Rotary Club Midtown – Family Excursion to Thailand

Background Information

After the success of the Wayanad trip, RCP (Mid-Town) wanted to take their first overseas tour and build on the camaraderie that was developed during the previous group. Many of them were travelling overseas for the first time and a few did not even have passports. After several rounds of internal discussions, Vikram and Tarika suggested Krabi & Phuket in Thailand as potential destinations. The primary focus of this trip was to get an authentic Thai experience, which would include its cuisine, traditional rejuvenating massages, shopping, and colourful nightlife. Krabi and Phuket would provide exactly that, in addition to their lush green countryside and water-based adventurous activities. Moreover, as many Rotarians had already visited Bangkok and Pattaya in the past, these two locations seemed ideal.

Chetak’s Value Addition

Vikram and Tarika’s previous experience at handling overseas groups was indeed very handy. The Chetak team had to assist in getting the passports for various Rotarians, making group flight bookings, keeping in mind baggage allowance, transit connections, cancellation conditions and finally issuing 38 tickets! Further, although visa on arrival was an option, Team Chetak not only saved a large amount of money but also valuable time by processing the visas beforehand in India.

In line with Chetak’s philosophy, the directors did a virtual recce for each of the location/resorts. This entailed that we did considerable prior research for choosing the most suitable hotels/resorts. Factors such as proximity to vegetarian restaurants, nearby beaches, water-based adventure activities were considered while selecting these. Moreover, the most important parameter was to accommodate this package within a tight budget.

For sightseeing, we had to keep in mind the expectations of all families and cater to individual needs of people who had earlier been to some of these destinations. The challenge was to suggest new places/excursions that would interest all and yet would add value to the trip. This is where Chetak team’s research and invaluable experience contributed immensely. Moreover, team Chetak even paid attention to details such as number and size of baggage that could be accommodated in the chartered bus. On finalizing all the minutest aspects of the trip, the directors initiated discussions with various international and local suppliers to close the deal.

Choice of airline

For any tour, one of the first and foremost considerations is the pricing of the air tickets. Quite naturally, most people tend to choose the cheapest airline available. It was the same for the RCP (Mid-Town) group tour to Thailand. Most members wanted to travel by Air Asia (AA) as it was the cheapest flight available. But thanks to years of experience in the field and having already organized multiple tours before, Vikram suggested Thai Airways (TG) even though the cost involved was marginally higher than that of AA. There were many valid reasons to choose TG over AA for this particular group tour.

While TG was a regular carrier offering full services, AA was a low cost carrier with limited add-on services. In case of delay, TG had several connecting flights, unlike AA, therefore, taking an alternative flight was much easier. In addition, AA flew to a secondary airport whereas TG connected from the main airport. Lastly, TG had a baggage allowance of

30 kilos per person and knowing that this was a family tour, the chances of having extra baggage after the shopping sessions were very high. On the other hand for AA you had to purchase your baggage allowance separately.

Health issues and passport blues

While driving from Krabi to Phuket by coach, Mr. Paul, a senior Rotarian (80+ years) suddenly fell very sick. He started shivering with fever and complaining about uneasiness. There was no time to lose. Within minutes, coordinating with his local contact in Phuket, Vikram arranged a vehicle to send Mr. Paul, accompanied by three Rotarians, to the nearest hospital. Mr. Paul spent several hours under observation, after which he was discharged and brought back to the hotel late that night. After a daylong convalescence, Mr. Paul, to the entire group’s relief, was finally declared fit to travel from Phuket the following day. Throughout this ordeal, Vikram lead from the front and was in constant touch with those accompanying Mr. Paul to update the rest of the group at regular intervals.

The following day, to our utter shock, Mr. Paul discovered that he had forgotten his passport in the room locker at Krabi. This came like a bolt from the blue! Barely had we come out from the health trauma that another daunting challenge was thrown at us. No passport, no travel! Fortunately it was one day before our return to India.

Vikram, once again, swung into action, called the hotel and made sure they located the misplaced passport. A taxi was arranged with a hotel representative to urgently deliver the passport in Phuket (3 hours away). Had Vikram not taken this immediate action, Mr. Paul would have been unable to travel. The entire group’s mood and morale would have been badly affected. Thus, a timely and proactive action, based on Vikram’s experience and contacts saved the day, both on the health and travel fronts!