The best day cruise in the world, but also the second best experience in Europe and the number 3 in “best activities in the world”. Not bad, for an Amsterdam shipping company that has only chosen the canal top for two years. The flag so out!
They left it Great Barrier Reef, Niagara Falls and the New Orleans swamp boat ride behind. The boat trip from Flagship Amsterdam, which is described as “1 hour luxury channel tour from the Anne Frank House”, the Travelers’ Choice award in “Best day cruise in the world” on Tripadvisor, the largest travel website in the world where visitors receive reviews slash share their opinions.
“A crown on our work,” responds co-owner Rasmus Emmelkamp. And something that works hard all year round, because that number 1 place had to be achieved. Last year, the tour of the young Amsterdam shipping company was already the second-best day cruise in the world according to Tripadvisor, and therefore the visitors. Only the architectural boat trip in Chicago passed them. This year the roles have been reversed and that feels good. “We have done our utmost to make the experience for our customers even better, so that we would get even better reviews and thus end up even higher.”
They are also number 2 in “Best experience in Europe” and finished third in the best activities in the world. The boat tour failed to review the Colosseum, the Statue of Liberty and the Harry Potter Walking Tour. Performing well and thus finishing high in the lists is important for the entrepreneur. “You want to belong to the winner, so you want to book with that.”
What they have changed compared to last year? Cardboard straws instead of plastic and cups made from organic corn starch instead of disposable plastic. Because there were some bad reviews about that: it would not fit on an electric boat that runs on electricity from wind farms. Emmelkamp understood the green hint and took action. “We handle all the reviews we get.” They even have an employee on it. “We always email a personal message back and if there is a complaint, we do everything we can to make the customer happy again.”
Shipping company different from others
They do it differently than most major shipping companies, which have been sailing through the canals for decades, he explains their distinctive character. “You know, those closed tour boats that look like a glass container and where the same standard story is told in seventeen languages.” Not the stilo of Flagship Amsterdam. Besides being smaller in scale, they also have “a high level of entertainment”, he promotes. For example, the captain and the hostess play a kind of role-playing game, telling the history of the city, with all kinds of facts in between. Such as how many bicycles are fished from the canals every year (“more than 15,000!”). It works, the tourists know where to find them.
Again, although their company has also had to adjust some corona. Only twelve people – or less – on board max, disinfecting hands on the quay and the captain’s helping hand is not there when boarding. Unfortunately, but “we now have an entry level that we disinfect every time.” The fact that their boats are often open is now extra convenient. “Many people now prefer not to be in such a covered boat.”
The new reviews arrive at midnight and every night Emmelkamp reads them before going to bed. “I often take a screenshot of it and send it to the relevant captain or hostess. Then they will be looking forward to it the next day. ” And if it is less positive, there is always their Flagship Academy where everything can be brushed up.
The reviews have become a real obsession for him, the ambitious Amsterdam hospitality entrepreneur confesses, who every once in a while creates something new – and often successful – from the ground up. He has been keeping a close eye on the algorithms in the past year and checked the competition’s reviews. So he knew they had a good chance. That they really won and even received “two presents” now feels very good. “Despite corona time, a success can still be celebrated. We opened the champagne with the whole team. ”
Every day they receive more reviews than those of the Rijks, Van Gogh, the Heineken Experience and the Anne Frank House together. And yes, they do help. “We ask people to write a review at the end of the tour, but only if they really liked it.” And they think so, witness the 6500 reviews. One in 100 reviews is “somewhat less”, as he calls it. Not much no, but still too much, according to the perfectionist. “They are often complaints about the rain or the wind. We will then offer a new trip or a refund. ” Sympathetic gesture, wrapped in a silent wish. “Of course we hope they adjust their review afterwards.”
Did their colleagues on the water congratulate them after all? The smaller shipping companies already do. “They know how difficult it is to win something from the big shipping companies.” Although they now also have 25 boats, “Captain Rasmus”, who has had his sailing license for a few months, is not without pride. “We are well on our way to becoming a big one.”