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Drinks or Coffee on us in Vancouver!

When I was offered the opportunity to create a new role focusing on customer service here in Vancouver, I was very pleased and enthusiastic. One of the most important aspects of my job description is providing all of our guests with the invitation to meet me in Vancouver, whether it be for drinks or coffee - and on us of course! This aspect of my job description appealed to me because after 20 years of working in  customer service related industries, I feel what is now missing the most in terms of that ‘extra touch’ or the ‘above and beyond’ quotient of what guests are hoping for, is personal service. Real personal service, as in a real person.

I just finished my second season with CanadaRail.ca and I’m very pleased to say we have had rave reports from our guests who have taken me up on my invitation to meet. I would, however, like to let everyone who is a future guest know exactly what is entailed when I email you my Pre-Tour Follow up three weeks before your arrival date. Although we have had rave reviews from the guests who have met with me, truth be told, I would like more guests to feel comfortable taking me up on the invitation. 

First off, our goal as a company is to provide the best customer service possible while our guests travel across Canada and through the Canadian Rocky Mountains aboard The Rocky Mountaineer and VIA Rail. How do we do this in a travel industry which is continually becoming more and more automated, computerized, and impersonalized? I realize the irony here, as I’m fully aware you've discovered Canada Rail Vacations via the Internet, by typing into your search engine Canadian Railroad, Trans Canada Train, Canadian Train, etc. So far you may or may not have spoken with one of our team members, and most if not all of your correspondence with us thus far has been via email. This is the new travel industry, and much like every industry, we have had to adapt to our customers’ needs and demands using the Internet to the best of our ability to provide you with the travel service you require. It’s quicker, more efficient, and the amount of information we can provide virtually, is endless. However, and perhaps I’m a bit “old school”, there has to be a delicate balance between all things speed, efficiency and information with the chance to actually meeting someone in person. I strongly believe, no matter what industry your vocation exists, it’s important to like the people you’re doing business with. 

This is where I come in, and I would like to be clear on a few points. Please don’t mistake my zest for in-person business dealings with a need to become best friends. And, please don’t feel my invitation to meet here in Vancouver is one of those invitations you get each year to a party from those people who are over enthusiastic people persons who talk too much. After all, who wants to meet with some random weird Canadian who’ll likely ramble on about Ice Hockey and Government Subsidized Health Care? (see weird Canadian Ryan in a WalMart commercial). Kidding aside, some of our travelers prefer to be on their own and if there are any immediate questions or needs, they will call me. Our tours have been designed to provide our guests with a mix of independent and group travel, and some people prefer to lean on the independent aspect. Plus, in some circumstances, your travel itinerary may not permit enough time to meet. 

Lastly, we can meet at your convenience, anywhere in the city and for as long or as short as you wish. This year I met guests for drinks atop Vancouver’s revolving restaurant, we had several breakfast meetings at one of Vancouver’s best coffee shops Café Artigiano, I met a couple who were staying with family friends at a shopping mall in the suburbs, we had many meetings in guests hotel lobbies and even a few at Vancouver’s train stations. Drinks, coffee and food are always on Canada Rail, and as you can see we can meet in any capacity you wish. Several meetings this year took part in the lobby of our guest’s respective hotels, we quickly went over their travel documents, I provided a few Vancouver restaurant recommendations, and on they went. Some meetings we sat down for breakfast and coffee, guests gave me feedback on their vacation, and on they went.

To wrap things up, my purpose of extending an invitation here in Vancouver is to put a pleasant face to our emails, go over your travel documents, answer all your questions in person, and provide you with some inside local information on Vancouver and Western Canada. 

I look forward to meeting you, and I promise I won't talk aboot Ice Hockey, eh! 

Ryan Cowie
Vacation Planner

2014 Update - November 6, 2014

First off, I would like to say thank you to all our guests who took me up on my invitation to meet this 2014 travel season. I had the opportunity to meet people from USA, Kenya, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, The Philippines, New Zealand, Germany, it was a lot of fun! Everyone was great, and for those of you who opened your doors to my future travel plans, I hope to one day take you up on your invitation.

It was a banner year for us, overall in terms of visitors, and for myself in terms of guest meetings. I had several days with multiple meetings scheduled and I actually began to feel like my jokes and stories were wearing thin. If I confessed this to my fiance I suspect she would just give me the - you just figured that out? - head nod. However, I rather put a positive spin on it, and say this made me realize how many more guests had been taking me up on my invitations as compared to 2013. The 2014 goal was set to at least double the amount of guest meetings I had in the previous year, and we likely quadrupled that mark.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the goal to meet with guests is to provide personal service, put a face to the email correspondence, and to give you the opportunity to get some firsthand insight into Vancouver and Western Canada. The highlight of your vacation will be traveling aboard The Rocky Mountaineer and VIA Rail, but if I’m the “oh ya, and we got to meet Ryan in Vancouver too” part of your post travel conversation, I’m happy being that afterthought! It means we’ve done our job and you're talking to your friends about the important parts of your vacation.Without sounding overly patriotic, I love my country and if I can be an ‘ambassador’ to first time or returning visitors, it’s my pleasure!

Thanks again to all our guests who I met this year and I look forward to meeting all our new travelers in 2015. All aboard!!!




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