Let me start by saying we are repeat travelers with Rick Steve's. We love every aspect of Rick Steve's except one. One both trips we have decided to arrive one day early and leave one day late, to accommodate our travel schedule with kids. I was very disappointed that on both tours we received "zero" help from the Rick Steve's staff arranging our extra day. We had to deal with the hotels directly, sometimes difficult, and the rates we paid were way above what I suspect Rick Steve's pays. It would be really nice if Rick Steve's would help us leverage off your relationship with these hotels for the "one" additional day. In Dubrovnik we are paying 182 euros per room for a one day extension, which I am guessing is lots more than the Rick Steve's rate.
Rick Steves sells a lot of tours and not every one taking those tours is going to have the same plans before and after the trip. That is a lot of their time spent if they were to provide free additional planning services for everyone that takes one of their tours. They do offer trip planning services for an additional fee and if you need help, that is the resource I would use.
Trouble is, your are guessing. Personally I would not expect to get the same rate since I didn't the reserve the room months or guarantee a whole of block of rooms. What does the web site show for the rooms? Kind in mind that hotels Rick uses are popular with non tour travelers so they are often very full. The need to discount rooms is very low. And what kind of help do you need to book an extra day. Call or email the hotel or often the hotel has a web site reservation system so what needs to be done?
Why not try booking.com. I have used them on many trips and nothing could be easier. As much as I would rather that their portion of the room rate go to the proprietor, I have found that going direct many of them are just not very responsive.
If they helped with this, they'd have to charge you more for the service.
Hi Dan, You are calling this a "one day extension" because that is what it is to you, but to the hotel it is a simple one night stay and that is the rate. So you kinda have to look at it from their side too. I agree that it would be value added if we could add on days at a special (may be not as low as RS) rate at the starting and stopping cities of the tours. Maybe make a suggestion to the appropriate staff at RS?? Often times when I travel for a work conference the hotel will offer a special rate if we decide to stay extra days in the city, it is more than the conference dates but less than the regular price.
I also get to the hotel early when I take a tour. in the case of the Switzerland and Paris tours it as three days early.
When I email for reservations I tell the hotel that I am with a Rick Steves tour and give them the start date. Most time I get a discount for the room, but I don't expect to get the same rate that the tour pays.
You have a couple of options, and we have done all of them. Contact the hotel from their website to reserve the room, go to a booking.com type and see if you receive better rates, or book at a cheaper hotel that's still convenient. When I took the Paris 1-week RS tour without my husband, the rate at the RS hotel was beyond what I was willing to pay. So, I just selected a hotel in an area of Paris that was convenient to switch over the next day.
I've had times when I have arrived a day or two early (and also stayed longer) and gotten a much better rate than posted on the booking sites or the hotel's website. But I have also had stays that were the going high rate. Like others have said, it depends on the season and when it's high season, I've paid the high rate. These are not chain hotels, they are smaller hotels, so they need to make a living. I just appreciate getting an extension so I don't have to change hotels. I also use Booking.com as someone else mentioned and have gotten great rates. Sorry you've had a problem! Don't let it ruin your trip.
OK I get it. we all love Rick Steve's, as do I. The point of my comment was that it would just be nice if Rick gave us a little help. I know about booking.com of course. Sorry for the whining. Just so you know I have a photo of Rick with my girls in my kitchen. I love the guy. Just offering some some constructive criticism.
Group tours are called that for a reason, and they have a beginning and an end. As stated, the RS corporation has trip planning help available. I don't think it's reasonable to expect a tour guide to make hotel reservations for up to 28 people who may decide to extend their stay. If they don't offer this service as part of the tour, I would not expect it.
Yes, it would be great if the RS tours had optional extensions. They seem to be fairly fast passed tours and I bet he would get a lot of takers for extensions.
I don't pay $182 per night in any city--anywhere we travel.
In looking at Booking.com and filtering lowest price to highest price, rooms in the Dubrovnik region are cheap as dirt. They're showing 850 properties and many in the $30 class receive very good customer ratings. I'm not above changing hotels to save big money.
You can also locate the hotel Rick's using and find other close by hotels on the maps Booking.com uses.
Danjameshall, when you are booking your room, always ask if there is a Rick Steves discount. And tell them you will be on a tour booked into that hotel, as well. Several times we have received big discounts just by asking for them. And sometimes, not so much. On at least two tours we've taken, the tour hotel was way over our budget, so we stayed elsewhere before and after the tour. One place we stayed at in Madrid gave us a 10% discount just for showing the RS Guidebook for that year. Madrid was one of the places where the tour hotel was too expensive for us, so we changed to another that offered a RS discount. It never hurts to ask, even if the tour is not staying at that hotel.
Is the crux of your posting simply about being able to get a favorable RS rate on an additional day (and not the actual process of booking) and/or an interest in not having to switch hotel rooms before and after the trip? I take it you're not complaining about the act of following up with the hotel, but have more of an issue with the actual individual rates you're quoted (by the way, you can get a better rate than $182 in Dubrovnik). I think it's totally up to the hotel to give a group rate for an individual booking...their willingness to do so may simply depend on what their options are. Maybe they have no trouble booking rooms and can't give you an RS rate (whatever that is) because they can do better and they know it. But if they're going to have an empty room anyway, I don't see why they wouldn't accommodate you. I guess the point is that the RS folks don't/ won't/ can't lock up an undisclosed number of rooms for a guaranteed rate outside the tour parameters...for one thing, they are in no way obligated to provide any service outside the tour for free and, secondly, they would need to have a handle on how many rooms ahead of time in order to negotiate with the hotel effectively. They already have to have a solid estimate of rooms they need for the tour...why would they want the headache and potential bad will of trying to get a second party to guarantee a non-group rate without the promise of filling "x" rooms? It probably just isn't in their business model and, since the tours are "small", they probably don't have the clout that the big tour companies have over their hotels. It's nothing personal.
I just assume that any stay outside of the tour is on my own dime and I plan accordingly. I have no problem getting a good rate "somewhere" - I'm not picky about having to switch hotels if need be. I usually select on booking.com by location, price, and rating. Obviously, it's good to compare against the best rate of the RS hotel that you can get (either by e-mail request, the hotel's website, or through a consolidator).
We booked a trip, with a different company, and requested a room for one in advance of the start of the tour. They did arrange it for us, but we paid more than the rate the tour company paid. The hotel, I suspect, will take advantage of the situation. It was nice to have the tour company do it, but they are more of a boutique company, so making special arrangement is part of their service.
Rick Steves is a bigger company and I understand why they are reluctant to get involved. It is more work when you have more tours. Could they do it, of course they could. It all a matter of economics for the tour company. After all they are in the business to make money.
I always thought it was part of RS tough love - he requires a certain level of independence and engagement for his tour participants. They don't do transfers to the beginning tour location and you have schlep your own luggage. If you want extra time on either end, you have to make your own arrangements. There does only seem to be one hotel these days where you have to climb stairs, but maybe that's just because of the tours we've taken. I also note that the quality of hotel is improving - I would love to hear from people who've taken tours 10+ years if they've noted the changes in accommodation.
When adding a night or two onto the hotels used for a river cruise, we have found it cheaper to book directly with the hotel ourselves.
MrsEB normally I would agree, but the OP is paying about $10,000 for two (including airfare) for a 12 day tour. For that kind of serious money RS should put out some serious customer service. On the other hand, if you can afford that, I cant see where getting a 10% discount off one of RS "memorable, centrally located" 182 euro a night hotels is going to make much of a difference. Actually for 182 euro, that room had better be inside the old city walls.
Then again, I am just jealous as I cant afford that sort of trip.