It seems that while the top producing agents of YTB were sailing the Sensation to Bahamas to feed the ego of the Tomers, the details of the Olympic packages appeared on their websites. Well, so did the issues on Ted Lindauer's as well, but that is an entirely different discussion.
As expected, the "unbeatable" deal, is. Actually, it is really not that much of a deal to begin with and appears to be VERY restrictive. You can check it out here and snoop around for yourself.
Just a few highlights for those interested in traveling to China for the Olympics:
- 14 preselected departure dates ranging from 7-11 days
- Currently (and curiously) all show that 9 positions have been sold in each package
- Hotels are NOT guaranteed--just a disclaimer stating "or similar class"
- One of the tours begins in New York and drops you off at the end in LA--odd
- You do not have admission to all th events as excpected. It is typically 4 events over two days and they are first round events at that
- The ceremony tickets seem to not be available
- Some, but not all tickets have been acquired, there are a lot of "TBA"s for the events
- It is NOT all inclusive as one Director insisted; most breakfasts are included and a few lunches and dinners--the Package #3 only offers one lunch and one dinner
- The sightseeing is way too ambitious to enjoy the culture and history--The Great Wall AND the Summer Palace in one day and back to the hotel in time for dinner??
- When you compare a 7 day YTB tour with an 11 night Globus tour (and add in event tickets and the opening ceremony tickets purchased separately), it costs $100 LESS per person--11 nights versus 7 days...opening ceremonies versus watching it in Chinese television in your hotel room..
- Several competitive packages are available and they are on known airlines and are members of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). I would rather fly Cathay Pacific than Shanghai Springs any day.
So, is this really a good deal for the consumers? Not so much! They are overpaying for an unknown product. Events are not guaranteed and they have considerable additional costs involved. Why does YTB feel it is such a good deal? Probably because they were able to negotiate a 25% commission on the program with Shanghai Springs. So, if you are planning on booking a trip to the Olympics, and are looking for a bottom of the barrel price and experience, I suggest you buy it from your local YTB Referring Travel Agent with one condition--negotiate the price. They have a minimum of $1000 per person and I would be willing to bet they will work with you. But remember, you do get what you pay for! If you are looking for an experience to last a lifetime (rather than a nightmare) then go ahead and call a local travel agent or book with a company with a solid reputation and one that might offer you some protection and service if things go wrong!
Edit: 553PMEST 14January 2008. Corrected YTB Tour URL