tour group size

Hello

Not having traveled with tour groups in past, I am curious about traveling with upwards of 40 people.

Considering bus and walk touring with this number of people, how is it handled to insure reasonable viewing/participation among the group?

Did you ever feel on the fringes of activities?

Also, sharing personal space at dinners, etc?

Thanks

Comments

  • Tauck tours are top of the line. You have not mentioned a specific tour but the maximum for the land tours in this area are 30 to 40 and of course there is always a chance the tour may not be full. Sometimes activities are split into groups. 'whisper' hearing devices are often used, I like these because sometimes I can wander off from the group a little and look at things that interest me but still hear what is being said to the group.
    Also, meals are not always in groups. Tauck uses the 'Dine Around' method for some meals which means you can chose from a selection of restaurants, chose to sit on your own, chose to sit with others you find you like to hang out with and at the dining times you prefer. I feel the different options work very well, sometimes we like to mingle, sometimes we want to a have a more romantic dinner on our own or have had a tiring day and want to just sit and eat and not engage with others.
  • Many tours offer a small group, max 24 people, option. These toirs a a bit more expensive, but I think well worth the difference. It is a lot easier to herd 24 cats than 35-40. The coach size is the same, so you can spread out a bit if desired. And it is much easier to get to know your fellow travelers. No matter which way you go, Tauck is the best!!!
  • It is really a matter of personal preference and what is important to you. We have not taken any small group tours and have never experienced a problem based on the size of the group. There are many times when people come with friends on these tours and we have found that they often tend to stick together. Somebody posted the other day that their group might be up to 6 couples. On a small group tour -- that would be half the tour. We have never found it difficult to meet people on the tours with 30-40 people. In fact -- some of our closest friends are people we met on Tauck tours. Again -- only you know what is important to you. People have said to me that it is crazy to book a top category cabin on a river cruise. Not important to them -- but it is to me -- and that is my personal choice. Just go with whatever you think will give you the best experience. You won't go wrong either way!
  • judy05 wrote:
    It is really a matter of personal preference and what is important to you. We have not taken any small group tours and have never experienced a problem based on the size of the group. There are many times when people come with friends on these tours and we have found that they often tend to stick together. Somebody posted the other day that their group might be up to 6 couples. On a small group tour -- that would be half the tour. We have never found it difficult to meet people on the tours with 30-40 people. In fact -- some of our closest friends are people we met on Tauck tours. Again -- only you know what is important to you. People have said to me that it is crazy to book a top category cabin on a river cruise. Not important to them -- but it is to me -- and that is my personal choice. Just go with whatever you think will give you the best experience. You won't go wrong either way!

    I don't know how they run the regular land tours, we have done Africa and the Danube river trip, but we never had forty people touring together. On the river boat we had 111 people, but we broke up into five or six groups of around 20 guided by local guides for our actual touring. The Africa K & T trip of course only had six or seven in each group, the maximum capacity of the safari vehicle.
  • edited December 2015
    We have traveled with Tauck on European trips -- Russia -- Israel and Jordan -- Japan. The group has always traveled on the bus together. Depending on the number of people the group was generally broken up when it was time to tour with local guides. As British said -- the Whispers Tauck uses makes it very doable. We took a Tauck river cruise in France in September. As you said -- totally different from the land tours we have taken due to the large number of people on the ship.
  • I should add that there was one time when the number of people in the group did slow things down a drop -- but it was still negligible. We took Essence of Japan the first year it was offered and that was our only trip where the bus only had one door so everybody had to get in and out of the bus through the front. I have no idea if that has changed. That was our only trip where there were not two doors for entering and exiting.
  • I wish I knew whether when there is both a regular size and small group option for a tour, if the small group tour just starts the day later, or has longer at lunch and so on, or does the tour get more time at an actual tourist site. At the end of the day, does the group get back earlier to the hotel or does it have longer at the tourist site? Get my drift?
  • edited December 2015
    As far as I've been able to determine, it is just a smaller group. Same schedule. Of course, you get a bit more attention from the TD, can learn/interact with the whole group better and achieve some small benefits in sequencing because the smaller group will be less likely to straggle. And, as an earlier poster mentioned, same size bus with fewer people = more space to spread out which has saved this tall guy a few times.

    While that may not sound like a huge difference, we will always take the small group option if available and offered at a useful time for us.
  • edited December 2015
    We like small group tours, but have only taken one regular tour that I spoke about in an earlier thread on this topic, so our basis for a comparison is limited. I don't think there is just one reason we like small groups, just the totality of all the small differences- and most of these are based on our personal opinions.

    Anecdotal information aside, I guess the only way to truly compare the two is to take one or more of both sizes of the same tour, and decide for yourself. Other than that, the next best way to at least compare the amount of time devoted to admin, touring, and dining, etc. might be to compare tour directors' daily "Go" sheets, if you can get your hands on one from each size group, but only if they are detailed. I suspect Tauck does not distribute these because they can vary from year to year, month to month, and tour director to tour director.

    The bottom line as British said, Tauck tours are top of the line, and Tauck does everything possible to lessen any negative impact of having a larger group.

    Just some observations of two very popular tours- Classic Italy vs Classic Italy, Small Groups and England, Scotland, and Wales vs England, Scotland and Wales (small group) (Classic Italy, Small Groups is listed as a separate tour while England, Scotland, and Wales has small group departures.)

    However, both sizes of tour have the same itinerary. Both stay in some or all of the same hotels. Classic Italy, Small Groups- only 2 hotels are the same. ESW- both size groups stay in the same hotels. Small group departures cost more- $1100 (ESW), $1200 (Classic Italy, SG). Both often break up into smaller groups when touring with local guides.

    Finally, I have no way of knowing if those who choose small group departures are new or repeat Tauck travelers who may have based their choice on prior experiences, but, small group departures sell out much more quickly. For those interested in statistics (yeah, I'm bored : ~) ), according to the Tauck website, as of today, 12/3/2015, bookings for 2016 departures for these tours look like this:

    Classic Italy, Small Groups: 75% (21/28) limited space/sold out, (36% (10/28) sold out)
    Classic Italy: 32% (8/25) limited space/sold out (24% (6/25) sold out)

    England, Scotland, and Wales (small group): 91% (10/11) limited space/sold out (73% (8/11) sold out)
    England, Scotland, and Wales: 37% (7/19) limited space/sold out, (32% (6/19) sold out)

    Getting back on topic to OP questions:
    Considering bus and walk touring with this number of people, how is it handled to insure reasonable viewing/participation among the group?
    You are assigned bus seats which are changed once or more daily. For walking tours with local guide(s), you are often broken up into groups and provided with a "Whisper" ("Vox", etc.), a small radio-like listening device so you can wander a short distance from the main group yet hear what the guide is saying.
    Did you ever feel on the fringes of activities?
    No. Your tour director will usually know everyone's name within a day or two and will attempt to accommodate any issues you may have- don't be afraid to speak up! While touring, your group may have issues with another tour group at popular attractions. Tauck tries to handle that through scheduling, e.g. After-hours, Tauck-only, tour of the Sistine Chapel, purchasing all spaces in a larger tour just for your (smaller) group (Neuschwanstein), and using the VOX.
    Also, sharing personal space at dinners, etc?
    Typically at breakfasts you are seated whenever you arrive, as you desire- with others from your group or at a table for two- depends on the hotel and seating available. Seating at lunches provided by Tauck is usually at tables of four or more, the same for dinners. However, your TD will make every effort to accommodate you if you wish to dine alone- this was done for a couple on our Alps tour. Reservations for dinner (when provided) are sometimes taken earlier in the day and at that time you will have the opportunity to select when and with whom you want to dine. Hopefully, there will be a number of fellow travelers you'll wish to dine with regularly.
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