Do you go on a trip yourself?

This is a question we get from guests, when it comes to what we as BikePlanet staff do in winter. The answer is: Yes we do, well, most of us. But not like months on a row. Most of us have still a lot to do in winter to prepare for the next season. And the IRIS, our barge, is open for business all year round, so we host a lot of hotel guests visiting Amsterdam. We even sail to events and offer our services there as a hotel ship.

Our ship always needs a lot of maintenance. Pumps, engines, tanks, and other installations and equipments…it’s a long list of To Do’s. Fortunately we have great technicians helping us to do this work. We also went to the wharf to inspect the under water part of the barge and got a new black coating.

Getting the barge crew together

And we have to prolong the contracts with our crewmembers or find new ones! This year, for some reason, this was a job that took until March to be solved. We found a new Captain for our Rhine trips! We hired new Chefs for our kitchen, to keep up our reputation. A new Host wil take turns with Tina to offer you a welcoming atmosphere, solving every little issue and delivering clean cabins every day. And we found two Mates, who like to join our little barge. One of them at least, has a goal to become a Captain.

As our economy is blossoming again, it’s hard to find new crew members. Who is looking for a seasonable job? Working 15 long days on a row, at the least, traveling far from home, never being able to be there when you are needed at home immediately. I know it lookes different: working in the leisure industry may seem leisurefull…. well, sorry guys, it’s not, not always. We do have the advantage of great company, changing sceneries and a very chearfull atmosphere though! It’s just not for everybody to live a life like this, and that’s what narrows our search down.

Working in the leisure industry may seem leisurefull…. well, sorry guys, it’s not, not always.

I do remember an experience with a woman I selected for the position of host. She was very friendly and charming. When she arrived at the barge for our first tour, she was wearing an outfit as if she was entering a big cruiseship… as a guest. I was worried instantly. It took only 4 days… She left very disappointed about the fact that we were working so hard. She wanted me to not instruct her but let her find out herself, then sit down and discuss favourably with the whole team. Well… what a mismatch. I learned to always invite new crew members for interviews on the ship. With colleagues around if possible to get a better picture of what to expect from both sides. I did that this year!

Now┬á I am over the moon with the results and confident we will continue to deliver good services. It’s key to our success and it upsets me very much if I can’t find the right persons.

In this quest this year I had many disappointments. But, at the end, these disappointments turned out to be new openings. I have a smile on my face thinking about our new colleagues. We will have a little kick off meeting Thursday 5th of April and I am looking forward to seeing them all together!

Personal projects and exciting plans

And what did I do this winter? Spend a lot of time on ordering/producing new bike shirts! Available on board. Busy selling our 2018 tours, doing great on the Bike&Barge trips (as always) and also very happy with the bookings on the Hotel Tours and the combination of Hotel & Barge Tours.

Now that I am offering more of our tours as IRIS tours, I had to find new guides as well. And we did! Also hired a guide to help me at BikePlanet with all the documentation we need to have around the tours and to develop new tours.

So we are growing into being this little touroperator selling guided bike tours in our backyards, with a personal approach. I am so happy I started this over 2 years ago! It’s such a joy to be back at what is the core of my professional skills: being an enterpreneur, working with and for people, giving you information, selling you our great tours because I love them. What’s easier and nicer than that? My mind is always thinking about new opportunities, new tours, new markets.

Goals for this touroperator

This does require letting go of operational tasks though. So I will not be on the IRIS as much as I used to be the first years. My son Wouter and others are stepping in and have been in charge of the IRIS in the winter. My goal is to continue this way to shift responsability toward my son, so I can spend all my time and energy on the touroperating part of the business. Well, as usual its 2 steps up, 1 step down…so good! I am 62 now and would love to stay active another 5 to 8 years! I will join all the Hotel tours this year and hope to be cycling with our guests a lot. I do not only like to design tours for you, I love to enjoy them myself as well!

To the question of Do you go on a trip yourself: if you like to know, send me a Facebook friend request and follow me there. I was! On a trip! Not just one, but a few. With Captain Gijs in the snow in Austria, with my partner Jos twice for short stays in wintersport areas in Germany, with Tina on a great bike tour on Mallorca!

Hope to be on yours next ­čśë┬á Have a great trip this year and keep on biking!


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