How to Select a Tour Operator
How to Choose a Tour Company
The Right Company for You.
ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours has often been rated one of the world’s top bicycle tour operators. But we recognize that you may be considering another company to travel with. How do you know which one is best for you?
Here’s a list of questions that will help guide you to the right choice.
10 Questions to ask a Tour Operator
1. How long has your company been in business?
New companies are okay, but be aware that the Internet has enabled small and inexperienced companies to look very impressive. This question will help you determine just how much and what kind of experience a company really has.
By the way, we led our first tour across Italy in 1972. In fact, we were the first US-based bicycle tour operator in Italy. Read more.
2. How is your company structured? Do you have staff in the home office AND overseas?
Some companies have a skeleton staff in the home office, and these same people run their tours overseas! Many other companies have a distribution system with local companies on the ground but doesn't have their own staff in-country. That may be okay, but make sure that the BEST people are both answering questions in the home office AND running tours abroad.
At ExperiencePlus! we have expert staff planning trips in our home office in Colorado as well as local partners in Europe and S. America. Our tour leaders all over the world are second to none. Read more.
3. Describe your tours for me. Who takes them?
Is there a good match between your needs and the tour company? What is the "culture" of the company? Who will you be traveling with, veteran cyclists? Experienced travelers?
You can learn a lot about ExperiencePlus! right here on our website. We are lifelong travelers, and sharing the world with people like you is our passion. Read more about our style of travel. Or, read more about our tours.
4. What distinguishes your adventure travel company from others?
Do they provide luxury travel?
The packing list you’ll receive for our tours includes a section about “what not to bring” including your gold jewels, your evening gown, or your business suit. Our tours are casual and our philosophy is to enjoy the best of the local culture, including authentic cuisine and centrally-located, locally-owned comfortable hotels.
Do they cater to extreme sports or just the adventure portion of your trip?
We love to ride our bikes and believe that there is no better way to explore the world. We have itineraries for all levels of experience and ability, and we find nothing more satisfying that converting “non-cyclists” to cycle touring. By getting out of the car or bus, your senses are open to the sights, sounds, smells around you…AND you become accessible to chance encounters with local people. When’s the last time you had an old Italian woman cheer for you on the uphill as she beats a rug on her balcony?
Are they an educational travel company? Do they provide guided tours, or self-guided tours? If you are looking for something specific, such as a wine tour, culinary tour, or cooking classes, can they provide this?
We believe that the most rewarding “active” travel is both physically and mentally engaging. Both Rick Price and Paola Malpezzi Price, our founders, are true students of the world – with Ph.D. degrees to prove it! That’s why we offer tours to suit a multitude of interests, at all levels of physical challenge. Read more.
5. How long have you been running the specific itinerary I am interested in?
Whether it's a bike tour through Italy, France or Turkey, every adventure tour has a "life" of its own. If the company has been offering a tour for a long time, they can tell you all about it. If it's a new tour, there are probably some bugs that need working out. That may be okay if they're a reputable travel company. But you should at least ask.
Each of our bicycle tours has it’s own history, so call us to ask about a specific trip. For the last 10 – 15 years we have been consistently throughout Europe. We have been cycling in Argentina and Chile since 2004 and have been offering trips in Eastern Europe since 2006.
6. What is your most popular active vacation, and why? This lets you know where and in what they specialize. They should be able to tell you a lot about this particular tour.
Bike Across Italy was our first tour in 1972; we took 10 adventurous cyclists from Pisa to Forli, Paola Malpezzi Price’s home town. Though many things have changed (no more 10 speed bikes, and we’ve decided to retire the tents as well!), our trips from Venice to Florence and Venice to Pisa are still our most popular tours. Venice, Florence, the mosaics in Ravenna, ceramics in Faenza-- and the longer tour takes you to the incredible walled city of Lucca and then Pisa. Diverse landscapes keep you happy as you cruise from bird habitats to mountains. Oh, and let’s not forget the satisfaction of saying you’ve ridden “across Italy.” This is a great ride for first-timers and families; intermediate riders may want to add mileage to satisfy the beast within.
7. How have past customers described the degree of difficulty on this tour?
Many travel companies rate the difficulty of their active vacations. This allows you to choose a vacation package that suits your fitness level. Our tour rating system clearly ranks the physical challenge of each tour we offer.
8. May I speak with someone who has been on this tour?
Call our office and you can almost always talk to a staff member who has been on the tour that interests you. When you pick up the phone to ask if you’ll survive the climb over the Andes, you’ll talk to someone who has actually done it.
We are also happy to provide you with the names of experienced “active” travelers with interests similar to yours. If you are a single woman in your 50’s interested in touring Europe, for example, ask to speak to someone like you who has been there before. If you travel as a couple, ask for the email addresses or phone numbers of at least two couples.
9. Tell me about the composition of the group on the vacation I've selected.
You probably don't want to be the only single 30-year-old in a group of older couples on a cycling tour through France. So, ask about group composition. But remember, you'll probably have more fun with a mixed group rather than a homogeneous group anyway.
We gladly tell people what the composition of the group looks like and recommend which tours have more couples or more solo travelers on them. We also occasionally designate certain tours for solo travelers or families, which means we’ll hold at least half of the spaces for people traveling on their own or we’ll encourage families with teenagers to sign up for similar dates so everyone has a cycling companion!
10. What is the history of this particular tour? Does this tour usually fill up? How often have you cancelled it?
You want to ask these questions for two reasons: First, if it is a popular tour that fills fast, you don't want to be left out! Second, if the tour cancels often (which is sometimes the case during low or “shoulder” season), you don't want to get stuck with an airplane ticket and no tour!
When you call us, we’ll tell you the delicious tidbits we love about each tour (as in what a good time you are going to have!) and the practical details as well. We'll let you know if the tour you like has spaces available, if it is a guaranteed departure, and when your payments are due.