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Gate 1 Travel - Horrible Escorted Tour Experience!!!

I booked the Portugal – Spain vacation as a high school graduation present for my son. The trip was scheduled June 8 - 22 and it was purchased for the two (2) of us for over $7,000 with Gate 1 Travel. With the exception of Fatima, Travel Director, the trip was good. Fatima failed miserably in providing exceptional customer service and she failed miserably in regional cultural sensitivity.
On the last night, during the farewell dinner, she proposed a Champaign toast. She said, “Iny Meany My Nemo, catch a “N” (The “N” word used to describe Black People/African – Americans) by his toe; if he squeals, let him go, Eny, meeny, miney, moe.” This is the racist version of the nursery rhyme. As our glasses were suspended in the air, I was in disbelief, hurt, confused, and embarrassed. My son and I were the only African-Americans among 40 phenomenal travelers. The lady sitting next to me who has a bi-racial daughter said, “Did she say what I thought she said? I responded yes, she did!”
The issue wasn’t that my son and I were the only African-Americans on the trip; however, the issue was that I didn’t pay $7,000+ dollars to have a representative of Gate 1 to disassemble my entire experience with her lack of regional cultural sensitivity. The cultural insensitivity experienced caused me to have to console my son and to counsel him on the ignorance and embarrassment that was projected on him by Fatima’s remarks.
Upon our return, I went through the chain of command and wrote to Karina, Reservationist. She referred the complaint to Customer Service. After receiving an e-mail from Anne, Customer Service, I wrote and submitted the complaint. One week passed and I didn’t receive any feedback, so I inquired about the status of the complaint. Days went buy and they said they are still looking into it. One week passed, and I requested to speak with the Customer Service Manager. I received a notice from Ann with an offer of $100.00 as a goodwill gesture for us being subjected to hearing the word “N” towards a future trip within the calendar year of 2017.

After receiving the e-mail from Anne, I then sent another e-mail. The e-mail stated, “I requested to speak with a manager, which was not granted. I will not accept $100.00 towards another trip. This further adds insult to the injury!” Days went by and I received a telephone call from Caitlin, Customer Service Manager, telling me that they apologize and can’t take back what was said by Fatima. I told her that the $100.00 goodwill gesture further adds insult to the wound. She then asked me to tell her what I wanted. I told her that they are a mega conglomerate company, and they needed to resolve the situation and to make it right for my son and me. We didn’t ask to be insulted while traveling with Gate 1 Travel. I didn’t pay $7,000+ dollars to have my vacation ruined by Fatima, Travel Director.

I sent a letter along with the e-mails to Dani, President and Marty, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Over two (2) weeks went by before I received a response. An e-mail was received from Caitlin, Customer Service Manager, pretty much re-stating was stated before. There was no resolve to this issue.
I will not recommend this company to anyone because they failed in providing exceptional customer services from the President down Customer Service when we needed them the most. You never know the potential of a company until you are met with a challenging experiences, like this one.

What we experienced changed the course of our vacation. To-date, we are still hurt and having extensive discussions on the matter. Apparently, Gate 1 Travel doesn’t provide regional cultural sensitivity training to the Travel Directors or exceptional customer service training. It’s apparent to me that they are not equipped to handle or be accountable when areas, like what we experienced, are breached.

Posted by
300 posts

The offer of a $100 voucher is an obvious insult; what would you have considered to be an appropriate response?

Posted by
5517 posts

I am completely confused by the repeated "regional cultural sensitivity training" phrase. There isn't anyone on earth that doesn't know the use of that word is racist. There is no regional about it. It was wrong.

It does look like the company has tried to apologize for the lapse by its guide. I find myself wondering as asked above, what is it that you want from the company? They can't take back the words once spoken, they can only distance themselves from such a statement and speak to the employee to make sure it doesn't happen again.

My guess is that the tour director was drunk before giving such a toast. Another serious lapse in professional behavior. That doesn't excuse it, but I do have to ask, "Must you let this one awful moment define your tour experience?" You state the trip was good until the last night. You sound quite bitter in your posting. You have been hurt, there was no excuse for such a toast. However, if you continue to let this hurt fester and bother you, you will only be hurting yourself and your son.

I have to admit that I have not been the brunt of racist remarks and I probably can't imagine the depth of the hurt over time. I am sorry that you have had that type of experience.

Posted by
5697 posts

If your son has just graduated from high school and is emotionally scarred by one thoughtless/careless comment, you might want to have further discussions with him before he leaves for college because he will no doubt encounter similar situations.
Agreed the company should definitely explain to the travel director that the N-word is offensive (if she is non-American she may just have learned eenie-meenie as a counting game) and ensure that she does not use it again.

Posted by
7 posts

Bambi50,

Thank you for sharing your experience and warning us about this company. Based on what you have shared I would never consider doing business with this company.

I'm sorry that some people don't get the depth of pain such situations cause, and feel the need to judge your reaction. I sincerely hope you and your son have better travel experiences in the future!

Posted by
1486 posts

There are a few astonishing things here.

First, no one of those 40 "phenomenal travelers" stopped her? Believe me, if I'd been there, the moment that word came out of her mouth, I would have stood up and said, "Stop. There is no acceptable reason for using that word." Or at least I hope I would have. And I'd certainly hope someone of those 40 people would have.

Second, you're not the only one who was damaged by that. If I'd spent two weeks traveling around with and engaging with someone who used the "N" word, I would have been outraged. You being black doesn't mean you're the only one affected. The company owes an apology to each and every person on that tour. They should have mailed everyone on the tour to apologize and express their extreme dismay. They should have fired the tour director immediately upon learning of the incident. And they should have made it clear to all of you that such things are not tolerated by them and are absolutely in opposition to the goals and principles they stand for, and that all of their tour directors would be going through special training to make sure something of that sort never happens again.

Had they taken the proper steps to let you all know that this person did not represent them or their standards, I think that would have been an adequate and acceptable resolution. As others have said, they can't rewind the clock and make the words get unspoken. Their failure to respond appropriately is, as I see it, just as bad as the initial offense.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I am sorry this happened.

Posted by
1096 posts

Lane,
Extremely well stated. I also can unfortunately believe that one person would behave in such an outrageously poor manner. It is dismaying to hear that so many others followed suit by remaining silent. I also don't understand questioning the OP about what she wanted. Thank you for answering so well their questions which in my opinion were also insensitive.

Bambi, I am sorry about this experience you had. I hope you and your son never have to be in such a situation again.

Posted by
3580 posts

This isn't the first time a first time poster has come on this forum to lodge a complaint and "warning" about doing business somewhere. Heartfelt apologies should be coming from the company mentioned, but one incident in one family's tour experience is not enough to sink this company.

Posted by
1058 posts

Bambi50
I would just like to add my words of support to you. I really feel the pain that this has caused you and wish I could give you a big hug and make your pain go away. I hope that people will read your posting and realize how powerful words can be and what an impact they can have. I hope you will be able to move past this terrible experience. Life is too short to allow someone, through their ignorance, to take the joy and happiness from you. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Posted by
672 posts

bambi50.dl,

You might consider sending the URL for this thread to the offending company. It would certainly help those in charge realize that the action of the Travel Director is harmful to their company's bottom line, even if they are not taking the moral outrage seriously.

I had never heard of Gate 1 Travel; but it is now on the never-consider and warn-against lists.

Posted by
8507 posts

Margaret has given very good advice on telling the company what you want.
I am very sorry this happened.

As someone who has worked with languages for a career, I wonder if this Fatima was a native English speaker or not. I truly wish you had spoken to her after the toast to find out if she is ignorant, in which case you could have educated her, or if she is racist. Since you didn't speak to her, she will continue using the racist version of the rhyme.

I would ask the company to patch her through on a three-way call, with a company representative present, and talk to her yourself directly for your and your son's sake. If she's racist, she needs to be fired. If she's ignorant, she needs to be educated. And you need compensation, not a trip voucher!

Second language speakers don't get the power behind our worst words--t-shirts in other countries with the f-word are an example.

Posted by
2845 posts

I am appalled at the tour guide's little "game", and I am sure many of those present were deeply offended as well. If no one protested, I believe it was because they were too shocked to respond. Or maybe they just wished the words would go away.

I agree you could sent this entire discussion to the company and be clear about what you want. An apology to everyone at the very least. And for you maybe a partial refund, since part of your trip was ruined.

Posted by
5151 posts

Bets makes a very good point. One of the things we noticed when we were living abroad is that non-native speakers of a language don't use profanity correctly, and often don't realize that some words or expressions are offensive or even obscene. As an extreme example, we had an acquaintance in Poland, in his 30s and highly educated, who when he spoke in his fluent English, used the f word in almost every sentence. I think he thought it made him sound more authentically American. The use of the word by young people in the States has recently become distressingly common, but this was 30 years ago!

Posted by
261 posts

I also think Bets has a point... While the tour guide can be insensitive, I think if english is not her first language, she might not be aware that it is an offensive word... In fact, if she knows many languages, as most tour guides do, the word can be confused with similar sounding non offensive words. I think maybe you should request to talk to her and a manager, and clear the situation. Maybe it wasn't her intention at all and she doesn't even know she offended someone...

Posted by
518 posts

I also agree w/ Bets on:

"I wonder if this Fatima was a native English speaker or not. I truly wish you had spoken to her after the toast to find out if she is ignorant, in which case you could have educated her, or if she is racist."

Let's get to the bottom of this. Did she truly have no idea what the word meant? Did she think she was using a different word and confused words and meanings? Does she know exactly what the word meant but didn't know its severity? Or was she just a straight up ignorant racist?

I also agree with the others on being very, very articulate and detailed on exactly what it is you want from the company, spell it out for them in writing if you have to. For example:

  1. Written apology from the owners/president/managers/etc.
  2. Confirmation that steps have been taken to conduct sensitivity/cultural to prevent or lessen such incidents from happening again (again, in writing).
  3. Confirmation that they have addressed this issue with the travel director Fatima (again, in writing, perhaps part of the written apology). etc.

I read in the news today that a McDonald's employee in Texas was fired after she refused to serve a police officer. The owners of the McDonald's terminated her immediately. This is the sort of response I think you were hoping for.

Posted by
28121 posts

bambi 50 dl has not returned to this (travel partners) or any other other Rick Steves thread since the original post, but these exact words do appear elsewhere on the internet.

It is difficult to hear both sides of a story when only one side is presented so I am now going to share what I have found as the rest of her complaint - on the Gate 1 feedback site - and the company answer, and what bambi said in the detail section. Since Gate 1 aren't here to defend themselves it is interesting to see the company point of view.

Bambi's post above ends "experienced, are breached".

The complaint on Gate 1's feedback page continues:

As a mother, I could not allow this experience to go undocumented and
allowed my son to see what I wrote and the feedback received to allow
him to see how some corporations can fail you, the customer, miserably
as Gate 1 Travel has failed us on so many levels.

I decided not to go the legal route and to allow the public seeking
reviews about Gate 1 Travel to hear my story and to make an informed
decision prior to booking with the company. I have all of the e-mails
and the letters sent to the Presidents to support this very toxic
experience.

The question I have is how would you have handled the situation? How
do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have handled the situation? How
do you think that Gate 1 Travel should have compensated us?

That was posted yesterday.

Under More Review Details she gave each of the following areas one star out of 5:=

Additional Fees

Product or Service Quality

Staff

Value for money

Exchange, Refund and Cancellation Policy

and then these (topic to the left, answer with the bar

Reason of review:

Lack of Regional Cultural Sensitivity and Poor Customer Service

Preferred solution:

Full refund

Monetary loss:

$7000

Product or service

Gate1travel Customer Care

Review category

Travel Agencies

and here is the answer from the company, two hours ago (around 1 pm Pennsylvania time)

Gate1Travel 2 hours ago #1191927 Fort Washington, Pennsylvania Our
whole business is designed to encourage others to experience the
cultural diversity around the world . We employ many different
nationalities and ethnic groups in our offices around the world and
our largest office here in the US. We take pride in the diversity of
our staff and believe that diversity has greatly contributed to our
success.

As such when we received your comments we immediately shared
them with our management team that is responsible for tour managers,
to not only review but to ensure the proper measures were taken. As
for the credit, it was not meant to be insulting however as you
indicated you wanted to book another trip when you initially shared
your concerns, we simply wanted to make a gesture of goodwill.

Posted by
518 posts

Thank you for the additional research. A full refund of $7,000 seems a bit over the top, considering they did actual participate in the entire trip. But then again, what kind of price and how, do you put a price on a person's emotional distress. It'll be interesting to see if this goes any further.

Posted by
3253 posts

I definitely think this guide should have been fired because if her understanding of English is that poor, she has no business leading tours. If Carol is right about her being drunk, that would be another strike against her for being drunk at work(and she was at work during a scheduled dinner of the tour). I find her behavior to be very offensive and if I had been on that tour, the amount of her tip from me would have been severely impacted by her behavior. However, the OP and her son need to understand that the world is not a "safe place" where we can be assured that others will not offend us.

Posted by
308 posts

I grew up in small town America with very little cultural diversity. There were a few phrases I heard that I had no idea were offensive until I went to college and started travelling. Now when I hear someone say offensive things, I immediately take the position that the person might be ignorant like I used to be. Then I say something like, "Did you know X term is offensive and it means X?" That will either educate the person in case they honestly didn't know, or it will communicate that hearing that term makes me very uncomfortable.

Posted by
137 posts

I am an American, born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, with a Chinese ethnic background. Throughout my 60+ years, I have suffered the insults of racial slurs and discriminatory behaviors, so have my children who are in their late twenties and early thirties. Some are subtle and some are in your face. I can understand the pain and indignity that comes when such actions are directed towards you, especially when it is intentional. According to OP, the racial slur was used once on the very last night during the farewell dinner. Up until then, it sounded like the mom and son had a good travel experience and was treated well by the tour director. Since I was once an ESL teacher, I tend to believe that the tour director did not know what she was saying was so reprehensible. I am sure I would have been shocked had I been there and would have wondered if I had heard correctly. I would like to think that I would have confronted the tour director by taking her aside afterwards in private to explain to her what she really said was wrong and that she should never say it again. It did not sound like she directed the slur to the mom and her son. The mom was correct to contact the company to explain what had happened and asked them to take steps to explain to their employees that such slurs are not acceptable. Had the slur been directed towards me as an Asian, I would have also filed the complaint. However, I honestly do not think my entire vacation would be completely ruined by an incident like this, but that's me. I am not that mom and her son. It would take a lot more than that to take away my happy memories. I would like to believe a mistake was made and request that the company take action to make sure it never happens again.

Posted by
13697 posts

Very well done, Dee. As uncomfortable as the experience was, there is the chance that the tour guide did not realize that what she said was offensive. That would have been the time to pull her aside and patiently explain why she should not do it again.

During my years on multiple travel forums, I've seen all sorts of posts which contained objectionable language from people who very honestly did not know that they were violating the rules of polite discourse in another culture. It may have been better to have looked at it as an opportunity to return the GOOD things this individual provided during the tour with some valuable education?

I'm recalling a manager (older gentleman) from the Netherlands I once worked under back in the 70's who referred to the females in his department collectively as 'stupid broads.' It took awhile before we figured out that he had picked it up from some (questionable) American acquaintances, and had no idea that he was hurting our feelings.

Posted by
13 posts

We respect and appreciate the feedback we have received in regards to our travel experience with Gate 1.

In response to the comments, I would like to say that the first rule in business is to know your audience prior to initiating any form of communications. Next, it is imperative to have an understanding of the diversities ethnic groups and cultures when providing when providing customer service in business.

Gate 1 is a U.S. based company that conducts business nationally and internationally. When employing workers from both regions to provide customer service, it is imperative for the company to provide ethnic, culture, and diversity sensitivity training to all of their employees to mitigate risks and liabilities. I really don’t fault the Tour Director, I fault Gate 1. If she had been provided he tools, resources, and received adequate training, the risk factor would have been mitigated. The Tour Director is a representative of Gate 1; therefore, Gate 1 is responsible for how the employee's represents their business; therefore the company cannot separate itself from the representative.

During the toast, I didn’t say anything because I was in shock and needed time to process. I compartmentalized the raw feelings I’d encountered. Some of the travelers, who spoke with me about the situation, were in shock too! Even though we were feeling terrible, we took the high road and I told my son that we will have a discussion upon our return to the hotel room. During our discussion, I told him how I was going to handle the situation and he has been involved every step of the way. In our effort to resolve the situation, we drafted the complaint together and respected the chain of command, which involved the agent, customer service, president, vice-president and last resort the social media outlets.

This is how I would like for Gate 1 to bring resolve to the issue…

  1. Mail a formal letter of apology to all of the travelers who shared the escorted tour
  2. Provide a prorated refund to all of the travelers the last day of travel based upon the total cost expended. For an example, the cost of the trip was $7,000/15 days = $466.00 per day. The refund should be $466.00 for the day that we were impacted.
  3. Provide ethnic, culture & diversity sensitivity training to all national and international employees
  4. Streamline the customer complaint process and improve the policies & procedures
  5. Ensure the complaints are taken seriously
  6. Understand complaints are critical and handle them with a sense of urgency that includes a reasonable maximum number of days to resolve
  7. Provide customers with substantive feedback and the actions that were taken to resolve the complaints

Gate 1 Travel failed us miserably and we had the potential to become repeat customers; however, under the circumstances, we will not recommend the company to any of our family and friends. Gate 1 stated, they offered the $100 as a goodwill because I desired to travel with them again; however, this implication was taken out of context. They were told how they handled the situation would determine if we would travel with them again.

We are aware that Gate 1 Travel is a large company; however, it was imperative for me to take action and to allow my son to participate in all aspects of the process. We appreciate the feedback and wish everyone all the best!

Posted by
11450 posts

Sorry.. I think expecting the company to refund every tour member is one of the silliest things I have ever heard.. its you being punitive.. Most of the other travellers likely were not impacted that negatively.. obviously none of them complained. If I had been on the tour I would have been shocked.. and I would have said something to the guide afterwards.. but I would not expect a refund myself. For you .. it would be different.

However.. I am not a minority.. so that's easy for me to say.. if I was you , I would ask for a prorated refund for myself and my son. That is reasonable.. and you were the most affected. trust me.. most folks went home and forgot about the slur..

I also am surprised you did not confront the tour guide directly right after dinner, .. I would have asked her if she knew how offensive that line in the song was.. she likely did not..
Just so you know I grew up singing that song and using that word.. but I had no idea what it meant .. I had no idea what it meant till I was far to old to sing nursey rymes and by then they had changed the word to "tiger" .. .. and it is sad to think that at one time it was a word used in a childrens song.. how disgusting.. but , as a child, if you had told me a "n" was a type of animal, vegetable , or space alien ,, I would have believed you .

I will say that some racial slurs were normal when I grew up.. we called First Nations people "Indians" or "chugs" .. I did not know that was wrong.. we all used the term "chink store" when talking about the corner store.. and I didn't know it was rude till my Chinese friend told me in grade 5 that it was a rude word! I used it right in front of her.. like it was nothing.. " I am going to the chink store to get some pop you wanna come" I NEVER wanted to insult or hurt her feelings ( we are still friends more than 40 years later !) I simply did not know it was a racial insult.. I thought it was a racial nick name.. I didn't know nick names like that were wrong.. this was the 60s.. so a long time ago.

So basically what I am saying is this tour guide may have made a very ignorant hurtful mistake. .but since you seemed to think the rest of the tour was great.. and she didn't make you feel bad or out of place for entire trip till this.. then maybe accept she was a dolt and get over it.. ask for a refund for you and your son.. and a letter of apology.. and ask that the guides be given a sensitivity training seminar on racial slurs.. etc..

I do find it fascinating that you were already to book another trip with them.. that seems odd considering how hurt and insulted you were..

Perhaps try a Rick Steves tour next time.. or better yet.. now that you have been to Europe.. try doing it on your own .. you can have a great trip for that sort of money.

Posted by
13 posts

I'm not sure if you read my comments in full context. If they were read in context, perhaps you would have understood that I told Gate 1 Travel that a how they handled the situation would detetmine if I would travel with them again. As a result of them failing us miserably in customer service, we determined we will NEVER use their service again. I don't find the choice odd primtheir because it was a performanced based decision. We gave them the opportunity to resolve the situation. As consumers, we have the right to exercise these options. Haven't you ever given a company the chance to restore your patronage in them before writing them off? Well I did...

In terms of the said silly request, I may have been the one who submitted the complaint, but I wasn't the only one affected. To be fair, I considered the others, which was a noble gesture that is highly unlikely to occur. You wanted to know what I want from the company, so now you know. You may not agree, but you have been informed.

Its very easy to judge why didn't I do this or that... You are not me and you have not walked a mile in my shoes. I'm not an impulsive person and we are okay with how we handled the situation't even if it wasn't popular and it didn't please the masses.

You are correct, Gate 1 Travel isn't the only escorted touring company in the travel industry and we are in the process of researching other companies to determine if we will book with another escorted tour company or travel independently. We are very passionate about continuing to travel on our annual iinternational trips and thankful tthat we have options and resources that we intend to use.

My son and I have gained much from this experience and understand that every valuable lesson happens for a reason.

Life is good! 😀

Posted by
8507 posts

So what it really comes down to is Gate 1 being evasive rather than proactive. Your list looks reasonable and very clear.

As for the guide, we still don't know if she understood what she had said, if she was a native English speaker or not. With the word blown all over pop culture in songs and movies, she might not know it's wrong. This will be a good opportunity for Gate 1 to develop training programs--even if it's an on line course--to be sure all their local guides are trained correctly. I have a hard time imagining RS guides making this mistake, but I could be wrong. Having spent a career with second language people, nothing surprises me.

Finally, being shocked at the moment is understandable. It happened to us at a communal dining table during our trip in May. My breath was knocked out but my wonderful husband picked up the ball. The speaker, a narrow-minded European woman, was flustered to find others differed, but only for about five seconds. She then went on with her bigoted life.

Posted by
11446 posts

I would like to chime in on this since I have worked in the tour industry.

Hearing that word has to be very disturbing and you have every right to be upset. Since you did not mention the nationality of the Travel Director nor if English is her first language, we really don't know if this was just a language mistake and she didn't know,

When a mistake or complaint is made, every tour company I know of takes action. They immediately contact the tour director and let them know of the complaint. No matter how minor, it is discussed. Since most tour directors are independent contractors, they take the complaints seriously as well. Too many complaints and they do not get work. (The Gate1 Travel Directors are not "staff" of Gate1 and are hired independently.)

You should receive good service from the company, however some of your demands are not reasonable.

1) You demand that all tour participants get a letter of apology. Were you asked to do this by all the other members of the tour? You can demand and should get an apology. Insisting that every person on the tour get a letter of apology when you weren't asked to do this isn't reasonable.

2) Compensation. The same as #1. You could theoretically ask for compensation for yourself. You cannot reasonably demand compensation for everyone. While others were probably not happy hearing what you did, for most it did not ruin their tour.

3) The employee in question needs to be educated about the problem. To demand that an entire company get retrained in sensitivity because of it, and there is no history of problems, is also asking for too much. As far as tour directors go, most go through professional training prior to being hired by tour companies. Is it reasonable to ask the company to add a few pages about sensitivity to their Tour Director's manual? That's possible but professional training is not.

The rest of your demands are reasonable. Customer service should communicate with you within a reasonable time frame and try their best to make you happy. Unfortunately, making the customer happy isn't always possible.

I wonder. Did this Travel Director show you any other prejudice or bigotry on your tour or was this the only incidence? Did you not get something as part of your tour that you should have? Did you do and see everything stated in the brochure? Tour Directors work with people form all over the world and from all types of cultures. Most are very sensitive to people's feeling and won't do anything, knowingly, to upset a passenger.

There was an incidence on one of my tours where some cultural sensitivity might have been breached. I apologized to the passengers affected immediately and they let the matter drop saying it was an accident and not done on purpose. (The incident is too long to explain here.)

I never worked for Gate 1 and they were not as big as they are now when I was working in the tour industry.

Posted by
13 posts

Again, if you read what I posted in full context, you would know that Gate 1 Travel had not resolved the complaint that is why it was submitted through the chain of command from the bottom up within the corporation. In theory you are right, but in Gate 1 Travel's practice, their actions did not match your theory.

In business, it is imperative for companies to provide training, tools , and resources to all of their employees to ensure they will be successful in carrying out the mission, goals, and objectives of the company. Otherwise, companies will experience a barrage of complaints, loss of repeat customers and/or lawsuits. That is why is is imperative to make the investment to mitigate the aforementioned risk factors.

Additionally, when you hire employees nationally or internationally, you are responsible for how they represent your company and that is why the training is essential. You cannot separate the companies representative from the company.

If they continue functioning insufficiently in providing trainings and implementing policies to better handle the abundance of complaints they are continuing to receive to-date. Not providing employees witn adequate training is just down right neglible. I wouldn't employ anyone without providing them with proper training.

I love the fact that we can agree to disagree on this subject and guess what? It's okay! 😄

Posted by
28121 posts

Additionally, when you hire employees

They are not employees. They are freelancers.

It seems to me that your course of action should be addressed to the awful woman who singled you out and treated you so badly who is an independent contractor, not the poor company who happened to book her for your tour.

Posted by
1845 posts

What a very odd toast to say a nursery rhyme with no offensive words, much less racist ones. Why not say a toast on a great trip? Very odd!

I'm sorry for your experience. I'm white and I would have found it insulting, too. I also understand your not speaking up at the time and processing it later. That is how I would have reacted as well. I also would not have made a scene and just left.

A friend of fine has traveled to 165 countries with Gate1 and loves them, and she would have been offended by that rhyme as well. So, I'm glad this is not a wide spread problem.

Good for you for making this complaint and expecting changes within the company. I hope they follow through. People must speak up to create change. I hope you can let it go knowing that you have made a difference.

Posted by
13 posts

Again, anyone representing Gate 1 Travel should recieve training. Regardless if they are employees, freelancers, contractors, temporary workers or seasonal workers....

ANYONE and EVERYONE should know what the companies vision, mission, goals and objectives are to mitigate the risk factors of complaints, loss of business and revenues and increased lawsuits.

You never know how a company wili handle your complaint until you experience it as I did.

I know first hand that Gate 1 Travel isn't the brand that I will seek to ascertain products and services from. The beauty of being a consumer is to have choices. In this case, I have chosen not to spend my dollars with them. I am committed to being honest with my family and friends about their service and will not recommend the company to ANYONE!

Again, I respect the fact that we can agree to disagree!😄

Posted by
2281 posts

Wow, that was a really offensive toast. I feel sure I would have been too stunned to say anything at the time.

I cannot imagine the tour guide is racist. Perhaps if all the people on the tour were Caucasian, I might conclude she was racist. But it seems very unlikely, given that you and your son were on the tour and there was no sign of a problem during the entire tour prior to the final dinner. I think it more likely she had no idea what it meant. (I am assuming she is Italian.) Nevertheless, you were right to complain, and the company should have responded more quickly and more aggressively.

I think your request of a one-day refund is appropriate, but I agree with Frank that the company should not have to make a refund to everyone on the tour. I'm also not in favor of the training for everyone in the company. Think about it. Would the training be likely to include a list of slang words that are culturally inappropriate? The list would be endless. Or would it tell everyone that if they decide to do eeny meeny miny moe, they should say Tiger? Company-wide training is appropriate when there is a company-wide problem. When one person says one offensive word, you don't implement a new training program. It's just overkill. These things cost money and will increase the cost of tours for everyone. More importantly, I don't think they can prevent every bad thing that could happen. The tour guide should be questioned and educated on why her toast was offensive. I would fire her (or refuse to use her again) only if she seemed unrepentant or if it happened again.

I hope you are able to put this behind you and not let it color your memory of a beautiful trip. It's so unfair that you and your son had to experience this.

Posted by
13 posts

We have cherrised the 15 days of spending quality time together in the exploration of the wonderful cultures, spectacular architecture, delicious foods, historical sites, awesome photography, and phenomenal felliow travelers.

Much was gained from the trip and nothing will be lost! Our world view and minset expanded and we achieved our goals.

I felt compelled to document and submit our experience and to show my son that he has options in the way he chooses to exercise his voice. He is an intelligent young man with a bright future. He has realized that corporate conglomerates can fail their customers; valuable life lesson.

At this point, I am only providing clarification to some of feedback that I have received. We have worked through our disappointments and moved to higher grounds and that precludes us from succumbing to toxins and harboring negativity.

Your feedback is appreciated and we wish you all the best! 😄

Posted by
2441 posts

You sound like a good person Bambi. I get emails from Gate 1 all the time. Next time I'll ask them why they would hire a contractor who knows so little about Americans that she would use the "n" word at a group meal.

Posted by
1096 posts

I am a bit confused by those of you who are stating, "maybe she didn't know that it was a bad word". So if she didn't know it was a bad word she must have thought it was an acceptable term to mean "black person", correct? The word originated as "negro" in Spain and Portugal meaning black. So, it is still offensive no matter how you present it. If you substitute a not so bad way of referring to any group of ethnic people even as mild as "frenchie", why are you catching him by the toe and waiting for him to squeal?
As for the rest of the lecturing about how Bambi handled the situation... I guess the discussion helps the rest of us work out in our minds what we might do in the future if such a thing should happen to us but it seems like more judgemental lecturing. As someone else mentioned I too have climbed the ranks as a woman in a man's field. I have been in situations that caused me to have an emotional reaction that plenty of men would not understand. I would hate for a man to tell me the "right" way to feel and the "right" way to have handled it.
Bambi, I continue to offer you my "forum support".

Posted by
13 posts

I really appreciate having the privilege of using this medium as a platform to voice our travel experience. Regardless if the feedback's position is pro or con, its a worthwhile discussion to have. My son and I appreciate all points of view.

Nevertheless, I didn't want to be all over the place and elected to focus on one issue. However, the tour guide lacked etiquettes, professionalism, and many of the travelers were not pleased with the her statement of hating Spanish people; she was ambiguous in disseminating information; didn't like that she failed to follow through and left msny things open ended; and didn't like that she was argumentative. Using the "N" word during the toast was the lsst straw.

Gate 1 Travel was informed. Gate 1 Travel failed to resolve the complaint. The issue is the statement imposed by the tour director and the primary issue is how Gate 1 Travel failed to bring resolve to the complaint.

It is my desire that eveyone reading this and those choosing to weigh in will use this platform to be a positive change agent in this topic of comversation.

I am a fair and objective business professional and I understand and respect opposing points of view. Gate 1 Travel should have a better screening process when highering contractor and/or freelancers to carry out its mission, goals and objectives when representing their brand nationally or internationally. The tour directors ignorance is ultimately their responsibility.

I don't have any hate in my heart. However, when I spent $7,000 to take an escorted, never did I think I would have encountered that being part of our experience. I didn't pay for that experience. I didn't pay the tour director for the trip, the transaction was with Gate 1 Travel.

My son and I appreciate the feedback and hope that our experience will benefit others. Remember there is no manual saying turn to chapter 5 and section 2 to navigate how to best handle this situation from the passengers perspective.

Much love and respect!😀

Posted by
8507 posts

WOW! That's a game-changer. It doesn't matter if she was first or second language speaker-- that would certainly be the last straw! Now we have a fuller picture of what went on--that it wasn't just one error in a rhyme. Thank you!

"However, the tour guide lacked etiquettes, professionalism, and many of the travelers were not pleased with the her statement of hating Spanish people; she was ambiguous in disseminating information; didn't like that she failed to follow through and left msny things open ended; and didn't like that she was argumentative. Using the "N" word during the toast was the lsst straw."

Posted by
13697 posts

OK, so now I'm confused. Until your last post, Bambi, there was no indication that the guide had displayed unprofessional behavior until the offensive toast. As far as your previous posts read, the rest of the tour was just fine. So in the interest of full disclosure, why weren't the additional issues presented until now?

Posted by
13 posts

Your question is valid. Perhaps I should have included the information in the beginning. However, I chose to focus on one segment of my complaint to keep from being all over the place.

After reading the questions submitted in the feedback, it occured to me that I should share the events that led to complaint. I apologize for excluding the prior events. Hind sight is definitely 20/20...

Posted by
13697 posts

Apology accepted, and I didn't mean to sound harsh. It just seemed that the entire story needed to be presented from the get-go so that it was clear that there were multiple issues with service and professionalism and not just one that may (or may not) have been due to a language problem.

Understand that when the first post from someone on any travel forum is a very serious complaint about a company or service, it can be met with a lot of questions lest a misunderstanding versus a real scam, breach of contract or other legitimate offense cause undeserved damage to that company/service's reputation. For instance many of us have seen tourists claiming to have been bilked when in reality they simply didn't read some fine print or understand a local custom. That example obviously doesn't apply in your case but the complaint still warranted the 'what if?' discussion.

Posted by
13 posts

I understand your thoughts and appreciate you taking time to provide feedback.

All the best and thank you!

Posted by
1106 posts

bambi50, I deeply appreciate your thoughtful and continuing insights on your experience. As I have read through other comments, my most overwhelming gut response is: WHY didn't any other of your co-travelers - who had by that point spent many days with you - SAY anything, IMMEDIATELY? I am deeply saddened that you and your son had to sit there and hear the (ignorant?) guide's toast, without immediate vocal objection by other travelers (although I understand that you did receive support one-on-one, later). I am one of those who believe that racism (whether an ignorant toast or a blatant act of violence) affects us all, and that every one of us should speak and act to confront it whenever and wherever we witness it. I wonder if I, too (a Euro-American who lives in the deep South) would have sat there in stunned silence as apparently your co-travelers did, or if I would have stood and confronted the guide immediately. I'll never know, as I wasn't there, but I am so sorry and so sad that you did not experience others around you challenging her, together. We have still so far to go. Please know that this woman in Louisiana (and clearly many others on this forum) do care, now, and hope and pray and work for a tomorrow in which your son and mine and all of ours can travel without fear of being blindsided by bigotry, anywhere.

Posted by
518 posts

"I had no idea what it meant till I was far to old to sing nursey rymes and by then they had changed the word to "tiger""

I grew up hearing this nursery rhyme as well (this would have been in the early 1980's), but I never knew (until reading this just now) that it wasn't always "tiger." In fact, I never thought about what the rhyme even meant, as children we just heard it said over and over again, in varying contexts.

"With the word blown all over pop culture in songs and movies, she might not know it's wrong."

I think that goes for just about any slang or euphemism in any language, presented in the context of pop culture and entertainment. A good "note to self" the next time we hear something that might sound funny and witty and are tempted to use it ourselves.

"What a very odd toast to say a nursery rhyme with no offensive words, much less racist ones. Why not say a toast on a great trip? Very odd!"

Yes, that is a very, very strange way to toast indeed and further brings to question the tour guide's fluency with western/American/etc. culture. In my experience, people who are wanting to learn how to toast in other cultures, simply work on learning the word "toast" in that particular language and then how to effectively use it .

I do agree with the OP with regards to training (whether individually to that particular guide or as an ongoing refresher for all guides) but to specifically remind guides to also self educate (per what I stated above), that if you hear something from somewhere in a language and from a culture you are not familiar with, PLEASE DO SOME RESEARCH before casually using that word or saying yourself. In fact, we should all remind ourselves of this just as regular people.

Posted by
769 posts

An off-topic discussion was removed. Please keep it about travel in our travel forum. Thank you kindly.

Posted by
13 posts

In today's PC climate in the US, using the N word is worse than anything. People get kicked out of school, get sued, get fired, so Bambi expected a bigger reaction from Gate One than an oral apology and $100 credit. But Bambi chose to travel to another country and culture. The local Portuguese guide surely had no intent to be offensive, only to be humorously silly. To her it was more like making a bald joke at the expense of a bald guy.

The guide is also faulted for disliking the Spanish. The Portuguese historically do dislike the Spanish! They don't dislike individual Spaniards, but Spain had designs on the smaller Portugal for centuries and having maintained their independence, the Portuguese do not like that people still think their country is part of Spain, or a poor cousin. An American who tries to use some Spanish in Portugal will often be told "Do not speak Spanish to me".

The local guide who said the N word needs to write Bambi a sincere apology and Gate One needs to donate the $100 to a charity of Bambi's choice in her and her son's names, something meaningful like the new African American Experience Museum in Washington, DC.

Posted by
10 posts

Bambi, I am so sorry you and your son experienced this! I have only asked a couple of questions on various forums and have never really responded to others' posts but I feel compelled to respond to this post. As I read the responses to your post, I was struck by the difference in how people perceive situations. I think many people responding to your post are very "matter of fact" and do not intend to be cold but quite frankly, as as one of them admitted, she cannot fully understand the depth of your reaction because she will never be able to walk a mile in your shoes. I am white but my deceased husband was black- our children are obviously biracial. I understand the difficulty you probably had processing the insult and then trying to explain it and work through it with your son. I have witnessed first hand the difference in how I was treated when I was alone or when I was with my husband (racial slurs directed at us when we were together, stares, etc.) so I know how people could be somewhat unable to understand your feelings if they have never experienced a similar situation and I also know how hurtful it can be when you are the recipient of such behavior. The problem is about more than just the word- it was the embarrassment of the situation and the ignorance of the guide who used it. I have to believe that she probably did not know the meaning of that word but I do believe that if she is going to continue to work as a guide, she should be required to undergo cultural sensitivity training. I also believe it is a good opportunity to educate the rest of the staff (or contract employees) about not only the use of that word, but as another person posted, some other words that might be considered slurs or insults. I don't think that is unrealistic and think that the cost for the training should not matter. Some issues need to be addressed and resolved, no matter the cost. I also think a written apology from the guide and company would go a long way (for me anyway) toward making me believe that the guide and company truly are sorry that this occurred. Their lack of immediate response and action seem to indicate that they are not sorry. I don't really think that the other people need to be reimbursed for that day of the trip but I do think you and your son deserve a FULL refund for your trip, even if you did enjoy most of the trip up until that point. What other people do not seem to understand is that even though it was "just a word," it really could ruin your memories of a trip that you took with your son- it taints the whole experience (and I am not a "cry baby" about issues and would not tolerate my children complaining about trivial issues, but this is not trivial.) I hope the company you traveled with learned from this experience. Unfortunately, I think your son learned something you would have preferred to shield him from. It really was more than just a word. Good luck to you in your future travels. Maybe RS would be a good choice for your next trip; it seems that the travelers and guides are better informed and have a more global view of things.

Posted by
13 posts

As far as teaching Bambi's son anything, I love Michele Obama's advice to her girls who have surely been exposed some hurtful racial slurs: "When they go low, we go high". That puts the racist down where he belongs and let's you move on. Dwelling on it will not help heal embarrassment and hurt feelings, better to recognize that the guide's use of the N word was not the intentional ugly hurtful racial slur it would be in the US. Make an issue out of it when it is an issue. Ask the company for something they can reasonably do, such as written apologies and a donation to a black charity.

Posted by
9363 posts

This thread is months old, and Bambi hasn't been heard from since 7-31, three days after posting her original complaint. I doubt that she will be back.

Posted by
13 posts

My son and I appreciate your thoughts and having your support on this issue.

Our experience has ignited a rather spirited conversation. Prior to posting, we understood there would be pro and con remarks and we repect all views even those we haven't agreed with. That's the beauty of exercing our freedoms of expression and speech in this wonderful country.

Even though Gate 1 failed us, we are grateful to have other travel options and will never patronize or recommend Gate 1 Travel again. To-date, no apology, no refund, and no resolution in sight from Gate 1 Travel. They have proven that profit and capitalism outranks providing exceptional customer service. If that's their business model, it's their prerogative. However, they will never have the opportunity to profit from us again. It's all about values and choice...

While this experience was disappointing, it has not defined us and nor has it consumed us. Our value systems, morals and principles are unwavered and have remained intact. We are happy and sleep well at night.

We all come from a wide range of backgrounds and have encountered different experiences. I hope that whomsoever has read the postings will gain something valuable from our experiences.

My son is in college. He is a positive contributor in society and his worldview expanded significantly by the experience and reading the posts.

As a matter of fact, he has shared the posts and the experience with Gate 1 Travel with his law class and they are using it to have a lager conversation that involves building a social-public opinion case study.

I am very happy that we took our experiences online to allow others to weigh in and provide constuctive feedback. We don't have to agree, but we should always remain respectful of each others views.

Stay positive and be well.

Posted by
3 posts

Hello Bambi
I would just put it down to a cultural experience and get on with planning and enjoying your next trip.Look at all the things that has happened to Rick over the years. Good in a way so all us traveller can learn from them. Think of the happy parts of you holidays and let the rest go with the wind. Rick has a section in a book somewhere that says how to bounce back after you have lost everything (hopefully not your passport, tickets money ect) as you should be wearing your money belt. The point i am trying to make is it happened, put it down to a cultural experience as its not the end of the world..Next time go with the Best Travel company but remember " No grumps allowed" Happy Travels with your next trip..

Posted by
13 posts

I see that great minds think alike.... 😁

We are very passionate about traveling and have already planned our trip for next year with much enthusiasm and excitement.

When life gives us lemons, we should empower ourselves to make lemonade as it was done in this situation.

We appreciate your encouraging words.

Happy travels!!!✈

Posted by
13697 posts

Tara, your blog about the Philippines has nothing at all to do with the subject of this thread.

Posted by
13 posts

I really appreciate you taking time to share the Tara Chill Travel Tips: Inspirational Travel Quotes with me.

The articles were EXCEPTIONAL! They were uplifting and put the whole traveling experience into perspective and made it meaningful and valuable. I was able to free fall and visualize, while relating to what was being conveyed.

This is what positive and effective communications all about . . . I am so thankful for the Rick Steves Travel Blog, which has provided us with a forum to express our traveling experiences. I would not have read the articles you recommended without this awesome platform.

Thank you for sharing and lets remain positive and passionate about continuing to explore new experiences through traveling.✈😁

Posted by
11446 posts

Promoting your own website is against the rules.

You may not... in any way advertise or promote your business. Do not include any URLs that are outside of direct customer service use. For example, giving a link to your site's homepage will get your post deleted. Discussing aspects of your business unrelated to the review will also get your post removed. You may not make any unsolicited posts regarding your business.

Posted by
13697 posts

Exactly. While it's good be positive and passionate about new experiences, those of us who are heavy forum users don't want to wade though a pile of posts which don't address the questions and/or are unrelated to the topic at hand. Blog-linking is almost uniformly forbidden on general forums lest they create chaos, and drive readers elsewhere.

And while it's not true in every case, blog-linkers often do not become active contributors to the sites they advertise on. Helpful forums would not exist but for fellow travelers willing to patiently assist others versus employ them for their own advertising purposes.

Posted by
13 posts

Rick Steves has a phenomenal forum. I have gained much from using the platform to state my traveling experience with Gate 1 Travel.

I feel compelled to apologize for responding to Tara's blog. I am respectful of the forum and will remain mindful of the established policies and procedures.

You have my sincere apology...

Posted by
13697 posts

I feel compelled to apologize for responding to Tara's blog. I am
respectful of the forum and will remain mindful of the established
policies and procedures.

You have my sincere apology...

No need to apologize! Just understand that those of us whom have been doing this for a long time recognize posters who do not have the best interests of the site - and its members - at heart. It's another reason why we're here! :O)