Comparing Apples to Apples – Proposal and Tour Operators

by: admin
date: 06/29/2020

Comparing two proposals from two different companies for the same destination can be a bit daunting, making it tempting to simply focus on the price on the bottom line. But what does that price really include? Does it deliver an experience that reflects the standard of quality your group deserves?

We’re here to help you break down each component of a proposal so you can make an informed decision.

Airfare – When possible, find out the flight schedule. Will you have to load the motorcoach at 2AM in order to make your 5:30AM flight? Do you have a seven-hour layover? Cheaper costs often come at the price of inconvenient timing. Find an operator that understands the value a convenient flight itinerary adds to your tour while always keeping cost in mind.

Things to Consider:

  • Does the schedule require an exceptionally early morning departure time or a more convenient one? Start your tour on the right foot with well-rested and happy travelers.
  • How long is your travel time, taking into consideration the number and length of layovers? Remember, more time spent getting to your destination means less time spent experiencing your destination.
  • When do you arrive at your final destination? Arrival time can affect dinner schedules and touring times.

Gratuities – What gratuities, if any, are included? Gratuities for drivers, guides, tour managers, luggage handling, meals, and cruise staff are all things to consider. Though it raises the upfront cost, including these gratuities makes for a more all-inclusive feeling tour.

Meals – How many meals are included? Keep in mind that dinners tend to cost more than lunches. Also, an itinerary that includes more meals doesn’t always mean it offers the best experience. Daily breakfast makes for a convenient start to each day, but strategically excluding some lunches and dinners gives your travelers the opportunity to explore on their own and satisfy their individual culinary preferences.

Things to Consider:

  • What is the quality of the restaurants being used? Chain restaurants keep prices down but cannot offer the cultural immersion, the authentic feel, and WOW factor that a unique local establishment will provide.
  • How many courses are included in each meal? Will you have a choice of entrée?

Attractions – What kind of experience will you have at each attraction? Is it a private before-hours or after-hours tour? Does it include a special experience not available to the general public? Will you be able to “skip the line?” A great itinerary includes these types of experiences because they make your travelers feel extra special. They can also be a sign of a well-connected tour operator. Understanding exactly what type of experience you will be enjoying is important when comparing value to price.

Customer Service – Planning a tour often begins more than a year in advance and requires a true partnership with your tour operator. What kind of support will they offer you from beginning to end? This is not often gleaned from the pages of your proposal, but it is certainly something to consider from past experience with an operator or learned by asking good questions in your initial conversations.

Things to Consider:

  • Marketing Materials – do they provide marketing materials to help you sell? What do they offer, and what is included vs. what is available for an additional fee?
  • What kind of communication and updates will you receive in the weeks and months leading up to departure?
  • Tour Documents – what will be provided to you and your travelers before and during your tour to enhance the experience and ensure everything goes smoothly?
  • Are they willing and highly capable at accommodating flight deviations, flight upgrades, mobility issues, dietary restrictions, insurance claims, and more?
  • What kind of assistance can they provide when unforeseen issues arise on tour, such as flight cancellations?

Hotels – Even if the specific hotels aren’t locked in at the time of proposal, it’s important to know what standards your tour operator holds its hotels to. Things like star ratings, location, and amenities all influence the quality (and price) of your tour.

Things to Consider:

  • Will your hotels be 3, 4, or 5-star establishments?
  • Where are they located in proximity to attractions, restaurants, etc? Hotels located within a city’s center mean a wide selection of eateries, bars, shopping, and more are available within easy walking distance during free time. A central location also reduces the amount of time spent traveling from place to place, meaning more time touring and less time on the coach.
  • Are elevators and handicap-accessible rooms available? Is Wi-Fi included? Is luggage handling included? Is there a bar for those who wish to enjoy a nightcap?

Take the time to understand the tangibles and intangibles offered by each company and you will always be sure you are offering your customers the best travel experience and value.

Category: Travel