So, you’re safely home... are you glad you went?

What follows is a comment form concerning your recent Blue Marble odyssey.  We sincerely hope that you enjoyed it!  And (unless it was mutually scarring ;-), we hope that you will travel with us again.

In an on-going effort to improve our trips, we would be grateful for your opinions.  Both positive and negative comments are helpful:  if only people who want us to do things differently send back the form, we change stuff that most of you liked.  Constructive comments are pearls!  We take your replies to heart, and they have a big influence on how we do things....  Plus, they get us quotes for our web site.  You can be pretty entertaining (if this is a corner of the web site you have heretofore missed, please take a look).

We have outlined specific areas, and invite you to make any further comments as you see fit.  The results are tabulated at the end of January each year, so a return before then is helpful.

How to Fill Out the Questionnaire
All questions are optional.  If you don't answer something, we'll assume it didn't have much importance to you.

To fill the thing out and return it to us, simply copy the whole business into an e.mail, reply to each question (typically with a single letter, which permits us to get numerical averages), and hit the “send” button.  If you prefer total anonimity, please feel free to reply by hand and snail mail the result, instead.  Or send from your local cybercafé, where only you and the CIA will know who you are.

Name of Trip



Departure Date



Your Trip Coordinator(s)



Please tell us here if you would prefer that quotes posted on our web site be anonymous (“Yes, I would” / “No”, or simply leave blank)



COMMENTS ON THE TRIP

1. HOTELS

On a 5-point scale (A=best, E=worst), did the quality of the hotels meet your expectations? Please answer with the appropriate letter.

  1. Everything I hoped for
  2. Fully met or slightly surpassed my expectations
  3. About what I thought they would be
  4. I didn't meet any animals of which I could not identify genus and species
  5. I took to sleeping outside



How important was the quality of the hotels to your enjoyment of the trip?

  1. Key
  2. Pretty important
  3. Significant, but not crucial
  4. Not a big deal
  5. Who cares?



Do you think your feelings regarding the hotels were representative of those of your fellow travelers?

  1. About representative
  2. “On this point, I was probably more demanding than the average of my fellow travellers”
  3. “On this point, I was probably less demanding than the average of my fellow travellers”



(Y)es or (N)o: would you have preferred to pay more for better accommodation?



(Y)es or (N)o: would you have preferred to pay less for less comfortable accommodation?



If you could replace 2 hotels on your trip (1 if you were on a 1-week trip), which would you replace? Either the hotel name or the town is fine.

1:

2 (trips of 2 or more weeks):


Which were your two favorite hotels (or your single favorite hotel if you were on a 1-week trip)? Either the hotel name or the town is fine.

1:

2 (trips of 2+ weeks):


Suppose you could replace all of the above (best and worst), or none, with “average” hotels. What would you do? (R)eplace all, or (K)eep all?



Any comments?



2. DINNERS (refers only to those included in the Blue Marble trip)

(Y)es or (N)o: would you have preferred to pay more for better meals?



If “no” to the above, (Y)es or (N)o: would you have preferred to pay less for simpler meals?



Did the quality of the meals meet your expectations? If you wish to make your rankings country-specific, associate a letter with the name of each country through which you travelled, instead of simply entering a single letter.

  1. A revelation: I may never eat again to avoid spoiling the memories!
  2. Surpassed
  3. About met
  4. Somewhat beneath
  5. The 7th straight night of spleen tacos was wearing



Other comments, for example on any dinners you especially enjoyed, or didn’t?



How important was the quality of the meals to your enjoyment of the trip?

  1. Key
  2. Pretty important
  3. Significant, but not crucial
  4. Not a big deal
  5. Who cares?



Do you think that your feelings about meals were representative of those of your fellow travelers?

  1. About representative
  2. “On this point, I was probably more demanding than the average of my fellow travellers”
  3. “On this point, I was probably less demanding than the average of my fellow travellers”



Was there anything you particularly liked or didn't like regarding the organization of the meals?



3. YOUR BICYCLE. _____ Check here if you'd rather not discuss it.

How well was your bike suited to what we had you do with / to it?

  1. Perfect
  2. Fine
  3. O.K.
  4. Could have been better
  5. A 2nd wheel would have been nice



Any comments?



Was it in good running order when you first rode it?

  1. Perfect, as far as I could tell
  2. Fine
  3. O.K.
  4. Could’ve been better
  5. If I’d ’a known, I’d ’a just walked



4. YOUR FRIENDLY BLUE MARBLE COORDINATOR

In the following section, we are trying to find out both what you thought of the different “skills” (or lack thereof) of we, your coordinators, and how you feel these attributes influenced your trip. Obviously we don't expect perfect scores in every department: with that level of expertise, we could get real jobs.

Your letter rankings and comments are transmitted to us, but anonymously, even if you have not made your survey anonymous. Your constructive criticism (and / or support) is very much appreciated, and we assure you, we attach a great deal of importance to it!

If your trip had several different coordinators, please note each of us separately, using our initials when you wish to distinguish between us. For instance, on the first question, you could say that AA “knew every corner,” while with ZZ “We spent most of our time on the wrong planet.” This would be written “AA — A, ZZ — E”

4.1. How thorough was your coordinator's knowledge of the geography of your trip (towns, appropriately small roads, tourist sites...)?

  1. Very, knew every corner
  2. Good
  3. Fine
  4. Could have been better informed
  5. We spent most of our time on the wrong planet



4.2. How were his/her language skills?

  1. Excellent, never seemed to have any communication problems
  2. Fine, got us thru everything without a hitch
  3. Adequate for our purposes
  4. Berlitz wouldn't hurt
  5. Berlitz probably couldn’t help



4.3. How were his/her organizational skills (well-informed on schedules, travel times, set up meals expeditiously, got route information out in a timely manner...)?

  1. A Blackberry™ with lungs
  2. Pretty good
  3. OK, adequate
  4. A bit sharper would have been nice
  5. Send a search party



4.4. How were his/her bike repair skills?

  1. Had a spare bike in the tool kit
  2. Knew the basics well
  3. Able to keep the things patched together
  4. Could fix a flat in under an hour
  5. “What's a bike?”
    OR
  6. Not applicable, since I could fix most problems myself



4.5. How thorough was his/her cultural (non-gastronomic)/historical/political knowledge of your trip's regions?

  1. Excellent
  2. Fine, no complaints
  3. Adequate, “Lonely Planet” level
  4. Should have known more
  5. Hadn't previously realized the place existed



4.6. How thorough was his/her gastronomic (food, and wine or beer where applicable) knowledge?

  1. Excellent
  2. Good, knew some interesting local fare
  3. Adequate
  4. Should have known more
  5. Kept trying to take us to McDonald’s



4.7. Was your coordinator “nice,” a “people person?”

  1. Great! A real asset to the trip, socially-speaking
  2. Friendly and outgoing
  3. Yeah, fine
  4. A bit anti-social
  5. Spoke in grunts



4.8. Was your coordinator available when you wanted him/her to be?

  1. When do you people sleep?
  2. The most I could have expected: a good availability / personal survival balance
  3. Yes, generally
  4. A bit self-preoccupied
  5. Who?



4.9. (Y)es or (N)o: do you think that your coordinator generally made a good-faith attempt to do his/her job well even in domains even where he/she may not have been strongest?



Comment if appropriate:



4.10. Please attempt an overall ranking of your coordinator (or coordinators), taking into account the importance you give to the various attributes you have commented on above.

  1. Truly exceptional
  2. Very good
  3. Good
  4. No real complaints....
  5. Not up to expectations
  6. A genuine incompetent, hard-core unemployable




5. THE ROUTES

Your rankings in this category can be of three sorts:

  • By trip segment. For example, if your trip was “Cyclist’s Paradise,” which follows our “Northern Europe” and “Denmark” itineraries, you may attribute a separate letter to each.
  • By country, where appropriate (in discussing the cultural interest, for instance).
  • “Overall.” In this case just use the appropriate letter, A - E.

5.1. How would you rank the route(s) in terms of scenic interest? Please be trip-segment specific if appropriate. No one ranking Austria an “E” will be taken seriously. Here, or in life.

  1. Stunning
  2. Very nice
  3. O.K.
  4. Bof (that is French for “eh,” which we don't know how to spell)
  5. North end of the Jersey Turnpike



5.2. Cultural interest (be country-specific if appropriate)? “Culture” is understood to include anything from museums to political graffiti, from local festivals to the local cafés....

  1. Fascinating
  2. Quite enjoyable
  3. O.K.
  4. I expected more
  5. I’d have gotten more out of a week at a souvenir stand



5.3. Difficulty (please be itinerary segment-specific if appropriate)?

  1. Fine, no probs
  2. I found it a bit difficult, but it was about what I wanted and expected
  3. I found it a bit easy, but it was about what I wanted and expected
  4. A bit too hard
  5. A bit too easy
  6. Way too hard
  7. Way too easy



5.4. Traffic (please be itinerary segment-specific if appropriate)?

  1. Great, very little traffic over most of the itinerary
  2. Fine, no probs
  3. A bit too much traffic at times
  4. Too much traffic on several of our rides
  5. It was like being in a giant pinball machine



5.5. Amount of available cycling (be itinerary segment-specific if appropriate)?

  1. Fine: the right amount, and / or enough options to keep me happy
  2. I would rather have cycled a bit more
  3. I would rather have cycled a bit less
  4. This was boot camp
  5. My limbs atrophied from lack of use



5.6. I would have liked (M)ore / (F)ewer non-biking days (leave blank if you were satisfied)



Any constructive comments?



6. BAGGAGE CARRIAGE

6.1. For guests who travelled self-contained, or using our “Half” or “Lite” Baggage Transfer services: before the trip, how anxious were you about carrying your own gear in the bicycle’s panniers?

  1. “Not at all” (please tell us if you had done it before)
  2. “Seemed ambitious, but I’ll try anything once”
  3. “Quite concerned, but other aspects of the trip and / or relative trip price [please specify which if applicable] overrode my worries”
  4. Didn’t realize I was going to have to carry my own stuff until after I had signed up
  5. Damn, where’s my stuff?!



6.2. (Y)es or (N)o: if you paid the extra charge for one of our Baggage Transfer services, were you satisfied with the service?



Comments?



AND BEFORE YOUR TRIP...

7. CHOOSING the TRIP, the WEB SITE and / or the BROCHURE

7.1. Why did you choose to travel with Blue Marble? If several apply, please rank in order of importance (1 = the most important reason, etc.).

  1. Recommendation of a friend / colleague
  2. Recommendation of a travel agent / goldfish
  3. Recommendation read on a web site (if you have any idea which one, we would be grateful if you could tell us)
  4. The “nature” of the trips (age group, relative importance placed on food / lodging / biking...)
  5. “The timing of your trip fit my schedule, and other companies’ trips did not”
  6. “You were the only ones / the best of few who went where I wanted to go”
  7. Price
  8. “You gave me the idea of going on a cycle trip, and I never looked at anyone else”
  9. Peer pressure. I thought I was going to hate it
  10. I was so confused by your web site, I thought I was buying living room furniture



7.2. Could you figure out the web site and / or catalogue?

  1. Cake
  2. After some struggle
  3. Most of it
  4. Not really
  5. I think I’ll stick to molecular biology
  6. Frankly, I didn’t try



7.3. Do you think that our publicity material fairly and accurately represented the trips?

  1. Yes
  2. Essentially
  3. Could have been a bit more precise on some points (telling us which is of great help)
  4. There were a couple of serious problems
  5. I’m still waiting for the furniture I ordered



Any constructive comments?



8. THOSE PEOPLE ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE

8.1. Which commercial office did you deal with?

  1. U.S.
  2. Canada
  3. Paris




8.2. How did you find communicating with your local office?

  1. Easy: phones were answered and e.mail messages were responded to quickly
  2. I had some trouble with holding or turnaround time, or office closure, but call-back was reliable, and anyway, I’m used to the airlines...
  3. Frankly, it was sometimes a bit difficult to get through to you
  4. An endless voice-mail loop would have been a better marketing tool




8.3. Were the people who handled your questions generally well-informed?

  1. Remarkable. Answered questions efficiently & quickly
  2. Yes, reasonably. Answered or got answers to my questions
  3. OK, smarter than your average bear
  4. Seemed to have a basic grasp of geography
  5. My cat knows more about travel
  6. So does my goldfish (if you select “F”, we shall presume that “E” also applies, unless your goldfish is an accredited IATA travel agent. Please supply ID number in this case).




8.4. Were they polite and friendly?

  1. I have started adoption proceedings
  2. Very pleasant
  3. No complaints
  4. Frozen smile types
  5. Atilla the Hun was more conciliatory




Comments?



8.5. Do you feel that they gave you an accurate portrayal of the trip to come?

  1. The route sheets were superfluous
  2. Yes, I knew what to expect
  3. Mostly, and there was certainly no misleading involved in any inaccurate portrayals
  4. Pity they had never been on any of your trips
  5. Lied through their teeth




8.6. If you looked at it, what did you think of the packing list?

  1. “Excellent, provided me with helpful and pertinent advice”
  2. “Good, overall” [If you can, tell us how you found it lacking, below]
  3. “Not really very well thought out” [please comment below if you have the patience]
  4. “A rolling disaster, or at least that is what I was after I used it”




8.7. Was the other general information you received prior to departure useful?

  1. Very
  2. Yes, reasonably
  3. Somewhat
  4. Not really ideal
  5. In a Machiavellian sort of way




Is there anything else you would have liked to see included, or do you have comments on content or style?



9. OVERALL, THE FUTURE
Please tell us how important the different attributes of this type of trip are to you, on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 will equal very important, 10 of no importance at all. This is not a ranking: you may attribute the same number to two or more characteristics. Conversely, ranking everything the same is not very informative. We are trying to figure out where you would like us to invest your money when you travel with us.

The quality of the biking:
The quality of the bike:
The other people on your trip:
The hotels:
The coordinator:
The quality of the meals:
Flexibility to modulate your program (cycle a different route, eat away from the group, etc.):



Pre-trip “support” (technical info, ease of contact with our offices, etc.):

Silly though this exercise may seem, we would be grateful if you would attempt an overall rating of your entire trip, on a scale of 1 to 100 (1 is low, 100 is high):



(Y)es or (N)o: would you consider going on another Blue Marble trip?



Comments?



(Y)es or (N)o: would you recommend the trip to acquaintances?



Please comment, if so inclined:



May we use you as a reference? Please answer with one of:
“(Y)es”
If you answer “yes,” we will offer the e.mail contact you give us, as well as the trip you took, to a few people over the next couple of years. We will not give out your phone number, and we will warn you by e.mail that we have given your contact information to each prospective rider.
“(N)o, I am not going to have time for that type of nonsense. I have a very important job, and wear a suit!”
OR
(X) “It’s not in your interest”
You’d be surprised — we give negative references when ours sense is that some of the same issues may be present for a potential rider. If you are willing to honestly discuss your trip, even though you did not like it, let us know that.



Your name:



E.mail to use:



Would you be willing to put up flyers for us where you work, at your health club, amongst your household pets, or while aimlessly roaming the streets? This can earn referral points, which are like frequent flyer miles, except that they are for bicycles. If yes, please give us an idea of how many you would like:

“Feel free to send me _______ flyers.” [Fill in number]
(We obviously appreciate this greatly, since otherwise we have to go out and get jobs.)

• Are there any other services you would like to see us provide?



Thank you for your help with this questionnaire, which you should feel free to expand as you see fit, adding additional comments. We hope you had a good trip. We are truly sorry for anything that wasn't quite right, and your answers will hopefully help us to do better!

If you wish to snail mail this reply, please send it to any of our offices.

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