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Rick Steve's tours for sale from another vendor?!?!

Doing an internet search for more information on our upcoming tour I found this:
https://www.stridetravel.com/trips/rick-steves/best-of-eastern-france-in-14-days

Gotta admit. This perplexes me. And makes me wonder about so many things. How many people on my tour booked through a " middleman" like this? Does this help explain why so many folks on the tours don't know about the forum? (Because they booked through some other source than the RS company) Did they pay less money with the advertised discounts through this type of vendor? Is this just a scam? it shows availability for the remaining 2017 tours which the RS site lists as waitlisted and shows Marseille as the final stop which is no longer accurate.
What do you RS veterans think?

Posted by
9796 posts

You can only buy Rick Steves tours from Rick Steves. Stride is a site that lets you find a tour and it's reviews then when you click on the tour, you go to that tour company's website.

Read this page: About Stride Travel

Stride helps you find the perfect professionally planned travel experience. Then we guide you to your chosen tour company for easy, direct booking.

I believe the tour operators pay to be on the site. Click on the "reserve" button and see where it takes you. (Don't worry, you can't be charged anything if you don't put in your credit card info)

Posted by
12492 posts

That's what it looks like to me, Keith. The advertised price of a random RS tour I dug up on that site is the same as advertised on this site. Additionally, advertised Stride-member travel rebates ("savings") apply ONLY to a published list of select travel providers, and RS tours are not on that list. In fact, not many operators I recognize are included.

Amount of "savings" is on a tier structure as applied only to those "select" operators.

https://www.stridetravel.com/member-savings

So it looks like mainly just a search engine: no scam.

Posted by
377 posts

Thanks Keith, Frank II and Kathy. You are all absolutely correct. If you want to book tours using this website it takes you directly to the respective tour company website. Perusing Stride info, it seems like a fairly new start-up and it presents the tour information in an appealing and useful format. I like that it shows you the price per day and provides you links to other tour operators with similar itineraries. I imagine the RS company sees participation as a way to engage a younger demographic or reach potential travelers in a new way. One downside might be that the cost of "advertising" on a search engine like Stride might be passed down to the consumer. ( It seems likely that RS must be paying something to be listed on Stride.)

Posted by
12492 posts

Some start-up background on this company:

https://www.tnooz.com/article/startup-pitch-stride-applies-metasearch-to-tours-and-adventure-travel/

This stood out for me:
"Suppliers should work with Stride because we prominently highlight, rather than hide, the operator brand"

"If you look at multi-day tours, there are several specialty OTAs (online travel agency) some who transitioned from being traditional offline travel agencies. However, their model is different. As OTAs they are incentivized to hide the supplier brand name and induce users to book on their site with their small number of preferred tour operators."

The "hide the operator" tactic of 3rd party day-tour bookers - like Viator - seriously bugs me and is a reason I don't use them. It doesn't allow you to research background and reviews on those operators, and replaces their partners' identities with the 3rd-party brand.

I'm pretty sure that the "quality" brands listed on the site would not have agreed to partner under this sort of model: their brand names are too valuable.

And this:

"No search engines existed for multi-day tours and adventure trips and the major reviews websites did not have a category for this type of travel... TripAdvisor is a big ‘competitor’ in terms of general traveler expectations around reviews. However they do not have a category for multi-day tour operators and actually specifically prohibit multi-day tour operators on their listing page qualifications."

OK, that makes sense.

I'm guessing partner costs are on a per-click metadata model that brings the potential customer from the search-engine site directly to their own. It's possible that there's also some tracking going on that can be really useful to a business: which of their tours are getting the most clicks (exposure/interest), which other companies potential customers are clicking on in conjunction (e.g. identifying closest competitors) and stuff like that.

Believe it or not, there are likely inexperienced travelers out there who know that RS produces guidebooks but don't know that they also operate tours so added exposure for those is a plus.

Advertising and research budgets are the price of operating a competitive business. :O)

Posted by
5 posts

Hi TravelingMom,
Thank you for your interest in our tours! You can only book Rick Steves tours on our website (https://www.ricksteves.com/tours). We do not sell our tours through any other vendor or travel agency. We have a unique travel style, so we like to work directly with our tour members to be sure we are a good fit. Any tour information, including pricing and availability, that is not from our website may be inaccurate. For information on pricing and availability, please visit our website or give us a call at 425-608-4217. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have!