The title of the post above should be “The Beer Tour From Hell Yeah!” It was an awesome tour. I’m the tour producer and leader of this tour and I want to assure you that the allegations above are simply either untrue or greatly exaggerated in an attempt to extort a refund. This is a very isolated incident. I think it’s clear by the way the poster attacks an innocent and very nice family on the tour just for being a family is a red flag about the the type of person we are dealing with here. He cannot deny this and makes no attempt to defend his actions. I take great pride in producing great beer tours and providing customer satisfaction, and have been for more than 10 year. No one else on this tour complained to me about anything. All the other feedback I received was very complimentary. I invite you to read our reviews by satisfied customers on the Belgian Beer Me! website and on our Facebook pages. More than 30% of our travelers are returning ones, some with as many as 8-13 tours each, so we must be doing something right. In addition to not having to drive yourself, taking one of our tours provides insider access, education, experienced tour leaders, fun, great food, nice hotels and stress-free travel. I invite you to join us on a tour and to base your decision on your own intuition and that of dozens of satisfied travelers. belgianbeerme.com/satisfied-customers. facebook.com/beertours.belgium/.--Stu Stuart, Belgian Beer Me! Tours
Below is my Jan. 12 response letter to Bitbucket and his wife. It will provide many details surrounding this post that you will find helpful in better understanding the big picture. I also point out that of the 38 people, one was a coach driver and 3 were tour leaders. So, there were 34 travelers, which made it a 10:1 traveler-to-tour leader ratio. Savvy travelers will see we make every effort to provide transparency, customer satisfaction and will not be swayed by a one-man smear campaign. Thank you for taking time to read my reply to the poster.
Diane & Bob,
Diane, thank you again for taking the tour. I know you were under the weather for at least part of the tour, but you were a trooper. I know how difficult travel can be when you’re not feeling well. Please know that my responses below are directed at Bob and not you.
Pardon my delay in response to Bob’s complaints and allegations. I tried to collect more information to better understand the situation, but Bob was not very forthcoming with information to help me better understand the specifics of complaint and allegations. I had many ignored emails and phone calls. Also, that they I had to learn about the complaints and allegations via the internet, rather than to my face or email, did not inspire me to give this the priority that it may have otherwise received.
For the record, Bob was the only person to complain to me during or after the tour.
“Tours typically range between 6 to 24 people with 14 being the average.”–BBM! website
This is a fact and I have empirical data to back it up. This is not, however, a guarantee or promise. Some tours have been less than 6 people. The tour you were on was atypical and the particulars and reasons for that were detailed in my very transparent July 23 (Tour was in October) email to you.
“…I’m happy to report the Fall Lonely Monks Trappist Tour: Celebrator Beer News Edition is officially sold out with 38 passionate beer travelers from Washington, to Colorado, to California, to Minnesota to Alabama, to name several states. I know what you are thinking, isn’t this a larger tour than typical? In full disclosure and transparency it is, this is not typical, but as you will see, there were some families and groups of friends who wanted to travel together and this is how the tour developed. As a tour producer, you can never fully predict the interest level in a tour and you learn as you go. Still, compared to tour groups of 60+ with some companies, this will seem intimate. You’ll notice I’m offering two departures of this tour in October 2019 to anticipate this increased level of interest. On the other end of the spectrum, the August departure has only 6 people and in 2018 it had 14. Your departure in 2017 had 22 people.
We utilize a luxury 52- passenger coach (complete with a restroom and refrigerator), so there is still plenty of room on the coach. Brewery tours and some meals will divide the group in two, and sometimes three, so it will all seem like a typical group of 24 or less. A group this size requires more detailed planning on my part, but from the traveler’s perspective you will still have the same great experience no matter the size. What it translates for you is more fun and interesting people to meet, to eat with and drink. One of the unanticipated benefits of my beer tours is the friends you will make for life. Trust me, you will be surprised how much fun it is to be around a group of people with a passion for beer and living. I work hard to make sure this tour is a great experience for everyone. This is my guarantee to you. If you have any concerns about the size of this group, please contact me directly now.”–SS
You were politely asked to contact me if you had any concerns about the size of this tour. Had you contacted me, I would have refunded your money and compensated you for any non-refundable expenses you had incurred surrounding the tour, such as airfare and lodging. But, you did not contact and proceeded to embark upon the tour filled with anger, rage and deceit.
Or, I could have moved you to a different tour. Or, I could have brought in another guide and driver and given you a private tour with Sue (their friend), and or some others. Or, I could have referred you to a colleague to provide you with a similar beer tour of Belgium.
You had options.
I think you are more mad at yourself than me for passing on the opportunity to contact me. The ball was clearly in your court.
“What is it I hoped to achieve by public posts rather than dealing with you directly? As I’ve said before, my public posts were not directed to you. They were directed to people who had an expectation…” BZ
I addressed in my July 23 email above the plans I have in place to keep my tours to their typical sizes. There was no need to make your posts. Never has a tour of mine been as large as the one you were on and you knew it.
“Time. Vacation time is precious. I’m totally OK with spending hours at a table because I chose to spend hours at a table. I’m not OK with spending hours at a table because I trapped there due to circumstances that could easily be avoided. And let’s face it, more people equals more time, even if the kitchen isn’t overwhelmed.”–BZ
All of the group meals on the tour were within keeping of the same time schedule I have for a group of 24. And, you had access to unlimited beer before, during and after as part of the company meals with lots of different people in which to socialize. Which brings us to your next complaint.
“Socialization. As I mentioned, we have been on smaller guided tours on five continents. Almost a dozen tours ranging is size from 6 to a bit over 20. In all cases we got a chance to know everyone on the tour. Would the “Team Alabama” problem occurred on a smaller tour? Maybe…”-BZ
That you savagely attacked this innocent family on the internet was monstrous. There’s really no other word for it. If they ever see your posts, it could be very upsetting. I hope they never see them. That you did not get to know everyone on the tour is not my fault. I made it a point to move around, talk with people and eat at different tables. I seem to recall you sitting with the same two people at many meals, sometimes even a separate table and leaving some meals and group events early. I felt like I got to know everyone well and knew everyone’s first name by heart.
“I see from facebook that you received a number of thank you notes regarding how much people enjoyed the tour. I wish I could say that the tour was great, but I really can’t. If we weren’t locked in due to airline tickets and AirBnB reservations that we made I would have cancelled when I found out that 38 people would be on the tour. That is the ‘cattle car’ type of tour that I’ve always wanted to avoid. I dreaded meeting you, because I knew I had to make the best of it since I was stuck on the tour, but I didn’t want to have to make nice with the liar who sucked me in by promising a tour he had no intention of delivering. I grated my teeth every time I heard that we needed to be team players to make up for the fact that you screwed us. I suspect that I have no legal recourse, but if I find out that I do, you will be looking at a lawsuit. I will go out of my way to warn to anyone even vaguely considering any of your tours that you are perfectly happy to screw your customers…” BZ
Please refer to my July 23 letter above.
That you went on the tour and pretended to me to have fun and be happy was the lie. From my memory, images and videos, you sure are a good actor.
“NO WHINERS: Whiners are not eligible for this tour. If you believe that you might be a whiner, please check with a domestic partner, guardian, or health-care professional before registering for this tour.”–BBM! Terms & Conditions. In the future, if you ever see this again on the terms and conditions for a tour you are considering, do not sign up for it. It is there to weed out potentially problematic people and to ensure those on the tour have a good time.
“I worked very hard to provide you with a great tour. I am saddened to know you did not enjoy or appreciate it. You have hurt my feelings.”–SS
One of my last memories of Diane was when she had commented on how she liked my new black and gold La Trappe had and how she wished she had bought one. I gave her the hat off my head (actually a brand new one still in the wrapper). I’ve never done this for anyone on a tour before. Despite this act of kindness and friendship, you still took it upon yourself to do what you did. I’m at a loss here.
At the end tour during our farewell beer session at Het Anker, we went around the room and many people shared their favorite memories of the tour, how much they enjoyed it and meeting everyone. I wish you would have hung out long enough to see it. It was touching, funny at times, and heartfelt. If you could have seen Diane M speak about what the tour meant to her and her husband Roy. It brought a tear to my eye. Roy and Diane M were the last two people to sign up for the tour. He was the one who arranged the insider Chimay Tour for us, which we wouldn’t have got without him. He also has cancer and this was his bucket list tour and quite possibly his last trip to Belgium. I have no regrets about making this tour larger to have accommodated them.
Based on the limited information I had surrounding your complaints and allegations, I’ve done my best to respond in a fair and reasonable fashion.
Thank you, Diane, one final time, for taking the tour.–Stu