Raymond Keast is not your typical coach driver, and is somewhat unusual in that he doesn’t have decades of experience blazing highways and byways across Australia.
Ray is no less a worthy winner of Mercedes-Benz Driver of the Month, not for his length of service, but what he has brought to coach driving that makes him a standout.
In fact Ray spent 27 years with Telstra and its previous incarnations Telecom and PMG as a telephone exchange technician before turning to bus and coach in 1999 as a school bus driver.
After a school bus stint with Busways, Ray started with Northern Highlands Travel at Thornton west of Newcastle in March 2010, proving in quick time to be one of the industry’s most highly regarded coach drivers.
A big part of Ray’s role is to drive and escort seniors’ tours/
Highland Valley Travel Managing Director Jenny Aitchison says Ray has taken to the job of guiding seniors extremely well, with a pleasant, happy smile, and a genuine caring nature.
“His special customer service is very much appreciated by our guests on tour.”
Jenny says like many coach drivers who have come from a technical skills based area, Ray is also very practical, which helps in dealing with the logistical issues that can happen when people travel on tours.
“Ray has that attention to details which makes him a great coach driver, and also a great employee,” Jenny says.
“He is emotionally intelligent and can see when people are struggling and need help or support, and when they need a laugh.”
Jenny says Ray will report issues back to base before they work up into big problems, whether it might be an issue with a coach, a health or mobility issue for a guest or a problem that may arise with an itinerary.
“He plans and prepares well for his tours, and is confident and well-liked by his fellow crew members and our office staff.”