1-Touring Europe is not as easy as you’d think…

I returned home yesterday from a three week stay in Europe where I visited Italy, France, and Switzerland.  While at church this morning several people asked me, “How was your vacation?”  I laughed and replied, “We had a great time!” While at the same time I was really thinking, “They don’t have a clue what I do when I’m gone.”  

Yes, I understand traveling to Europe is something that only a few of us take advantage of in our lifetime.  For many it never crosses their mind, or maybe only pops up when they see the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, or the Colesseum in a movie.  But for those of you who have traveled with me or have gone to Europe on your own know the magnetic draw to return again, and again.  I love traveling to Europe, but there is a lot of difference in going on a tour and leading a tour.  So in this post I thought I’d tell you a little about the work that goes into organizing a tour before anyone ever gets on the plane. 

Well, let’s see it all begins at least a year in advance when I begin dreaming up tour itineraries and destinations.  In some cases this is easy, especially with “proven” itineraries such as Paris to Rome or Venice, Florence, and Rome.   However, every year I do try to come up with some new city pairing or itinerary.  Once an itinerary is established the chore of nailing down hotels begins.  Now-a-days it is not so bad because I’ve got an established reputation with many hoteliers and if they’ve got room they’ll give it to me.  As you can imagine this takes some weeks to get responses from eight or nine hotels to all mesh with my planned itinerary.  With a little tweaking the tour itinerary is set.

Now that I’ve got a tour planned I’ve got to get people to sign up and go on it!  So then begins the tasks of tour promotions at trade shows, on the Internet, and by word of mouth.  If all goes well I’ll have enough folks signed up for the tour by the time mid-February rolls around.  By this time the vendors and hoteliers in Europe are asking for a deposit so I’ve got to decide how to pay.  You know the euro-to-dollar rate stinks right now.  For one or two travelers it’s not a real big deal if the exchange rate goes up by two percent, but when working with a group of twenty-five people that’s a big difference.  So I’ve got to be a bit of a gambler when pricing the tour twelve months in advance.  Luckily I projected correctly five out of the seven years I’ve been in business!

It’s now mid-March and let’s say I’ve got the tour planned and even have it filled with people who want to travel to Europe with me.  So now all I’ve got to do is collect the final payments, get on an airplane and meet them in Europe.  Well that’s a story for the next post!

**You can add your two-cents by clicking on the {comments} link at the bottom of this entry.**