I've giving a poor review to Friendship because of their lack of customer service/responsiveness and for the reasons outlined in my letter to them following my trip, which they have never responded to. The letter follows:
Subject: Feedback from Recent Tour to Israel and Greece
Date: April 28, 2019 at 12:49:21 PM MDT
To: Friendship Tours
Working in corporate America most of my career, it was always important to receive open, honest feedback from our customers so that we knew where we needed to improve our operations. I’m very disappointed that Friendship Tours did not reach out to ask for feedback from our recent tour to Israel and Greece. The tours in Israel and Greece were wonderful and I’m glad I made the journey. Would I recommend Friendship Tours to my friends…I would not. Do you want to know why?
Let’s start from the beginning. Our hosting pastor had little to no information from Friendship tours on the seating for air travel. My friend and I were joining the XXXX group from XXX. We could have booked our air travel to Tel Aviv separately, but we wanted to make sure we were with the group. I tried multiple times to reach Friendship Tours and finally a real person answered the phone. When I asked about our ability to change the return flight to fly direct from Chicago to Denver, I was rudely told to ask my Pastor. My XXXX and I even tried calling the airline direct to ask these and other questions (can we upgrade? are we sitting together?, is my KTN on the ticket) but they didn’t have the information either.
We paid a significant amount of money for this trip and it would seem ‘Friendship Tours’ would mean that the company would be helpful to its Christian travelers. That was not our experience. The pastor hosting the group did the best he could but the policies of Friendship are at the root cause of the problem.
It was very sad to see married couples sitting separately on flights when the Friendship travel material specifically said that couples would be seated together. It’s a very long trip to and from; the comfort of your significant other being next to you is important. For the most part, the travelers are of retirement age, many experiencing health problems. I would hope Friendship would work to accommodate seating arrangements for their customers.
When we arrived in Tel Aviv, we were greeted by our guide and we were whisked away to our hotel to start our journey. The hotels/dining in Israel were very nice and accommodated large groups very well. The tour guide and bus driver were all very good and knowledgeable. It was wonderful to see so many sites in Israel although the ‘hurry, hurry’ theme to the journey was often very difficult for many of our travelers. I understand the need to ‘hurry’ because of the crowds in Israel but, honestly, it took away from the personal spiritual journey of the trip not to mention the difficulty for those that moved more slowly.
Our guide, XXXXX, was amazing. She was extremely knowledgeable and was most energetic. The driver took good care of us the entire trip. The bus, however, had no legroom for anyone over 5’6”. The bus was beautiful but, in the future, I would recommend you find a bus that has legroom to accommodate the demographics of your customers
The flight from Tel Aviv to Athens required us to leave the hotel in the very early hours of morning (about 2 a.m. as I recall). Again, considering the passenger demographic, this was unfortunate. By the time we arrived in Athens, toured the Acropolis, people were exhausted and stressed. Even departing the hotel at 5 a.m. would be a great improvement.
The hotel and location in Athens was amazing. Treating us to a traditional Greek meal the first night was wonderful. It was great to spend a second night at this hotel upon our return from the Greek Isles cruise.
The Greek Isles tour on Celestyial Cruises was something we looked forward to and were willing to pay the additional $2000 to experience. While the ship was older and in need of some ’sprucing up’, it was an average experience. My XXXX and his XXX had a room near the engine room, as did several of our traveling group. The noise and grinding that they heard in their cabins was extremely disturbing and something that should be avoided for future trips. My XXXX was sick the entire cruise due to a virus/nasal congestion so the added disruption of this noise was unfortunate.
The other major issue with the cruise were the tours. At no time did Friendship tours share with us that 3 of the tours would take place at night. Really? Had I known that, I would NOT have chosen to take the Greek Isles tour. While the explanation was ‘well, you’re traveling at the time of year when the sun goes down earlier than if you traveled in the summer’. I realize that, but Friendship Tours did not disclose this in their literature nor was a specific daily tour itinerary provided. Frankly, the tour to Patmos in the dark was simply dangerous. We could not see where we were walking and some had to use the flashlights on their phone to help people navigate. The tour in Mykonos was similar where we were taken into the village but left to find our way back to the ship, with much of the walkway in complete darkness. Again, know your demographics.
Our air travel back to the States also required a very early (about 1 a.m.) wakeup call. Again, given the demographic of the traveling audience, this is asking a lot of older people. They have very little sleep and then travel for many, many hours and 3-4 different flights. The connections were very tight and again we were always in a ‘hurry, hurry’ mode.
Friendship Tours recommended Allianz Travel Insurance to the group. Our foursome bought the insurance and my XXXX has made a claim to Allianz due to his illness and missed tours for the Greek Isles segment. Allianz requires the submission of an invoice breaking down the costs of the tours. Allianz was very help but Friendship Tours would not answer my XXXXX's calls or emails. XX sent an email to the Pastor asking for help. The Pastor inquired as to the cost of the tours and was simply told $120. Allianz requires an invoice not a flip response to a question. Again, a professional and courteous response to the inquiry would be the right thing to do.
I hope that you will consider this feedback for future tours and provide professional pre-trip support to passengers. If you don’t listen to anything else I have shared in this email, you must make significant changes to the airline seating and ticketing for your customers and improve communications with your traveling customers.
Thank you for your consideration and hope that you will give me the honor of a complete and professional response.
Review by Iswarya8 months ago
I think the tour was excellent. We had a little difficulty finding them at the airport, but we just sat still and they found us.
the board crossing took longer than expected, but the tour company kept us informed the whole time.
Review by Serbian9 months ago
Every year for the past 20 plus years we have been blessed to use Friendship Tours for all of our arrangements in Israel, and other countries. The guides are stellar and extremely knowledgable, the hotels clean and comfortable, and the coaches modern and expertly driven by the drivers they supply.
I can't recommend Friendship Tours more enthusiastically as over and over the company has gone above and beyond in customer service to provide us with everything we need and more to make our trip the trip of a lifetime!
Thank you Nasser for your honesty, integrity, and willingness to go the extra mile to enhance our experience during the many tours we have taken over the years!!
Review by Dereq9 months ago
Great trip..well organized.
Enjoyed very much
Review by Bafford Granbery10 months ago
I had some minor problems with the bus tour guide (male) but otherwise everything else was great!
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