Beware of Tour Operator 'Savings' Claims
Operators often tout their tours for the "savings" they provide rather than the features they offer. A current case in point: a release highlighting a tour that could "save" you about
In this case, the base price for a seven-night upscale tour to
As far as I can tell, however, some of the items in that breakdown are highly exaggerated. For example:
-- If you arrange your own travel, says the release, you'd pay
-- The breakdown also claims a couple would spend
This conclusion is similar to the results I've found almost every time I've deconstructed someone's tour package. The claimed "savings" almost always result from a serious overestimation of the costs of independent travel -- sometimes puffing prices, other times overvaluing some of the intangibles and services.
I'm sorry to see tour operators claiming "savings" as a reason to buy, when what really matters is the set of features unique to good package tours: full-time escorts, professional guides at the important stops, someone else to take care of your baggage throughout the trip, someone else to arrange all the necessary local and intercity transportation, and -- occasionally -- private entry to attractions at off-peak times. These features provide real "value added" in a good package, and they're the reason that many travelers prefer group tours, even when they know that they could do the same or equivalent for less if they arranged everything themselves.
The fact is that lots of people don't want the hassle and don't want to spend the time required to arrange everything themselves. I know of several very frugal (I may even say "cheap") travelers who happily and knowingly pay for the convenience and ease of tours. The specific tour I examined is certainly a good value for a top-of-the-line tour; why not leave it at that and forget the "savings?"
In today's "no such thing as a free lunch" illustration, it's clear that tour operators have to charge more for their tours than they pay out to the suppliers who provide the components of those tours. And although tour operators get their hotels and other arrangements at wholesale prices, these days ordinary consumers can come close to duplicating those wholesale prices -- and consumers don't have to pay themselves for overhead and make a profit.
My suggestion to operators is simple: Pitch your strong point -- features -- and leave the "savings" to savings accounts.
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