Number of Guests -Post Covid Small group vs Classic group size

Does anyone know if the number of guests allowed on classic tours has been reduced post covid, and are now comparable to small group? ( at a lower price) - and if that is the case are small groups also reduced in size? Socially distancing inside establishments would seem extremely difficult while eating with the typical number of guests on classic groups...some of these restaurants and establishments -let's say in Italy, are quite small and intimate. Anyone know?? Any thoughts? TIA

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  • I don't know the answer to that but I, for one, would appreciate smaller group sizes. I always take a small group itinerary over the larger group option and even then if the tour is packed to the max, I find the small group size too big. Tauck offers a phenomenal experience and you get a lot for your money but I'd be willing, though not necessarily happy, to pay a little more for a more intimate experience. I travel with some competitors who offer a max of 16 or 18 guests per trip and to me that is a much nicer size than 26 or 28 guests on a small group Tauck tour.

  • After perusing several itineraries, I have seen no difference in the number of group sizes. Like voikk32, I only travel in small groups. However, given the trepidation that some travelers might have, it is possible that there might be less numbers no matter which tour size you choose, especially in 2021.

  • I too often choose the smaller group option, but alas missed the legendary Peter Tanner's last tour b/f he retired b/c of this. Of course, had no idea until I was on tour and TD told me. I've never been privy to TD information in advance; Tauck says this is subject to change, so no reveals. I'm so grateful at my good fortune to have traveled with Peter and his musings on a Tauck river cruise.

  • I've seen no change to the regular tours. Last year they were offering Private Departures. Basically create your own small group - like a family or group of friends. I had to dig down into the FAQ sheet to find any mention of it. What they said before was that pricing depended on how many you had in the group and seems like there was a bonus i.e. one traveler for free. Can't find that info so no idea what the charges are.

    I do think this year most of the tours won't be full capacity - especially the classic sized ones. While some of us are willing to chance it, plenty are opting to wait.

  • Tauck haven’t reduced the numbers on their classic tours, but they have increased the number of small group tours they offer, due to demand. They charge more for the tours mainly to compensate the Tour Directors who will not get so many tips as on a classic tour….otherwise, what TD would want to lead a Small group tour knowing their tips would be reduced by about 40%
    I’ve only been on a couple of the small group tours, mainly because it was departing at the time I wanted. Otherwise, I saw no advantage to it. I can’t remember the last time I went on a classic tour that was full anyway.
    Voikk32, I’ve been on two different rival small group tours with other companies. One has mainly women, there were only four men including my husband on one of those. The other had a few more men. I’m sorry, I know I’ll get a backlash, but on both tours, some of the people were just weird…..and you just can’t avoid them!

  • I get that, British. I've had weird people with ALL of the tour companies I've traveled with--you can't escape them.
    As for the tipping, you are correct in that the TD's income will be impacted by the smaller group size. Any business where the person's livelihood depends on tips is in the same position. More is better. Of course, that could be alleviated by companies paying a decent living wage so that people aren't so dependent on the generosity of the guests--just include it and I'll gladly pay it so as not to have to be bothered with cash on tour. And I've seen people who look at the suggested gratuities being per couple not per person so the TD loses out there--and again, that's been with ALL the tours I've been on, no matter the company. I'm not sure why they would think it's per couple, not per person, but they do. I've tried to explain that to a few to no avail so I don't discuss it anymore. I'm sure there will be backlash on my comments as well but we are all entitled to our opinions.

  • Great discussion Voikk. I think some people don’t tip at all, never mind the per couple thing.

  • Now that's just plain wrong, British, but I get that some people do that. I always factor it into my budget. It's just the right thing to do.

  • This is just my theory, but I think it is quite possible for a tour director to garner more tips on a small group tour than on a large group tour. I say this because of the ability of the director to get to know all travelers in a more relaxed and intimate setting. I have no clue what others give as gratuities, but I have typically greatly exceeded the recommended minimum many, many times because of that extra personal attention. And I always make sure I take very good care of the driver.

    Once on a nordic tour, one man on the bus became furious when the tour director refused to stop at a McDonald's (I abhor seeing those American junk food dumps throughout Europe now.) Anyway, he loudly and rudely exclaimed, "Well you won't be getting a penny out of me for your tip."

  • I can’t ever imagine being hungry on a Tauck tour 😂 in fact, we have both lost weight during this pandemic because We are not touring with Tauck

  • Yep, having a fit about MacDonalds is silly - though I do confess to a fascination with the country unique menu items at U.S. chains abroad.

    Maybe he was related to a woman on our Seine river cruise. We had two bus loads coming back from a day at the Dday beaches. Normandy was in a heat wave and our ship was delayed coming up river to meet us. The buses drove up and down the main street by the river a couple of times and one passenger demanded to be let off. Both buses stopped and we all had to get off, stand around in the heat trying to find a seat or shade (very little of either). Thankfully the ship arrived about 10 minutes later.

  • Personally, I wish Tauck would just raise the per person price and do away with this tipping. It’s a pain.

  • Choc - I disagree. people need some incentive to perform well.

  • Well, I never had an incentive to do my job well, I did it well, always!

  • British - did you work in the service industry?

  • edited July 18

    I did for a while when at school, but that was in England, where tipping has only taken off in recent history. I worked in a departmental store on Saturdays, worked my butt off in the food department, as I was being paid to do.
    Many countries do not have tipping and even more pay their citizens a decent wage. It’s very differently in the US. It is also why other countries see Americans as wealthy, because they tip so generously.
    Just another example….I was shocked to see children giving their teachers gifts here in the US, in England, it was not allowed, it was seen as a potential favoritism, bribe.
    It’s shocking the way people are treated here for doing valuable jobs full time and more and can’t make ends meet.

  • As a fellow European I totally agree with your every word!

  • British--I am so with you on this. It seems every day more and more people are expecting to be tipped for doing their jobs. I don't know whether it's an entitlement issue or they all don't make enough to live on. Even when you help a total stranger who might be struggling with putting a large package in the car or needing some odd thing done, they want to pay you. I don't get it. When we did we stop just helping each other out without expecting something in return or someone feeling as though they were obligated to pay you because you helped them. It seems as though everything has become very transactional. I miss kindness.

  • edited July 19

    In NYC (pre-Covid), a few high end restaurants did away with tipping of wait staff and added a set service fee or incorporated the service fee into the cost of the food/wine. I don’t think this policy was well received. I’m not sure what will happen now that restaurants have resumed operations.

  • British is partially correct on tipping. I have worked a lot of different jobs (I'm an old fart) over time. I've been a newspaper boy, grill cook, waiter, line cook, chef, garbage man, landscaper, combat military man, factory worker, dry cleaner, teacher, coach, administered small businesses, owned small businesses, etc. B) Tipping is acceptable for some of these and not even discussed or used in others. I'm discussing the US, mostly. When I was young, tipping was not expected, but was certainly nice to receive in some of those jobs. It usually meant I was going above and beyond what was typically expected. Especially the food service industry uses tipping to supplement income that is not particularly seen as providing a "living wage." (I am not sure what "living wage" exactly means, because research shows that no matter what someone if paid for a job, they almost always feel they are worth about 15% more. When they get that 15%, it doesn't take long before they feel they deserve 15% more. Plus, a "living wage" for some people is over or under what someone else expects for a "living wage" in the same job.)

    As for people who work for me, I try to pay them a "fair wage," which we both discuss and come to agreement on. In addition, for many, I give a Christmas bonus and usually give them a birthday bonus as well. (I know all of their birthdays, and usually their families birthdays, too. Although, not all of their families get a "present.") For some jobs, when more is done than I expected, I will give a specific bonus, or tip, if you prefer. All of this is established on "performance based" situations. It is not a gift. It is earned.

    My European (or other areas of the world, too) experience suggests things are different. People are typically paid more of a "living wage" and a tip is something given for service above and beyond the call of duty. Today, as British suggests, a tip seems to have become expected--even in Europe. Amounts of tips still vary worldwide. I don't tip as much in Europe as I do in the US. One pet peeve of mine, as far as tipping goes in the US, is that when I get the bill at a restaurant (as I did today) a tip is often suggested at the bottom of the bill. The amount suggested is usually 18-25%. However, it is 18-25% of the bill AND the tax (do the math the next time you get it). So I am now expected to pay additional income taxes for the wait-staff. As if the IRS doesn't take enough of MY money, I am now expected to pay theirs also. OR, as suggested by NancyCohen, the restaurant just adds the tax and I am expected to pay it, not based on performance or how good the service is. Therefore, I am now expected to pay an additional salary negotiated with the wait-staff. (I don't know if the percentage I paid is on the bill, plus tax, or just the bill.)

    I'm a pretty generous guy, if I do say so myself. ;) However, I do have standards for additional payments and expectations for what I get for my generosity. I've had several GREAT Tauck TD. They have gone out of their way to make my trip fantastic and memorable. I will give them an extra bonus for their time and effort. But, I've had some TD's that I didn't think did a very good job. Some of it was because there really wasn't a job for them to do. Specifically, the Antarctic Tour (which was a great tour) really didn't have much for them to do, except stand at the back of the theater and hand out candy after the ship's crew told us what was going to happen the next day and/or give an interesting lesson on some part of the trip. I thought the Antarctic Tour was almost a vacation for TD's once we got to the ship. Before and after getting on the ship, they did have a job to do and did it well. Their bonus was based on that part of the tour.

    OK, this has gotten way too long and no one is going to read it. So I will sign off and wish all you safe and happy touring.

  • I read the whole thing NDVB and think you raise a lot of valid issues, probably more than can or should be discussed in a travel forum. I'm still going to vote with CHOC's comments: Personally, I wish Tauck would just raise the per person price and do away with this tipping. It’s a pain.

  • Yes, I agree, then we would all pay the same price which is fair. There will of course still be people who want to tip.

  • Including the tip in the pp cost would give the TD a stable income stream. You can always tip a little more at the end of the trip if you want to. If not happy with the TD performance mention it in the trip review comments.

  • Or, you could do what Sealord says he often does…pay a generous tip at the beginning of the tour to encourage better service for him….

  • And what if they don’t?

  • edited July 20

    I faced an awkward situation in Japan, which does not have a tradition of tipping; I've read it is considered disrespectful. Our American TD, a one-man entrepreneur, insisted we tip our local guide, and collected and delivered the tips for us.

  • MarketArt--not understanding that at all since I thought all local guide tips were included. You sure the American TD wasn't collecting extra for himself? Or perhaps you mean the driver, if there was one? My understanding is that all tips are included with the exception of the Tour Director and the bus driver.

  • Yes, this seems suspicious. Has anyone else on a Japan tour experience d this?

  • MarketArt -- Was this on a Tauck tour?

  • Sorry for confusion. This was not a Tauck tour. As I said, a one-man entrepreneur; he led tours to tea regions of the world. A local guide accompanied us.

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