I recently received an email from a traveler considering two trips to Copper Canyon, Mexico. She stated Tour B was cheaper than Tour A and therefore was the better deal. When I looked at two routes to which she referred, my first reaction was: "She's right." But then I read one more closely. Here were some of the differences:
- Tour As average group size was 15. For Tour B, the average group size was 38-44 people. In addition, Tour B was open to men as well as women, which means that travelers will mostly be couples (which is fine – if you are a couple).
- Tour A had a tour guide for 15 people; Tour B had a guide for 40+ people.
- Tour A guaranteed a roomhare (and thus lower room rate) if you wanted one. For Tour B, you had to pay for a single room if you did not have a travel companion.
- Tour A offered 4 days on the train. Most of the Tour B was by bus.
- While Tour A and B overlap a hotel, closer inspection showed Tour B to use less quality hotels elsewhere.
- A closer look at the itineraries showed fewer included activities and meals on Tour B.
- While the Tour A Travel Planner was allowed for leisure, Tour B had several mornings without leisure without planned activities – meaning you have to entertain yourself.
- Finally, while Tour B announced costs were lower, the reading of the fine print revealed public fees and taxes was not included, which made the advertised price less than the actual costs.
It took very close reading of the itinerary and the terms of service to dig out all this information. In fact, some of the information was buried pretty far into fine print, where most people would not even take the time to read. Bottom line: When comparing similar tours offered by two different companies, there is always a reason for the price difference.
Consider the Intangible Assets
When choosing a trip over another, know what you get for your money – not just in activities and meals, but also intangible assets. Consider the value of traveling with a small group of verses a large group, go with all women instead of a mixed gender group and have a guaranteed roommate if you want one. If you do this, you will find that what a company charges for their trip reflects what you receive.