Today I want to talk a little about something I don’t mention a lot which are tour companies. There are tour companies both in the United States and abroad. Some will work with the general public, some will only work with accredited travel advisors or agencies.
When I say tour company, I am not referring to the tour companies where you go to a city and want to spend a day touring and they take you around. I am talking about the type of tour company that puts an entire vacation together for you.
Let’s say you are looking to take a trip to Africa and go on a safari. You have no idea where to even start the planning for this type of trip. You want to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch, so you call your favorite travel advisor – that’s me.
I have never been on an African safari but I have read articles and reviews of some safaris, did my “Destination Africa” training, and look forward to helping you plan your perfect safari.
How can I help you plan your vacation if I have never been there? It’s simple, I contact one of my preferred suppliers that service that area and have a package put together for you. But before any of this starts, how do I know which suppliers are going to give you what you want?
As an independent travel advisor, I took the path of having a host company (KHM Travel Group) instead of just getting licensed and opening my doors to sell travel. My host company provides me with credentials so that I can book cruises and tours. They also provided some in-house training to get me started. The main benefit of my host company is that they have over 4000 independent agents like myself. My host agency also has a Facebook page for its agents which gives us incredible networking power. If someone has a question (I have a couple that wants to stay at a 4-star resort in Alaska that has perfect viewing of the dog sled races, where should they stay?) almost as soon as they post it, other agents who have been there or had customers in that same situation will respond with suggestions on where to stay.
My host agency is affiliated with a consortium (Travel Leaders Network). Our consortium has about 6,800 agencies (not individual agents but agencies with multiple agents). They provide the agents with many services as well (online booking engines, training, travel & cruise specials not available to the general public that we can offer our customers, and a Facebook page for agents like my host company).
The reason I mention my host and consortium is that they also have a list of preferred suppliers for their agents to use. This list is built from the suppliers’ reputation as well as feedback from the agents that are part of the host company and consortium. When I put together this African Safari for you, I don’t need to research 1000’s of tour companies or worry that I am going to book with someone who is going to take your money and run. I know that when I choose a supplier from the list of preferred suppliers that they have been thoroughly vetted and are in it for the long haul.
One company I use is called Globus Family of Brands. They are actually four companies in one. Three of their four companies focus on tours and the fourth is Avalon Waterways, a river cruise company. I will talk about the other three companies (Globus, Cosmos, and Monograms) below.
How I plan your trip
When you come to me and say you want to go on your African Safari, I will need to know what type of safari you want to go on. We will assume here that you want to go on a photo safari, and that is as far as you have gotten.
That is enough to get me started on your planning, but I want to narrow it down more. Do you want to go on a guided tour, are you on a budget, or do you want me to just book your trip and you go at your own pace?
This is where the different brands of Globus Family of Brands come into play.
Globus is the highest-end tour company in their chain. When booking through Globus you are going to get the most bang for your money. You will have a dedicated guide with you the entire time and your schedule will be mapped out before you even leave your home. Most of your meals will be included with this option.
Cosmos is a budget version of Globus. Instead of being placed in 5-star hotels, you will get 3 ½ or 4-star hotels. They put the focus on the experience you are getting in your destination, not the accommodations you stay in. While they are a budget company, you will not be staying in run-down hotels or hostels, most of the 3-star hotels overseas are at a minimum the equivalent of a Holiday Inn here.
Where Globus plans your every minute, Cosmos will be a cross between Globus and Monograms (see below). You will have some guided tours but also plenty of free time to explore on your own. You will also have fewer meals included as you can try different local restaurants on your own.
This one is actually my favorite Globus brand. Monograms is the least structured of the three companies. They offer the same quality vacation as Globus or Cosmos, minus the guided tour part. When you go on a Monograms tour you get your hotel, some meals, and attraction access. Booking through Monograms you will also get VIP access to many attractions so you don’t need to wait in long lines.
The benefit of Monograms is that you go at your own pace. If you want to sleep in until 10 am in the morning and then head out, you can do that. If you don’t want to do a museum in the morning but want to do it in the afternoon instead, you can do that.
You still have a tour guide available to you 24/7 while on a Monograms vacation but you don’t need to use them unless you want to.
The reason I chose the Global Family of Brands for this article is that they are all under the same parent company but have different levels of what they offer. While these three brands represent most of what is out there, there are many tour companies that will fall into the same type of setup as one of these three (fully guided tours, semi-guided tours, and independent tours).
Other Benefits of using a Tour Company
Now that we have decided that you want to do a guided tour, a semi-guided tour, or an independent tour; let’s look at some of the benefits of using a tour company instead of trying to book all this ourselves.
First, the research is already done. Packages are put together already and they are complete. If you piece a package together yourself and forget something (ex: transfer from airport to hotel), it can be expensive to fix once you get to your destination.
Second, they have been doing this a long time (Globus has been doing tours for over 90 years). They know who to use locally for their tours to ensure the best experience for their customers.
Third, savings in your wallet. These companies have relationships with hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, airlines, etc. They are going to get you a rate that you will not be able to get if you put together the exact same tour for yourself.
Fourth, some tour companies will take care of all the visas or documents you need to get to your destination without any problem. Those who don’t do the paperwork will work with me to make sure I have everything you will need.
The main thing you will get from having me book you through a tour company is peace of mind. You will know that the company we are using is honest, reliable, and will give you a safe and enjoyable vacation.
There are about 40 or 50 preferred tour companies that I have access to. Not all tour companies service the same destinations or focus on the same things. There are companies that focus on group tours, religious tours, LGBT tours, schools’ tours (elementary, high school, college), club tours, etc.
Not all tour companies will fit your individual needs either.I spoke about three brands all owned by the same company, all serving the same destinations, and each having a different customer focus. With all the companies available out there, it’s my job to figure out what your needs are and which company will deliver you that unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime vacation that you are looking for.