Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

How to be a Great Traveler

I have been surprised, flattered, heartened, and, frankly, a little embarrassed by call the compliments from past guests in the comments to the posts in this blog.

I love reading positive feedback from our guests. I love even more passing on the compliments to the people who make it happen.

But then I get nervous that we won’t be able to keep whatever we are doing to inspire so many kind words.

Since the blog reached out to everyone who arranged their vacations with us since we started keeping the email addresses, I got a lot more comments than usual and got a lot more nervous than usual.

So I found myself pondering for the umpteenth time what we do to inspire all these compliments.

One thing that I have know for a long time is that the really thoughtful generous—in some cases I’m tempted to say over the top—compliments come from a fairly small percentage of our guests. Does that meant that we give much better service to some guests or that some guests are just more inclined to be generous with their praise?

Does it make sense to look at service as a one-way street? Or should we be thinking about the services that our guests give hosts.

So I decided to ask a few of our trip planners if they had favorite guests capture their response on video.

Here’s what I found:

“She planned the trip for her husbands 50th birthday.” Priscilla Jimenez

“They brought me cookie and a little cow.” Luis Cubero.

“They did not have a honeymoon and wanted to do something special for that day.” Nadya Shaw

One common thread that runs through all three is that during the planning process each of the prospective guests shared something of themselves that enabled the trip planner to do something special for them.

Of course as professionals we provide the exact same level of service to all our guests….

….and if you believe that I’ll tell you another one.

Please share your stories of how you connected with hosts in your travels.

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Comments and Replies

  • At April 06, 2010
    2:43:12 am
    Emily Le Moing said:

    Thanks for your portrait of Bill Mackenzie, whose life and work inspires me and I’m sure other almost-retirees to start thinking more about what’s really important in life. You mentioned favorite guests: I want to single out a favorite CRE travel planner! Priscilla Jimenez helped plan the first trip I took to Costa Rica several years ago and not only organized an unforgettable trip for me and my daughter and answered all my many questions patiently and promptly, but also treated us like friends: we were staying in CRE’s tent camp in Corcovado and one day at dinner someone arrived with a platter of tamales, sent to me from San Jose by Priscilla, just because I had mentioned to her that I loved tamales but had never tried the Costa Rica kind. My daughter and I shared this delicious treat with others at the table and we all toasted Priscilla for giving us yet another reason to love Costa Rica! I’ll never forget her warmth, friendliness and professionalism.

    • At April 03, 2010
      10:32:02 am
      Phil and Carolyn Auger said:

      We were very enamored with Costa Rica on our first two trips; the people, the natural resources, the whole experience. On that second trip we were introduced to the excellence of CRE. This led to three more trips with CRE and guide Jonathan Sequiera. We connected with him –he is now a good friend. Twice we were accompanied by 10 or so fellow natural resource professionals from NH. We wanted to share what we were learning/seeing with them. We still hear “Trip of a lifetime” from some of them. Many of them want to return. We will return.

      On each visit, all of the people of CRE were excellent representatives of the company, and of their country. But perhaps most importantly, they were good, solid people. We enjoyed getting to know them. They and the company never missed a beat and never let us down.

      A trip to Costa Rica helps put life in the US in perspective. The pace of life, the priorities and values. Refreshing. The country is special in many ways, and CRE makes sure that you see it as such.

      • At April 02, 2010
        9:58:50 am
        Shannon Borrego said:

        As others have pointed out, I agree that the relationship between a tour agent or guide and the guest can be mutually enriching for both when the two parties bond, or at least have a friendly relationship.
        When my family took our trip with CRE, we loved all of our guides. I remember one particular gentleman who was in charge of the horses during our stay on the Osa Peninsula. My husband is originally from Mexico and the two of them chatted in Spanish throughout the trail ride that all of us took together. That evening, after learning from my husband that I had been having trouble sleeping at night, he brought a special pot of herbal tea to help me sleep. I will always remember that thoughtful gesture.
        Another time, while on safari in Tanzania, our guide talked often of his wife and small daughter. He had a number of photos of them, but no album in which to keep the photos. He said the albums are very hard to find in Tanzania. When I returned home, I sent him an album and included a photo of all of us with him that had been taken on the safari. I got a lovely thank you note from him and felt that we had made a friend.
        When you think about it, isn’t every experience more enjoyable when you reach out to others and feel them reaching out to you? When this effort transcends language and cultural barriers, it becomes all the more rewarding.

        • At March 31, 2010
          8:10:29 pm
          Terry Burridge said:

          I don’t usually cry at the end of a vacation, but when it came time to say goodbye to Kenya Mendez, our guide in Corcovado, I did. She not only showed us the wonders of the birds and plants of the rain forest, but she treated the four members of our family as friends and went out of her way to fix whatever problems or issues that came up. I hope all is well with her and that our paths will cross again.

          • At March 30, 2010
            9:34:32 pm
            Patty said:

            So wonderful to see video of Priscilla! We were not used to using travel planners, but because of the language barrier and my concerns about traveling with our 5 year old who has special needs, we decided to find an established service. Not that it was easy for me to stop worrying! But Priscilla handled all of my concerns beautifully, before and during the trip, and upon our return we exchanged pictures of our kids. I’m pretty sure I invited her to visit us if she ever came our way – that’s how much of a host I felt she was in her home country to us.

            • At March 30, 2010
              3:51:42 pm
              Marylou Austin-Nichol said:

              My trip is still in the planning process and I cannot imagine a more thorough, patient and knowledgeable travel planner than Priscilla. I must confess that in the inital contact I felt like the process was slow but soon came to realize that a bit of patience on my part would yield a wonderful upcoming trip to Costa Rica with my granddaughter. I have made changes, had additional requests and e-mailed Priscilla alomst every day. She has been warm and seems to have everything about my trip in front of her. I am very relaxed now and feel certain that this will be a very special trip for our family. Gracias, Priscilla!

              Marylou Austin (Santa Fe, New Mexico)