departure morning, luggage packed, passport in my pocket, let's do this.
so here I am again, standing with Steve a driver I've just met, we're looking at them, they're looking back, but looking away again too quickly, I can't really lock eye contact long enough to facially intimate that they should all come over to the bus. "I'm going to go tell them all to come over" I say to Steve, "and I'm gonna go with Undies for my introduction of you today ok?", 'You're having a tin bath' is all I get back as I walk over to the group. I say good morning to the 30 or so lost souls who are obviously traveling together on a 12 day tour of Europe but are yet to confirm this with each other despite this one car-park containing one empty coach. I tell them in clear, loud English that we must check all of their names off against the booking departure list I have, get their luggage onto the coach and get on the road, oh.
The group follow me back over and undies gets into the back breaking position of coach luggage loader and looks forward to the 50 or so cases he has to jigsaw pack this morning. I look at the luggage and feel it's weight on my own shoulders, I can see these people are scared, excited, tired and confused, I beam a smile for each person and look for immediate rapport as I mispronounce each of their names horribly.
I have had some ripper passenger names on some of my tours, I had a female passenger called Poorani thong, an awkward moment on the bus mic when one of my passengers from South East Asia introduced herself to the group - "hello errbody my name is Whak Yu" - I try really hard with names but on this first morning I'll be luck to remember 2 or 3.
With everything loaded and everybody ready to go to sleep, It's now my job to deliver the most important talk of the whole tour. In this talk I need to break down the passenger expectations so they feel at the end of it, that they had a great time and enjoyed good value. This is the talk that sets the whole tour up, first impressions of me, the driver, what we're going to see and how we are going to go about seeing it and of course what we'll be eating, and where we'll be partying and what they'll be spending their money on, security, accommodation, dietary requirements and medical information, who has motion sickness? (my favorites, because they always end up sitting behind me) plus much more.