When shopping, we want the best of everything. This usually includes, a good choice, service, and of course the lowest price. Booking online is quite different to buying face-to-face, especially for services such as flights, hotels & even scuba diving liveaboard trips. The larger agency websites have more boats and trips to choose from, but the prices for nearly all liveaboard trips are fixed to ensure fairness to everyone. So, should you choose one of the large online agencies to see the widest selection, or do you prefer a more personal service? Well, Similan Diving Tours can offer you both. Yes, we have lots of boats on our pages, but we are not an online giant who has lots of staff and no relationship with the teams on the boats or at the local offices. Online large agents rely on volume. They process so many customers in one day that they need staff around the world to reply to emails, update availability and send invoices, confirmations & payments. We benefit from several advantages of being a local business. Similan Diving Tours has as many boats & trips available as the online giants, but we also have a very close and personal relationship with our guests and with the staff at the dive centres & even on the boats. Our guests really can enjoy the best of both worlds, with no sacrifice or disadvantages.
The advantages of a wide selection to choose from
- It may seem obvious to want the widest range of trips make your choice from. This way you can modify your search to make sure that you have an opportunity to find the very best trip to meet your budget, comfort & schedule needs. However, some people can easily become bewildered and confused by too many options. Our date search feature has ‘filters’ on the side of the page on large screens, and at the top for handheld devices. Here our page visitors can filter criteria of the results to only show the trip length, budget or locations that interest them.
- Another advantage of the agent having lots of boats on offer is that in the unlikely case where a trip is cancelled by the dive centre, there is more chance that the booking agent will have an alternative trip to offer the guests. Trip cancellations are not at all common, especially during the high season, but they do happen from time to time.
- And having too many boats means that it soon becomes impossible to visit them, dive from them and remember the advantages and features of each. It is important for us to be able to offer advice to guests who are trying to choose which would best suit them. We regularly go on the boats whose trips we sell. This enables us to give honest, first-hand advice for each boat.
But the price is most important to me
- Similan diving liveaboard trips are all sold at the same price. This is important for every member of the public looking for a trip and trying to decide who to book through. Even the dive centres who sell their own trips sell at the ‘public selling price.’ Online agents attract a wider audience, so there are almost no benefits from choosing to book directly when compared an agent. Likewise, there is no financial advantage to booking through a large online agent. In fact, the main two booking agents have so many boats, services, staff & customers that they standardise the payment terms. This means that you need to pay in full for all trips, when in fact most Similan liveaboard diving trips’ booking policies are a 20-30% deposit at the time of booking, then the balance is paid on departure day. This is especially true for the lower price range of diving trips.
- Booking your liveaboard dive trip through a local agent means that you will get the correct payment terms for each trip, not a standardised policy that is in place to make the agent’s life easier. In addition, due to their impersonal makeup due to their size, if you have a problem and need to change or cancel your trip, you must abide by their standardised cancellation policies, which are never better than booking locally. You don’t pay any more when you book through an agent, and we offer free gifts, which include t-shirts, dry bags & more. There really is no financial reason to choose a large, online agency who sells trips all over the world.
The best service
- It’s commonly believed that when you’re buying something from a small private company you will receive the best personal service. The person who you communicate with is more likely to remember not only your name, but also your personal needs. In addition, you’re more likely to remain in contact with the same person each time, instead of whichever member of staff is on duty at the time your email is replied to. And not everyone likes email. Some people prefer a chat application or other social media to contact and communicate. This is where we have an excellent online reputation. We are online for 16 hours every day and we use WhatsApp, WeChat, Line, Viber, Skype, SMS, Facebook, Messenger and of course email and phone calls. No question is too silly, and we’re always happy to help. Our excellent service includes local knowledge of hotels, restaurants, and which dive centre or trip would better suit your personal needs. We even book taxis for guests before or after their Similan diving trips.
- But it’s not just our relationship with our guests that’s important. We also know all of the staff at each dive centre that we deal with. This excellent relationship enables us to quickly check the actual availability (often slightly different to what’s seen online) as well as ask for information and sometimes favours. Large worldwide agencies only communicate with the dive centres via email, and they copy paste general information. We are able to communicate directly with each dive centre for every guest, which is very important to ensure the smoothest logistics on departure and return days.
In summary, there really is no reason for anyone looking to book a Similan scuba diving experience online to choose a large company that focusses on volume. Unlike a supermarket where the products are likely to be cheaper than from a small local shop, the prices for Similan liveaboard trips are fixed regardless of who they are booked through. So if the prices are the same, it comes down to selection & service. We have the widest selection of Similan liveaboard and day trip boats, with 36+ showing on our home page, but in reality we can sell trips on more than 40 Similan boats. And for the service, we truly feel that nobody offers a more personal & helpful service than we do. Our TripAdvisor page & liveaboard dive boat reviews are testament to how we treat our guests from all over the world.