Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Groups on Social Media (Especially SWOTS) which are meant to be for free are violating policies where by they state that if a business wants to post about its services then they must pay for it which is illegal (talking about the travel GHQ SWOTS group) – this is against the policies of Facebook here - https://www.facebook.com/help/community/question/?id=10201606302031122
Members join SWOTS to get help and information from within a community as they need help or advice and have had a tough time somewhere already. However the Admins of SWOT are not at all informed about anything and only post biased posts as far as their personal experiences go! Their rebuttals and responses are emotionally based and always not supported with a link from a credible source! So basically as group owners they are violating the cyber crime bill of Pakistan and giving false information which can lead to additional complications / problems for the members emotionally & financially! Here are the consequences of doing or endorsing such acts and what the Cyber Crime Bill is all about - http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1421399434_340.pdf
The admins when questioned act like Demi Gods and try to put down anyone who does not agree to their comments! There have also been a lot of rumors online (google them) where lot of the Admins use their status in the SWOT’s food group to bully actual restaurant owners into freebies and black mail a lot of people in many ways and abuse their power (If you think I am wrong simply Google Complaints Against Facebook SWOT Admins ) & links like this one will pop up http://mediamagick.com/facebook-group-admins-demi-gods/
It is extremely sad as I was informing everyone about travel concerns and one of the Admins started rebutting everything I would post with reference links! His opinions were based upon personal experiences. His profile stated that he was in Spain so when I questioned him about his experience to comment on every post without proof it got ugly!
When I stated he was wrong and provided links and facts to support my argument - things got ugly!
I also asked why he did not approve my post to do a community event for the groups members who reached out to me and he refused to answer that rather he just kept getting more and more personal and when I said kick me out (if you feel I am violating any rules ) eventually he did for no reason – a lot of the community members wanted help and I took time to do some good but this illiterate attention craving admin could not see it! https://drive.google.com/open?id=1N22HwIIsSRMAfxBGKUX0bj1q0bb18ybZ3gTvLBe4_pQ
Eventually I looked him up and who he was before I asked why the comments about Pakistan Travel if he was in Spain to which a member said he was based in Karachi not Barcelona – when I asked him why this false location the (Admin) chap said for tax purposes and his real business is to sell potato something’s and beer??? He did everything to make into a personal debate and get into a conflict but had no answer for any of my questions supported with facts other than he was doing something in selling potato something and beer (is that even legal in Pakistan to state on a group that you sell beer without a license?) Well as the Admin / owner of the group he left a digital foot print so lets get the answer to that question here
When no respect was given to the objective question I promised to write this blog and within minutes I was kicked out! My objective was to help fellow community members and his was to be a smart ass bully! It is so sad that un-educated, ill informed people are admins of such groups who use some sort of Social media status to bully and get their way around those who are not informed! It is extremely disgusting that people actually believe people like this!
Please note that all groups are not bad and I am only stating my personal reasons how a supposed social media authority (really?) treated and disrespected me! Rather than address my questions he acted like a brat and made me feel totally unwelcome in every sense by making unqualified, un researched comments based upon his own travel experiences without any supporting evidence on subjects like visa information etc, that the community members wanted to know about and be educated about!
This is NOT personal and I’m sure the gentleman may be a wonderful man in his own capacity and I do not judge him as a person because I do not know him in person but seriously question his ability to manage a group where people have joined seeking help and information from the way he behaved with me.
Today Social media is misused by many people but with the changing laws globally one must adhere to a code of ethics leave alone common sense because there are consequences for ALL the administrators of the group who if they do not protest will also be held liable under this bill here - http://www.na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1421399434_340.pdf
Please leave a comment if such a thing happened with you – good or bad! Please be objective and not personal
To report such a thing if it happens to you go to this link here - https://propakistani.pk/2016/08/10/here-is-how-to-file-a-complaint-against-a-cyber-crime-in-pakistan/
Feel free to inbox me on FaceBook or Linked in if you want any advice or help with questions about anything for that matter as I like to make new friends
Here is my FaceBook link – https://www.facebook.com/AmynAGhulamali
Here is my LinkedIn link - https://www.linkedin.com/in/amynaghulamali/
Please be positive and stand up for your rights based upon facts not personal reasons! (But research and know your rights first!)
Please leave a comment if such a thing happened with you – good or bad! Please be objective and not personal!-->
Saturday, July 22, 2017
TRAVEL DESTINATION ALTERNATIVES
Two days ago I asked a question on SWOTS guide group as to why people keep asking for the same old destinations like Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka & Dubai. I got so many inbox messages from people and friends which made me realize two things. (these are my observations and you do not have to agree with them but this is what I realized)
1. Everyone is impulsive and do not plan their travel or holidays out – mostly people do not take time or have the time to sit as a family and decide what they want to do and what their objectives are so they try to cram way too much in the form of expectations in their tour which when once paid for is non refundable if not used so a relaxing trip can become a stressful nightmare running from one attraction to the next venue to attend something else (people need to calmly first sit down and decide what their priorities are or will be partying or cultural sights etc. or cater to the kids)
2. Everyone is relying on everyone or someone else and their experiences and has not got the time or the knowledge to decipher the hidden things online when it comes to travelling!
3. Finding a decent travel agent who will guide you properly is a nightmare as travel agents in Pakistan or India only want to work on low effort – high commission based revenue destinations due their internal settings with airlines and the biggest excuse they throw to force people to buy the same boring packages is based upon visa complications and timelines.
Based upon these frustrations vented by the community members in a huge volume via whatsapp and inbox messages I decided to list down a few alternatives and why you should definitely go there – Please bear in mind I am extremely concerned about many things as when I travel for fun or leisure I need to consider a 3 year old toddlers needs as well as a 10 year old sons needs who wants to explore everything and gets bored within a minute as well as plan the tour so that my wife truly gets a break in this whole trip as she is a full time mom and working parent like me so she is the biggest priority. Also getting the biggest value for money is my concern as well.
You may not like or agree with these destinations as your social circle may find them not as cool as they believe them to be but I strongly believe you should go to these Pakistan friendly places at least once in your life with the family!
NOTE – Airline ticket rates are subject to season and change daily as do hotel rates so I can only give rough guesstimates wherever possible – you need to see your travel agent for that and with regard to visas and their regulations – don’t be fooled rather refer to this link on WikiPedia which is daily updates https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Pakistani_citizens if you are still confused as a Pakistani citizen then simply google the nearest consulate or embassy and look up details there or it would be better to call your self!
KENYA – AFRICA
I recommend Kenya a lot as its simply awesome to spend the evening in your own family tent in the jungle with others around you and wake up to see lions, cheetahs and giraffes wandering around. Forget what anyone will tell you but being Visa on Arrival for Pakistanis it is an amazing place to go for a week as your kids will totally go wild with awe. Kenyan Airlines is Awesome but if you fly through emirates you can simply tie in a few days in Dubai for a few extra dollars to get those seasonal shopping discounts!
BAKU – AZERBAIJAN
Now this is an awesome destination as its 30 days e-visa for Pakistanis – again it’s a great place to see the sights and is very friendly towards our people. If you go in winters you get the European Experience of snow and all the fun activities the city has and also get a lot of great shopping deals (maximum time I would recommend there is not more than 4 – 5 days) – oh yes the food is also halal and great – you must try the local vendors
KATMANDU - NEPAL
If you want the scariest landing that a plane can do which will be scarier BUT safer than Chitral or Gilgit then Katmandu is the airport to land in. Being Visa on arrival it is the best place to walk in the clouds – so if you thought murree was gorgeous you will simply go insane with all the activities to do with your family and the places to see – they love our people and the food choices are amazing and it’s a cheap flight but I would not recommend you spend more than 5 -6 days if you have kids.
ISTANBUL (OR) TURKEY
I love this country as it loves people from my country and it has the most beautiful of the west being half in Europe and then half in Asia. Oh yes its got a massive muslim population and has some of the most amazing architecture in the form of Mosques Cathedrals and Shopping areas. The food is cheap and it has everything from great urban shopping deals to rural seaside golf courses in Antalya that you can relax and chill out at! Turkish Airlines is the best carrier to fly there and the visa is easy to get if your paperwork and travel agent is solid – it took my wife & family 6 days to get her visa as there was a weekend involved and it was painless at all and the consulate in Karachi was very polite and extremely helpful. Again a country with so much to offer yet easy on the wallet
DOHA – QATAR
Everyone thinks about Dubai yet does not realize that Qatar is simply rocking because right now it is what Dubai was in the 1990’s. Their airline Q-Air Qatar Airways is excellent and their new airport Hamad International Airport is a city by its self that is amazing - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamad_International_Airport - Doha can be seen within a whole day as it’s a small city but it has some amazing shopping malls http://www.lifeinqatar.com/Pages/en/listing-category/living/shopping-malls.html and their shopping deals are awesome. Doha is a place or Qatar is a country that due to the present crisis is offering excellent deals on shopping air tickets etc. and they respect our people a lot. I really like its simplicity and al the value one can get. My advice – go there at least once and look around – you might just want to open a business there.
It is a fantastic country to visit and people may not know this but it has a huge Ismaili / Aga Khani as well as Bohri and Memon community. Donot dismiss this country as you have a lot of sightseeing to do as well as some great food to eat – its cheap on the wallet and really welcomes people to work with it and its governments. It’s a great place to see with your family for a relaxing nature based adventure and the pictures you take will be worth framing
EUROPE (HUNGARY – FRANCE – (AMSTERDAM OR NETHERLANDS) – GREECE – ITALY – SWITZELAND – SPAIN & GERMANY)
Which ever idiot told you that visas are an issue needs to be corrected in public. Lets get one thing straight. All these countries have an Embassy in Pakistan and a Consulate in the major cities. These countries opened these embassies to promote trade culture and an exchange of ideologies. Embassies and Consulates only ask for proper documentation which if respected will be glad to give you a visa so that you can go to their countries as they like UAE make money from what you spend. Embassies and consulates are NOT racist gatekeepers there to make your lives miserable. All you need is a good travel agent who has a in house visa section to help you fill out the forms and do the running around for you (if you are working or a house wife) as you will or MUST submit your applications to the embassy or their visa drop box facility IN PERSON.
I have tons of options here for all kinds of people like for example Euro Disney is a must in Paris followed by visits to the chalets and the Louvre (museum) or if you are interested in doing a little more then you can get one visa from anyone country where you will start your journey and then take the train and go to all the other countries as well at a really reduced cost – so your kids and family get more value at a discounted price (Schengen Visas allow that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_Schengen_Area )
If you have specific requirements and really would like to go then send me an email as this is custom tour work and I will refer you to someone in Karachi to help you!
For now this should be enough but there are many more options out there for you to consider as well but inbox me or email me with your specific country that you want to visit. Bear in mind that countries like Brazil, Finland or Iceland sound exotic but the lowest ticket fare from Karachi to Brazil starts at US$ 5,400/- (approximately) as there are multiple flights to be changed (Airlines) then the flight time and airport lay overs make the journey exhausting as it is between 32 – 41 hours for the whole journey so it is pointless to do it with small kids! (estimates given only)
Feel free to inbox me on FaceBook or Linked in if you want any advice or help with questions about visas, destinations or anything for that matter specially if you are travelling with kids or are disabled like me
Here is my FaceBook link – https://www.facebook.com/AmynAGhulamali
Here is my LinkedIn link - https://www.linkedin.com/in/amynaghulamali/
If you would like any personal services from us please feel free to inbox me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ask my team to help you in whatever way they can from Pakistan or Dubai!
P.S. PLEASE NOTE!
1. That I am in the travel industry myself and this post is not to solicit business but to rather inform and help people I see who really could use some sound advice rather than going to the same old boring destinations as they are or were incorrectly informed!
2. Even if you do not give me or my company your business I hope that you have a great travel experience & only request that you please like / share this post if you found any value in it!
THE SASTA MUSAFIR (TRAVEL ADVICE)
WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SELECT A LOCAL TRAVEL PARTNER VS ONLINE BOOKINGS & HOW TO DO SO!
When you travel it is stressful enough as it is as you have more things on your mind to take care of before you leave and then many other things as well because life is not really kind and the situations around you or circumstances surprise you by throwing last minute emergencies to tackle!
With so much on your mind the last thing you need to do is get to the airport and before you board find out that your flights or visas had some complication due to some small print you did not read before you paid online OR get to the end destination and were expecting an Island Paradise but wound up in a bamboo shack in a seedy district because the online booking portal some how made a mistake or due to the time lags did not convey the booking correctly to “that one” dream paradise resort you wanted to visit but was out in the boondocks so they were not so tech savvy to get the exact booking details relayed to them! (yes these things have happened to me where I actually booked online in Europe with a major European hotel chain but when I got to the hotel I was informed that the system had charged me and booked me at some other venue about 37 kilometers away and there was no refund)
One of the major factors in reducing unwelcome surprises during travelling anywhere (be it domestic or international) is to have a Travel Partner or better known as a Travel Agency work with you. I always recommend a local travel partner to anyone I know in the MENA regions vs the online booking options for the following reasons.
1. All travel portals have some contact number (if they do at all) run by some third party contractor sitting in some garage in a shanty town who says his name is Alex (example) but sounds more like Vijay (example) who really does not know how to spell your name leave alone pronounce it! So this lack of personal attention or human element personally for a guy like me who travels with family for pleasure and by my self for business is a huge let down as I cannot afford screw ups!
2. What you pay for online in countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh or even Nepal & Philippines for that matter can be very risky as these countries have fluid cyber crime laws and you can be a victim of identity theft for one or even if you make your payment online and you screw up then you do not get immediate refunds which can be quite a cumbersome process to deal with.
3. The IT infrastructure in these countries along with their own banking laws and exchange rates can really hurt you if you do not understand the value added incentives that are often hidden. Which means that you have a budget of say US$ 100/- and you see a hotel room for say US$ 89/- so you think you are good but then when you take breakfast and a few transfers from the airport which are hidden you fall off your chair because you were billed for all of these things because even the local taxes were not fully shown and your bill when charged is maybe US$ 135/-
4. The really hidden feature that I personally hate about online travel and hospitality billing systems is that they have so much global traffic so they batch process the orders at one time to save the costs to pass the discounts on to you! Which means that you book air tickets and hotels and say for example tickets to Disney for a total of US$ 1,000/- when todays exchange rate is maybe (example) 100 Pakistani Rupees. The Dollar value equivalent is blocked on your card and an approval is done but when the batch processing cycle happens the equivalent in Pakistani rupees exchange rate could have gone up to say 105 rupees (example only) so you wind up having a further surprise! Before checking out of your online travel portal cart you should always check if the online portal has its own online payment gateway or uses a third party gateway (hidden processing fees – hello!)
I do not mean to scare you but if you decide that you want to go with a Travel partner then here are some reasons why you should always have a “local” travel partner who has physical presence in your own country!
1. You will pay in your own country in your own currency
2. Your own travel agents if BIG enough will pass on additional options and discounts to you to satisfy you to keep the relationship.
3. They will present you with an invoice which will be detailed and a document you can view to see the exact hidden charges
4. Will have more in depth knowledge when it comes to choosing hotels as you might travel once a while but for them their volumes of daily travel allow them a personal insight as to how good a hotel actually is as their customers always tell them if anything is wrong! (so maybe it will look dreamy online but your agent will be able to tell you if its actually worth it or just will be a disappointment)
When it comes to selecting a travel partner here are some valuable things to keep in mind.
1. DO NOT go on what a friend will tell you or recommend! Reasons are that if you have a sibling then both your life experiences were different so apply the same rule to the Travel Partner because what worked for your buddy recommending the agency might not work with you! Also I have personally found that when people go to travel agents from a referral of a “FRAND” yes FRAND the travel agent assumes that the business is guaranteed and does not really give attention to details! So look around every where and choose for your self and do not rely upon references or Jugaar (short cuts)
2. Look at the license of the Travel agent and see its duration of how old it is and the entire history of the agency because the older an agency is the more likely it will be to make sure it does things right so that it will not get a bad name! New bright shiny exciting travel and tourism companies promise a whole lot of things yet are unable to deliver as they rely on the old ones and their rates are and can be a bit questionable.
3. Check out what their IATA ratings are online – its public information you can google your self
4. If you are in a country like Pakistan then make sure your travel agent is from a major travel hub (city) like Karachi or if in India then Mumbai or Dehli because the volumes of flights to and from those cities will justify the Travel Agents being in the same city as the Airline its self so fixing issues getting more attention to detail etc. will be easier for you in the end.
5. All Travel agents today that are good and credible with a respectable IATA rating have an in house visa section (today you need to apply in person for some countries like UK / USA even Thailand if you have not visited it in 2 years or are applying for a first visa) but the paper work can be very complicated and honest and good travel agents will have a visa section that will go over your documents completely and advise you what to add or deduct from the documents to submit before you spend the NON refundable visa fees! Always note that these travel agencies will do their best to ensure your case is as perfect as possible because if you get the visa then they will make the money from the travel you will do! Also maybe these agencies might charge anywhere from US$ 50/– to US$ 75/- just to cover their costs of attestations / photocopying or even sending a rider to get your visa pay orders made for you!
6. Also look at the offline support that they can give you when you are out of country in the sense that would you be able to contact them on WhatsApp or skype or messenger in the case of an unfortunate incident like a demise at home and you need to make immediate changes and rush home or even extend your stay. Physical reputed travel agencies in your home country always have the human element you can reach out to that makes your travel experience even more comfortable which online portals do not have as one cannot argue with a computer but your Travel partner can fight with the Airline to get your emergencies addressed.
Bottom line when you decide upon a Travel Partner as I like to call them make sure that you
1. Are very honest with them about everything like your funds and budget their job is to help you like a lawyer, banker or doctor so hiding things from them or lying to your travel partner will only cause you further delays when it comes to getting what you want!
2. If your wallet can afford a domestic trip then do that and forget about dreams of an Alaskan cruise which will cost a lot so make sure you tell more details to your travel partner to get you the best value for money
3. If you family observes Hijab or Pardah or has special dietary restrictions like being vegetarian or have allergies to pollen or medicines or foods also relay those to your travel agents. An accredited travel agent who has a good reputation will always have solutions for disabled travellers or people with special needs like me as I am partially disabled and need some special services when I travel! Oh yes the same applies to parents who want a relaxing experience when it come to travelling with toddlers.
You need to know that getting a consultation from any one travel partner does not mean that it will be market standard rates as there may be biryani cooked in two homes but their cost in each home to make the same dish would be different so don’t go on rates when finalizing who to go with rather look at the value of services the Travel partner can give to you!
The world may be modern with a lot more exposure but in trying to be more tech efficient things do get quite complicated so be wise and choose your travel partner wisely! Not on emotions!
I am in the travel industry myself and this post is not to solicit business but to rather inform and help people I see who really could use some sound advice!
Feel free to inbox me on FaceBook if you want any advice or help with questions about visas, destinations or anything for that matter specially if you are travelling with kids or disabled. You can inbox me here - https://www.facebook.com/AmynAGhulamali or on linked in here - https://www.linkedin.com/in/amynaghulamali/
Have a great travel experience & please like / share this post if you found any value in it!
Please Note! This is not a commercial blog post to solicit business it is written out of fun for information purposes so if there are any grammatical / spelling mistakes do let them go!