Three riders fell off in Ghent within half an hour of each other and Fred expressed his concern by saying ” How could you fall off ? I have been doing this for years and I have never fallen off! The food was very average, with vegetarians not being well catered for.(main meal salad and 3 onion rings) The chef Leroy came out and said we should not each so much as once we ran out there would be no more!! Fred’s verbal communication skills were poor with a white board with lots of confusing scribble on it used as a backup I have travelled extensively over the last 40 years and I have never met such a rude and disrespectful tour leader. Towards the end of the week his behaviour did improve but it was way too little, way too late We were very disappointed, as it could have been a great trip. We do a lot of cycling but would be reluctant to use this company again

Reply from Boat Bike Tours 27 Jul 2016

This is our first 1-star review in the history of the company. It goes without saying that we respect the opinion of our customers. We deeply regret that you did not like certain aspects of the tour. We have researched this complaint in-depth and we come to the following conclusions: • Regretfully there was no ‘click’ in the communication between you and the tour guide Fred van Leeuwen. Fred is a long serving senior guide on many of our tours. Fred is not the exclusive tour leader of this barge, but is experienced on many tours and barges. We do not know him as all being rude or sarcastic and until now we never received any remarks from a customer like this. But it is obvious that something went wrong during your tour. Fred knows that he can be quite ‘direct’ in his communication (a characteristic of the Dutch in general, sometimes this works but we Dutch have to be more careful…). Also he sometimes tries to communicate in an ‘ironical’ way. His remarks about the guests that were stuck in the tramrails (“this never happens”) was meant in a humorous ‘light’ way of communication. In this case his humor clearly did not work and if he was misunderstood, he truly apologizes for that. • We do think that you had different expectations about the size of the group while cycling. Our concept is guided cycling with the option of self-guided. Since we launched the sister ship Magnifique back in 2011, we developed and improved this concept and our guests are very happy. Maybe you expected cycling in a (very) small group. • We cycle in larger groups (around 30 people) and sometimes there are slower fellow passengers in a group. In our concept (self guiding as an option) this is not really a problem for the faster cyclists: we provide detailed descriptions and maps for each day’s tour. So: if they wish, faster cyclists can go ahead and meet the tour guide at the next meeting point. This is not a problem or a mistake, but part of our concept. Again, we think you had different expectations. • All of our guests like to take pictures during the tour. While cycling in a group we can not stop for every possible picture that every guest would like to take in any place. Also: normally this is not a problem because after a few kilometers the tour guide waits for the group to recollect. • Just before arriving in the city of Ghent, Fred explained the dangers of the tram rails and how you can handle them in a safe way to avoid falling. Regretfully, three guests fell of their bikes because they got stuck in the tram rails. Fred immediately took care of the guests and talked with them. Everything was all right and the cycling could continue. His remark “this never happens” was meant in an ironical way after the initial shock of the guests disappeared. • We do not recognize your remark about the setting of the bikes. This is always done on the first cycling day. And normally we keep adjusting during the week on request. This was also done in this particular week. • Our chef Leroy has discussed the diet requirements with you personally. His impression was that you were both happy with the meals and menus, especially because he invited you both to give him feedback in order to improve. The ‘three onion rings’ were of course not the replacement of the meat, but just a garnish… In our direct communication per e-mail about your complaint you confirmed that you did like the tour, the ship, the crew, and the cycling routes and also the meals on board. You also confirmed in your e-mail to that the communication with and the quality of the tour guide is the reason that you and Mrs. Collins (you shared a cabin with her) decided to write 2 separate 1 star reviews. We value your feedback and take it very seriously. Normally we only have 5-star (and sometimes a 4 star) reviews on the tours of Magnifique II. On this particular tour date we received 6 questionnaires from other guests; the tour guide Fred received an average score of 9.8 (out of 10) and the chef / meals scored a 9.3 average. Also on other tours, Fred receives similar high ratings in reviews through Trustpilot.

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