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Author: porkchop55

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 70
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Tunisia, China, Peru, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Fiji, American Samoa, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea

Traveler Since: 2004

June 20, 2013

I’m 58 still working, have taken 9 GCT/OAT tours and hope to start taking more than one trip a year once I retire.   So,  I also expect to reach the 20+ trip mark and find this discussion very interesting.   I don’t need any more GCT/OAT jackets, bags, or vest and would like to see some other rewards.  

 

As for the pins and calendar, I think they should give every traveler a pin and I got the calendar for about 2 years and then it stopped coming.   On our last trip the TD handed out the pins at the welcome dinner.  Why not give a pin to everyone and give the Inner Circle travelers a bottle of the local wine, a box of chocolate, or some other food item special to that country.   

 

Thanks to your post I will be checking out Go Ahead Tours and just ordered their cataloged

Author: hdstein

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 25
Traveler Since: 1999

June 20, 2013

How about a free optional excursion? A certain number of people are needed to go on some of these. The Inner Circle Plus members , (there's a good name) could go as a "perk", the bus costs the same and everybody is satisfied. It's another way to diffuse a situation that seems to be getting "interesting." How about it GCT/OAT?

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 535
Trips Taken: 8
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

Traveler Since: 2006

June 20, 2013

A free optional? maybe at ten years, but a free trip extension or free insurance at 20?

It's strange about the trip pins. Everyone got them on my first and second trips; Inner Circle travelers got them on a few trips after that but nothing on my last.

Author: grandcircle

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 271
Trips Taken: 0

June 20, 2013

Hello Everybody -

Thank you for posting your thoughts and feedback on Grand Circle Travel's Loyalty Program.  First, we want to publicly state that we value all of our travelers, but we most appreciate and value the business and loyalty of our most frequent travelers. 

Over the years, we have considered many different formats for our loyalty program, and, overall, we believe it is a good program that supports our goal of delivering the best value and at the highest level of excellence.

Over the course of a year, we receive feedback from thousands of travelers, through our post-trip surveys, at events we hold around the country, and through forums like these.  The most consistent feedback we hear from travelers is how much they appreciate the excellence we strive to provide on every departure, at such an extraordinary value.  We believe that it is our mission to offer the best trip at the best value so that travelers will continue to travel with us and refer new travelers to our companies.  While we could, as some other companies do, offer special perks and deals to frequent travelers, we believe that in the long run, our travelers would rather we keep our prices and per diems lower than any other travel company, without compromising the outstanding trip leaders or any other elements of our trips.

So rather than offering sales gimmicks, which are ultimately passed on to customers in the form of higher trip prices, hidden fees, and expensive single supplements, our trips almost always have the lowest per diems in the travel industry.  Plus, all of our pre & post trip extensions have free single supplements, and we continue to offer the most generous referral program in travel, enabling loyal travelers to earn cash and even free trips for referring new travelers. Finally, all of our travelers know that when they travel with us, they are helping to change the world.  What other company, through the loyalty and generosity of its travelers and associates, can say that they have given back almost $100 million to help change the lives of millions of people around the world?  Only the travelers and associates of Grand Circle Travel & Grand Circle Cruise Lines can say that.

Ultimately we believe that our reward to you, our loyal traveler, is to save you hundreds, and often thousands of dollars per trip, allowing you to travel year after year, to all of the destinations on your bucket list.

Thank you for again your continued loyalty, and for your feedback.

Kind Regards,

Michelle

GCCL/GCT Forum Moderator
 

Author: hdstein

Joined: 3/12/2010
Posts: 3
Trips Taken: 25
Traveler Since: 1999

June 20, 2013

 Michelle at GCT: You did not address the issue. Is someone who travels 3 times entitiled to the same benefits as  someone who has traveled 25 times?

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 535
Trips Taken: 8
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

Traveler Since: 2006

June 20, 2013

I don't get the statement about "sales gimmicks." What is the "Inner Circle" and the free jackets, vests, wallets, etc. with the OAT or GCT emblems, if not sales gimmicks?

People who have taken many more trips than the three required to get the freebies are just asking for a bit more. Someone suggested extending their travel credits, I can't imagine that hurting the company too much. Someone else suggested a free optional I don't see how either would have a huge impact on per diems.

 

Author: arnold

Joined: 10/20/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2004

June 21, 2013

I agree with the post suggesting a free optional from time to time.  

While  it's easy to make claims  about lower per diems,   GCT makes optional,  for additional

fees,   some attractions which other companies include in their  basic packages.    

What good is a lower per diem when,  to see anything beyond a 1/2 day sightseeing bus tour,

it costs extra?

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
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

June 21, 2013

I think Arnold's two suggestions for extending the length of the credits and allowing them to be used for last minute travel make the most sense for, say 10 to 20 trips.  Then, perhaps, free optionals or something like that for more than 20. 

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 141
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2005

June 22, 2013

I really like those ideas, Pauline.  Being able to keep your travel credits for a longer time would be great!  There are sometimes periods in your life when you can't travel....for health reasons of your own, because you are caring for an ill spouse or an aging parent, when you can't leave your business for a time, etc......and it really hurts to see those travel credits expire without being able to use them! Having your credits last for three years, or even having them never expire, would please me a lot. 

And I've always felt that travel credits should be able to be used for ALL trips, including the last minute ones!  Boston, take note......The two changes listed above would make us very happy, and certainly wouldn't cost much to implement.

Author: ray.

Joined: 4/14/2010
Posts: 9
Trips Taken: 12
Traveler Since: 2002

June 22, 2013

Besides keeping travel credits for a longer time, how about letting us accumulate
gift credits too ? So instead of getting a cheap vest/jacket for every trip, let us save it up for a few trips for better quality stuffs.

All these cost GCT nothing extra.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
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

June 22, 2013

What better quality stuff?  The fleece jackets, raincoats, and fleece vests are fine, but how many of each does one need.  The money belts or whatever, the same.  If you want to weigh your luggage, you can take it to the nearest UPS store.  But 50 pounds, or whatever the limit is, holds a lot of clothes.  So what kind of gifts are you referring to?

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 241
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

June 22, 2013

Those free gifts.  We have received them for all the trips for which  we've been entitled.  If you got great stuff, well they must have run out when they sent mine and went to the local dollar store.  no kidding.   My husband got the men's beautiful thick fleece burgundy vest.  I didn't want to fool with an oversize vest, so ordered a ladies vest.  It was so flimsy, and unattractive. 

I had earlier ordered as my gift the fleece jacket.  After just one wear, the zipper wouldn't stay up, and would come apart at the bottom.  I had seen some other people with similar items, but they looked a lot better than the one I received.  Over the years, since 2006 when we started traveling with GCt, I've seen the quality of the free gifts diminish.  The earlier free gifts we received on our first Inner Circle free gif was the waist pack for valuables/currency.  So flimsy and too big for me, even to tuck into my jeans.  I would rather have a credit toward an optional, tour or credit toward a pre/post trip.  And don't give me a bottle of wine in our stateroom as a "free" gift.  Ask if we drink wine or spirits in the first place.  How about complimentary bottles of water on the ship instead of adding it to our room charge.   

I agree with extending credits indefinitely because of the many reasons stated in the previous post.  Another perk could be $50-$75 off a trip after 10 trips,10 years, or 15 trips.  Or $250-$500 per person off after 10 years of traveling with GCT/OAT.  And so on.  There many combinations of years/trips/dollars that can be used to come up with a reward for frequent traveling with GCT.   

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
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

June 22, 2013

I don't find any of the gifts attractive enough to choose, now that I have the fleece jacket, the over-size beige rain jacket, and the small green rain jacket.  I just make my $10 donation to the Foundation.  And that may answer your question, Singsling.  If those gifts have an equivalent value of $10, no wonder they seem cheap.  Years ago, they offered a nylon carry-on and my friend chose it.  It was supposed to be water-resistant, but everything in it was soaked. 

However, I have a nylon (sort-of) backpack that I use as a carry-on.  It says GCT, but it doesn't say Inner Circle.  And it may date from a time that everyone got a gift.  It's lasted me a long time, and the great thing is that it is totally unstructured, so I just keep stuffing things in it, and it expands.

Author: gobuckeyes

Joined: 7/7/2010
Posts: 158
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2005

June 23, 2013

Grand Circle/Michelle (posted)...  While we could, as some other companies do, offer special perks and deals to frequent travelers, we believe that in the long run, our travelers would rather we keep our prices and per diems lower than any other travel company, without compromising the outstanding trip leaders or any other elements of our trips.

So rather than offering sales gimmicks, which are ultimately passed on to customers in the form of higher trip prices, hidden fees, and expensive single supplements, our trips almost always have the lowest per diems in the travel industry.

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

Just sayin"': First I don't consider some of the ideas suggested on this thread (and some others too) to enhance the GCT/OAT loyalty programs as "sales gimmicks". They could actually be sound business ideas that not only could improve GCT/OAT's bottom line, but also help GCT/OAT keep the rates low. Adopting some of the suggestions could actually make past travelers even more loyal to GCT/OAT thus resulting in even more bookings. Needless to say, the more bookings the more profit and/or the ability to keep rates low (i.e. even more competitive).  

It is obvious from various past posts on this board and the OAT board many of the GCT/OAT travelers have booked trips with other companies and/or are extremely receptive to booking a trip with another company. It seems to me that it would be in GCT/OAT's benefit to create a loyalty program (i.e. and/or a "travel environment where the repeat travelers really feel appreciated) to get their clients to have an attitude that "I only want to travel with GCT/OAT). 

I've been on over 100 cruises and am in the top tier of several cruise lines (Princess, Carnival, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, & Celebrity) loyalty programs. I see it on every cruise line's repeater party. There are a large number of people that are loyal to that cruise line and will only go on that cruise line; and this is mainly because of the cruise line's loyalty program perks they receive (i.e. they feel that their business is appreciated), etc.

Author: nancyf

Joined: 4/26/2010
Posts: 155
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

43 of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska, England , France , Italy , Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Africa (Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe. South Africa), Israel, Canada, the Carribbean, Peru, going to Egypt & Jordan in February 2011 ( canceled due to the unrest there, but I will take this trip later!), China, Russia, Kenya, Turkey, Greece, Malta, Sicily.

Traveler Since: 2007

June 24, 2013

I agree with Pauline on the extension of credits and  maybe a free optional (my choice of optional). I have donated my gift to the Foundation as well, because I don't need/want any of those items anymore, and the money can help someone somewhere that needs it. I travel with GCT/OAT because I like their trips, and am satisfied with the quality of what I get. Yes, some of those other companies include many of the things that are "optionals" for GC or OAT, but it seems as if their prices are higher to start with also, to cover that expense.

Author: par5drl

Joined: 5/15/2011
Posts: 12
Trips Taken: 2
Traveler Since: 2011

July 02, 2013

 I have a feeling the big difference between 25 time travelers  and 3 time travelers is Money......

Just saying.....

Author: tomnat

Joined: 6/4/2010
Posts: 83
Trips Taken: 18
Traveler Since: 2004

July 04, 2013

Hello, We agree that current Inner Circle perks are minimal even for 3 trips let alone staying the same for 10, 15, 20 or 25 trips, and do not encourage us to travel again with GCT/OAT.

Michelle is right that best value (for us per diem/air cost & great PD/local guides for an itinerary/schedule we want) mainly keeps us coming back to GCT/OAT, but we will travel with other companies, if they offer a better value for trips with similar itineraries; so we do not have any "Inner Circle" loyalty and have taken more than 6 trips with GCT/OAT competitors, which was lost business for GCT/OAT.

We think that many suggestions here would reward 10+ year travellers' loyalty, reduce their new trip costs & keep them from travelling with competitors, while still keeping per diem costs low, e.g. non-expiring travel credits, free or reduced insurance, free optionals, etc. For us the most meaningful loyalty rewards are monetary, not pre-trip gifts, cheap champagne sales pitch parties, etc.

As an example of current Inner Circle disfunction, we always request 2 beds, and on our last trip out of 8 hotels, 5 rooms came with 1 bed not 2; so that we had to waste time changing rooms or get the maid to separate a king bed into 2 beds, where possible. We were 2nd in most trips; so we always got our keys 2nd on arrival in the lobby & probably had better than average rooms, but our request for 2 beds was mostly ignored, even after our PD called our next hotels & our post-trip PD. Note that we still rate this trip excellent, but we did not need the aggravation. On the new 5 star review scale, we would rate it 4 stars vice an outstanding 5. When we make our own hotel reservations we always get 2 beds, but check when we pick up our keys at the desk.

GCT/OAT needs to make Inner Circle rewarding to 10+ travellers or stop it, because, as comments here indicate, current Inner Circle has little or even negative value to loyal GCT/OAT travellers.

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