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."