Photo: The Smiling Albino sales team, Bangkok.

Like many industries, the travel and tour business is a lot like an iceberg – what you see is only a small fraction of the whole package. From a client’s point of view, most any service they pay for – be it getting a package from FedEx, sending a text on their phone, or paddling a sea kayak into a limestone cave – is just one small part of a complex system that took a ton of planning and logistics to provide. That got us thinking – wouldn’t it be interesting to provide some insight into what exactly goes into a Smiling Albino trip?

In a four-part series, we’re going to take a look at the who, what, and how of crafting an Asian adventure, from the first contact email to the bittersweet hugs at the end.

Part IV: Wrapping up

Saying so long to a group that you’ve bonded with is always a bummer, no matter if it’s been a few hours or a few days. But we never like to leave things at goodbye, indeed, what comes after a trip is almost as important as what happens on the trip.

“Making sure the clients are happy with their trip actually starts while they’re on the trip,” says Kae Urai, Smiling Albino’s Operations Manager. “We are in constant contact with guides and hotels during the trip. We also make sure the clients know that the entire team is at their disposal if they need assistance. When the trip is over, we send the clients an online survey, and talk with the guides and driver to see what they thought were the highlights and where things could be elevated. That’s how we make incremental improvements each time.” 

This can include a multitude of things – good hotels gone off their game or restaurants that have changed their operating hours, beaches that have become too crowded, itineraries that are too rushed (or not rushed enough), etc. A trip log is created for each trip and shared with all staff members so that everyone is aware of it.

But while defining a ‘successful’ trip can vary from person to person, Kae says it’s based on several standard metrics. “Happy clients usually give good feedback, book multiple trips, or tell their friends to try us on their next trip. Other hallmarks of a generally successful trip are happy stakeholders – guides, drivers, and office staff. When you start to combine those things you can get a pretty good indication of how a trip went off.”

And of course we like to stay in touch with our clients long after the trip is done. The Smiling Albino newsletter goes out bi-monthly, and every once in awhile they might find a birthday card or postcard for no reason – just to say hi!

“One of our values is that we want our clients to feel they have been hosted by a family or friends on a Smiling Albino trip,” says Kae. “We make them feel they are special even after the trip is done. We want their friends to be jealous of their experience with us so that when their friends or colleagues ask for travel recommendations, the first name that comes to mind is Smiling Albino.”