Contiki Tours - Simply Italy
So, my Contiki familiarization trip is complete! I researched several companies and Contiki had the best itinerary. It included all the cities I wanted to visit (except Sicily) plus many I wasn't familiar with. I selected Contiki's Simply Italy and had an amazing time!
Contiki caters to travelers ages 18-35. They say that age range is suitable because of the amount of walking involved. Yes, there is a lot of walking involved, some of which includes lugging your baggage with you. There are other tour providers that take care of this for you. They take your bags from the coach to your room and vice versa. Until you're lugging several items up a big hill, you may think it's not worth paying more money for this benefit...
Contiki is obviously more known as a tour for young people to party and travel. This is a better explanation of the selected age range. Contiki meets Girls Gone Wild may or may not be a stretch depending on who ends up on your tour. My tour group wasn't that wild...
I'll jump to the chase. Will I recommend Contiki to my clients? Yes, definitely. However, it's not for everyone and it's my job to understand my client and their needs. Contiki is like a box of chocolates, you never know what (type of travelers) you'll get!
This tour can work great for most clients ages 18-25. They're young, free, easy going, maybe less traveled, and just care about having a fun and exciting trip.
For clients ages 26-35 it can be iffy. I'll explain why.
Positive: I am single with no kids and I turned 34 during this trip. Unlike Trafalgar, this tour was full of people traveling alone, with friends or with sisters. There was 1 married couple and 1 engaged couple. There were 45 people total on this tour. Trafalgar was full of older married couples and families (parents with adult children). As you can imagine, Contiki is a socially more appealing tour group.
Negative: This age group is usually more well traveled and are more likely to be established professionally. They are willing to pay a bit more for better accommodations, shorter travel time to far destinations, etc. (I'll elaborate later). Also, there is a huge difference in maturity level. A 35 year old may not have the patience for an 18 year old. I won't give examples from this trip but I'm sure you can use your imagination or own experience.
(1) The itinerary was nearly perfect. All of the sites, tours, etc. were incredible.
(2) All of the optional dinners were great.
(3) Coaches were clean and comfortable.
(4) This tour really is a great value when you consider what is included (hotel accommodations, coach, meals, boat trips, etc).
(1) If you've traveled to Europe, you know that their hotel ratings are not like the U.S. A 4 star in Europe is more like a 2 or 3 star for us. I personally felt the majority of the hotels were bad. I would only recommend 1 or 2 to a client traveling in those cities and it would be based on their budget. If they could afford more, I'd book them some where else.
(2) I don't think I liked any of the included dinners.
(3) Ride from Rome to Florence was nearly 7 hours.
Recommendations:The majority of travelers were coming from or going to other European destinations which to me means they are spending money to travel regardless. My recommendation to Contiki would be to raise the price to provide (a) tastier included dinner choices (b) train from Rome to Florence (c) and better hotel accommodations. By better I mean closer to city centers and those that are clean and functional...