20150824_153630Having returned home safely and readjusted following our long flight home, my husband, Hank and I have been reflecting more about our Insight Gems of Britain tour.  When Hank asked me my favorite part, I had to say – it was the whole trip!

The trip was all that we expected as far as the destinations, length of time in transit, beauty and historical interest of the area, and exposure to the U.K.’s complex society, governments, and industries. We will vividly remember having seen millions of sheep on thousands of hillsides; buildings, towns, and cities that represent the influence of countless years and peoples; foods that simply can’t be adequately reproduced here: fish and chips, pasties, lamb (and mutton), and fine ales.  In these travels, our Insight Tour Director, Siobhan displayed a depth of knowledge and insight that was appropriately timed, well-informed, and which greatly added to our appreciation of what we saw.  And she did this with a colorful sense of humor and first-hand knowledge that proved to be an enhancement to presentation of facts.  We were not at all disappointed!

What we had not anticipated (this being our first coach tour) was the five days of operating in a closed social system formed by a mosaic of characters from a variety of countries and backgrounds. Every person was unique and came with his/her own special needs.  Siobhan’s management of the group, I think, is what she should be commended for more than any other aspect of her duties.  Somehow she knew how to herd us all without it being obvious to anyone who those individuals were who may have been requiring your extra effort or attention.  Siobhan very subtly adjusted her approach in a way that rounded out the edges of the group.  From her years of experience as a T.D., she must know that a single difficult person can ruin others’ experience, and she took all the necessary steps to make sure this did not happen.  This ability is a gift and cannot be taught.  Well done!

I also want to commend Siobhan for her fabulous energy and ability to juggle duties.  Siobhan was on top of details every step of the way. It wasn’t until the day our seat rotation placed us in the front (a marvelous and absolutely necessary policy, by the way) that I observed the amount of paperwork she needed to keep up with on, probably, a daily basis.  It also occurred to me that all of the enroute decision-making, including confirming group and individuals’ reservations, etc., were her responsibility.  She had to coordinate a lot of details amidst changing circumstances while being constantly interrupted by customer needs and trip-related cordialities.  Yet Siobhan never showed even a glimpse of agitation or frustration and responded to every interaction with lively humor, candor, and grace.  I also noted her awareness and prompt interception of anything that could potentially disappoint a guest, and her employment of good judgment to discretely take steps to make the situation right.  Siobhan guests’ needs and delights always came first! Thank you for that.

Siobhan, our trip was “brilliant”, and we are pleased and privileged to have been placed in your care as our T.D. for the week.  Thank you so very much!