Website tour "Availability" vs Waitlist

edited May 9 in General

We had a tour cancelled two months ago so re-booked for next year. Unfortunately we couldn't get the departure date we wanted, so selected an available one and asked to be put on the waitlist for our preferred date. I already knew a little, but today I learned a bit more about waitlists from the agent:

  • When you ask to be put on a waitlist for specific sold out tour or departure, Tauck sends you a confirmation email. (they never used to do that)
  • Tauck phone agents do not know your position nor how many people are on a wait list. They are not provided with nor have access to this info.
  • Working the waitlist when spots become available is a manual process involving phone calls to those on the list.
  • Note: When a spot becomes available and Tauck starts going through the waitlist, the website tour/departure status (which is computer generated) will show "limited" availability, despite no vacancies actually being available. It stays that way (sometimes for days) until someone on the waitlist accepts the spot (unless everyone declines.) During this time, if anyone else sees "limited" availability and calls to book, they will be told the tour/departure is sold out. I think this is backwards?!? It should say "sold out" until everyone on the waitlist has been contacted and all have declined the spot, making it truly available. Wondering if I somehow missed a waitlist call from Tauck, I needlessly called them a few times before I learned this last piece of information

Comments

  • I’ve been on tours that have shown sold out for months and yet there are people on the tours that were on a waitlist and got calls to say there were vacancies.for example, on our K and T and Mountain Gorilla tour this past December, it always said sold out, yet several had gotten on the tour from the wait list and the tour was not full at all.

  • Alan - I was scheduled to go to Switzerland last September, but had to cancel the week before we were scheduled to leave. In November when I was looking to take a Tauck tour for 2020 I called Tauck about one I was looking at scheduled to leave in May. While I was talking to the Tauck rep I happened to check the Switzerland tour for this year and saw limited availability listed so I asked her what that meant and was told there were 4 spots available, but 2 people were on the wait list so that would meant 2 spots were still up for grabs. I had to discuss w/my mother who is my travel buddy and said I would call right back. We decided to re-book Switzerland for September so when I called back w/in minutes, the tour was updated to show sold out online. I was able to still get the 2 spots even though online it changed from limited to sold out.

    I'm wondering if this tour was once sold out which would explain why if there were 4 spots available that they even had a waitlist, but I just wanted to say that my Tauck rep knew that there were 2 people on the waitlist when I spoke to them.

    Unfortunately it looks like this years Switzerland trip will most likely get cancelled so I already put a deposit down on next years tour. When I did that, I know there was just under 20 people booked out of 40. Hoping the 3rd times a charm!!

  • British
    5:18AM

    I’ve been on tours that have shown sold out for months and yet there are people on the tours that were on a waitlist and got calls to say there were vacancies.for example, on our K and T and Mountain Gorilla tour this past December, it always said sold out, yet several had gotten on the tour from the wait list and the tour was not full at all.

    Part of the problem may be the booking - website interface. An IT person told me that was redone in the new website. In your case, openings could have occurred but booked immediately with people on the waitlist- the website may never have shown a vacancy, or if it did, it may have only been for a few minutes before anyone noticed, or. . . . that status shown on the website was never changed. Now, the website may be updated less regularly due to reduced COVID-19 manning. Most phone agents are working from home.

    The departure we are waitlisted for has shown "limited" space available in two cabin categories for four days now! I guess the bottom line is you just can't trust the availability shown on the website.

    Kathy0529
    7:52AM

    . . . . saw limited availability listed so I asked her what that meant and was told there were 4 spots available, but 2 people were on the wait list so that would meant 2 spots were still up for grabs.

    It depends on Tauck's or the agent's definition of "spots." Pricing on the website is per person, double occupancy, so four "spots" could mean two rooms/cabins taken by two couples/traveling companions or by just two singles who are willing to pay the single supplement for a single room/cabin (if permitted on that tour.) Also, a person on the waitlist could be booking two rooms, 4 "spots," for a family/friends. In an attempt to get a better understanding of the process I will ask about "spots" and the # of attempts and time allotted to contact people on the waitlist and how much time they are given to respond, the next time I call. This was never an issue to me before! :/

    The bottom line- re-booking has really become tough for those who have had tours cancelled, especially for really popular tours. They must compete for a limited number of spaces with first-timers, some whom booked months earlier. That is what happened to us for J&E.

  • As I have mentioned. We are not booking any more trips. We have to book something before mid 2021 so we do not lose our Dreamsaver insurance from the recently cancelled tour. If our three next booked tours are canceled, I don’t know what happens to all those insurances but that is a lot of money. I’ll be sad if we cannot take our Israel and Jordan tour next year, the other two tours I can live without for now. We have Japan booked with another company for September 2021, I will be really really sad to not do that one and they only do the tour once or twice a year. We want to keep our options open for everything else as we feel if Tauck is doing tours, they may be very different new ones in the future. We don’t want or be locked in with more tours.

  • edited May 9

    I think the waitlist may be more subjective than it may appear. That is probably why the agents can’t tell where you are on the waitlist. I’m thinking of the guy who picked a fight at breakfast because someone stepped in front of him in the omelet line. He probably would not be at the top of the waitlist.

  • If the availability shown on the website is computer generated as I was told AND is based on the total travelers booked, NOT beds available, then single traveler(s) could be the reason for the bad info. For example, if a cruise or land tour has 10 cabins with two beds each, theoretically it isn't sold out until 20 people have booked. However, if one or more cabins are booked by single travelers, then it will be physically sold out with only 19 or less people, though the computer (and website) may show "limited" space.

    Tauck typically describes a small group tour as "averaging" 24 people, meaning there could actually be more than 24 travelers on a given small group departure; we have experienced that. However, if you subscribe to the analysis above, the group size can never be larger than 24, so this situation might only apply to certain small group land tours with a boat segment (P&G, J&E, Jewels of the Nile, etc.)

    The bottom line is that it is a fixable problem, though I guess it isn't a priority (but still annoying :# ).

  • Singles do indeed make maximum of size of group quite a bit lower if there are more than a couple of them. Another reason why it’s not worth paying up front for a Small group departure.

  • British, Agree. my last two tours, Portrait of India and Israel were much smaller that I anticipated. Israel had 7 singles and India had 5 singles. It was a nice size without having to pay the extra fee for "small group tour.

  • edited May 16

    I made my weekly call to Tauck today and got a bit more of the story.

    For a brief period it looked like we would be get a cabin on our desired departure when the agent asked me to confirm what categories of cabin I would accept- there was one missing from our waitlist- I replied, anything! Sounding hopeful, the agent asked if I could hold while she checked. Unfortunately, when she got back to me it was with bad news.

    It is a single traveler issue as I had already suspected- each tour, at least those with a shipboard segment(s), has a certain number of cabins that are reserved for single travelers. The cabin(s) that is causing the website to show "Limited" availability is, unfortunately, one reserved for a single traveler only- so we can't book it.

    The cabin has two beds but more than one traveler would exceed the maximum spaces allotted to Tauck by the ship operator, so no one can stay in the second bed. Wouldn't you think, since the boat operator and Tauck would make a little more money (two full fares vs one + single supplement) they would release the cabin to a couple if a single hasn't booked it after a certain period of time? (Maybe they do that?) Oh, well, better luck next time or not at all if my back doesn't get any better :'(

  • I'm a single traveler and usually have to book my tours a year or more ahead of time as there are very few spaces and/or cabins set aside for single travelers, for example Singapore to Bali land tour only has 2 or 3 spaces for single travelers.

  • edited May 18

    gladysorlando984
    12:20PM

    I'm a single traveler and usually have to book my tours a year or more ahead of time as there are very few spaces and/or cabins set aside for single travelers, for example Singapore to Bali land tour only has 2 or 3 spaces for single travelers.

    That applies to everyone, couples too, if they want a specific departure or cabin. We book at the first opportunity or earlier, which can be over two years out. That is the situation with our upcoming 2020 XMAS Markets cruise- we booked it in Oct 2018! We didn't have that opportunity with J&E because it didn't go live until last winter. We would have booked as early as possible. Even booking only a year out, we got what we wanted, until COVID-19 took it away.

    I'm not disparaging solo travelers, just how a single booking impacts the availability reflected on the website (they cause a false "Limited" availability.) And frankly, I don't have any suggestions how those of us who have had trips cancelled due to COVID 19, should be handled (some sort of priority or consideration?) when we re-book. There just doesn't seem to be any good way to do it so someone doesn't lose out (though personally I wish there was! :/ )

  • Gladys, we booked the Singapore Bali tour as soon as it was advertised. Earlier this year, our departure date was canceled and we had to go at a different date. We met a solo traveler on our last tour who was also booked on a Singapore Bali tour This year and her date was also cancelled and she had to chose a different date. This is all before Covid by the Way. The agent told us the tour was just not selling well. It hardly matters, the tour will be cancelled anyway, we just await the call.

  • edited May 18

    As a solo traveler I encountered an issue when I tried to book the June 14, 2020 "The Ultimate Alps & Dolomites including Oberammergau".

    All of the single accommodations had been booked yet there were accommodations for 2 & 3 persons available.

    I was placed on the single accommodation waitlist. (That would mean I would have to wait until I was number 1 on the single accommodation waitlist and the regular waitlist was 0.)

    The odds of accommodations becoming available were reasonable 18 months out and worth the $6,121 savings of booking a 2 person room.

    The reality is I had to be prepared to wait for the period after final payments were due for the waitlisted journey, and prior to the initial start date of May 20, 2020 for my current 3 back to back reservations.

    On April 9, 2020 COVID-19 solved that problem and Tauck rebooked my reservations on a similar 4 back to back journey in 2021 and placed me on the 2022 "The Ultimate Alps & Dolomites including Oberammergau" waitlist.

    On April 13, 2020 Tauck confirmed my request to change from "The Ultimate Alps & Dolomites including Oberammergau" waitlists to the May 18, 2022 departure of the "Romantic Rhine & Oberammergau" Amsterdam to Basel riverboat cruise and the May 28, 2022 departure of the "Romantic Germany" land tour waitlists.

    Tauck does provided a few incentives for solo travelers:

    Special Solo Traveler Savings - No Single Supplement in Category 1 on Riverboat Cruises
    or Savings of $1,000 per cabin in Category 4, 5 & 6 on select departures.

    For land tours the additional cost for a solo travelers is competitive.

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