Greetings from Thailand!
Last week we asked the community to share their least favourite aspect of group travel, and we received some fascinating feedback.
It may sound strange to say it, but I really enjoyed sitting down and going through your answers. Not enjoy as in taking pleasure in your pain, but more like the feeling of connection that comes from shared experience. As a veteran of more group trips than I can count, every single answer resonated with me, sometimes painfully so.
The answers largely could be put in one of two categories - logistical challenges and social challenges. Logistically speaking, people generally don't like things like early mornings, lack of free time to explore, and group tour hotels and restaurants - and I could not agree more! We already design our trips taking these things into consideration and will continue to do so.
On the social dynamic side of things, the answers were once again fascinating, but also definitely more challenging. How do you stop a bad apple in a group from negatively impacting the experience of others? How do you balance different interests in the group so the experience makes everyone happy?
You know, someone once asked me if I could guarantee a certain level of behaviour amongst the people on our trips - kind of like a no obnoxious people guarantee. After giving it quite a bit of thought, I've come to basically this position.
There's a faster draconian, rules-and-penalties way to do it, and there's a slower, building around values and shared experiences way to do it. The more a group of travellers feels like a group of friends, the fewer group dynamic problems will arise; and those that do will be easier to work out and in all likelihood disappear faster.
As with most things in life, the ideal is a balance between the two - and that's the approach we're taking here. We'll use your responses to create a general 'Code of Conduct' which lays out what our members hold as important - such as showing up on time for the bus so people aren't waiting for you - and make sure all of our members are aligned before we travel together.
It's less about rules and penalties than a 'this is how we like do things here' and I suspect just by reminding people that these are the things we value when we travel together will likely nudge behaviour in the right direction.
This is at the essence of our vision to create a community of travellers - a broad group of friends with shared values around travel. Your feedback was and is tremendously valuable as we continue to build this community - thank you!