Just wondering if most of RS tours fill up? Would a tour ever be cancelled if a minimum is not met?
This is a question where you may get a more accurate response by contacting the Rick Steves' Europe staff directly, using another part of this website instead of the Travel Forum.
Rick's staff does monitor all Travel Forum questions and reply wherever we have more info or clarification than may have been offered by other contributors. Staff from the tour sales department review questions posted in the Tours category and will respond here this week.
I have worked for Rick in our Tour Department for 10 years and my experience has been that yes, most tours depart with their full maximum of 24 - 28 tour members (depending on what type of tour indicates the maximum). To be honest, rarely does a tour get canceled due to low numbers. Many considerations are taken regarding a tour if the max is not met. We will usually put a tour on sale, which helps increase the numbers quickly and lowers the chances of a cancellation of the date. We like to see the tour at least half full - so if it is a city tour of 24 max - we would like to see at least 11 to 12 tour members on this tour. It could also depend on what type of tour and what country this tour is going to. It could still be viable at 8 tour members going on one of the Italy tours but not viable for 8 to maintain a tour to London or Scandinavia where it is much more expensive to run. We have canceled tours from time to time that may only have 2-4 tour members on it and we review this 4 months in advance in order to accommodate our travelers. In most cases, we can transfer them to a tour that departs a couple days after without issue. I have run across scenarios where they have not been able to go on another date or have already purchased air tickets. If this is the case, we work with our tour members to make it work for everyone. Please feel free to contact us at the Tour Department if you have further questions at 425-608-4217.
This is great information! I am fairly new to the forum but I knew I had seen many postings from RS staff. You guys are always so kind and helpful. I'm SO looking forward to my tour next year!! Thank you!
Kathy, just a comment from a customer. I did a few RS tours this year and will admit to checking obsessively to see when and if the tours filled. By the time I traveled the end of August almost all the sections in my tours were filled for the rest of the year. I don't think either of the RS staff mentioned it, but they also add sections as the year progresses too. The 21 day tour I was on was an added tour and the Paris city tour was an added section as well. The office also told me that once a section has filling fast beside it on the sign up page there are 5 or 6 spots left.
My first RS tour came in spring of 2002. It was about 6 or 7 months after 9/11. Those wonderful back-to-back city tours of Paris and Rome had no more then 16 people on each. I was the single man, there were no other single men among the couples and three or four single women. So, nicely it meant a single room for me, on both tours and a really wonderful small group experience. I still keep contact with some of those folks. Circumstances helped make great tours even better with smaller numbers and made me a firm RS tour traveler.
I was on a Turkey tour that only have 12 people on it. Other than getting a somewhat smaller bus (we all still had a full seat to ourselves), there were no changes.