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Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Traveler Since: 2007

July 12, 2012

 We've taken 10 trips with Grand Circle/OAT with two more booked for 2013.  Bot at traveler events, as well as on trips, we meet other clients of Grand Circle whp have also been repeat travelers, a good number with even more trips than have we.  It has gradually dawned on us that many people consider that Grand Circle provides a distinct advantage over other tour operators.  That's not to disparage any other tour operator, only to say that a number of people believe that Grand Circle/OAT offers them things that they consider important.  So we'd like to start a list, and hope that others chime in and add their "two cents" as to what they believe is "The Grand Circle Advantage."


1) Support-you never know what kind of a company you have until you really need them.  On two trips we took, a traveler became indisposed and needed medical attention.  On one occasion, the traveler needed to return home.  Regardless of what insurance one has, the sudden need to make arrangements quickly an be daunting.  In both cases, the Grand Circle PD took care of everything for them.  Other companies may also do tha, but require you to repeatedly call back to confirm.  Unnecessary with Grand Circle which has a representative on the spot to make all those arrangements for you.  In consideration of the emergency, this is just removing one more headache.  We felt that it was good to know that the company we travel with will go the extra mile when and if we need it.


2)Large choice of departure dates-Obviously, the larger the company, the greater choice of travel dates one has.  Grand Circle/OAT offers a traveler the choice to go essentially when the traveler wants.


3) Constant itinerary revision-although not as frequent and as rapid as we would like, Grand Circle does indeed update their itineraries based on traveler input.  We have seen suggestions we made( which we presume others have also made ), put into application with future travel descriptions( most notaby the substitution of Zambia for Namibia on the Ultimate Africa Trip ).  Grand Circle takes traveler evaluations quite seriously.  In fact, when we wrote some negative things about our trips, we wer actually called by Grand Circle for elaboration.  As 10X travelers, Grand circle takes any negative comments made quite seriously, as they have established us as "customers."  when "customers of long standing find fault, that's something they want to know about.  Obviously, they also update their accommodations based on this, however, we are sure that cost also plays a significant role as well.


4) Value-We have looked at other companies for every trip we have booked with Grand Circle/OAT, and for the most part, we feel that Grand Circle/OAT gives us the best value for the money spend.  Not always, but almost always.  We feel that the combination of service and value are major factors which are definately in Grand Circle's favor


We could go on, but we want to leave room for others to express why they travel and continue to travel with Grand Circle.  We hope this list grows to several pages, and someone in the company looks at it so they'll know why their "customers" continue to be "customers."

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 962
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

July 12, 2012

Solo Travelers.  This is a no-brainer.  GCT does not charge a single supplement on their land trips.  And a smaller supplement on the river cruises.  Solo travelers are made welcome on all trips.  I think we've all heard the horror stories about solo travelers getting inferior rooms with other tour companies.  This doesn't happen with GCT.  If anyone gets a room that he/she thinks is inferior, it's not because of being a solo traveler.  It's the luck of the draw, and if you complain you can be changed.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 238
Traveler Since: 1995

July 12, 2012

Personal Attention.

In 2009, before GCT issued their 2010 catalogs, we decided to book a transatlantic cruise for 29 days with Hol. Amer, for our 50th anniversary,  a 14 months in advance, to get the cabin we wanted, through a local travel agent.  I had called HAL and asked them if it was better to book with them directly, or to deal with a travel agent, they said either way, they wouldn't advise me, but said they would take care of me if I booked with them..  People told me booking with a travel agent would be better because if anything went wrong the agent could fix it better than I would be able to.

So, after booking this cruise, we started to have a lot of questions, what about this, what about that, etc.  We could have gone to our agent every day with questions.  That year, I felt disjointed.  Most of the information we had questions on was either on line or in our traveler book IF we would have booked with Grand Circle. 

To make matters worse, about 5 months after we booked this HAL cruise with an agent, GCT came out with cruises for 2010, just about exactly what we were taking with HAL but with another cruise line (NCL), quite a few other cruises as well, into Scandanavia, London, and transatlantic.  Just about all the ports we were to visit on the HAL cruise.  At a much lower price, no less.  What a bummer.  If only GCT had given us information that they "planned" to offer these cruises we might have waited to buy from them.  GCT lost out on over $22,000 of our business for being so late with their catalogs.  The next year GCT  discontinued the cruises. 

But, to me the personal attention if I need it is always there.  I make a list if I need info and call GCT with my concerns.  I also have a list of questions before I call to book a cruise/trip and ask the counselor before I say "book it." , and have at least a rough air itinerary even if I put in fake dates on the airline web sites, to be able to have the booking counselor   "put notes in my booking file" for the air dept on what I want for air.   I never go through CDG Paris and won't ever again. 

So, having someone to call with questions  and offer suggestions, pros and cons and personal attention is a high point with me.


Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Traveler Since: 2007

July 12, 2012

 Pauline and Singsling:  thanks for your additions.  Hope others add to this list as well.

Author: jandb

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 33
Traveler Since: 1999

July 13, 2012

 I am surprised no one has mentioned the Grand Circle Foundation.  The support GCT/OAT provides to schools and UNESCO sites is quite significant.  


Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 116
Traveler Since: 2001

July 13, 2012

I like to invite people to travel with me and I want to be sure that everything runs smoothly.  With OAT/GCT I can relax and know that we'll have a great time. 

The best of the best was OAT's Safari Serengetti with a woman who had always dreamed of Africa, but was apprehensive.   Four years later we still talk about how wonderful it was.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Traveler Since: 2007

July 13, 2012

 sealionlady-thanks for your input. 

Author: kba

Joined: 6/19/2010
Posts: 65
Traveler Since: 2009

July 14, 2012

I am afraid I will be  repeating what others have said but I wanted to chime in as I do think Grand Circle has so much to offer.  I am a  solo traveler and I whole heartedly concur--Grand Circle has the very best priced single supplements and you are not relegated to the worst rooms and locations.   I also concur that the Grand Circle staff is unceasingly pleasant and willing to answer all my pre travel questions.  I have traveled with multiple other compaines and, Dear Fellow Travelers, I have found that the Grand Circle travelers are about the best possible reason to travel with Grand Circle.  Most are well traveled, well educated and respectful of other cultures and customs.   Most are also willing to share their knowledge and their enthusiasm both in the forum and on the trips. 

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