Have just completed the feedback survey but wanted to add some personalised comments for you all, both positive and constructive. Firstly had a great time, I could not believe it would be better than the last time but it was.
I very much like the flexibility that this company offers. You, personally, have worked tirelessly to meet all my little requests in terms of a tailor made tour/solution. The effort you went to in organising different car/driver combinations was excellent and is a testament to both your expertise and the companies flexibility. It is a real customer focussed company and I hope you never loose that, it is a rare commodity.
Hotels again are great, which is why I stayed in them again. I cant tell you how impressed I am particularly with the Ambassador. This is well above what I would class a 4 star hotel.
I made some feedback, at hotel staff request, on the InTourist hotel in Volgograd. It is comfortable and I did not have any major problems, but it is not of the same standard as the Moscow or St Petersburg hotel. Not complaining, you just need to be aware. Their restaurant is fairly ordinary, but the one across the road at the Volgograd is excellent. They could do with an investment in bed/mattress combinations as the wooden frame single beds are not brilliant and the air conditioner and fridges really don’t cope with the 35 degree heat of Volgograd. Again, not complaining just letting you know. I sleep under the stars if I have to, so I take what I get and it met my needs, especially with its great location.
One improvement you do need to make is booking of early check ins if required. I had forgotten to ask, but it was the same last time. When the overnight train arrives in St Peter at 8 or 9 am, rooms aren’t available at the Ambassador until 14:00 unless early checkin has been organised. Getting of the train all you want is a shower, so this should be considered.
Similarly then, because they cant give you access to rooms no key is available so breakfast becomes a problem, as you need the keypass for lift access. Early checkin would solve all the problems, and is just a minor detail
Only had one problem with transfers with one being 30-45 minutes late at the airport. Held my ground against the taxi companies who want your business but at close to midnight you do begin to worry. Can I suggest a local Russian Number to call if there is any problems or to get guidance. I know you have a UK number, but international calls are hugely expensive on a Russian SIM card which typically only have 500 Rubbles credit on them (Which is plenty for local calls). The driver was fine, but sometimes little problems do crop up.
You have excellent drivers. I cant believe the lengths drivers go to in Moscow in particular to keep traffic moving. It is an eye opener. David in particular on this trip was a real asset. He organised things brilliantly, especially where we had the drop off and pick up at the same spot (Great Patriotic War Museum). His English is great and he spent a bit of time ensuring that the driver picking me up was well briefed, and I was well briefed. He managed to have me picked up with a different car and driver from the same spot at the agreed time without any problems. I cant speak highly enough of his services.
Again a real highlight, as there were last time. Tamara at Volgograd was excellent. The gentleman who took me to Monino was fabulously entertaining and even offered to let me join his family for a meal and drink, such was his hospitality. Svetlana who escorted on the canal cruise was also very interesting and caring of personal safety and a real joy to talk with. She was just like having a day out with a friend. The guide to Peterhof was similarly fabulous. I can’t believe you have so many high quality guides, both this time and for my Feb trip.
If I can make a suggestion, perhaps you should give the guides a list of the customers they will be taking on a tour in addition to the GoRussia sign. We almost had a disaster, as I saw what I though was my guide for the Peterhoff trip, as she was carrying the GoRussia sign. She was surprised there was only one of me as she was expecting someone else as well, and we were about to commence the activity when we discovered I was about to go on a city tour designed for someone else. My bus arrived later. Giving the guides a bit more information would avoid any confusion.
I can’t tell you wonderfully this worked out for the trip to MAKS. Maria was fabulous. She rang the hotel when she was a little late. she was able to help get me to the airshow without any problems, negotiating with rail staff on the best method, and was a great companion and helper. She cares so much for your well being, offering to take photos and generally doing anything to help and make the day comfortable. She even was interested in engaged in wonderful conversation about things that are of interest to me (all of which I’m certain are a bore to her). It was almost like travelling with a close friend with similar interests who knows the local stuff.
If I had known that an option of an assistant was available I think I would have taken that for many parts of the trip as it was independent travellers need. Very different from a guide who has a lot of expertise and knows all the historical stuff. Someone like Maria is just a great facilitator. She would have been a perfect solution to visiting any of the museums and sights, someone who can get you through the metro system, organise tickets and generally sort out translation issues without the formalness of guides.
If I had discovered her on my first trip I would have just asked for her to accompany me each day and got wherever by the Metro. Being a local she had many ideas of places to visit which may be of interest on the way home as well.
I think the company should offer this as part of the great service you have in addition to the guided tours. Someone who is available at a daily rate to just be an assistant on activities that you may know about. Some people I’m sure are like me and have a fair idea of what they want to see and just need some help without necessarily having a driver and car etc. Going with the flow.
Hopefully not too much here, I just wanted to let you know what a great time I had, and to give you detailed feedback of all the things which I think you do brilliantly and a few suggestions to hopefully allow you to offer even better services in the future.
I feel very lucky to have discovered goRussia for my Russian adventures, you were the exact solution I was looking for and could not have been more delighted with what you all do. I still can’t believe I just stumbled on you via an internet search.
I’m still trying to work out if I prefer the picture perfectness of Winter, with minimal tourists or the freedom to explore that summer offered, and which of the many things was the highlight. It is a shame I feel like I’ve done the best of Russia, there is many other things I could see there, and that I need to see other parts of the world as I have enjoyed myself and working with you and the company and all its employees immensely.
Many thanks, and if you have an opportunity to pass on any positive remarks to any of those in Russia I dealt with, please do so. I tried to as best I could but not sure if I succeeded with my couple of months of Russian tutoring.
Thanks Diana and well done Julian (?) you have set up a great company here with wonderful staff in both the UK and more importantly in Russia.
Please feel to use any of my comments in any way you see fit on promotional material, I am happy to endorse and be attributed to them for you.