I was researching various tours to Australia/New Zealand and noticed that Trafagar Tours were considerably cheaper than all other tours. It was not until I read the fine print that I realized why. With most tour companies, but not all, you are responsible for the airfare going and returning from the tour. With Trafagar, they have now changed how they price their tours. You are now responsible for paying for all airplane flights including the flights in the middle of the tour. As an example I am looking at 20 day tours of Australia/New Zealand. These particular tours usually have 6 airplane flights including 4 flights that get you to various cities with Australia and New Zealand. When you book a Trafagar tour now, you not only have to book the flights going and coming, you also have to book the flights that get you to the various cities. They tell you what flights to book and will help you book them, but all airfare is your responsibility. It is really misleading from my point of view. If you try to compare their tours to other tours, you now have to add in the prices of the flights that are not included in the price to compare it to the other tour companies. No wonder why Trafagar appears so much cheaper. Also if for some reason you need to cancel the tour well within the tour guidelines for tour refunds, you are still liable for all the airfares because you had to book them, not the tour company. Anyone considering a Trafagar Tour, be sure to read the fine print because it didn't use to be this way.
Sounds ridiculous!!! What a terrible deception .
I am wondering , since they are English speaking countries , wouldn't it. be cheaper and more fun to just do your own trip ?
I agree with Pat that you really don't need to book a tour to visit either country - very easy to plan and do on your own, and much cheaper than booking an organized tour.
Driving is quite simple and straightforward...outside the cities that is. For travel within Australia I suggest looking at Jetstar, the Aussie low-cost airline. The country is so huge that, unless you stick to the Sydney-Melbourne areas, you'll waste a lot of time getting to places further afield, ie Alice Springs, Uluru, Cairns for the GBR, etc.
Likewise Air NZ offers pretty good rates on flights within the country. The South Island in particular is made for auto touring at your own pace - light traffic, stunning scenery, nice people.
Good guidebooks and an adventurous heart are all you really need to visit either country.
I hope you are checking Tauck tours and Collette tours. If I were going to Australia/New Zealand, I would be going on one of theirs rather than Trafalgar. Just personal preference. I think Smithsonian Journeys also has a good tour going there.
As long as where you are booking clearly lays all this out, I see no issue. If they don't tell you about the need to buy your middle of the tour air tickets until after you purchase the tour, then you have a valid complaint.
Also, if you are concerned about having to cancel mid tour, you can buy refundable air tickets.
Apparently Globus, their most comparable competitor, is also doing it this way now. Internal tour flights used to be included in the tour prices, but not anymore, and the fine print points out that those flight costs could change based on when you book them, so everyone on the tour may not be paying the same price. It seems to me that doing it this way the tour companies couldn't guarantee your seats on those internal flights so what would happen if you couldn't get on one of the flights? Would you just be out the cost of catching up with the tour in another city? Sounds like a pain in the patootie to me and I wouldn't consider one of these tours now. If you have to book all your internal flights at airlines' fluctuating prices, you might as well do the whole thing on your own. I planned and booked my own tour to New Zealand several years ago and it was not hard. If you don't like planning your own trip, you could just get the international airfare and when you get there hook up with some of the one-day or multi-day tours that are offered by local companies. No need to use a big outfit like Trafalgar or Globus if they're not going to give you all-out service. As for the tour companies mentioned by a previous poster, those are all pretty pricey compared to Trafalgar or Globus even taking into account the additional charges for internal flights. It all boils down to buyer beware and read the fine print.
Kirra Tours are very well regarded as tour operators in NZ. Have you checked out their tours?
In Australia Greyhound have an Oz Experience offer. Check out their website.
I suspect they changed the system as it was probably taking a lot of staff time to arrange and monitor the flights. That's a very complicated procedure with flights from numerous countries and numerous airlines to reach the starting point of the tour. I'm sure it also takes a lot of time and effort to arrange the internal flights.
Your suggestion to "read the fine print" is a good one, as I don't believe their prices include gratuities for the tour director and driver.
The points you've mentioned are exactly why I prefer the simplicity of Rick Steves tours.
It's become rather common for tour companies to price this way, but most will show their prices as such (ex. $5320 land tour, plus on-tour flights of $300, total package of $5620). Tauck (who is excellent) prices this way, as do several others. As long as it is fully disclosed and clear when you look at the pricing, I don't think it is misleading. If it is buried as a footnote or in the mice type, yep that's questionable.
While I have no personal experience touring with them, Odysseys Unlimited gets great reviews and a friend of mine loves them. Their pricing is shown the exact opposite way (ex. $5620, land $5320, and air-fare/taxes $300). But, a big distinction with Odysseys is that they actually include the overseas airfare in the total price, but I understand you can get a discount if you would rather pay for your own airfare (or use FF points).
Group tour or independent ?
Flights included or not ?
.... just make sure you come.
We'd love to have you. :-)
I watched a TV program the other day showing The Ghan and that certainly got my interest (although it may be above my budget). Who knows, I might also be making a trip "down under". I'll be looking forward to a "shrimp on the barbie" and a Foster's ;-)
The larger tour companies price that way for the same reason Ryanair, and WOW, and other discount airlines price the way they do. They will get your attention by offering a lower price.
I'm also sure that if you call them, they can arrange all the flights as well at a very good price. They make arrangements with the airlines for low cost fares since they promise "x" number of tickets per year.
Tauck is not the same quality as Trafalgar or Globus--they are much higher and more expensive. Trafalgar and Globus are the two biggest English language tour companies. (I worked for Globus for one year--my first year--as they would hire tour directors with little experience.)
Make sure you also look at what optionals are offered and add in the ones you want to take. Then compare the total price to other smaller companies.
As you worked for Globus as a tour director, I'm curious on what the policy was on gratuities for the tour director and driver? Did they really push that, and try to make the tour members feel guilty if they didn't offer a generous tip?
A gratuity to the tour director and driver was suggested in the brochure and tour documents. We were not allowed to mention it.
There was no pressure to tip. If someone didn't give anything, we certainly couldn't say anything. On a few occassions I wasn't tipped by a passenger and my first thought was why weren' they happy. Unhappy passengers were more a concern to me than not getting a tip. Too many unhappy passengers and I would no longer be offered work.
The difference between tipping on a Globus tour and an RS tour is that on the Globus tour the tipping is optional. On an RS tour, you are paying for it in the tour price. Don't think for a minute that your RS guide is working for less money because they love working for RS. This is how they make a living. Most work for other companies as well. RS guarantees them a higher wage and you pay for it. There is nothing wrong with that. Just don't think you are saving money.
Please understand. Tour Directors for major companies are held to very high standards. There are a lot more qualified people to do the job than there are jobs. If word got back to the tour company that a tour director was pushing for tips, that person would no longer be offered tours. As I said earlier, unhappy passengers means unemployment for the tour director.
I'm not knocking RS tours. I took one this year and have already booked another one. I didn't make the decision because tipping was included.
Thanks for the feedback. Very interesting!
Just curious, which tour did you take and which one are you planning to take next?
Ken, do you call them shrimps or prawns in Canada ?
... and nobody drinks Fosters these days. Lol
It seems to me that doing it this way the tour companies couldn't
guarantee your seats on those internal flights so what would happen if
you couldn't get on one of the flights? Would you just be out the cost
of catching up with the tour in another city? Sounds like a pain in
the patootie to me
I'd agree, Nancy. Sounds like a logistical nightmare of people coming and going at possibly different times, on different flights, or stuck without flights at all if they couldn't get on. One cancelled flight could sink the ship. If we had to go to that much trouble we'd just do the whole shootin' match ourselves (which we've pretty much done so far anyway.)
I'm thinking that a lot of people book those tours precisely because they don't want to make a lot of arrangements themselves? But you're probably right, Frank, that the companies would book flights for you for a price.
David, the Fosters we get in the US is made in Canada, so they can still call it "imported'.
Does it taste like flavoured water?
...you know, like Budweiser.