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Author: dave_d

Joined: 2/13/2011
Posts: 16
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 01, 2011

 Currently, in order for a traveler to become a member of the Inner Circle Club and enjoy it's benefits, it is necessary to have made three trips with GCT.  To date, my wife and I have done 2 trips with GCT and are not eligible for the Inner Circle.  The first was "Great Rivers of Europe" with the pre-trip extension in Vienna and the post-trip extension in Brussels totaling a 21 day experience.  The second was "Burgundy and Provence to the Cote d'Azure" with the pre-trip extension in Paris and the post-trip extension in Nice as a 19-day experience.  If these 40 days of travel had been spread over 3 trips instead of 2, we would already be in the Inner Circle enjoying its benefits rather than having to wait until we complete trip number 3, "Romance of the Rhine and Mosel" in October, 2011.

Many of the ocean cruising companies have made the transition to using the number of days onboard as the criteria for their "rewards" clubs.  Following suit, I would like to suggest that GCT likewise consider establishing a criteria of using the number of days of travel with the company as eligibility for membership in the Inner Circle rather than the number of trips.

Any thoughts?

Dave

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 429
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

April 01, 2011

Dave, what you propose does make sense. However, I have now taken five trips since attaining Inner Circle status, and would be hardpressed to identify the "benefits" to which you allude.

[In the margin it says I have done 7 trips, but they have not yet counted the one I completed earlier this week.]

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 545
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

April 02, 2011

I hope you don't have high expectations for "benefits." I've completed seven trips and so far the only difference has been a better luggage tag and a pin at the end of the trip. Some people report better rooms and cocktail parties, but I've received neither of those. In fact, on some trips first-time travelers got the best rooms.

I enjoy the trips and think they are good value. I am glad that my luggage tag doesn't fall apart as a couple of the cheesy paper ones did before I was eligible for the sturdier tag, but I'd still travel with OAT/GCT without the pin or the luggage tag. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

April 02, 2011

I agree with Captain Larry and Luisa.  I am a member of the Inner Circle, and I had to look up what "benefits" I'm supposed to be getting, aside from the mentioned name tag and luggage tags.  I've never been invited to a drinks party for Inner Circle members.  On my last trip, which was the Russia Revealed last August, I did get a plate of assorted fresh fruit.  And a little pin at the end with a picture of the Kremlin. 

At one time years ago, Innner Circle members were assigned a particular travel counselor to answer any questions.  But that didn't work out; she was either not there or not knowledgeable, and the experiment didn't last long. 

And if I was treated better on my fourth trip than the previous three, I wasn't aware of it.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

April 02, 2011

Like the previous three posters, I do not believe I have received any significant benefits as an Inner Circle member.  Although some members believe they receive better rooms, this in not listed as a benefit in the list on GCT's web site.  Nor does it mention anything about parties or gifts during the trip.  See http://www.gct.com/Grand-Circle-Difference/Inner-Circle-Club/Benefits.aspx.  The first item on the list is a 5% travel credit which their catalogs list as a benefit to all travelers including the first-time ones.  As for the pre-trip gift which is the next item on the list, I have never found any of their offerings to be of use to me.

As for making a change to their policy for determining Inner Circle membership, I believe dollars spent would be a fairer criteria than number of days.

Author: caladezi

Joined: 1/30/2011
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 8
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2003

April 02, 2011

Have you all forgotten the GOLD name tags???

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 02, 2011

We are "inner circle" and do not believe that you get better rooms.

Twice we were assigned to smokers' rooms despite the fact that I have severe allergies including tobacco.  We were first in line to get a room at the hotel and had no idea it would be a "smoker's room" and everyone else I spoke with had better, cleaner non-smoker's rooms. 

Our Program Director was unable to secure a different room (non-available) until the second day so I suffered that night.

Same thing on another trip.  Assigned "smoker's room" when everyone else was on a different non-smoking floor!  Just bad luck on our part despite being Inner Circle.

I am still waiting for Grand Circle to get us pins for the "Seine River" trip last summer.  I have asked and am still hoping they get some to complete our "collection" of places visited.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2005

April 02, 2011

Inner Circle benefits from the river cruise that i just got back on:

1)  Supposedly you got 10% off your bar bill on the ship - I don't drink

2) Inner circle cocktail party in resturant, with a free glass of Champagne - I did have a glass of diet coke, I'm not sure that they could have found a smaller glass on the entire ship. 

3) There was one of those paper order forms that you could hang on your door knob before retiring for the night to order coffee and rolls delivered to your room the next morning. - I never used it.

4) Yeah, I got a gold name tag - I never wear the name tags. 

5) VIP luggage tags - OK, I put my address label on the back of it and I use them. 

6)  I did get a little commemorative trip pin - it's nice but I don't really know what to do with it. 

7) I did get a pre-tip gift. It was nice. However, I don't know if it was an Inner Circle thing or not.

9) I think there is suppose to be a special Inner Circle GCT/OAT phone number; however, I'm not sure what is and/or even what it is for. 

10) Now I do get a real nice Grand Circle wall calendar every year. It has great pictures and I really do like that gift.

The Inner Circle program is a nice gesture on GCT/OAT's part to recognize their past and loyal customers; however, it really isn't that big of deal. If you do not qualify for membership yet I really won't worry about it. 

P.S. OAT has a similar thing that they call the Sir Edmond Hillary Club.   

Author: dave_d

Joined: 2/13/2011
Posts: 16
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 02, 2011

 Hey, Folks, thanks for the responses, and from your comments, I'm getting the impression that belonging to the Inner Circle Club is not something to write home about.  Maybe, if GCT personnel monitor these boards, they will get the message that the benefits are not held in high esteem by its members and that the established benefits of membership may need to be revisited.

However, I'm still a bit perplexed.  As they read on the website, the benefits seem to me to have some value.  When I called to book our latest trip, I was put on hold for a good 15 to 18 minutes before I spoke to a representative.  I would have appreciated the use of a priority toll-free phone number instead, assuming of course that it would have meant a shorter wait time.  Also, I find it hard to believe that a 10% discount on shipboard purchases or at the online store could not be of value to the consumer.  I know it would be to me.

So, for those travelers who might appreciate/enjoy the benefits and recognition of belonging to the Inner Circle Club, I still think changing the criteria for membership might be something for GCT to consider.

Dave

 

 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 545
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

April 03, 2011

I forgot about the gold name tags because I don't notice who is wearing gold or white and once people learn the names the tags disappear anyway.

I was not inner circle when I took the Egypt trip and everyone was allowed a 10% discount and everyone got a pin. Pins were givien to everyone on another trip, but on my last two, only the I.C. members got them.

Apparently they have changed policy on the benefits. There used to be some nice jackets available as a gift but not on my latest trip; there was nothing appealing at all but now there is the option of $10 going to the foundation for charity.

I do have the phone number but have been on hold for a while on that number as well; I think the wait time depends on how busy they are, day, time of day. I seldom get through immediately.

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 03, 2011

We feel that Grand Circle has some nice gifts for Inner Circle.  We have received,

in the past, some nice carry-on bags, beige rain jackets of very excellent quality, green rain jackets also nice, polo shirts for women and for men, something to wear around your neck which is useful at the airports to hold your tickets, i.d.'s, etc. (we use them every trip during the airport portion of the trip).  All of the gifts have been very nice.

May I take this opportunity to say it is nice for everyone to wear their name badges throughout the trip as the Program Directors say it helps them very much.  Also, it helps the passengers use your name when seeing or speaking with you.  All the trips (river) we have been on, most everyone wears them even to the cocktail parties.  It is really nice to help remember you.

Jayge

 

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 03, 2011

For some reason, my previous commentary regarding the parties given by the Captain where they serve drinks, my reference to the "drinks" part was deleted because I used the normal word cocktail parties.  How weird!

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 973
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

April 03, 2011

I've ordered the gifts sometimes.  I have a really nice fleece jacket that comes very handy.  Two rain jackets, one short and one longer and fuller that can go over the fleece jacket.  And a couple of carry-on bags.  The last couple of trips, I've just made the donation to the Foundation.  By the way, if you go into the website listed on the order form there are more gifts to choose from.

As far as the drinks party, I didn't realize that was only for inner circle.  I don't like champagne, anyway.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

April 03, 2011

When I was last offered a gift, I did go to the web site and found nothing that I would use.  I would consider the clothing items if I could get them in an appropriate size but there was nothing available in an extra-small size.  They had no bags or other travel accessories that  would be more useful than what I already have.  Rather than choose something I wouldn't use, I selected the option to make a $10 donation to their foundation.  I wonder how that compares to the value of the other choices.

I'm curious to know more about the pins which some have mentioned receiving during trips.  Can anyone provide a description?

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 9
Traveler Since: 2005

April 03, 2011

I'm curious to know more about the pins which some have mentioned receiving during trips.  Can anyone provide a description?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

They are just small lapel pins (no more than 1 1/2' x 1'), metal with a colored picture of something you saw on your trip, the name of the trip, and with either GCT or OAT on them. Here's a picture of one of mine.

   

I've seen some people collect pins like this on their hat, etc..

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 545
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

April 04, 2011

On my most recent trip (March) were no rain jackets, no fleece jackets and no carryon bags. on the gift selection. Black fleece vests were available in small and extra large, no other sizes, and I assume that when they are gone there will be  no fleece vests either. I wonder if they are changing stock or easing out of the gifts altogether.

 

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 429
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

April 05, 2011

I hadn't thought of it before, but the "gifts" we have received since attaining Inner circle status have the words "Inner Circle" as part of the logo. So maybe the selection has changed. During our recent trip I wore, frequently if not daily, the black fleece jacket and the baseball cap. I wore the polo shirt, the gift for this trip, on a couple of occassions. I have a beige rain jacket but the zipper broke the first time I wore it, and I have another rain jacket that I like much better.

As regards the name tags: whenever we are touring with the group, the First Mate and I always wear our name tags, and have no problem with it. When out alone we normaly do not wear the name tag. There is still little doubt that we are tourists, however. I think being positively identified as a tourist is a good thing in most cases.

Author: jayge

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 146
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2004

April 05, 2011

As I posted before, we like the idea of using name tags throughout the trip.  It helps us to call others by name and remember them also.  The Program Directors have told us they like them too.

We also have the beige rain jackets and the dark green ones too.  We wore the beige ones throughout a Russian trip two summers ago because it was chilly and drizzing.  Great jackets!

The polo shirts, both women's and men's are very nice.  We each have two from different trips.

Suggestion:  Grand Circle, on these "posts" can you put the recent ones first (or give us the option of reversing the order as some other Travel Boards do?  Thanks.

Also, waiting for the Seine River pins since last summer's trip.

Author: malindar

Joined: 4/9/2011
Posts: 1
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

April 09, 2011

We just returned from Austrailia, NZ, Fiji trip and Ronan gave out a pin to all.  It was our 3rd trip.  

Author: anniebelle

Joined: 2/10/2011
Posts: 3
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 2002

April 15, 2011

We have been on 11 trips with Oat and have one with gct on 5/9/11.  THe inner circle is just a way for OAT or GCT to thank you for continuing to travel with them.  The gifts have been nice from Oat, but cannot say the same for GCT. 

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