I'm looking to book in April of 2018, but need to plan way ahead to be able to use my airline points for the flight. When will the 2018 trip plans be published?
They usually come out in August on-line, with the print catalogues (love the catlogues!) following a few weeks later. Maybe if you call the office they can give you a sneak peek?
I'm also looking to book for April/May of 2018 and I will be starting to look in August as Jane indicates. You can tell somewhat when the first tours start in a certain area by looking at this year's dates. If you haven't taken an RS tour before, be sure to give yourself a night or 2 ahead of the tour in your starting city.
If you usually check the forum frequently someone almost always posts when the tour dates are out.
What tour are you thinking about?
I am determined to see the tulips at Keukenhof so I want to do the Belgium and Holland tour during that time and then follow it with the Villages of Southern England tour. I might add some time in Paris in between the tours so I can go out to Giverny! I just wasn't organized enough to commit this year before the good times were filled.
What are you thinking of doing?
Oh Ann! So sorry your tour date got cancelled. Was it the earliest one? Am now officially worried about next year....
What were the dates of the Holland/Belgium tour that was cancelled? Sorry to hear that. I hope to sign up next April for this tour and seeing the tulips in bloom is my dream!
What tour are you taking instead?
My plan was to go with one of the early April ones (want to see Keukenhof), so I wondered if that was the time frame Ann had chosen and then gotten cancelled on. My thought was also wondering if the early ones are more likely to be cancelled or...what??
I usually schedule independent travel and often another tour within the same time frame. I am thinking that what I will do is schedule a week in Paris after the Belgium and Holland tour then if I book and something happens perhaps I can switch those weeks around and do Paris first and Belgium and Holland second.
I am probably worrying way too much for a trip that is a year+ out, lol! Yikes!
I didn't know that RS cancelled tours if they didn't get enough participants. What happens if you've already bought your airline tickets? When the 2016 tours came out in August 2015, the Holland/Belgium tours during Kuekenhof were the first to sell out. I guess current events have changed things.
I don't think they cancel them very often. A couple of years ago we were on a Best of London tour that only had 9 people, two of whom were kids. Now that's a small group!
Regarding questions on what happens when RS tours are cancelled due to lack of participants, please see the post from July 2016 when a Rick Steves tour was cancelled and how the RS organization helped with reimbursing costs of rescheduling to another tour.
Here is the tour contract. I'm confident that the RS folks would work with whomever if they had to cancel a tour, which I think happens so infrequently that it's not worth worrying about. I can think of one instance and that's the Turkey tours, which were entirely scrapped in 2017.
MrsEB, that's exactly what the Rick Steves company does and in my experience, always has done....no "would be smart business" about it. It is the way they do business.
I would not expect any tour company to refund "non-refundable" expenses that occur before or after the tour dates if they cancel a tour. These are not technically "tour" expenses or covered by their contract, just as they're not liable for your well-being, comfort, and safety when you're on your own. Imagine if someone had planned to come two weeks early or stay two weeks late...the boundaries have to be drawn somewhere. The airfare is fair game, but not extraneous expenses that have nothing to do with the tour. They do advise that you come a day early...I could make an argument for that day only, but that's it. Also RS does not in anyway recommend or nudge someone to book lodging that's non-refundable. When someone books non-refundable (except for an airfare), they should shoulder the cost because they know that they're getting a lower price in exchange for a higher risk. The only thing (IMHO) that RS owes people if they cancel a tour is a rebate of the tour costs and airfare change fees or cancellation fees. But, as I said, they work with you and want you to take another tour...so they'll make it easy and painless for you to switch to another tour on a different date. That does seem like smart business.
I conceded that point, but also said that the hotel booking not need be non-refundable. If someone reserves a hotel room, they should be able to cancel it - otherwise, they need to shoulder some of the risk instead of putting it exclusively on the tour company (especially if the tour company makes no explicit commitment to reimburse them for that expense). Whatever the case, this is a moot point. The OP wants to book airline tickets with points ahead of time, so that's the only risk at stake here. I've been able to get points credited back if the trip had to be cancelled - admittedly this only happened with Southwest, which is very customer-friendly when it comes to making schedule changes. I don't know what the risk would be with other airlines (don't know their policies), but I wouldn't do anything unless the tour is "guaranteed to go" in writing or as close to a guarantee/high likelihood as possible. RS would know what percentage of their trips get cancelled (or which ones have in the past), so one could make a reasonable estimate of their likelihood of losing any money. The surefire way to prevent losing money is to not book non-refundable hotel rooms or other non-refundable expenses ahead of, or after, the trip unless you're committed to going no matter what happens with the tour.
We are looking at signing up for the very first GAS tour in 2018. I work for a small company so they need all the lead time I can give them. I'm hoping the first date will be mid to late April/early May. After that, my summers are so booked with work, I can't get away.
Regardless, we are excited to take our first RS tour. I will be skulking around waiting for the dates to post and booking quickly!!!
In case anyone is interested in signing up for one of the "Off Season" tours, those dates are often posted in June. Took the Sicily tour once in late Feb and last year in late March (over Easter). They both were wonderful times of the year to be in Sicily.
Alirule, congratulations on making the decision to take a Rick Steves tour. You will love the Germany, Austria, Switzerland tour. It is a good one to take to "get your feet wet". The tour schedules stay pretty similar from year to year. The first trip this year is April 22, so next year should start about the same time. Start watching the website around mid August.
Thanks. We've done two different 3-4 week trips on our own but with lots of help from Ricks books. Each trip we are getting more and more confident and look forward to picking whats next. Now we want to see what it would be like with a group. Planning is half the fun.