VIP ESCAPES - VE HOLDINGS - STANDOUT DESTINATIONS - VIP ESCAPES, VE HOLDINGS, / Mikael Audebert unethical business practices
On November 29-December 6, my Mother and I took an Independent FAM trip with VIP Escapes to French Polynesia. During the trip, we were not given what we were contracted for. However, my Mother fulfilled her obligation by attending mandatory site inspections. I was along for the ride hoping to get my dream vacation. Instead, it ended in a nightmare.
This is kind of long but detailed.
On July 13, 2007, VIP Escapes emailed me an Independent FAM trip Brochure which outlined the following:
8 days/7 nights November 28-December 6, 2007
$2299/agents including air Companions: $2598
International Flight from LAX
7 nights in 4 & 5 star Hotels (Radisson, Bora Bora Nui and Sheraton Moorea)
Daily Buffet breakfasts
1 Shark and ray feeding excursion
1 Picnic on a private motu
4X4 Â½ excursion
Meet and Greet transfers
Complimentary upgrades when/where available
3 SITE INSPECTIONS MANDATORY
The host hotels will do their best to upgrade you upon arrival, based on availability, at no cost.
On July 16, 2007, the Reservation Agreement was signed and the only thing that was not included was the 4X4 excursion. This was acceptable as a change and the agreement was made.
On July 17, 2007, I called and spoke to Mikael regarding when we would expect a detailed itinerary which included the air schedules. At this point, he told me that the itinerary would be out as the date approached which would include extras that were not included in the brochure. He told me that I would be very happy with what would be included. He also told me to expect a night time departure from LAX and Bora Bora and to expect over-water bungalows; however, that would not be guaranteed. He also told me that he was working on getting a few lunches and dinners planned into the itinerary. Since his FAM approach also stated this, I believed this to be a correct statement.
FAM APPROACH taken from VIP Escapes website: VIP Escapes takes a different approach when it comes to learning about the tours and destinations it offers. A good and successful FAM TRIP should not be 4 day long and filled with 5-6 site inspections every day. To learn about what VIP wants all travelers to experience, agents must also experience it. From the day trips to the gourmet experience and 2 hour dinners, from the services offered by hotels (activities, Spa, etc..) to the discovery of the featured country and city, VIP makes sure site inspections are well balanced with the actual experience its journeys offer.
VIP selects the best 4 & 5 star establishments and include most lunches and/or dinners.
On November 12, 2007, Mikael emailed out the FINAL ITINERARY (which became our new contract):
The final Itinerary now included 5 Mandatory Site Inspections. (Radisson Tahiti, Sheraton Tahiti, Bora Bora Nui, St. Regis Bora Bora and the Sheraton Moorea) Previously, there were only three. (Radisson Tahiti, Bora Bora Nui and Sheraton Moorea) However, now, there were three lunches and a dinner included in the Itinerary, which made the trip seem even more of a better deal. We decided to accept the new Itinerary. We were happy with the changes!
On November 20, 2007, Mikael emailed with minor changes to the Itinerary which did not change the dynamics of the trip. These were acceptable changes.
The following were Contractual Non-compliant issues with the Itinerary,
On November 30, 2007, We were supposed to be greeted by a cocktail followed by Lunch at the Bora Bora Nui. All of the Travel Agents voiced this concern and showed the Itinerary to Celine, who works at the Bora Bora Nui. Celine said that they did not have this itinerary and that lunch would not be included. Celine then got Mikael on the phone and came back and said that this was a typo in the itinerary and should have never been included. At this point, another agent got on the phone with Mikael and she told us that Mikael said that everything would be taken care of from that point on and that everything listed in the itinerary would be included.
The Hotel was embarrassed by the mix up and comped us lunch on them. They were very apologetic to what VIP Escapes did. If he had just informed the Hotels and had given them the same itinerary as we had, none of this would have ever happened.
On December 4, 2007, we arrived at the Sheraton Moorea around 10:30 am. All the Travel Agents inquired about OUR MOTU Picnic to find out that nobody at the Hotel knew about it. The Hotel tried to call Mikael; however, his phone was turned off and he was unable to be reached. Then, Teina and Stephanie from the Sheraton Moorea called both of the companies that handle the Motu picnics and neither one of them had it scheduled for us. Since the hotel was unable to get a hold of Mikael, we had to forfeit the Motu Picnic since it was too late to reschedule and we were scheduled to leave the next day back to Tahiti.
On December 5, 2007, we arrived back at the Radisson Tahiti. We inquired about the dinner and the Hotel stated that they were unaware of the dinner. We gave them a copy of the Itinerary and they said they would call Mikael They told us to check back with them at dinner time. When I called them at dinner time, they said that they received an itinerary from him and it did not include dinner. I asked for a copy of the itinerary and the hotel was happy to oblige. He took out dinner on his master copy and gave it to them. This is a fraudulent practice. You can not give your clients one Itinerary and give the Hotels another.