I am thinking about coming out of retirement and driving over to help out the Elounda Breeze Resort. In my career as a public relations executive, I don’t think I ever ran across a hotel that needed me more. Crete is paradise in most travelers’ vocabulary, but TUI Family Life is mucking up the reputation this holiday season.
When I first read the news TUI Family Life Elounda Breeze was set to open outside Agios Nikolaos, I remember thinking what a good job the Germans had done branding the segment they advertise as “Family Moments Together.” That was before the new resort became the PR nightmare of Crete. Successive stories in UK media not only blister TUI’s reputation, but they also shed a bad light on this island paradise.
When NHS executive David Stacey got in the news over his Elounda Breeze nightmare stay, we ran a story similar to the coverage from the Mirror. Long story short there, Dave and his family got rescued from the nightmare holiday by competing tour company Simpson Travel. The problem then (besides the bad PR from TUI) was a bad listing showing TUI Family Life was offering 2-bedroom stays that did not exist. At that writing, the 2-bedroom offers were left up on the website, but now that listing is gone (at long last).
Now, Lisa Wood and her family got almost the same TUI Family Life experience as David Stacey. The 2-bedroom that never existed crept up to bite the geniuses at Elound Breeze again. Only this time a design point served to drive a spike into the tour operator’s all-inclusive heart.
Lisa recounts how her 70-ish parents had a dinky room with a private pool. According to Mirror, when her 5-year-old went to climb in, the steps to the pool broke. To make matters a lot worse, pictures of the private pool indicate Lisa’s daughter needed to be a parkour expert to ensure her safety. Here are Lisa’s words via the Mirror:
“And around the pool there was a sheer drop onto concrete steps at the side of the pool which was a huge health hazard.”
Throw in some cold buffet foot, waits, no coffee, and the fact Lisa’s mom Glynis and dad David were also on the holiday to celebrate her 70th birthday, and you have some really bad publicity. I almost feel bad making it an increment worst. Almost.
Here’s the thing. Crete is a paradise. The people here are friendlier than the Polynesians. The food is legendary if you go to the villages and traditional tavernas. There are not even any animals that will harm you. Really. But companies like TUI usher in throngs of travelers to sop up the sun and the buffet, and they pay precious little attention to the real value of Crete – the culture and tradition. When you buy a super-budget holiday, you are betting your chips on Walmart-like profit. This is a HUGE problem.
The Elounda Breeze Resort ran into construction and other problems. TUI clearly had some opening issues. Supposedly, the TUI Family Life resorts are the company’s “high margin” offerings. See their announcement back in May before Elounda Breeze was set to open. My question for TUI is, “Where are the margins coming from?”
Lastly, Crete as a destination just suffered a really bad hit with the killing of American scientist Suzanne Eaton in Chania. If I am not mistaken, this was the first time such a murder of a tourist by a Cretan resident had ever been reported. Everybody I know here is sad and ashamed this happened. TUI’s PR and engineering blunder is something hoteliers should be ashamed of too. The company is lucky, in my opinion, that most of their guests don’t seem to use TripAdvisor. Half of the one who do have still more nightmares to tell. Griffiths writes, in part:
“This hotel is not ready to accommodate guests. Where do I start….electrical cables sticking out of the ground by the kiddies pool, trip hazards all over the place, no lighting by steps coming from the amphitheater.”
This was in July. And get this, the Hotel Management at TUI FAMILY LIFE Elounda Breeze responded like a chatbot and said the hotel could not control the construction being done. This nightmare review included bar staff threatening to call the police on a guest over billing mistake. Elounda Breeze got some breaks this season from altruistic guests who gave the resort three stars. As for the good reviews the hotel has, I am not going to dive off into the validity of some of those. I do know that 5 of 5 reviews on Google by “A Google User” appear suspect. TripAdvisor Reviewer is also somebody I don’t know. But, let me stop here.
The season is almost over. The Bookings.com and other OTA reviews have not started flowing in yet. But TUI Family Life is going to need a reputation management expert if the trend continues from this Crete resort. Walmart, excuse me, I mean TUI travelers are a bit like the old Club Med community. The like their illusion of luxury. I just hope the folks in Hannover are paying attention. Are you paying attention Hannover?
Image Credit: Elounda image courtesy George Groutas CC 2.0