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Old 30th October 2017, 19:41   #46
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

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Originally Posted by FORTified View Post
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.
We got better rates by directly walking in, at Amritsar, Srinagar, Leh and Turtuk [here we got accommodation at almost 40% of what others booked thru service provider]
And we didn't bothered to check at other places.

If anybody is interested, I have full transcript of the WhatsApp exported and saved in PDF, and don't mind sharing it too.
While I understand your frustration for your own reasons, I would like to mention the following.
  • Terms & Conditions for a typical plan from HVK Store can be read from NE 1251 page - http://www.hivayking.in/store/home/1...east-1251.html
  • As you might have noticed in the above link, it is very clear on what the beneficiary (I won't even term him/her as customer) is expected to do - Inform the route plan clearly and it should be vetted by CHD. This is to ensure a number of things:
    1. CHD is aware of the route and can support.
    2. CHD has tie-ups with motels on that route.
    3. The route is considered as in general safe as the travelling crew would consist of ladies, children.
    4. The route is fast enough in order for the crew to reach the destination on time.
    5. To ensure that no scheduling is done beyond 09:30PM, beyond which CHD volunteers themselves need to take rest.
  • There are so many roads which are unsafe to travel beyond that time - lot of incidents reported in places like Bihar, MP etc including kidnapping, threatening for money etc.
  • Still, they support teams late in the night - but purely based on their availability. We reached a hotel in Chittorgarh 3 minutes short of 11PM and we got an amazing spread of dinner.
  • We don't need to pre-book the hotels in advance, nor waste time. All we need to do is to inform the CHD about the plan, get it approved and stick to the schedule and inform any change of plans on the go and check with CHD if hotels are available in any other destination in case we can't make it on time. This had happened to us when we targeted Amritsar in one go from Chittorgarh and we were caught in heavy rain with sandstorm on Rajasthan deserts - we got slowed down considerably and we communicated the decision to halt at Hanumangarh - CHD gave us a palace to stay (literally!) - we won't forget the wonderful food and stay. It stays as one of the highlights of our trip.
  • On our way back in Kargil, we got a wonderful room to stay amidst all the chaos of the town and while checking out we figured out that a couple who were staying in a similar room beside us is paying Rs. 1000 extra - purely for the stay alone - I stood beside them seeing the bill. I enquired to the cashier and reply he gave was - "HVK people get discounts".
  • There are stories galore from places like India's North most village about the help offered to HVK crowd. The one and only one resort there offered a team to stay for free since the road got closed because of flash flood for days together. We were in trouble when our Safari broke its oil filter and few of us had to go back to Leh to fetch new ones. We were happy to stay there and the owner told us they wont charge including the first day. When we asked him the reason, he told us "HVK's people are our people. We wont charge you when you are going through trouble. Finally we gave him a little extra added to a day's charge and had to insist him to take it. He is in my Facebook friend list and we are in touch once in a while.

HVK meets are conducted every year and we had made it to one of them and he used to update us all the stories including some "customer" stories and how he had to deal with most of them spending his time and effort. He can certainly tone down his words - but I will leave it to him - it is his prerogative. I hope he continues to serve the community around for a long time and be blessed with a long wonderful life. Yours might be a rare case or even that one might need to put in a lot of effort to search for a hotel to walk in after a tiring day's road trip. But in many cases, it is not. Period.

Last edited by vinodvayyat : 30th October 2017 at 19:45.
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Old 30th October 2017, 20:28   #47
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I am sorry about what the OP went through, but HVK is a gentleman and i stand by him. Every person has their quirk, and HVK is no different.

I have labelled him as the brilliant mad professor of Indian highways. Helps to deal with him like such.

Afaik, he has no intention to vastly commercialise his service, he just intends to barely cover his mobile or data costs. Anyone else would have converted this into a venture, gotten funding, built an app, and sold it to some travel agency like thomas cook and called it a day.

I love the guy.

Disclaimer : my experience with him goes back more than a decade.

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Old 30th October 2017, 22:37   #48
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

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Originally Posted by vinodvayyat View Post
It was relevant to you as per the quote below.





Imagine how such a person will respond if he is doing all this with no profits in mind - he has to go through 100s of such mails, messages just like you and me read 100s of Emails every day morning and is supposed to respond to all of them. That is how he has planned to run his business considering the amount of resources he has - purely voluntary. It is his wish and that of the people who support him on how to provide the service - if one doesn't understand this, better not be part of it. No one loses out except you and the prospective hoteliers (which we don't care). So it will be good to spend some time to understand things before we resort to give negative comments on something.

Most of us don't even spend an hour of the day in helping others and then we go and rant about those who spends his days and nights on this without understanding a thing.
No profits you say?/"Support"...well, as he himself admits its no charity that he's doing.The support you talk of is a fee that is being paid for the services availed(which may or may not be enough to make profits).But a service which is "sold" nonetheless to a customer.Although I have never availed of his services, the replies sure do reek of disinterest and I daresay could be more humane.

Pricing is seller's prerogative, but I certainly see no harm if a person follows up as instructed( unless of course the scheme of events leading up to the itinerary planning are inaccurately described). When a customer signs up for the advertised services, the least that can be expected are cogent replies without the need to work hard on getting through the barrage of sarcastic comments to the seller at the other end.

There may be a lot of people who've had positive experiences and good for them. However, from what is posted n the screenshots, let not try to put down someone who has been less fortunate by virtue of individual good experiences in the garb of wrong expectations, support, not-for-profit, volunteering etc.etc.

Last edited by octane1002 : 30th October 2017 at 22:41.
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Old 30th October 2017, 23:19   #49
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

I dont know how my post will help anyone as it's 2 years old, but let me jot it down here for posterity's sake.

First time:

I've taken HVK's help in 2012 when I drove long distance (BLR-Pune) for the first time. He emailed me the route details.

I was stunned at the attention to detail and the microscopic detail he had gone into. Was thoroughly impressed. Hardly spoke to him though. Just a few FB messages and one email I guess.

Second time:

Wanted to drive to Pondicherry from Bangalore and sent him an email at 12:16 am. Had a reply in my inbox at 9:47 am. No chit chat, no How are you? How are your neighbours? Did you have your lunch/dinner/whatever? Just a simple, to the point reply.

I'm not saying it like it's a bad thing, but I'm appreciating how so much can be communicated politely in a few lines.


Third time:


The BIG ONE! BLR to Delhi! I emailed him 23rd September 12:41pm. I had a reply at 1:13 pm. With a full Excel sheet detailing the entire journey and giving me multiple options with respect to the route.

I replied with a few doubts at 1:26 pm and he replied at 11:05 pm.

That was that. I did the entire drive with the help of his Excel sheet.

Absolutely no issues.

On the return journey, we got stuck in a big jam entering Bombay. Nothing he could do but he explained why the jam had happened and told me it would clear and to be patient.

Also, one thing to note: Most of the details of the petrol pump locations, ATMs, etc was very useful. Also, his tips on how to avoid the jam around Bharuch were invaluable.

Fourth time:

This was the truly BIGGEST ONE!

BLR-Leh-BLR.

Had a long chat with him on the phone. Then a few days before we left, I sent him my plan and he reverted acknowledging my mail(reply was by whatsapp). I subscribed to the Ladakh 951 plan.

In a few days, a whatsapp group was formed and my friends were added to the group. We kept updating our location every couple of hours and HVK would acknowledge and ask if we needed accomodation. Plan was to stay in Pune(where we had our own accomodation) but we were so far ahead of schedule, we decided to push on to Bombay and further to Thane. CHD helped us with some comfortable rooms there.

This is the clincher: HVK could have sent us GPS coordinates and we would have reached. But for whatever reason, he decided to meet us personally, escort us to the apartment where the rooms had been arranged at short notice, ensure we were comfortable, offered us tea, pointed out a couple of places where we could have dinner and only when we were comfortable, left us. He must have WASTED at least 2-3 hours on us!

I wonder why? Probably after looting us out of Rs 951, he wanted to loot more!

Or maybe he just wanted to see who these morons are, who want to go to Leh in a Honda Civic and a Honda City.

After this, we carried on to Ahmedabad - Udaipur-Delhi- blah blah blah.

The entire 22 days, the WAG was active and we got hourly updates, reminders to drink water to prevent Altitude sickness, health tips, local food tips at times, not to mention Hotel bookings as we approached our night halts.

On my return journey from Delhi, I was alone.

HVK was with me and kept encouraging me to keep driving and gave me ideas where I could spend the night.

I was reaching Jaipur and I was offered a room. I had been to Jaipur earlier and knew a couple of good hotels. So, I thought I'll book myself. I rejected the CHD offer. 2 hours later, I am in Jaipur and all the bloody hotels are full! It's almost 9:00 pm or so and I'm wondering what to do. Somehow CHD had slipped my mind.

HVK messaged me just out of courtesy and asked me if I'm ok. I then sheepishly explained my predicament. 30 minutes later, I was relaxing in a room in a small hotel owned by Dhiraj Kapoor(I believe he's a TBHP-ian).

Further on, till Bangalore, I didnt need any hotel rooms but HVK kept guiding me on traffic conditions, road conditions(if there were any changes) etc.

To conclude my experience, I can say I couldnt have expected more from a person working with a team of volunteers.

With regard to the specific incident by Jithin, it is unfortunate. It is irrefutable evidence that HVK didnt respond properly.

That being said, I think we need to cut him some slack. He's a human. He's prone to feelings and emotions. Haven't we all been guilty at some point of time of snapping at someone else in anger? Or maybe taking out work related frustration on a family member or a friend?

I'm not saying what HVK did is correct. It's wrong for sure, but I think it can be overlooked.

Anywhere on FB or the internet, the positive opinions far outweigh the negative feedback of HVK's services. Just like ANY OTHER PRODUCT OR SERVICE in the world! It's just that negative publicity spreads far faster than positive words.

I do not mean to trivialise Jithin's experience. It must have been a bit frustrating for him to walk on eggshells after the first couple of messages but in summary, he has rated this service as good or average for most parameters with the exception of the planning phase.

To answer someone who asked "How someone like him has such a fan following on FB".....

It's because most of them have either experienced first hand or heard about someone else being helped by HVK going out of his way. At the end of the day, thanks to HVK's own driving and his efforts to link a lot of long distance drivers from across the country, he does have a lot of knowledge and information or at the very least access to a lot of information and knowledge about various highways in the country. He uses this to help people through a medium which we know as Facebook.

I am not a fan or devotee of HV Kumar. I respect him for his experience and knowledge and more importantly, I am grateful to him for his unconditional help whenever I have requested him for some help.

Today, the FB forum is less reliant on him but there are dozens of well travelled people who help out other people.

I had to drive recently from KA-KL-MH and I dont think HVK responded to a single query! That's because there were many others who had travelled the route I was contemplating and helped me!

It is rumoured that HVK will shut down the Ladakh service. It is unfortunate for people who wanted to use it next season. However, it is also probably inevitable as the route has become heavily trafficked and everyone knows someone or the other who has been there. Road conditions have also improved tremendously and is far less challenging that it may have been a few years ago.

If HVK decides to end his commercialisation of this, it will be sad but I do wish him the best of health and happiness in whatever he wants to do, most likely travelling more!

And I know I'm not alone in saying that we will be grateful to him for the help he provided many people in the days before Google Maps was considered truly accurate in India.

I'm sorry for rambling, but I really did want to put my own experiences on record. I've been considering this for ages but somehow this thread was the trigger for me to jot everything down.
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Old 30th October 2017, 23:44   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highonwheelz View Post
What is the point of this guide to Ladakh?
... that India is not necessarily a difficult place to travel. Especially for Indians.

Given my experience, I would confidently say that the "most up to date info on road conditions" can be obtained for free at the road side chai shop, or from someone travelling the the opposite way. And to get some help from someone on the road, just wait a couple of hours until someone comes passing by.

Trust me, lots of patience and a good sense of humour will get you through any set back on the road. I would be happily stuck at a beautiful valley in ladakh for hours in end but not for 15 mins in Bangalore traffic.
Full points to this post, the fun of the road trip is in the unpredictability and fighter pilot like split second decisions taken, what's the point of the road trip when you forgo the liberty to make your choices and learn from your experience, of course these travelogues on TBHP act like a guide, a treasure trove of minute details, I am not saying its wrong to have a guide planning it for you, there's no right or wrong as you are the best judge of yourself but what I mean is doing it yourself can be immense fun, try it, its your car.
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Old 31st October 2017, 00:01   #51
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Originally Posted by highonwheelz View Post
What is the point of this guide to Ladakh?
I've been to 20 plus countries, all the continents except Antarctica, and never once booked myself a room through a travel agent. I feel, the charm of travelling and being on the road is not knowing whats coming up next.
Quote:
Originally Posted by s_pphilip View Post
Full points to this post, the fun of the road trip is in the unpredictability and fighter pilot like split second decisions taken, what's the point of the road trip when you forgo the liberty to make your choices and learn from your experience
Fine if you are travelling with a bunch of blokes or as two families travelling in separate cars together to a destination in Kashmir or North East. But if you want to explore these destinations with your wife and kids, I think this is a very valuable service.
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Old 31st October 2017, 00:16   #52
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Default re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

My TL;DR summary
The HVK services are a useful inexpensive bouquet of hotel booking/ guidance services for road warriors taking non-luxurious cross-country trips. However, book them knowing that they are a supplement and can sometimes be overloaded - approach him as an overloaded friend (HVK) who is helping you, and you will find a friend for life. Even in the era of Google maps and Tripadvisor, you have overload of 5* properties / places - there is no substitute for the distilled wisdom of a pan India driving community that gets curated and served to you by expert(s).
Addendum - Approach it as a "paying customer" who expects all answers to be given perfectly to you and your mileage may vary (not my experience, but simply extrapolating from the many BHPian stories which I would be remiss in ignoring)

About HVK services:
It is quite simple - it is not a mass market service, it is a service run by one person (with a few equally dedicated volunteers) that barely meets its costs. The service is run in a certain volunteer fashion - if one is okay with that, and takes it for what its worth, it is great. It is not perfect but that's how it is - in many ways, it illustrates how sometimes such services don't scale, but the upside is that HVK remembers individual details - he treats clients as friends, and not just clients.

About HVK:
I think Red Liner used an interesting analogy. HVK is a veritable encyclopaedia of highway knowledge and he loves to run the service in a manual non-automated fashion. That's just how he is. Clearly, he is quirky, with the occasional interactions coming across as rude, as evidenced by Jithin's screenshots. I'm not going to defend his choice of words there.

Again, I would like to point three things out:
1. As deetee (Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)) says (and many of my doctor friends agree), the internet forums are often full of the dissatisfied customers since the happy ones are too busy living their lives out.
2. HVK is human. He is not perfect but he is far far far far more good than these screenshots imply. These screenshots are the equivalent of someone focusing on one person's worst behaviors and others equating that to be the norm. FAR from it. Disproportionate focus on the 0.01% of HVK vs the 99.99% that the rest of us know, admire, love and respect. Of course, for Jithin, that's all he experienced, and that's unfortunate but that is not the composite picture. Ditto about his distaste for automation - much to my chagrin, he simply prefers to handle many of these interactions himself to "know" his virtual friends, rather than to automate them, even though i think he easily receives 10k+ whatsapp messages across groups, over and above his emails.
3. Lastly, its very easy to say, charge more etc etc. These rates have come about after much deliberation - HVK has enough stories about the limited demand at these rates itself.

My own experience with HVK:
I first met HVK in the summer of 2007, when I was new on TBHP and was considering the Swift purchase. I had the good fortune of riding shotgun with him for a quick conversation, before I met him next in Gurgaon (in 2009?) as part of the GQ run. I'm sure even now he remembers the month or the details of our 2007 June (?) meeting better than I will ever do - that's HVK for me.

We have stayed in touch ever since and I have found his guidance to be comprehensive and supremely useful. He's been prompt and supremely generous with his time, starting with all sorts of route requests / guidance over the last ten years.

My take on RoutO:
It is actually developed by the company of another very respected BHPian (who I shall not name, unless he wishes to talk about it) free of cost, out of the love of HVK. The problem is that people compare RoutO, an app made with limited resources with the capabilities of Google Maps. Of course it will fail miserably. If you consider it as an app that helps you figure out your key waypoints in interior areas, and includes a curated list of waypoints, then it excels in that part. It is also an app that helps you be aware of the location of your fellow HVKians (free service) driving on the highway near you - that's invaluable in the case of an emergency. A very thoughtful touch IMHO.

Of course, the design choice to navigate by highway segments rather than to a predefined end-point, seems a bit of a compromise, but again, sometimes it is better to have an app that works rather than a perfect one that is impossible to make. Once you get used to its quirks and use it as an additional tool for remote areas (rather than a replacement to GMaps), you will find it very useful. Its not very intuitive for long-time-GMaps but it grows on you and gets the job done perfectly.

In our recent Monsoon Drive, there were 30-35 cars, all of them driving independently in interior Himachal routes, often taking routes poorly market on GMaps, and all of us reached perfectly, without anyone needing to stop and ask for directions. I respect HOW, but I am personally done with asking for directions - I lived two years in Chennai without barely knowing Tamil, and drove all over TN courtesy GMaps. My trips are too tightly planned to allow for such luxuries - power to him if he wants to "wing it". I don't.

A word about the HVK group:
It is not just about the "services". The HVK facebook group lead into the regional groups which are themselves incredibly tightly knit - and this is in no small measure courtesy the camaraderie that emanates from HVK and his regional mods themselves. It is a beautiful circle of friends. Just last week, someone traveling in Ladakh had an accident due to his moronic cab driver and a moronic bus driver. His wife had a hip and femur fracture. Starting from HVK himself, who organized much of the initial evacuation efforts (alternative transport), the group members contributed in every way they do, from an armyman (in shillong) and an IAF man (while in Jaipur) and an Air India captain and about a dozen others coming together for everything - from getting seats on the plane, to hospital enquiries, to logistics and doctor support on the ground. I say this because some have criticized the HVK group members (Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)) uni-dimensionally as well, painting the "extended family" as some sort of thoughtless bashing trolls.

Last edited by phamilyman : 31st October 2017 at 00:34.
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Old 31st October 2017, 01:49   #53
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Originally Posted by Nikhilb2008 View Post
And I know I'm not alone in saying that we will be grateful to him for the help he provided many people in the days before Google Maps was considered truly accurate in India.
I think for the amount of knowledge HVK has and shares, its phenomenal, especially when he knew all the roads in India like the back of his hand, I've never used his service or met/spoke to him, I've just read about him but I'd love to meet him if given an opportunity, for the skills he has, he deserves respect, its truly amazing to think of, of course it only makes sense to convert your passion of travelling into something that has a fee if it can help many others, but I think we all should also have a back up plan, we can use inputs whether paid or not, but eventually its your plan, it doesn't hurt even if we have the best guide along, you should have some idea, over dependence sometimes can be scary.

Certain aspects like the road to take or places to stay, eat can be researched to some extent on TBHP and duplicated, it's so much fun reading these amazing write ups that I don't miss writing mine, most are covered.

I just wanted to convey that highonwheelz had a valid point, most often if you travel to a location which has a good density of tourists, there's a greater chance most fellow travelers will be willing to offer help or most often times you'll find some real time solution to bail out, that is in the first place if you face a challenge, most of the BHPians have planned their trips so well that they hardly face hurdles.

We had a really crazy trip facing multiple challenges but we always found help/guidance on offer, or there were others sharing our predicament so together all came up with a common solution.
Please don't take my posts the wrong way, I am not being critical of this service, I'm just stating that we need to add by doing our own research, I'm sorry if my posts by any chance convey the opposite but I've tried to clarify earlier as well. For the level of assistance HVK offers which some have mentioned in the earlier posts, total respect. I got so engrossed in posting that I reviewed now and felt it may portray another meaning hence the clarity.

Last edited by SDP : 31st October 2017 at 08:21. Reason: Merging.
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Old 31st October 2017, 09:08   #54
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Just adding my two cents

HVK was very helpful once when I took an alternate route into Kerala. I dont dispute his kindness and knowledge.

As an ex owner of a service, it is a thankless job. People with good experiences rarely give credit where it is due compared to folks who have bad experience or when unstated expectations are not met. After a while, it demoralises you and you become snappy. I can understand where he is coming from. I became like that !!

However, service customers are merciless. One needs to have a certain service oriented mindset that not everyone has. YOu need to think hard before venturing into such an area

Watch any episode of Fawlty Tower and you will understand!
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Old 31st October 2017, 10:03   #55
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Based on what I have often seen on Facebook on the HVK forum, and from my understanding of the supposed service that is offered therein-

1. Such complaints are fairly routine, but you won't find too many of these, since the forum gets cleaned of such threads by those who administer it.

2. The way HVK comments on his FB forum, usually send a perception of him being very egotistical, rude, impatient and snobbish.

3. The service that he offers is nothing that someone cannot figure out for himself with some advance planning, and by using the excellent travelogues and guides already here on TBHP (e.g. Tanveer's bible on Ladakh).

4. The perception factors that I mentioned in point 2, also applies to many regional groups too, going by (since deleted) complaints on the same forum.

5. In today's day and age, I actually pity those who think they actually require such a service!

Last edited by roy_libran : 31st October 2017 at 10:06.
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Old 31st October 2017, 10:37   #56
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
No profits you say?/"Support"...well, as he himself admits its no charity that he's doing.The support you talk of is a fee that is being paid for the services availed(which may or may not be enough to make profits).But a service which is "sold" nonetheless to a customer.Although I have never availed of his services, the replies sure do reek of disinterest and I daresay could be more humane.
Cannot comment on this much since I think you have not understood yourself what is the service on offering - the first thing all of us have got to do is to read the user manual before operating the product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane1002 View Post
Pricing is seller's prerogative, but I certainly see no harm if a person follows up as instructed( unless of course the scheme of events leading up to the itinerary planning are inaccurately described).
The person who initiated this discussion seemed to have calls/chats with HVK to plan out his "possible" trip in the future. The Ladakh 951 plan was neither bought for all that duration until August. Lot of people do wish to discuss their minds and plans to HVK even at the stage where they are not sure about possibility of them embarking on such a trip - many many of them. A lot of them drops out without any further notice given to him or CHD - naturally one will lose interest with such people who thinks it is their birth right to get a reply from HVK.
  1. No one can ask many questions in the beginning (sometime in June) and then not take Ladakh 951 at that time.
  2. What point in mentioning about the trip after 2 months as if he talked yesterday to a man who handles 100s of such persons over days and months?
  3. What thought did he have - that HVK should search his mails and chats to figure out what the person wanted?
  4. One should have had courtesy to remind HVK about all the details, especially after 2 months and then think to get offended or not.

This clearly shows that the user/customer/beneficiary wanted a Thomas Cook service and not Ladakh 951. To understand Ladakh 951 and about the forum, one needs to read up a bit about the same and I pity if it was otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
3. The service that he offers is nothing that someone cannot figure out for himself with some advance planning, and by using the excellent travelogues and guides already here on TBHP (e.g. Tanveer's bible on Ladakh).
...
5. In today's day and age, I actually pity those who think they actually require such a service!
Tanveer's write up did help me in my trip and I have great respect for that. However, such help won't do anything (and is not intended to) about my hotel bookings nor if I'm in a mishap with my family when I'm miles away from my home in a high altitude. Whereas an HVKian gets all the help from the fraternity - medical, legal, mechanics - what not! One might be able to go for trip with no help and even with no destination - but not the same case for families and people with limited time to complete the trip. I pity those who can't understand this.

Last edited by vinodvayyat : 31st October 2017 at 10:38.
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Old 31st October 2017, 10:53   #57
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Sad to hear such an experience.

Here's my personal experience:

1. For my first fairly long road-trip to Gujarat, I used the services of a proper travel agent and booked a couple of months in advance. Although pre-booking your accommodation has some serious advantages (like peace of mind), I liked the flexibility offered by the concept of Just-in-time hotel booking offered by the HiVayKing Club. So decided to experiment with it for my next trip.

2. For my first Karnataka trip, I made a payment of some 500 odd and opted for CHD (central hotel desk) service. Gujarat had a fairly straightforward highway system and it wasn't very difficult to figure out routes to most places. Karnataka turned out to be much more complex as there is a complex network of highways and quite a few times you have to choose between 2 apparently similar routes (from length and travel time perspective). I chalked out a high level plan and Kumar Sir helped a LOT to bring the plan to a shape that covered much more than what I had originally planned. I wasn't really expecting any help on route planning etc, but on the last day a few hours before the start of the 10 day trip, he sent me a detailed XLS which turned out to be really helpful. Absolutely zero problems in the 10 day trip. Perfect hotels at reasonable rates. I had spent about 90% less time (as compared to GJ trip) before this trip to study the routes, turning points etc and still managed to navigate the state without any issues with the help of the detailed XLS. We were put up at a couple of hotels which the club hadn't experienced before. I did my bit by way of providing snaps and feedback about the quality of those hotels. Overall a very pleasant experience.

3. A year and half later, went to Rajasthan .. again a 9-10 day trip. Opted for CHD again and had absolutely no problems. He had reviewed the plan and made sure its doable. Again a very good experience. My wife used to coordinate the communication on whatsapp as I was busy driving most of the time. Told her to be really crisp while communicating with Kumar Sir and his volunteers. Everything was executed just as planned without a single hitch.

4. Went to North Karnataka during Diwali last year. Reached out to him a couple of weeks before and he set the expectations straight that its peak season and accommodation would be tricky at Bijapur. Nothing available at Badami and was offered a place at Bagalkot instead. I was also told that on my way back, there is no network hotel at Bhigwan and he wont be able to help. I agreed and took a chance with the trip anyways. Bagalkot worked out beautifully and I managed to cover the Badami-Patadakkal-Aihole circuit nicely. Frankly, I wouldn't have even thought about Bagalkot as an option if he wouldn't have suggested it. On the day when we were supposed to start for Bijapur, I started early so that I can explore options on my own once I reach Bijapur early. But I pinged him anyways to see if anything has opened up and to my pleasant surprise, he confirmed a hotel booking at a fantastic place. Having the assurance that we have a confirmed booking at Bijapur gave me the confidence to take a couple of detours and cover 2 more places that day.
A couple of days later, I was in Bhigwan a place where he had clearly said that the club has no connections with any hotels. Struggled for an hour to find a decent place to stay, but finally managed one on my own. Again did my bit and fed back the details to him so that some other explorers would not have to waste an hour to figure out a decent place to stay in Bhigwan. Another trip that went amazingly well with the CHD help.

CHD service saved a lot of my time in doing research about what all hotels are available, what facilities they have and reading reviews about them. I have seen a few people complain about "no options were offered", but for me that's a big plus because when I am on a road-trip with family, a decent place to stay the night matters and not "what's the best place in the town to stay". If travelling during peak tourist season, CHD can throw some surprises, but I believe that's a planning issue on my part. When all the hotels would be completely booked, I don't expect CHD to make a room magically available for me with a couple of hours notice. Planning and booking such hotels in advance is important and Kumar sir advised precisely that and helped me with Hampi booking a month in advance.

Finally it boils down to what are your expectations and what exactly is being offered. The gap can cause unpleasant experiences once in a while.

PS: For people who believe that the internet has everything and GoogleMaps is the ultimate, here's a video of the route that I followed in Jodhpur, based on GoogleMaps suggestions...that too in a XUV.

Last edited by SDP : 31st October 2017 at 11:56.
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Old 31st October 2017, 11:32   #58
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinodvayyat View Post
Cannot comment on this much since I think you have not understood yourself what is the service on offering - the first thing all of us have got to do is to read the user manual before operating the product.



The person who initiated this discussion seemed to have calls/chats with HVK to plan out his "possible" trip in the future. The Ladakh 951 plan was neither bought for all that duration until August. Lot of people do wish to discuss their minds and plans to HVK even at the stage where they are not sure about possibility of them embarking on such a trip - many many of them. A lot of them drops out without any further notice given to him or CHD - naturally one will lose interest with such people who thinks it is their birth right to get a reply from HVK.
  1. No one can ask many questions in the beginning (sometime in June) and then not take Ladakh 951 at that time.
  2. What point in mentioning about the trip after 2 months as if he talked yesterday to a man who handles 100s of such persons over days and months?
  3. What thought did he have - that HVK should search his mails and chats to figure out what the person wanted?
  4. One should have had courtesy to remind HVK about all the details, especially after 2 months and then think to get offended or not.

This clearly shows that the user/customer/beneficiary wanted a Thomas Cook service and not Ladakh 951. To understand Ladakh 951 and about the forum, one needs to read up a bit about the same and I pity if it was otherwise.



Tanveer's write up did help me in my trip and I have great respect for that. However, such help won't do anything (and is not intended to) about my hotel bookings nor if I'm in a mishap with my family when I'm miles away from my home in a high altitude. Whereas an HVKian gets all the help from the fraternity - medical, legal, mechanics - what not! One might be able to go for trip with no help and even with no destination - but not the same case for families and people with limited time to complete the trip. I pity those who can't understand this.
I see a pattern to the replies here parading the knowledge of the seller and the convenience people experienced due to the inputs shared.I would like to re-iterate that I have not once questioned his know how and contributions for the people who have benefitted. So getting that out of the way.

I believe you do not understand what the OP here has posted regarding his initial interactions.N if you cant see the obvious lack of respect for a customer's query, then there's little any one else can do.Would you always be understanding to curt replies by a seller to a query raised by you if happened not to understand something obvious written in the manual of a product?Or that you haven't yet paid up for a service abd are asking questions on usage?Its that basic.

Fair enough, maybe it wasnt right on OP s part to discuss an itinerary that was a couple of month's away. But he did get back to the seller as he was instructed. Tell me, what value does a reply on the lines of "Im not doing charity " add to the entire conversation?Here the OP clearly has done as directed by the seller at timelines suggested by the Seller. If he doesnt get a reply, he just did what many of us would do..asked him some questions.Reading user manuals sounds all too fancy, cut the guy some slack. If the seller wanted him to buy the product immediately, he just could have said aa much without deferring timelines and telling him to enquire later. I dont think expecting a point-to-point reply is expecting Thomas Cook levels of service.
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Old 31st October 2017, 12:14   #59
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

What is this "Thomas cook" way??
If you dont want to provide a service, dont sell it on your portal. Just have an aptitude form so that the people managing the portal can "vet" the applicants and only take on those who they feel live up to their "standards". Getting hotels and others through goodwill is just a ton of bromide. Its a laughable premise that recommendations will be made with discounts and even emergency availability without any tie-ups with the hotel people. Had I been running it, I would have. Running a site, maintaining an app, keeping in touch, all through charging travellers 500-1300 bucks?

Having a good experience does not mean defending the business when it gives a bad one. Its a business, period. Its up to them to be "Thomas cook", but it seems they are just "Agarwal travels, tours and tent walas".
Draw the line between defending the man, and the business.
I, for one, had no interest in this "service", and I sincerely doubt I would consider it ever, based on just that tone in the initial whatsapp message shot. It was uncivil and completely uncalled for.
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Old 31st October 2017, 13:17   #60
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Default Re: Review: HiVayKing Ladakh 951 (travel advisory service)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinodvayyat View Post
That is definitely a way to go for - we do it in TeamBHP for membership - vetting the applicants. If you find it laughable despite being a senior BHPian, no one can help.
------------SNIP------------
If you call it a business despite not using the service ever and nor having spent the time all along to understand, what I will call you are doing is timepass.
Is he charging money for a service rendered?
Yes?
Its a business. Period. That is all anyone needs to know rather than "understand" the greatness and other things.

Unfortunately, this is a forum, and you will 90% of the people doing "timepass" as per your discernment.

Last edited by Rehaan : 31st October 2017 at 14:24. Reason: Post edited. Please debate using a reasonable tone. Removing the last line as well.
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