What You Need To Know When You Book A Tour Package

  • What you need to know when you book a tour package
    Right from school, to college and beyond - we all may have been faced with textual dilemmas that often are beyond our understanding. The curious case of ‘find x’, the unsolved mystery of ‘how many books does Mohan have, if Geeta took three from him’, the misery of balance sheets not tallying - all this and more have had a serious effect on our understanding; and the universe knows - never have I ever used the Pythagoras theorem in any of life’s toughest lessons, and yet I’ve had to endure them all in the tough name of education. All said and done, the good samaritan inside of me wants to make life a lot less complicated for you. Lo! And Behold - below are listed a few terms that are simple to the the travel experts who book your trip, but for mortals like myself are just numbers and alphabets that make equal to no sense.

    SIC: No, it isn’t the abbreviated version of any religious sect. SIC simply means ‘Seat- In-Coach’. Maybe an example may help you understand better.

    You’ve booked a Malaysia package that states transfer on SIC basis. You reach your destination, relax for the day, and because you have a city tour the next morning at 10:00 am, you sleep yourself into oblivion. The wake up call goes unanswered, the alarm that you set at 9:15 am has been put off. Now its 9:35. You’ve just woken up from your beauty sleep. You have precisely 25 minutes to freshen up, dress up, have your breakfast (if it's still available on buffet; most hotels start breakfast buffets at 8 and end by 10) and head out to your first Malaysia city tour! You reach your meeting point and find that the vehicle that is supposed to pick you up has already left. The time now is 10:20.

    Why did this happen?

    Anger comes naturally to anyone who has been left behind. But Sir, that’s the way SIC works. A seat-in-coach is fundamentally a bus service that plies to tourists living in various hotels. If you have been delayed due to any reason, it hampers the tour time and the pick up time for those who were to be picked after you. How can you prevent it from happening?

    The number one lesson is to always be on time, or before time. If you delay, this will pose as a factor of inconvenience for the unfortunate others with you. Be a sporty traveller- play by the watch!

    Wait- I have paid for this trip, how could the tour organiser just leave this way?

    Apologies for that, and apologies for what comes after. You have paid for the trip. Not for the inconvenience it causes others. In such scenarios, when a tour planner has left a Musafir behind, we try our level best to get him/her on the tour as planned, or even attempt to reschedule it. In dire scenarios, we stick by our brand values of honesty and reliability.

    Private transfers: After the almost scary definition of SIC transfer, comes the option of Private Transfer. No example for this one though, as it is how it sounds. You don’t have to share your vehicle with anyone from any other hotel or even your hotel. The car will help in your transfer from your hotel to the tour spot as indicated in your itinerary, and back. However, the maximum wait time for a private transfer is around 30 minutes.

    If the car is private, and I’m paying for it, how is there a wait time of only 30 minutes?

    Good question. If money and time were equivalent, the private car would have been cheaper. How, you ask? Read the next point.

    Private transfer vs SIC
    Private Transfer Vs SIC

    The reason why most packages include SIC transfers in almost all their packages (honeymoon packages may include private transfers, for obvious reasons!) is because SIC transfers are most often cost- effective and have more availability than private transfers. The cost on your tour package with private transfers is often thrice that of a package with SIC transfers.  A private car may save your time, but will surely not save your money. It will undoubtedly give you the comfort of a king, but with a SIC transfer, you’re bound to make new friends from new places. There are always two ways to do anything, the repercussions often depend on which one do you choose.

    Car on Disposal: Convenient, ultra- luxurious and yours for the whole tour. Luxury has a new name in the tour world: Car on disposal. This type of transfer does not have a wait time at all. The car is at your disposal for any tour which you choose to take, but has to be registered for in advance with the driver of the vehicle.

    City tours: When the word city tour pops up in your itinerary, most people often overlook the innumerable possibilities that a city tour can offer. It’s like the best of the city on an appetizer menu. The most iconic spots of the city, are covered in this tour, with photo stops at the famous ones.

    Panoramic City Tours: Yep, there is always a difference. Most often, people often read the word ‘city tour’ and fail to realise that the word ‘panoramic’ is not being used as an adjective, but as a manner of differentiation! A panoramic city drive and a panoramic city tour are almost the same with an open rooftop bus doing the rounds of the city, while you sit at the best vantage points in the bus and marvel at the architectural, natural or historical icons of that destination.

    City tours vs Panoramic city tours: While the city tour offers photo stops at the most famous landmarks, the panoramic city tour might not always offer you the liberty of doing so. A detailed itinerary will offer you an insight with regards to how many photo stops will the city tour offer you, and where will they be at. Price wise- they’re both economical, and almost never have price differences, and come as a default addition to your desired package.

    Daily Breakfast: Most packages come with the option of breakfast at your hotel of stay. However, on the day 01 of your trip, you will not avail the service of breakfast at your hotel. The universal time for check-in at any hotel, irrespective of its rating is 1200 hours. This is the primary reason for not being served breakfast on the day of your arrival, even if you arrive in the early hours of the morning, breakfast may not be served to you. Also, daily breakfast isn’t served to you, but is rather in the form of a lavish breakfast buffet spread, mostly continental if you have booked an international package. If you have special needs, you may specify the same at the time of booking, our travel experts will inform the tour handlers at your destination regarding your request.
    Buffet Breakfasts at Hotels

    This brings us to more abbreviations in the meal sections of your packages. Be ready for more Alphabet drizzle!

    CP: Under the Continental plan or CP, the rates for your package are inclusive of your room tariff and complimentary breakfast. ( for further clarifications, read the ironic bit above on daily breakfast)

    AP: The AP or American Plan is a meal plan that is a shorter way to convey that you are entitled to be served all three meals, and the meal cost is included in the package cost along with the hotel stay. It is also known as Full Board Plan.

    MAP: This Modified American Meal plan is a slightly tweaked version of the AP. This Meal plan means that the quoted rates include two meals each day, breakfast and lunch/dinner. This type of meal plan is also known as half board plan.

    EP: European Plan or EP is the most cost-effective and will cost you lesser than any other meal plan, guaranteed. Why? Because it includes no meals, but only the room rent.

    Woah. That’s too much to remember. How do I choose which one is best?

    Out of 100 wise travellers, around 80 will choose MAP , 10 will choose AP, 7 would choose CP and only 2 would choose EP. The reasons for these numbers are just as valid as the choices themselves. An EP plan asks of you to fend for yourself starting with the first meal of the day, right from the time you wake up and crave for your cuppa of coffee. Are you ready for that while you travel? A CP plan will give you a complimentary breakfast, but in case you are delayed due to varied reasons you may miss picking up dinner from the local bistro, and may anyway have to order for it in the hotel of your stay. In such a scenario, wouldn’t it be much better for you to opt for MAP? Late or not, an MAP plan will make sure you’re covered for two meals. The AP is for destinations where local bistros and restaurants close quite early and are far from the hotel of stay, or the destination you’ve chosen to visit is remote and questions of hygiene have arisen in your mind. In such a scenario ,opting for a meal plan that offers all three meals is your smartest bet.

    Smaller abbreviations, bigger meaning:

    FOC: Simply means Free Of Charge. Everyone’s favourite.

    GST: Goods and Services Tax. Yes, you have to pay it. There’s no waiver for it.

    PAX: Short for Traveller/ passenger. We run short on time, and hence abbv help us make up for it.

    A La Carte: Refers to items that are on the menu, and need to be paid separately for. No, a buffet does not mean that everything that is on the table is on the menu. The restaurant and chef’s special are often worth ordering and are a la carte! (Terms like these are used in daily life, and it just made me sound so much more polished!)

    The next time you find yourself confronted with travel lingos like these, you’ll know whom to thank.

    Author : Roshal Mascarenhas