Stranded When We Landed – Does Your Travel Tour Company Care Where You Are?

Stranded When We Landed; Does Your Travel Tour Company Care Where You Are?


In the absence of an experience one must rely on the experiences of others as a guide post for making decisions. Not knowing what traveling to France really entailed my wife and I listened to friends who made the trip and advised us that the best way to travel is to engage a travel tour company which takes care of all daily activities for the inexperienced traveler.

We secured a highly recommended tour company in the US for a trip to France. For seven nights of accommodations traveling from Monte Carlo to Paris we paid $12000 6 months in advance which included airplane costs, and insurance in case something went wrong before or during the trip. As seasoned travelers with our local university, we were accustomed to a well managed engagement which would take care of food, lodging, travel, entertainment, culture, history, and would be carried out with the utmost in customer care. We also expected that the extravagant cost of $1700 per day would at least equal the inconvenience of lacking the knowledge and experience of moving around in a foreign environment for a period of about 8 days. In point, the additional costs would pay for the fact that we were strangers in a foreign country and as such lacked the wherewithal to take on the new country as we would take on a new tour with our university travel group. Our first taste of our foreign land deflated our reasoning and assumptions: we were stranded when we landed!

A Case Study of the Uncaring Travel Tour Company

Stranded at the Airport

Imagine being stuck on a plane for 8 hours at night and being unable to sleep since you do not normally sleep in an upright position. To make matters worse when you arrive at your destination on foreign soil, no one is there to pick you up. Not only is there no one there but no one at the airport heard of the tour company in charge of picking you up. When you finally reach the tour manager she tells you that a car will pick you up in one half hour. After about an hour when no car arrives you are told by another American traveler that they are on a similar tour with the same travel company and they are waiting for their ride. Their ride arrives but your name is not on it. Finally the driver makes arrangements to take you to your hotel. The tour leader is surprised and apologetic noting that the pick- up service never makes mistakes stranding the travelers. I guess I should have called from the plane making sure that we would have a ride from the airport to the hotel? The first day of $1700 is lost without even a 3 dollar cheap bottle of French wine offered as an apology.


Hotel in Monte Carlo- The first day of breakfast was good; the second day we were delivered coffee and on our own for the breakfast. No second cup of coffee, no juice offer, no waiter, and no tour manager. The first day’s lunch was a disaster. The restaurant was one not used before, and the tour members were subjects in the new restaurant experiment. It started with the owner of the restaurant arguing with the tour director and afterwards the food came out slowly with questions of where is the wine?

Hotel in St. Remy- excellent!

Hotel de Louvre- Although we were seated as a tour member wait staff’s first attempt was to bill us for the meal. They did manage to charge us for the wine which we were told was not included in the meal. We paid for it upon leaving rather than argue with the clerk. The clerk responded that the wines we chose were not included. The waiter stated that no wines are included. The tour manager at that point was gone to “manage” another tour. (45 Euros)


In general the food was typical except for the meal at an olive farmer’s house. That meal was the best of the whole trip. What was strange is that many meals were not included. One would think that the tour manager would know where the best and worst places to eat were located, rather than having the members eating at a bad restaurant.


In general it was excellent. The tour leader did get lost trying to exit the train station.

Communication Technology

We were provided earphones while the, tour leader or lecturer spoke into a mike. We were told that the tour company was experimenting with new technology. I did not remember signing up as a subject in an experiment. Normally, subjects are paid. The technology failed miserably.

Language of the Culture

One would think that tour leader would be fluent in the language of the culture. She did not seem to know the language as well as expected.


The emergency phone numbers provided did not work or they were in French. The tour manager did not provide her number in case of emergencies.

Hotel Internet Access

Some had it and others wanted 18 Euro just to use the Internet (Hotel de Louvre). One would think that for $1700 a day Internet service would be provided at no cost at the hotels.


Tour members should be advised if options are available for planes. Connecting flights should be outlawed. My wife and I did not have a window seat going or coming. Coming home we were seated aisles apart. We had to negotiate with another traveler to sit together. Seating for couples should not be negotiated on the plane with others. One would think that the tour company should have enough clout to ensure that tour member couples are provided in the best seats possible.

Overall Evaluation

As experienced US tour travelers the trip to Europe was mediocre. $1700+ a day was excessive for the benefits received especially since the management of the trip was poorly handled. The traveler paid the company to purchase the tickets and as such from boarding to arrival the company is responsible for the well being of its customers by planning, scheduling, controlling, organizing, and communicating the status of its customers. Stranded is indicative of a failure to manage. The fact that no one seemed to care that some of the travelers were missing or made an attempt to locate them says that there was no list or no interest available to track arriving travelers. The well managed travel company has its tour leaders checking the whereabouts of the missing members. If the list was available to the tour leader, and the leader did not take action, both the company and the leader need significant training in customer care.

The failure to identify good or bad restaurants leaving the choice up to the traveler who is unfamiliar with the area detracts from the travel company and leader’s professionalism. It says that the leader and company have not done their homework. They failed at their job. Further, at $1700 a day the meals should have been a given and if the travelers wanted to go off on their own, that would be their choice.

Customers want to know that the principals of a company are actively involved in carrying out the company’s work. More importantly, they demand that the person identified to work with the customer be there if problems occur. Our tour leader, was not there at the beginning, present at times during the trip, and gone before the trip was over. In some respects the trip had no tour leader.

The cost of $1700+ per day (one day was lost upon arrival) for a mediocre trip has left an indelible mark on our mind in terms of other trips. Before engaging any travel one must go through the numbers via a cost/benefit analysis. For the tour what hidden costs will result from a poorly trained tour leader and organization and non-included activities? Tour companies are great in their presentations. This company was not so good in their delivery

Some points to consider before engaging the travel company:

1. Make sure the tour company is experienced, qualified, and can provide a list of satisfied customers. There is no guarantee that it will deliver a great tour, but at least you are starting off on the right foot.

2. Ask the company about its training, organization, and how it manages your travel throughout the trip. Does it know where you are the day you leave your state, and during your travels?

3. Find out about your tour guide. Is he or she conversant in the language of the culture, have experience, and recognized as a qualified tour leader?

4. Will the tour leader remain until the end of the trip?

5. What exactly is included in the meals?

6. If an emergency phone number is provided, try it before you pay for your trip.

7. If tips are necessary consider another consider another company. The leader and driver made a few thousand dollars in tips in addition to their salary.

8. Rent or buy an international phone if you do not have one. Your current mobile may only work in your country.

9. Compare the costs/benefits of a few qualified travel tour companies.

10. Evaluate choosing your airline or having the tour company arrange for tickets.

11. Try to secure non-stop flights. Stopovers eat into your travel time.

12. Consider that Internet service may or may or may not be provided. You may need a special connection to secure service on your computer.