Having been in the coach industry for over 25 years, I've seen and done a lot of funny, sometimes strange, and other times unbelievable charter trips. From school kids caving and abseiling to pensioner groups just getting away from the norm for a few days.
I've driven groups all over Australia, the good, the bad, and sometimes the “I'm going where, to do what?!” As a charter driver you just never know what the next trip or adventure will bring.
One of my earliest trips was a group of school girls going down south WA camping, caving, hiking and abseiling. As I arrived at the ‘all girls’ school to pick them up, my first thoughts were “what is that pile of luggage?” and that “there is no way it is all going to fit into the luggage compartment on this coach!”. So after all the hair dryers, makeup, shoes and probably 80% of the clothes that would never be worn were taken out, the rest went in. Much to the girls disgust and to their parents enjoyment and laughter, off we went.
Credit: Barrington Outdoor Adventures
Turned out to be a great trip, I joined in and helped in all the activities, even went abseiling, the girls locked the ropes off and left me hanging, all in good fun, great trip!
On another school trip I took a group of primary school kids to Dampier, I did this trip every year for 5 years and every year was different to the last. On one trip as we were heading to Miaree Pool (just south of Karratha) for a swim, I started to talk about crocodiles. A couple of the teachers joined in and this turned out to be one of the funniest activities we did on that trip. Every twig, floating branch, reed and other kids, they were convinced it was a croc! All the kids had a fantastic time trying to scare each other. I just sat back and enjoyed what I had planted in their minds earlier in the day.
Credit: Travel Notes
On a more serious side, I took a group of older people away down south for the weekend. On the way to our first stop, one lady became extremely travel sick. So as the group went off enjoying their day, we took the lady to the local hospital. After talking to the hospital staff they told me that the coach (40 foot long or 12.5 meters) had to be on their property before they could get on the coach to assist the lady, and like all small country hospitals there wasn't much room, especially for a 12.5 metre coach. However my passenger needed help, so I backed the coach up, swung out onto the road and put the coach into the only space out the front of the hospital. I blocked the street off, but I got my passenger the medical help she needed. The lady stayed in hospital for the day, so at about 5 pm I rounded up the rest of the group and then went back to the hospital to pick her up with the medication she was given. She didn't have any further problems and went on to enjoy the remainder of the weekend.
Credit: Ross Sims
On another trip down south the groups leader assured me that the car park at the end of this winding road down to a small isolated beach was easily big enough to turn 2 x 14.5 metre coaches around. I learned a valuable lesson that day - always research, research, research exactly where you are going! Of course, there wasn't enough room to turn one coach, let alone two, especially as the car park was full of all the other people looking at this lovely beach. So I reversed the first coach 5 kms back to the only turning point on the road, walked back in to the other coach, waited until my groups activities had finished, loaded all 100 people on 1 coach and reversed that one out as well. Lesson learned and never to be forgotten.
As you can see there is a lot of fun to be had when doing charter work. It all starts with the planning for each trip, knowing exactly where you’re going, for how long, who your group is, what are their needs, what can I do to make it the trip that they wanted and do the little things to make it special for the passengers so that they want to travel with you again. Just like our Coral Bay Charter provided to UWA every year. In some cases, this means being a part of the group and join in and in other cases knowing when not to join in, to just be attentive and helpful. You need to work out which one do I need to be today. Things may change as you get to know the group better. Take each day as it comes.
So to me, it doesn't matter where we are going or who I'm taking with me, do the research, be friendly and attentive, ensure your passengers get the best service that you can give so that the next time they want to travel they want you to be their driver and guide. Most important, is that they can relax and enjoy the trip knowing that you have it all in hand and that their safety and comfort is your top priority.
Courtesy of Ross Sims