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Dear Windhorse Directors, We have just returned from an excellent holiday with Windhorse in Bhutan and would like to thank you for the great experience. We had 5 days “Cultural tour ” as a group of 6 people, followed by 5 days on the Druk Path Trek (just George and me).

For both sectors Sonam Loday was our guide. We all thought he was excellent at all times. On the trek we had disappointing weather, but even so, Sonam managed to keep us cheerful and went out of his way to make the trek a success.

We have had a few thoughts about the way Windhorse operates and now list these as feedback for you. We hope this will be of assistance in finding that leading edge in the tour business.

1. Making Bookings: We found the process of making a booking quite frustrating. Good communication is the key to success, and this didn’t happen for us. We needed early confirmation of the flights as we were all making connecting flight bookings that depended on the Druk flights into and out of Paro. This didn’t happen and we found ourselves paying for connecting flight tickets before we had assurance of the Druk flights. Only after several international calls did we receive an OK.

2. Flight booking from Kathmandu to Paro (Sept 16,2010). Our itinerary clearly stated that we were on KB 401 at 11:00 am. It was only at Kathmandu airport that we discovered that in fact only one of our party of 6 was on this flight, and the rest on a second flight several hours later. Surely it makes sense that ALL of a group should travel on the SAME flight! As it happened, we all did travel on the 11:00 flight at the last minute. (This was last minute changes Druk Air made without informing us)

3. Your on-line system: You have an impressive on-line system which the client can access. Use it ! and most customer emails and frustration will vanish! This information should be kept up-to-date from the time of payment of a deposit. It should accurately reflect the flight status, the itinerary, the accounting (with final payment due date), and eventually the Detailed Itinerary/Trip Notes. We suggest you add a field to the main screen – “Last updated – (Date)”. Had this system been operational for us, many of our worries would have disappeared. (This is in Beta stages and it will be fully operational by the end of 2010. It has already improved a lot since you have last checked)

4. Final Payment Due Date – this was important for us as we were closely watching the exchange rate Australian $ / US Dollar which varies quite a lot. If the final payment due date is known, clients can pay when the rate is favourable for them. In fact Windhorse gave us just a few days notice of Final Payment
5. Itinerary: we were happy with the itinerary before we left home. In retrospect though, there are things that you could add to give a real insight into Bhutan and give your trips the leading edge…
– who makes the costumes worn at the festivals?
– who makes the masks worn at the festivals?
– who paints the houses and dzongs?
– who creates the Thangkas?
– Bhutanese cuisine.

Demonstrations of some of these would have made a very interesting itinerary.

6. Windhorse Head Office – We think it’s important for you to state that your Head Office is in Bhutan. The current perception is that Head Office is Minneapolis, US. We appreciate that the US market is important to you…BUT most of our group (coming from Canada, UK, France & Australia) did not want to book with Windhorse because it was American! I had to do quite a lot of convincing that Windhorse is in fact a Bhutanese company. Wind Horse is a registered in Bhutan, Darjeeling, Delhi, Cochin & in US. We also have staffs in Nepal & Tibet. Head office is the opertion office of the each destination and therefore the head office for Bhutan is in Thimphu and head office for north India is in Delhi, but head office for Sikkim and Darjeeling areas is in Darjeeling. US office is the sales office and also acts as the co-ordination offices between different offices.

7. Cultural Night in Thimpu: Our group was lucky to experience a cultural night, courtesy of Windhorse. This was a very nice gesture and we enjoyed it very much. It could be improved though, by having an introduction to each dance, explaining which region of Bhutan the dances and costumes represent. A large map on the wall would also help.
8. The Druk Path Trek: we think you should change your advertising to say the best time for this trek is “from the end of September……” . We were very disappointed that the weather made the walking muddy and slippery, the campsites quagmires, and that views of the Himalayas were elusive. It’s an expensive trek to have this happen.

9. Litter: Our impression of Bhutan is far from the “pristine” reputation we’d heard about. Littering is a real problem and really detracts from the beauty of the country. I refer especially to the Tigers Nest hike and the Druk Path trek. Perhaps Windhorse could lead the way with a clean-up campaign – making it an advertising feature – with all staff picking up litter and cleaning up campsites. Perhaps you could adopt a motto such as the famous ” take only photographs and leave only footprints” .

We hope you accept these points as constructive, and that you are able to action some of them. We wish you all the best in your operations Regards, Christine Floyd

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