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Old 30th October 2017, 14:07   #31
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by smartcat View Post
I have some feedback for HVK:

1) Talk to the customer on phone only twice -> once the plan has been purchased and once after the customer reaches home (to gather feedback)

2) Hire a couple of employees with customer service background. Let them handle all interactions (phone, gmail and whatsapp) with the customers. You do the planning, but communication with customers should be handled by the employees.

3) Rs.951 fee is way too low, especially when all customers are spending (fuel, tolls, hotel, food, shopping) atleast Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 on the vacation. The hike in fees should take care of salaries of your new team.


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Originally Posted by Turbanator View Post
Travelling sites have such a great potential and if done correctly can be a major revenue earner, perhaps he needs to invest in IT and try to make most of the things online including real-time updates and bookings online.

I have traveled with HVK extensively. I have had the good fortune to travel with him on many occasions and have blogged some travelogues on our trips. Whenever he takes me on a trip I was always given the navigators seat. I also have had some trips with him to Nepal, NE, etc..which for pure lack of time I could not write about.

I know HVK probably more due to these travels. He entirely depends on his knowledge and a group of known volunteers to do this support. And for that reason I agree to smartcat and turbanators views completely.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:14   #32
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Good that OP completed his ride safe and sound. He has purchased the service and is bound to get it, in a very professional manner. No one had asked for a discount to get a shoddy response, it is the amount fixed by them and this is what is expected - not to do it even on public interest/volunteerism.

Have seen only good feedback online and when there is one or two negative feedback, then that person would be bashed and trolled by their group members. Which is not required!!

It is like, I buy a iPhone and if it is not working - I sue Apple/post negative feedback online.
No point in bashing me for getting it in a sale (for lesser price), coming from Android and not knowing the nuances to use iOS, use it as a phone and phone only et al.

It is all about experiences and each and every human being has their fair share to voice opinions, be it good/bad.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:26   #33
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

  • I know him well – Yes!
  • I have used his services – No!
  • I will use his services in future – May be Not! (my needs are different and so is the way with my stopovers)
  • I have suggested others to use his services – Yes!
  • I will suggest others to use his services after reading negative reviews – Yes & no (based on who you are and what your expectations are)
I will neither talk for or against this service but lay out certain things that should clear the air because I have known how things work and on the other hand I have also known how certain times many may not get the best out of this while they travel as they travel with certain expectations.

Here’s why:

A first timer, availing these services will have no clue on how it runs and who handles it. In simple words, it’s a collaborative platform where inputs are derived out of each one’s travel experiences, hotels are approached either locally by someone or by phone and a business case for them is projected & trust established. With this, the hotel room(s) gets “blocked” without any payment while a service subscriber is traveling. In fact, my own folks (and me) have scouted Hotels in unknown territories, chanced upon newer hotels and then passed this information to the CHD (Central Hotel Desk) who in turn got in touch with them and made these places into their list of Hotels.

The folks behind the whole show who manage the booking are again a set of people (Students, Men, Working women and housewives included) who are like anyone of us who do this out of passion or the intent to help travelers in their free time. They are neither paid nor employed as I know a close friend who was associated with this and had to drop out only because his own occupation/business started expanding and him not getting any more free time to contribute to this. Most of the times whenever I have met this friend in Bangalore over a meal, he would mostly be on that WA group passing info to travelers or on a conference call. So yes, when its holiday season (Oct, April-May) or Himalayan season (Aug-Sept-Oct), things indeed get hyper hectic on that group due to too many people driving from various part of the country to various locations.

That’s about the service in short; which is unlike a typical customer care or service delivery operating with any contractual obligations or minimal service level agreements with the subscriber.

Let us look at the issues plaguing this whole “service”:
  • What is the real problem ? Most of the first timers who avail this service have no clue about the operating model at all

  • What is an even bigger (and real problem) ? Most of the subscribers (and first timers) end up getting treated this way – No answers or rude answers (mostly peak seasons)

  • What could mitigate this ?
Option 1: Either the subscriber is educated beforehand that not all interactions will be professional and polite but you will still get the necessary help as required because they are not a portal

Option 2: HVK and his Team get onto a full Service Provider-Client Mode and deliver like another other travel portal
For what I know, Option 2 is not easy to manage because the system itself is not a full-fledged service offering, it is all collaboration and information sharing after information exchange.
Option 1 even if its looks stupid can’t be a reality that you can expect someone to mail or call to say that your calls will not be acknowledged or mails not responded, so have patience.

Those who have met him couple of times will easily recollect how HVK is and the way he talks when he meets you in person and the way he is online. So I know what to expect when (and if) I availed his service.

Travelers plan and travelers expect when they avail a service when they pay. PERIOD! I really don’t think they will bother what is happening behind the scenes. Hence it is very important to set the expectations right from the very first interaction. I am OK to get a rude response and so will many others be but I will either have a smile and expect him to be in bad mood and move on or respond back too as I know him.

So that creates an avenue to Option 3 : Say it nicely and problem solved, Have alternate people/channel to talk when you get busy.

Many others (rather a majority) will not and instantly feel that the treatment was bad and it is exactly what has happened here with arjithin. He may have never had sky high expectations but he certainly wasn’t in a state to go through such responses. He has bothered to share his experience (however negative it may be) here although there are many subscribers who have had a very good experience with these services for similar trips.

I have known many friends who hailed this services while I have also heard from folks who did not.

Last edited by paragsachania : 30th October 2017 at 14:31.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:34   #34
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

I read about some of these sour experiences on the HVK forum (FB) as well. I, for one, feel there is not a big market for such services. It is too much of an overhead for very little money. As most of the information is now freely available over the net, you can never be under-prepared if you are willing to put a few hours into it.

Booking hotels etc is also a breeze thanks to the dozens of online portals. And if you are travelling in off season, it's best to drop and check the rates rather than booking in advance.

I would agree with smartcat's suggestion to hike this service's fee, expand the team and provide a good experience for the subscribers IF Chief wants to continue offering this guidance/help as a paid service.

Last edited by Dry Ice : 30th October 2017 at 14:38.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:35   #35
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

I used HVK service for my Ladakh trip three years back, and I must say it was useful. For most part of the trip, I was alone and having the support of the HVK team did help a lot. Most of the hotels were good and reasonably priced too, and at one place where it was bad (the stopover was not part of the original plan and hotel was really shady), HVK was very forthcoming to accept my opinion and promised that the hotel will be taken off the network.
But I did have my sore moments with him though. While it's known that for HVK this is a voluntary service, and we all appreciate him for that, he can be shockingly rude at times. Initially, it came as a shock. My companion (who was there for a part of the trip) took offence and refused to communicate with HVK team. In fact, it even caused friction between us. But since I realised the usefulness of having an expert guiding us through the unknown territory, I decided to put up with it (it wasn't very diificult, to be frank). There were also moments when he came across as very friendly and helpful. According to me, advantages of linking with HVK far outweighs the rudeness that one has to put with. I don't think there's any other who'll render this kind of service voluntarily.
Having said that, I don't believe people have to be rude and insulting to those who are not as well informed as them just because they happen to be experts. For that reason alone, I would say HVK is very good, but not great.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:36   #36
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by paragsachania View Post
The folks behind the whole show who manage the booking are again a set of people (Students, Men, Working women and housewives included) who are like anyone of us who do this out of passion or the intent to help travelers in their free time.
If nobody is paid, and the service at the backend is voluntary - then what is the customer charged for?

Looks like the issue with the business model is that the service provided to the end customers is a paid service (even though the fees is nominal) and he builds up his expectations of what is expected in return wheras the backend services are rendered by volunteers, who have no obligations to delight the costumer.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:42   #37
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

I suspect this service offering will be withdrawn shortly, along with some commentary on unworthy and ungrateful customers ruining it for the rest

Last edited by greenhorn : 30th October 2017 at 14:44.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:43   #38
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
If nobody is paid, and the service at the backend is voluntary - then what is the customer charged for?
For whatever I can think of:
  • Phone calls & conference calls
  • Time and effort to prepare a plan
  • Frequent connections established with hotels to take them into confidence for business case (One may have to travel regularly to do this too)
  • Developing and maintaining the Routing App and the Store sites
  • Other logistics
....and there could be many more that I won't know

Don't think of the subscriber base as anything big in terms of number making huge profits but it is not small either that each one gets a 1:1 assigned.
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Old 30th October 2017, 14:46   #39
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
I responded asking if they expecting us to use this tip next day morning OR they sent it to us by mistake while somebody else might be waiting for this tip.
ALL HELL broke loose
I think he does has a behavioral issue more like lose temperament which can definitely affect persons who don't know him long enough or as a customer. I have to admit, even I do have such an issue and have occasionally created problems for self and the company I work for. So I try to create a distance between self and customers whom I don't know long enough or are too demanding, not that they are wrong or right.

I have not chatted or met him since long now and cannot comment on his experience but it's important for him to be polite & professional in all communications. if his business is not working to a certain set of customers, perhaps he should simply regret them politely. There will be enough customers who can even pay more for such services as long as he is able to clearly demonstrate the advantages of his product/ services.


Quote:
On the hotel rates front, whenever we checked into hotels, if we see cars with _specific_ stickers, we used to enquire about rates if we book thru certain person. We always found that those rates were 10-15% higher.
I will disagree here a bit, most of the Hotels, Airlines give commission to Agents - IATA or recognized from their own margins and not by adding to the costs to customers. Otherwise, all travel sites would have closed a long back as Hotels would have sold cheaper directly. However, this may be different for small hotels where prices can be negotiated better with direct contact. And again, it's possible that someone with better-negotiating skills can get lower rates than perhaps a regular guy like me. But Again, being a regular customer HVK should negotiate best possible rates for that season and as suggested previously give options of booking directly with same or any other hotels vicinity.

Quote:
I suspect this service offering will be withdrawn shortly, along with some commentary on unworthy and ungrateful customers ruining it for the rest
Again, this will be a temperamental decision. He should better structure his setup in a way that technology takes the lead and route major customer interactions via support staff. Bringing down such a product won't be good considering all the hard work & the available information.

Last edited by Turbanator : 30th October 2017 at 14:52.
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Old 30th October 2017, 15:23   #40
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

My experience is exactly opposite to what is being discussed here. Was on a bike trip to Leh last year with my wife and friends and complete trip was absolutely wonderful because of HVK and CHD.
HVK had two lengthy conference calls with us and guided us on the risks, mitigation plans, updates etc.

CHD was in touch with us for the entire duration of trip and guided us in some critical times. For example, when riots broke in Srinagar, we were called by CHD guided to take a detour from Jammu.

CHD was very flexible through entire trip and accomodated our requests for change of hotels.

Overall experience was very good and professional. All views are from my personal experience.
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Old 30th October 2017, 15:55   #41
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

My experience was a very similar rude replies in FB when I asked him directly in HVK forum about the merchandise I purchased that didn't reach me on time or got a shipping update either. I did know that they use Indian Postal service and might be slow, was patient enough for sometime and tried contacting the customer care mail ID which I never received any response from. So, tagged him on the FB post directly asking him about the update and hell broke loose.

P.S. The shipment of T-Shirt reached after a week post the FB war and I used it to wipe my car. I was extremely frustrated that time and never bothered to turn back ever again. On another note, I've also heard that he's extremely polite in person
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Old 30th October 2017, 16:27   #42
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Myself had an oppurtunity to use HVK services in June 2016 for my Kanyakumari to Kashmir trip. It was a very pleasant experience with the services offered by HVK and CHD. They went out of the way when one of my friend has uneasiness in Turtuk and we have to cancel the hotel booking last moment and re-book at Huntur. The communication with team and HVK as smooth throughout the trip.
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Old 30th October 2017, 17:36   #43
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

I utilized the services of the HVK first during my Leh ride and I have never looked back after that. For me, personally it was always a pleasurable trip whenever I had his services be it to Leh or a 2 day to Ooty with family. The route provided was perfect with excellent services from CHD for the stopovers. Many a times, when we had overshot the turns, a new route was handy with minimum possible deviations from the original stuff and we always were herded back to the main route within no time. And most of times, the night halt were with secure parking.
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Old 30th October 2017, 17:46   #44
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Sorry to hear about your experience, arjithin.

I have taken his service a couple of times, first time for Uttrakhand trip (7618 Kms) and second time for Himachal trip(8597 Kms). Both the times, we didn't have any issues with him. In fact, during my first trip the interaction was only via email and Whts app, I never spoke to him on phone during the trip. While crossing Mumbai I met him for few minutes though.

For the Himachal drive, I had couple of long calls before the drive and also spoke to him on phone during the drive as we made some changes to the schedule. And during the drive, he was not happy with me as I was not using the Routo app as a full-fledged guidance. But still in places around Himachal and Northern states we were totally dependent on Routo as we didn't want to get lost or get stuck in any narrow/very bad/remote roads. (RoutO was brand new then and we were one of the first to try it on ground)

During both the trips, we didn't have any issues with his hotel bookings as well. The price was always within my budget and he was flexible with the bookings too(Eg: Baroda - Jaipur stretch was extended till Karnal, a pre booked 3 day stay in Chail was postponed by a day at the last minute without any extra charges, Shirdi - Hubli got extended till Salem etc.)

In fact, I had given positive feedback about HVK CHD to arjithin as well. But unfortunately his experience was not a pleasant one. Going forward, I will think twice before suggesting him to others.

I hope HVK takes some corrective actions to avoid such kind of issues in future.

Regarding the Seoni route, when I checked with HVK, he told me that Seoni route will help to bypass Nagpur city traffic during peak hours as the hotel that he had booked for us was on the exit of Nagpur towards Hyderabad. So, we continued on the Seoni route. But yes, that forest route was not great then (April, 2017) to drive with bad roads and construction work going on. I am not sure, how much time it would have taken for us to cross Nagpur during peak hours if we had taken the Chhindwara route.

Last edited by arun_josie : 30th October 2017 at 17:49.
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Old 30th October 2017, 18:57   #45
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Very sad to hear your experience @arijithn

I can only comment based on my experience with HVK and here it is in short.

In year 2015 (i think) when Club12 program was launched, I became part of it. I used the CHD service only once. That too to book a hotel in my own district place as i never used any hotels till then in my own area. The hotel allotted to me was in posh locality but was undergoing renovation. I did not like it although it was in budget for the service it offered. I did not know what to expect and what not but with that experience I never went back for hotels until next time.

Second was when i took an extensive trip in MH and asked for help on email for route guidance. I wrote 3 weeks in advance - no response. Just 3 days before the trip, i get detailed instructions on the route and do's and don'ts. Just in time - perfect. Super happy with help.

Third was by far the most sought after - I subscribed to Ladakh 951 along with group that included 5 other cars.
  • We did have 2 hour long conference call prior to trip.
  • Extremely responsive throughout the trip to ladakh
  • All rooms were booked by him for a group of 6 cars. We liked almost all barring two. Some were extraordinarily best in the trip and cost was super cheap by any standards.
  • Route guidance was exemplary
  • When we did not have the internet connectivity, we continued getting guidance over SMS.
  • During trip or after trip - we did not need any phone calls whatsoever.
  • Not even once we had any abrupt or non-respecting messages even when our communications involved saying NO to already booked accommodation as we did not like it. We got alternates arranged in less than 15 mins.
I think for the entire trip - we did not have any hiccups. Thanks to his support, numerous travel logs we read and prepared through and an amazing bunch of like minded folks on the trip.

Neither HVK knew me in person nor I ever had/ have any other tie-up with him whatsoever. And hence considering that, I would not hesitate to state that his services are/were above the cost he charged to us. (only Rs 951 for 5 cars, sixth car went Spiti and had separate charge.)

Coming to your experience @arijithn, I think it's one of few examples where things did not go well. I wish HVK continues to help with whatever means and cost that is appropriate for such travels and a proper business model, support is established to help folks like us.

Last edited by abirnale : 30th October 2017 at 19:01.
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