On our recent tour it was a common wish that email addresses had been provided along with the tour roster. Several people were extending the tour and would have liked to coordinate with others on our tour rather than do it on their own. Others expressed a desire to have had that information so they could coordinate arrival and share cabs, etc. I realize privacy is an issue, but if a "permission to share" was part of the tour paperwork then those willing to share contact information could do so. I have read that many tour members don't follow this forum, so the only sure way to establish a network ahead of the first tour meeting is to have contact information in the tour roster that is provided. It would also be helpful to have the tour roster sooner than a month prior to the tour. Reservations for hotels/guides for early arrivals or tour extensions need to made as early as possible, and if tour members are trying to coordinate with each other they need that contact information sooner rather than later.
I don't think that I've been on a single tour that this hasn't come up. I've made requests to the office, but there seems to be a strong will to keep us all anonymous (until we have to play the name game and do buddy introductions, of course). We'll get to know each other on RS's terms, rather than our own. Makes no sense to me.
Hi TravelingMom, In my experience (6 RS tours), people don't really want to share personal info. They may email once or twice, but that's it. I certainly think about those folks and the wonderful times we had together, but it's rare to keep in touch with more than one or two people. It's a shame, but that's the reality of what's happened with my tour groups.
I've been on one pre 9/11 tour where they used to list street & email addresses on the roster (back in the day!) The rest have consisted of informal sharing or one person collecting all emails and sending out a mass email after everyone has returned back home. While I appreciate that it might be nice to coordinate an event/day trip after the end of a tour some people do do that while on the tour (Hey, we're going to Melk Abbey tomorrow, care to join us....meet in the lobby at 8.)
A roster list tells you nothing about who the people are; their personalities; where or how they're arriving. And I'm gonna be honest here...on one RS tour as people were gathering for the first-day orientation, one guy on our tour was running around trying to write down peoples' names and talking like "well, we have to do such and such because that's what people do on RS tours" and I found it borderline annoying. Very nice person, but it was too chummy too soon for me. I'm someone who would prefer to get to know people first.
A month ahead? RS may still be filling seats at that point. I just don't know that I would bother to reach out to people in advance of a tour unless I recognized the name of someone I'd traveled with before--and in that case I'd already have their email from the past trip.
Just my 2 cents.
Traveling Mom, I like your idea. I can see the difficulty - the tour roster goes out just a few weeks before the tour starts, as you say. By then it's close to (or probably) final. Before that, people may still be signing up and there may be cancellations. I imagine that's why it's sent when it is, for all scores and scores of tours. So I doubt there's a practical way to share information before then, but I still think it would be great to have emails then as well as home towns. On my last tour, there were 3 couples from the San Francisco Bay area, and 2 other couples/singles who lived quite near each other in MN and KS. They might well have liked to meet pre-tour.
I understand the privacy issue with emails, but I bet 99% would agree. I've been on 2 tours and on both everyone was pleased that a list was prepared and distributed (by participants). I don't see why home towns are "secret" before the tour. The first thing you do on a tour is meet each other and say where you live.
I can understand the privacy issue.
Many years ago, before emails, I once gave out my business card, which used my home address, to a couple on one of my tours who were from Switzerland. I really didn't want to give them my personal information but they kept bugging me and bugging me and I figured they were going back to Switzerland.
When the tour was over, I said goodbye, and that was that. A few days later, they show up at my door, without warning, to say hi and hang out. My place was a mess as I was preparing for another tour. They quickly realized it was uncomfortable and left.
Some people want to be social and share information. Others don't. The idea of not sharing personal information before a tour is good. Let the tour participants decide if they want to do that. Not everyone does. (In fact, I can think of no other tour company that sends out a tour roster prior to the tour.)
Think about it....you find out there is someone in your area going on your tour and meet them prior to leaving. And you can't stand them. You then know it is going to be a problem. It will give you a sour taste about your tour. If you meet someone on your tour you like and lives in your area, then you have the rest of your life to get together with them.
I'm probably in the minority but I'm in agreement with RS' policy to respect folks' desires and privacy - it's a liability for them that they don't want to deal with and it's their choice. It's up to tour members to share info and it's not a bad idea to wait until after the in-person introductions. It's not RS' role to try to "nudge" strangers to connect as if that should be expected - and no one should feel even "soft" pressured to conform to share or else be left out. It's very hard to coordinate arrivals from different airports anyway - I have a hard enough time coordinating with a good friend, let alone someone I've never seen before or established trust with (why put travel pressure or even mild expectations on someone you don't know well?). It's not too hard to imagine people already coming with "baggage" against someone even before the trip if something goes sour. There is something nice about meeting people for the first time in person because it puts everyone on equal terms. On a personal note, I actually really enjoy my "alone time" before a tour and after the tour and wouldn't want to give the impression of being anti-social because I choose not to connect beforehand.
I, too, prefer to keep my info private until I meet a person and decide whether or not to continue communicating after the tour. On a RS Paris tour, we all got along, it was a small and congenial group and we all shared emails. I don't assume it will always be like that. I suppose a "permission to share" your info is valid, but I don't fault RS Tours for not making that part of their sign up process.
Its a good policy. On all our tours, someone other than the guide collected the email addresses of those who wanted to share (not everyone did) and photocopied the list at the end of tour. Works fine.
I don't want my email or contact information given before a tour. However, I would find it interesting to know which state someone lives. My upcoming tour list was added to after it was sent to me. These lists are still fluid, with both additions and deletions. I would not enjoy my contact information included, especially if I had to cancel at the list minute. On my first tour, pre-9/11, the guide took up contact information and arranged group picture. Later, on post 9/11 tour, because of privacy, tour mates not wanting to share contact info or to be photographed, it was left up to tour members to make those arrangements. I have been on numerous tours, and I agree a few people will send pictures and such, but that seems to diminish with time. There are only a few people with whom I have kept in touch.
I totally understand why emails are only given out at the last minute. I am sure there are tours that are only filled at the last minute or someone has to drop out at the last minute, new tour member added. Just imagine having to do this for all the tours they book. He would need to hire more staff, which would mean higher tour costs.
There is another factor here, privacy. There is the obvious identity theft. Sometimes it can be more serious. This happened many years ago in our office. A copy of everyone's address was given out to everyone in the office for Xmas cards, weddings, etc. A man called an unexpecting person, gave some story and got the address of a woman he had lived with. It turned out, he had been abusing the woman and was now stalking her. She had to quit her job and move. I just believe we need to give our permission before addresses are given out. Rick Stevens probably does not want to get involved with that responsibility. Emails, at least, remains a bit anonymous.
You can always send a hello email a few weeks before hand to say hello and ask if there is anyone schedule sinks with yours.
RS never shares email addresses (or any other info other than names about tour members) before, during or after a tour.
I, too, agree with RS policy about not sharing email addresses ahead of time. Also not wanting to appear antisocial, but I have my own plans up to the time of the RS tours I am signed up for. I want to meet folks in person before I make any major plans with them and laughing, they probably want to meet ME before as well, lol!!
I am also thinking that of the 5 tours I have done, the roster I printed out before I traveled was not the final makeup of the group.
The horrible incident of stalking mentioned upthread is all too real. I've had some side conversations with people in the past who were concerned enough about this that they contacted the RS office to see if they could either be not listed on the roster or listed under an alias, while understanding that the RS tour needs to have their real name and passport information.
By the way, from my 21 day BOE tour about 10-12 of us are FB friends and actually now that we are nearly a year out, still communicate on there frequently.
First and last hotels are sent much earlier than a month prior. It looks like this year I booked around April 15 (for a mid-Sept tour) and received my first/last tour hotel list about April 17 so plenty of time for me to book pre-tour/post-tour days at the hotels as well as put together a plan for other travel around this.
I've been on 4 RS tours and I've had more than one tour mate choose not to disclose their contact info - there was no pressure to do so and it was most certainly their prerogative. And to be honest, though the exception, there were a couple of tour mates I would probably not have wanted to share contact info with ahead of time (they were not my type, so to speak). Also, I think that's why the RS folks set up a message board specific to RS Tours to allow folks to self-disclose their tour and connect with others of a similar mind. Though it's true not everyone follows this forum, I appreciate the RS folks for leaving it to the traveler to decide for themselves.
I have been on 13 RS tours over 14 years in traveling in Europe. When I first started taking RS tours, 2001, the RS office did provide some personal information, either e-mail addresses or city of residence. However, way back when there was a very unfortunate situation where one misguided person kept contacting another tour member prior the the tour even after being told not to contact them any more. With the possibility of legal/liability issues, RS headquarters decided not to provide any personal information any more. Unfortunate that one person can screw up things for everyone, or so I am told. On every RS tour I have taken since they quit providing any personal information, there has always been some tour member on the bus taking charge of the issue and offering to pass around a tour roster so that any interested tour member could list whatever personal information they so chose. In almost every case most everyone has included their e-mail addresses. Towards the end of the tour, copies of that roster are made and passed out to all of the tour members who have chosen to provide some information. I have been told by numerous RS guides that they have been instructed not to participate in such activities. I, too, wish that we would still get the information that we once did as it might make it easier to do some pre-tour planning or transportation coordination. So be it.
You could post on the RS tour forum a couple of weeks prior to the trip and set up a Facebook page specific to the tour. I know not everyone looks at the RS tour forum or is on Facebook but might be worth trying. As someone going on a RS tour next month I personally would participate. Oh, and easy to unfriend someone post tour if you want to.
Thank you all for the historical and current insight. I personally don't feel like sharing an email address exposes me to shenanigans, but can see how others might.
I think it would be great if RS Tours would include a link to this forum heading (aka "Rick Steves Tours") for those who want to 'meet' each other per-tour. For those who might want to send Private Messages to each other, the participants can use that safe PM 'address' rather than giving out an actual email address. No worries of annoying emails, no email-transmitted viruses, etc.
If (and that's a big if ) RSE set up an actual, uniformly-titled thread page for each tour, I would like to see it NOT in this forum heading. That would muddy the waters, I think. This particular heading is already being used by people asking for advice about about tours, what the differences are between Regular and My Way tours, etc.
Or, RS Tours could just steer those who've made their tour deposit towards this forum heading (hopefully with suggestions towards how to clearly and succinctly title** their thread!) and we can just take things from there (like many already have, and quite successfully, it appears). It seems that many tour participants have never heard of the Travel Forum, and may not even know about this website (many have never heard of Rick Steves or his travel shows; their travel agent booked their tour). Those unfamiliar with this website might find it very useful to learn of it while planning for their trip. This seems like the easiest solution - just start including a link with RSE correspondence to Tour Members.
I do not want my email address - or any other address, name, identifying info - to go out to strangers...or even some acquaintances ;-)
My personal strategy is to give out Frank II's address.
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