Over our next two blog posts we will show how a private London tour is arranged from beginning to end. Here, in part one, Your London Tours chief tour administrator Frank Martins explains the process from initial enquiry to finalised tour booking.
An enquiry for a private London tour comes in via the website booking page. It could originate from anywhere around the globe. We try to respond as quickly as possible during normal daytime hours including weekends, but obviously we have to take into account differences in world time zones.
A booking enquiry is dealt with on a one-to-one basis via e-mail only. It is a direct booking service between the customer and us. There are no third parties involved unless a customer has specifically requested a travel agent to act on their behalf.
The first thing we check is the date as all our tours are subject to availability. Is there a guide available? Is it a public holiday in the UK? Are the attractions open on the date requested, and if so, at what time? If we cannot provide a guide or have any other issue with the date requested by the customer, we at Your London Tours will provide details of another operator who may be able to help. This is a commitment we believe no other operator makes.
The main information provided by the customer is taken as read. That is, name, number of persons, and place of residence to be picked up from. Then we ask for the ages of any children. Why do we do this? It is to ensure several things: 1) That the correct family tickets are bought. 2) That the vehicle has the right seating. 3) That the guide can conduct the tour appropriately. None of this personal information is collected or stored by us for any reason other than the direct booking of the tour.
In most instances, tickets for attractions can be paid for at the gate on the day. However, for some attractions it may be necessary for us to book standard tickets in advance. The customer is always notified before payment if this is the case.
Although our tours are based on a set itinerary, there is a level of inbuilt flexibility, and we try as much as possible to hone the tour close to any specific customer requests.
When the customer is happy with the tour details, we send a request for payment. It is our company policy that only full advance payment of the total cost of the tour will guarantee it will go ahead. With the payment request we also send links to our terms & conditions and cancellation policy.
The payment is made by secure PayPal transaction. We do not collect or store customer financial information, credit card or debit card details for any reason other than the direct booking of the tour. Payments can take up to 48 hours to process. This is to allow us to make all the necessary security checks for transactions.
On accepting payment, we e-mail the customer a receipt which outlines the tour details and confirms the booking. The same information is sent to the guide. What happens next? Well, see the second instalment of this blog post: “A Private London Tour: Part 2: The Guide.”