Gratuities

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Comments

  • edited July 2018
    joycesw wrote:
    Another interesting comment...I would tend to agree with Alan's assessment of Tauck's attention to this forum, however, my own experience makes me feel differently. After our Japan trip (Land of the Rising Sun) last year I wrote a three page letter to Tauck outlining my concerns (great trip but I was very displeased with some of the organizational aspects of the trip). I then posted a review on this forum, and within a few hours I had a call, at my home, from the Director of Small Ship Cruising and we had a 45 minute conversation about the trip as a result of my forum post! It was a very positive conversation, and I sensed that he really listened to my concerns and wanted to rectify some of the issues that I felt were problematic. Sooooo....from my experience, Big Brother is indeed listening!!

    Hmmm, I wonder who alerted Tauck Tim to your post (and not using the eSupport email address). I think it may have been someone you know! Not to say Tauck wouldn't have discovered it on their own. Seriously, it is not the first time "someone" has done that! I've also heard that he alerts Tauck Tim about spammers, too.
  • edited July 2018
    JnCPerkins wrote:
    Alan, I'm going to disagree with PART of what you've written here. Although there is no active moderation by Tauck personnel here... I think it would be extremely short-sighted to believe there aren't Tauck people looking at what is going on at their own web-site. They may not get involved in the discussions, but I would bet they are reading PLENTY.

    In this competitive marketplace, I would wager to say Tauck personnel are reading what is being written on their competitors web-sites; what is being written on independent travel and tourism web-based forums, as well as looking closely at what their competitors are doing. How embarrassing might it be to miss the boat on a traveling trend, and then learn people have been posting about it on your own web-space. I can't see Tauck being that foolish...

    I'm betting Tauck is indeed reading what is being written here.

    OK, you must be right. I'm just a noobie here, what do I know? All that I can say is from closely monitoring this forum myself for six years or so, I've seen other hot button topics fester for quite some time, before a Tauck rep finally addressed them. The topics included everything from verbal attacks on TD's using their real name, to major issues with tours, services, website, the new app, etc. But, again, what do I know.

    Another thing to consider- what do you suppose is the percentage of Tauck Travelers who read and participate either before or after their tour? I won't hazzard a guess but, I'll bet reading is fairly low, and participating is even lower, much lower. Many people don't come here and some don't even know about the forums. So you are looking a very small sample of Tauck travelers. As I said, the primary vehicle for complaints and suggestions is the critique.

    And finally, from the Tauck Travel Forum Rules and Guidelines:

    "Please DON’T:

    Discuss Tauck policy – the Tauck Travel Forums are not an appropriate place to express concern over the policies and practices of Tauck, Inc; the Travel Forum is not a customer relations or customer service tool. Furthermore, messages that address a specific Tour Director or other Tauck employee by name are not permitted. For comments or concerns of this nature, please email [email protected]"

  • TAUCK has changed. I'm really sorry to have to say that because it has become "not so special" like a few years ago. My basic premise is "they don't care" because many tours sell out a year in advance. Why should they care? I complained while at that the dinner table in Norway to the extend of calling their main office from the dinner table. Got a nice person on the phone but never a reply even after emailing, faxing and putting my experience on social media. The TAUCK TOURS of today are OK and well organized BUT what has been "mostly all inclusive" which is why I have booked and stayed with Tauck has changed (in my humble opinion). If you don't book space with us, someone else will. It must be noted that Tauck "outsources" to 3rd parties many of the tour segments. It appears as Tauck "tweaks" tours, they tweak to save money and not improve the customer experience. A real shame. I will admit that Tauck does have one thing right...everyone gets the same price, no "special" deals and discounts and you can book directly with them. No high pressure sales, no early booking discounts and but I urge everyone to READ each trip's itinerary carefully and evaluate if it is worth the cost and read what meals that are NOT included as well as your "free" time at your expense. Even the hotel quality is going down hill but it isn't all Tauck's fault. What use to be a "stellar" first class travel company has, in my opinion because of my experiences in the last year, just become an expensive tour company that wants to believe they are 1st class. If you have complained like I have trying to make Tauck a better company based on real time customer experiences that Tauck can change (if they want to) but and have not heard back, just remember, if you don't take that open booking for (example) 2019 and beyond, someone else will.
  • edited July 2018
    Wow, is this a hot topic, but good, at least it entertaining as well as serious.
    Bob,
    I have already indicated differences in my own opinion in why not all meals are included and free time. I still think this came from Tauck customers, because on several of the earlier tours we took, we often heard fellow travelers complaining that they would prefer to have some independent meals and time off to see some sites of their choice or the pace was too fast and they wanted time to chill. Especially the subject of food, so many people complain about food here, even when others say they loved the food on the same tours. My funniest thing I heard was that Italian food in Italy was not like the proper Italian food in the US. Same with hotels, for us it is location of hotels that is most most important. Of course I would hope to get a clean room and my stuff to be safe in the hotel. As an example of this one, last year our final hotel on a Costa Rica tour was an Intercontinental hotel and it was in a very poor location next to a small mall full of American familiar stores but higher prices. Having been to San Jose twice before, I know there are nicer, and I guess cheaper hotels there and they have good facilities and better locations, but again, customers appear to want fancy hotels, that if they are on a Tauck tour, should only be having just enough time to sleep in. And of course they want a good view. I can’t forget watching a couple get very annoyed with a tour guide and receptionist because they had a room with no view and yet we were going to be leaving the hotel in the dark and virtually returning in the dark....and....we have stayed in that room on a previous tour and it has the same view as anyone else’s.
    And most importantly, the tour directors remain consistently amazing, I can remember one only who did not go ‘over and above’ but he was still a great guide. The last few directors have even hit a new high for us.
    We always pray the next tour will not be the one that goes wrong.
  • Oh, Alan, so you are the mole?? And here I thought my reviews were so stellar that Tauck could hardly wait for my post!!! Hah!
  • AlanS wrote:
    OK, you must be right. I'm just a noobie here, what do I know? All that I can say is from closely monitoring this forum myself for six years or so, I've seen other hot button topics fester for quite some time, before a Tauck rep finally addressed them. The topics included everything from verbal attacks on TD's using their real name, to major issues with tours, services, website, the new app, etc. But, again, what do I know.

    Another thing to consider- what do you suppose is the percentage of Tauck Travelers who read and participate either before or after their tour? I won't hazzard a guess but, I'll bet reading is fairly low, and participating is even lower, much lower. Many people don't come here and some don't even know about the forums. So you are looking a very small sample of Tauck travelers. As I said, the primary vehicle for complaints and suggestions is the critique.

    And finally, from the Tauck Travel Forum Rules and Guidelines:

    "Please DON’T:

    Discuss Tauck policy – the Tauck Travel Forums are not an appropriate place to express concern over the policies and practices of Tauck, Inc; the Travel Forum is not a customer relations or customer service tool. Furthermore, messages that address a specific Tour Director or other Tauck employee by name are not permitted. For comments or concerns of this nature, please email [email protected]"

    Alan –
    I would surmise you are correct, the number of travelers who read and/or participate in any discussion on these forums is likely a small percentage of Tauck's customer base.

    I also don’t think any of us really know what is going on at Tauck’s corporate offices, so all of this is nothing short of pure speculation.

    I would agree with you that the critique/post-tour questionnaire is the appropriate vehicle for registering your accolades and complaints. Back when I was working, one of the things I use to do was train large groups of new personnel. We always passed out critiques, and most people were not very interested in completing them. They wanted to be done with class, and move on. For better and for worse, critiques are passed out at the end of the tour when people are tired, and just want to get along with the last leg of their journey. People either blow sunshine up your backside, or do little other than complain. Personally, I think the post tour critique is little more than a piece of the pie in how Tauck (or any other company) are evaluating their strengths and weaknesses – It’s not a be-all, end-all tool. I’ve also seen various tour companies ask you to fill-out your critique after you get home and then mail it in (or have a means for you to complete them on-line). Oftentimes, they just don’t get done. So, I think that net for feedback is a big net, and not limited to just the critique. But as you wrote, what do I know…

    And as far as gratuities are concerned, I don’t think what we are discussing here is specifically a Tauck policy – it’s an industry-wide aspect of how these tour companies operate. I can see a lot of people who participate in these forums travel exclusively with Tauck, but as someone who utilizes a variety of tour companies, I can unequivocally state this happens across the board.

    Hiring a TD, bus driver, and/or a local guide as a contractor probably makes great business sense – and expecting your customer base to cover their wages in the form of a “tip” is probably a good business model. While the cost for tipping isn’t exactly a “hidden cost” – it does psychologically effect how you look at the price of the tour. I suppose there are people who would like the control for tipping to rest in their hands, but if I had to guess… there are probably a larger number of people who feel assured the company is going to do everything in their power to ensure they will have a great trip, and don’t want to be bothered with having to pigeon-hole some $$$ in an envelope and keep it safe until the end of the tour. Just pay one price and be done with it all.

  • edited July 2018
    I can only compare Tauck with one other tour I took with Oat last year and believe me it is not just tips that so far make me favor Tauck. Even though my husband has called Oat and told them to stop sending multiple emails, mailings offering huge discounts, massive very heavy brochures and so on, but they keep coming. Their trip insurance was twice what we pay for Tauck, and if you cancel, you do not get your money back, you have to apply it to another tour within a year. You also I understand have to pay by check and virtually when you book or the price can go up. (we booked our tour last minute)If you do not take their flights they will not pick you up from the airport. They supply you with inferior duffels that literally get holes or they fall to bits... ours got big holes. They count day one from the US so it is virtually day three before the tour begins. You stay in a hotel near the airport Not near any sites. There are ads on prices on certain things during your tour. We even had to pay for some bottled water, never mind soft drinks ... at one location the tour director said he had managed to ‘negotiate’ free drink. We had someone on the tour who could not walk and she badly badly impacted all of us..... people were complaining of each other all the time about that. There is no seat rotation. I could go on and on. Oh and at one location our tour director who was black had a German man not on our tour make terrible racist remarks to him and he was so upset he was shaking. So so far, I prefer Tauck and I actually think they are way more value for money.
    Finally don’t forget that Tauck is a family run business.
  • Tauck would be foolish not to read this forum. And I don't think they're foolish. It wouldn't surprise me if they had staff that spent at least part of their day reading this forum, googling Tauck, and reading what was written on other sites, too.
  • British-
    While price is a universal we can all understand, value is going to vary widely from person to person.

    It sounds like you picked the wrong tour company last year. My wife and I never heard of Tauck until we spoke to our travel agent. If you can find a good, honest travel agent (one who won't only steer you to the companies they directly benefit from booking you at), you can steer yourselves to the upper tier providers for a first class experience. There are PLENTY first-class tour providers out there (I've experienced them). I find using different tour providers as a good way to appreciate the strengths of each of them, and enjoy the special things the next provider might do that your previous provider did not. It's the same reason I don't go to my favorite restaurant every time I eat out. You included "seat rotation" in your comments, which I find somewhat interesting. I've never thought of seat rotation as a necessary or value-add to a bus tour before, but it's interesting to consider that perspective. Tauck is the only company I've toured with that has done this.

    While my wife and I do plan on touring with Tauck again in the near future, we are not going to limit our palates to only their offerings. No one provider is the be-all, end-all.

    While I won't speak for JimKathy1, all I'm trying to state is there is room for improvement in this industry... that's it.

    Okay, I think we have beaten this poor dead horse to death a few times over, lol...
  • HI...I am a forum reader--for information, guidance and yes, entertainment. I am a relative novice -- only 5 trips done and 1 approaching). I feel I need to respond to a comment made by Bob ("It appears as Tauck "tweaks" tours, they tweak to save money and not improve the customer experience. A real shame."). I disagree strongly. I was a grateful beneficiary of Joycesw-- her comments to Tauck after her trip (Land of the Rising Sun) tremendously improved my trip 1 year after hers. The changes involved improved logistics as well as a fabulous hotel in Osaka rather than Kyoto. The changes certainly did not 'save money' ; rather the tweaks improved the trip. After my Indochina trip (which was fabulous!!), I commented in my evaluation that the portion spent in Laos involved a bit too much free time. Apparently others felt similarly. Lo and behold, the following year Laos portion of the trip added a visit to an elephant village. And then there was the Tauck surprises: special visits, extra sightseeing, etc. Yes, Tauck listens and makes changes to enhance the experience.
  • Yes, we went t the elephant village on our tour earlier in the year!
    Laos was my favorite destination of those countries.
  • I have to admit I don’t have the patience to read all the posts in this thread. I’ve read quite a bit. Many of our ‘group’ are x-pat American citizens from the UK. My golf partner from England I have ‘retrained’ to properly tip. I always over tip, if it is a place to which I plan to return. He noticed after a time that we got excellent service, they remembered our names, they remembered what we liked, and we got comped drinks on occassion. What a surprise?! His wife from Scotland on the other hand is tighter than a screw under 300 pounds of torque. We have done a couple of Tauck river and small boat adventures where the tour director tip is included ... I don’t even remember the TD’s names. The other trips where the tip was not included, I can tell you many details and names. When an employee knows that their income depends upon their service, even in cases where the recipient may be a bit difficult, they are going to be a little more patient and understanding. And if that does not work for them, they will move on to a different type of work. Virtually everything else is included, including all the tips for other personnel. If you watch closely, you can see your tour director passing out a lot of money. The fact that you are responsible for your tour director’s tip is enhancing your experience.

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