Ever think about land tours instead of a cruise? In previous posts here and here, we looked at an example of an escorted tour with Trafalgar. The post ended with a list of criteria to choose between suppliers. Here we dive a bit deeper by looking at a specific case study.
Case study - land tours
What's the best way to see Florence?
One of the most popular tours is Rome - Florence - Venice in Italy. So let's see how different suppliers shape up with a June 2018 basic one week tour. We looked at three suppliers - Tauck, Collette and Traflagar. We've had happy clients on each, though we've had much more experience with Tauck and Collette. Still all are suppliers I would recommend for land tour (sometimes called escorted tours).
Cost at first blush
Tauck: $548 per day per person
Collette: $288 per day per person
Trafalgar $285 per day per person
Wow! that's a big difference. But....
Tauck includes first class express train transport, all transfers, all service charges and gratuities, all admission fees, taxes and porterage. And they also include an after hours visit to the Vatican, a cellar tour and wine pairing lunch, olive tasting, lectures, a guided tour of the Uffizi and a gondola ride.
Tauck also has 3 more meals than either Collette or Trafalgar. These are all factors to consider when comparing land tours.
Cost - another look:
St mark's Basilica mosaic
Estimating the value of each of these, the new totals are:
Tauck: $548 per day per person
Collette: $436 per day per person
Trafalgar $448 per day per person
By including these, we're assuming these are things you'd want to include in a Collette or Trafalgar tour. But if you really don't like olives or have no desire to see the Uffizi, the cost comparison isn't helpful. I'll submit, however that you'll want to do something in these cities and that something will cost money.
There's no question that the hotels on the Tauck tour are higher quality than the other two. But let's say you really don't care about that. But how about location? The Tauck hotel in Venice is right off of St. Mark's square in a really excellent location. The Collette hotel is about a 30 minute walk to St. Mark's and is located at the end of the main island. Scenic, but not convenient. The Trafalgar hotel? It's located on the mainland. The experience in each will be very different, independent of how luxurious the accommodations are. Hard to put a price on this. But when comparing land tours the location of the hotel should definitely be considered.
There's other factors of course. The Tauck tour will be a smaller group and the tour guides will likely be higher quality. Still it's about $100 per day per person more than the others. Is it worth it? That depends on what you value.
So how do you choose different escorted or land tours? If you value what Tauck offers, then it's probably not hard to pay the premium they are asking for. I don't think I've ever had a client complain on a Tauck tour. They just do a great job. But I've had plenty of very positive comments about Collette. Sometimes what you want isn't available or their dates just don't work for you. Then you have to go with choice B.
So what did we learn?
You need to look beyond the initial quoted price. What's included makes a huge difference and can close the cost gap.
There's a lot of money in higher quality hotels. A great location though can really make a big difference in your experience.
In the end, your choice will depend on what you value as well as specific availability.
A discussion with a trusted travel agent can help you ferret through all these choices. And these are only a few of the choices that are available.