I recently received an email from a traveler considering two tours to Copper Canyon, Mexico. She indicated Tour B was less expensive than Tour A and there was the better deal. When I looked at two itineraries she was referring to, my initial reaction was: "She's right." But then I read a closer. Here were some of the differences:
- Tour A's 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 meaning the travelers will most often be couples (which is fine – if you are a "couple").
- Tour A had one Tour Leader for 15 individuals; Tour B had one guide for 40+ people.
- Tour A guaranteed a roomshare (and therefore lower room cost) 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 Tour's B was by bus.
- While Tour A and B overlapped one hotel, closer inspection revealed Tour B was using less quality hotels elsewhere.
- A closer look at itineraries shown fewer included activities and meals on Tour B.
- While Tour A's itinerary allowed for some free time, Tour B had several mornings of free time with no planned activities – meaning you would have to entertain yourself.
- Finally, while Tour B advertised cost was lower, reading the fine print revealed government taxes and taxes were not included, making the advertised cost less than the actual cost.
It took a lot of close reading of the itinerary and the terms and conditions to dig out all of this information. In fact, some of the information was buried pretty far down in the fine print, where most people would not even take the time to read. Bottom line: when you compare similar tours offered by two different companies-there is always a reason for the price differential.
Consider the Intangibles
When selecting one tour over another, know what you are getting for your money-not just in activities and meals, but also the intangibles. Consider the value of traveling with a small group versus a large group, going with all women instead of a mixed gender group and having a guaranteed roommate if you want one. Doing this, you will find that what a company charges for their tour is reflective of what you are receiving.