The recent USA Today article "5 Myths About Group Tours" addressed some unflattering group travel fallacies. In the article, Everett Potter and a team of group travel experts dispelled many inaccurate assumptions about the act of group travel. We wondered how some of our Groups Today readers and tour operators would respond to these myths. Here is what Damon and Jason Allan from Maxima Tours and Darla Moore from DarlaTours have to say.
1. Group tours are just too big for me.
Damon and Jason Allan: Not all groups are created equally. There are, of course, large groups of 54 on a coach and there are also small groups that can include as few as seven people. Our small group experiences start at 10 travelers and max out at 17. So, there are options!
Darla Moore: This is a tricky area. Many travelers think of the stereotypical "big box" group tours, but group travel can be as few as five. We at DarlaTours like to keep our groups between 20 and 50, but welcome smaller groups, too.
2. Tours are too expensive.
D/JA: Booking a tour saves you money and time. A well-executed itinerary will have the very best attractions and experiences included and will often allow for some self-exploration, with the assistance of your tour operator. There are a lot of options out there, but note that bottom-barrel pricing may get you bottom-barrel experiences and service.
DM: Travelers need to make apples to apples comparisons. Tours often include meals, transportation, hotel discounts and other out-of-pocket expenses that can add up when traveling. With group travel, these costs are upfront. The traveler can sit back and relax without counting dollars while on vacation.
3. Traveling via group tour is unauthentic.
D/JA: On the contrary: A premier tour operator's duty is to create the most authentic experience for a group. Sometimes, the most authentic experiences can only be had as a group. Shop around and research various tours to learn about how each tour will expose you to different cultural experiences.
DM: Think of it this way: Going to a restaurant on your own is a different experience than going with a group of friends. Is one more authentic than the other? No. Was the food any different? No. Was the restaurant any different? No. But, the experience was completely different.
4. Travel tours don't give me enough time to explore.
D/JA: When creating a tour itinerary, we recognize that each member of a group has different interests and travel goals. We are always happy to accommodate them in order to maximize the value of the tour. Quality tour operators will provide an element of free time.
DM: This is where the traveler needs to be a smart shopper. Carefully look at the itinerary. Is there time built in for relaxation and exploration or is it a fast-paced schedule? Shop around and find the schedule type that best fits your style. If the published itinerary doesn't provide enough detail, contact the company and ask.
5. I can travel alone, why go on a tour?
D/JA: Being able to travel alone or with a companion does not negate being on a group tour. Being part of a group saves you money. The tour operator will put together the very best experience. Also, sometimes the very best memories from your trip are shared memories. Memories last much longer when you travel as a group.
DM: By going on a tour, you have a shared experience. Many of my clients develop lifelong friendships because of trips they shared. Group travel creates an experience that cannot be had when travelling alone. Group travelers share photos, trade seats and become friends—all while having the trip of a lifetime.
There you have it. The rumors have been officially dispelled! When people accurately understand this industry, they realize how wonderful group travel and group tours can be.
Click here to read Everett Potter's USA Today article that inspired this piece.
Written by Lisa Stickler, staff writer for Groups Today magazine.
Photo courtesy of G Adventures.