When I went to visit Esther Kaufmann of My Office 4 Travel I saw first hand how she is able to expertly deal with the steady stream of customers coming into her office effortlessly switching from English to German. She told me that she also speaks a little Thai, some French and has some Italian customers from the northern provinces close to the border as well of course many Swiss. As hailing originally from Switzerland Esther has been at this office address in Soi 5, Jomtien for 10 years now and prior to that was in an office in Walking street although she does see an advantage to being so near immigration.

In the past couple of years though she has noticed fewer “walkins” as the general trend for online bookings increases. However, there are still many who prefer the professional,human touch and of course Esther along with her team can help these with their flights tours hotel bookings and in fact all travel requirements. I ask if she ever gets involved with car, bike rentals etc. but she emphatically says “No” to this as she prefers to specialise in travel, which she is licenced to do rather than be a “Jack of all Trades” . So if someone does call in for hire or other services she is happy to send them on and rather help out in the areas in which she is expert.

I asked which tours are popular now and she tells me that she is currently booking many to the north of the country Chiang Mai Chiang Rai etc When some customers come in wanting to visit the north of Thailand their preference might be for a trip including visits to area of natural beauty, to see elephants, visit temples etc. and she can easily sort out that type of holiday but also younger people may want more of the budget trip and include activities such as rock climbing – no problem. One of Esther’s own favourite places to visit is Luang Prabang in northern Laos, on the banks of the Mekong.

Vietnam trips are also getting very popular and this is again where Esther’s expertise comes in as she can put together a tailor made trip even if requiring different means of travel. Perhaps flying one way and coming back by taxi or coach? Even stopping off somewhere and breaking the return trip. She recently helped some customers with a 10 day trip and as their party included one very elderly relative had to be sure that the excursions she was recommending and booking for them were not too arduous so that the eldest member of the group could also enjoy them. What she doesn’t do is simply just handout a leaflet in a “take it or leave it” style,which is the difference between herself and some other companies that just offer tours as a sideline. Esther is a professional and prefers to sit down with her customers to give them the benefit of her expertise.

While I was at her office I saw people drop by, mainly speaking German and handing over documents for her to look at: customers, she explained to me who also like to pop by for her advice. There is a German/Austrian Consulate at the Thai Garden resort but no Swiss Consulate in Pattaya. So the Swiss Embassy in Bangkok has chosen long-term residents who live here to help. Esther is one such resident and does a variety of work for the Swiss embassy such as being a volunteer to visit prisoners and helping tourists who might find themselves in hospital. She is now embarking on a training session which is specifically geared to knowing what to do in the event of an emergency: tsunami earthquake etc So in the case of evacuation the embassy can liaise with their designated person in the area and point people to their local representative.

Esther also does a great deal of charity work including much for children. She is on the board of The Hartmut & Ilse Schneider 

Foundation, started by the so named German couple who decided, as they had no children of their own to set up a charitable foundation. Esther is on the board and been working for the past 15 years helping to gather and hand over donations to benefit children in Thailand especially those in the isolated hill tribes The foundation has done many wonderful things in these areas. As regular readers of the Pattaya Trader will know already from the work that the “Under The Roof Club” does, in the more isolated parts of the country it is often very difficult for children to journey to school especially during rainy seasons. Boarding houses are provided for the use of boys attending school but nothing for girls so in these months traditionally the girls would have stayed at home had the foundation not sponsored boarding houses for the girls so that they too might get an education.

So, it can be seen that with her Embassy, Charity work and also her Travel Office Esther is an extremely busy lady who recently became a grandmother as well! However she still has time to give some real service, the like of which is now very difficult to find in the travel industry. For example some customers booking air fares to Europe by business class were delighted to find that for very little extra they were able to tag on a mini break to another country ,something they wouldn’t even have considered if Esther hadn’t been there to point it out. Then a more elderly customer who no longer has a credit card came to the office to pay for his ticket with cash. Then those of us who don’t have the time or inclination to scroll through all the search engines trying to be sure of the best deal possible who want a trip or travel plan tailor made to suit – Esther is the best person to turn to.

Visit her at My Office 4 Travel 489/1 Soi 5, Jomtien Beach Road, email [email protected] or telephone +66 (38) 250040