Is a Great Event Tour
right for you?
(Do you really want company?)
Great Event Tours wants you to enjoy your vacation above everything else. No, really, we do. In some cases, that means you may be better off traveling on your own rather than with one of our tours. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make the decision whether or whether not to join one of our Great Event trips.
Question: What can Great Event Tours give me that I canít get myself?
Why ask: This is the single most important question to ask before you decide whether to join one of our trips. Your vacation in Europe begins and ends with the value you get for your budget. Do you have the ability to make all your travel, hotel and activity arrangements? Would it help you to have a native speaker in the languages of the countries you are visiting available at all times during your trip? Are you more comfortable knowing that the majority of your costs are fixed, and not subject to fluctuation in exchange rates? Does the itinerary offer you anything that you canít arrange on your own, and would like to do? Is the itinerary too limiting, too structured, or does it simply not include or allow for things you want to do?
GET Answer: There is no simple answer here. A careful review of the itinerary will often help you answer this question. If the events and activities seem unusual and interesting, plus if there are items on the agenda that you could not arrange on your own (special excursions, tours and museum visits), then perhaps the tour is worth a second look. On the other hand, if the itinerary leaves you with a feeling of Ďbeen there, done thatí, then it may not be a good investment of you precious vacation time and money.
Question: How many people are generally in the group? What is the maximum?
Why ask: Some people expect a very personal experience when traveling with a guide. If you are part of a group of fifty or sixty people, it will be difficult to receive individual attention from the group leaders. On the other hand, a large group may be great for those interested in meeting persons from around the world who share their same interest in trains and model railroading (or share the same tolerance for their train-fanatical husbands and boyfriends).
GET Answer: Generally, our groups run from between twenty and thirty people. The largest group to-date was thirty-three, and the smallest was twelve. Generally we will not offer a tour for more than thirty persons unless at least two full-time tour guides are available.
Question: Does GET sublet its tours to local operators or does it only use its own employees?
Why ask: This gives you an idea of the accountability your tour guide has in making your vacation a Great Event. Employees of the company will be more accountable than those who are hired at the destination. Still, a local operator may know more about the locales and history of the places you are visiting.
GET Answer: Great Event Tours uses both. In most cases, a GET employee will be on-hand throughout the tour. In addition, local tour guides will often be employed for city tours and non-train-related activities. In a few cases, Great Event Tours will hire a tour guide with more knowledge of the overall region, customs, and language than any of our own employees. In all cases, these tour guides will be carefully interviewed and evaluated by Great Event Tours in advance.
Question: Is there more (or less) to the itinerary than meets the eye?
Why ask: Nobody likes surprises. A good itinerary will give you important details of the tour, including which meals are included, and which are not. You should be able to know to a great extent what your extra costs will be. It will also give you some idea of the quality level of the hotels you will be staying at, and will offer you an idea of how much free time you have, versus how much structured time there is. If you are expecting to pack as much railfanning and sightseeing into your week, you will be disappointed to find out after the start of the tour that the activities start late and end early. Conversely, if you are hoping to have some relaxation time and expect to be allowed to sleep in, you wonít enjoy the tour if the daily activities begin at 7:00 a.m. and run until 10:00 p.m.
GET Answer: In our itineraries, we try to give everyone a good understanding of the style of the tours available. Generally our days begin no earlier than 8:30 or 9:00, nor do they run past 6:00 in the evening, though there may be exceptions. Our itineraries let you know which meals are included in your tour, and always mention costs which you are expected to cover (for example, whether beverages are included in group meals). In addition, a fully detailed itinerary is available beyond what is published on the website, which includes the names of all hotels, the starting times for all events, and website URLs for all pertinent locales and activities (where available). This itinerary is usually sent out to all the trip participants approximately one month before the tour begins, though it can be requested in advance. We at Great Event Tours are always available to answer any questions you may have. If you have any questions regarding the itinerary or any of the events, please do not hesitate to let us know.
Question: Speaking of hotels, what is the quality level of the hotels we will be staying at?
Why ask: A three-star hotel in the USA is not the same as a three-star hotel in Europe. Your expectation of a hotel may be different from reality, and can be one of the most disappointing elements to a pre-packaged tour if the hotel does not meet your expectations.
GET Answer: In general, all our hotels are three star or better. In most of Europe this translates to a small room with a private bathroom and shower (in all GET hotels, you do have your own bathroom and shower). Air conditioning is unusual, as is having a bathtub. Most of our hotels offer internet access via a PC in the lobby, which can be accessed for a nominal charge, and some include wireless LAN capability. Our hotels also usually feature laundry service and a restaurant, plus breakfast is almost always included in the tour price. We choose our hotels based on cleanliness and location, not necessarily amenities or luxury. However, oftentimes a room upgrade is available in the same hotel. If you prefer more elegant accommodations, we will be happy to assist you. This is your vacation, and we want you to be comfortable.
Question: What about hotel transfers, tips, admission to museums, and other small costs?
Why ask: Even if the itinerary and level of the hotels look good, there may be some question as to how much you will still need to do / pay for yourself. Finding your way from an airport in Europe to a hotel in town can be a challenge, especially with significant luggage. Also, small expenses can add up quickly. For example, if you had to pay a 2 Euro tip twice a day, this could add up to $75 or more per couple over the course of a week-long trip. That's the price of a new locomotive for the layout!
GET Answer: In all cases, gratuities are included, as are transfers to hotels when the hotel is located more than a few hundred feet from the train station (if we are arriving by train). Generally, GET does not include transfers from the airport to your hotel for you or your luggage. In addition, you are usually responsible for transporting your luggage from one location to the next. Most of our travel is by rail, and only a few railroads in Europe still offer baggage handling. The cost of having luggage transferred by taxi or bus from one location to the next is high, and we have found that generally our hotels are close enough to the train station to allow us to make transfers with little effort.
GET is always willing to help you make arrangements before or after the tour, oftentimes at significant savings. When a tour includes a railpass, we will help you determine whether it is a cost advantage to add a day to the pass instead of buying train tickets. We can also help with flight arrangements, railway schedules, and even help book seat reservations and train tickets.
Question: What about changes to the itinerary?
Why ask: A flexible itinerary or last-minute schedule change can be a good thing, or, of course, a disappointment. You may have had your heart set on hiking to the Landwasser viaduct to watch trains, but itís pouring down rain. If you are the only one in the group who still wants to go, will you have the opportunity? What if you are the only one who doesnít want to go hiking in the rain? Will you be forced to spend the day sitting around the hotel? What flexibility is allowed in the schedule due to weather, or other unexpected issues?
GET Answer: Generally GET does try to stick to the original schedule as long as there are no issues of safety. Naturally, there are times when, for whatever reason, we are unable to stick with a given plan. In that case, every effort will be made to involve the group in the decision making process. Usually the group members are polled for input. However, if even a small minority of the group is still very interested in a particular event, every effort will be made to accommodate them, including splitting the group to give both parties the opportunity to enjoy the day / event.
Question: Will optional side-excursions proceed, regardless of how many sign up?
Why ask: You may find yourself the only one interested in a specific event, whether it is a city tour, day at the wellness spa, or trip to a freight yard. Will you still get to go, even if you are alone?
GET Answer: In almost all cases, if itís on the itinerary, itís a go. In trips past, Great Event Tours has proceeded with items on the schedule for as few as one or two people. Those who do attend are usually delighted with the individual service and attention they receive, whether it is a walking tour of Lucerne, or a full body massage at a spa in Munich.
Question: Are you a Ďbudgetí tour company?
Why ask: If you have compared pricing for similar tours to Europe, you will find that we are, indeed, one of the more affordable tour companies. What does this mean to you? Will you still receive the same attention as more "exclusive" tours, and will your experience be just as enjoyable?
GET Answer: Frankly, yes, we are considered a budget tour company. However we are a cross-over in that we do limit our group sizes (many budget tours have over one hundred people!) and we do try and offer a more familiar tour than the "sheep-herding" style of other budget tour companies. In addition, your tour guides will have an interest and knowledge in the subject matter of the venues. Our staff is equally at home on a railway right-of-way as they are helping you order from a dinner menu - they are enthusiasts of the country we visit and the railways as well.
Question: Can I get references?
Why ask: Nothing paints a picture better than talking to someone who has already joined a Great Event Tour. There are questions that this web page doesn't ask or answer, and sometimes it takes a conversation with someone first-hand to determine whether a given trip / tour company is right for you.
GET Answer: Absolutely. We can offer telephone numbers and email addresses for references from Australia to Arkansas, New Zeeland to New Jersey. Please do not hesitate to ask if you would like to contact someone who has already made a journey with us.
We hope this simple FAQ will help you decide whether Great Event Tours has something to offer, and if you would feel comfortable joining us on one of our railfanning and sightseeing outings. As mentioned above, please do not hesitate to call us at +1 734 846-2433 or email Great Event Tours if you have any questions.