New tour brochure prices retroactive

This item appears on page 26 of the November 2008 issue.

Three of us from California went on a “Discover New Zealand” trip with Explore, March 2-30, 2008. We booked through Adventure Center in June ’07 based on the published brochure and website price.

In October ’07 we were advised that the cost would be an additional $750, a 15% increase. We already had secured our airfare and paid our deposit as well as bought insurance and felt we had no choice but to pay it.

Our guide was the owner of the local tour company, Antipodean Explorer, that contracts with Explore for this trip. He (told us that) he hadn’t raised the price on this tour.

The other people on the tour did not get any increase.

Also, the tour had a published maximum of 22 people. We had 24.

I knew that the exchange rate was not in our favor, and after I returned home I checked the exchange rates for the US dollar, New Zealand dollar and British pound for the date we paid our deposit and the date of the 15% increase notice. The differences were between almost 1% and almost 2%.

I wrote Adventure Center about this and they in turn forwarded my letter to Explore. Having traveled with Explore many times and introduced my family to them, I was very put off by their reply.

The agents have the right to their increases, but I didn’t feel it was justified.

I think travelers should know about this possibility.


Oakland, CA

ITN sent copies of the above letter to Explore and Adventure Center and received the following replies.

We would like to take this opportunity to address the issues that Ms. Strassner has raised.

Ms. Strassner booked our DNZ 2nd March 2008 tour on the 9th of July 2007 and the price that she paid was US$5,020. On the 5th of September 2007, during our brochure change process, the tour price was increased to US$5,770. As Ms. Strassner states, this equates to a price increase of just under 15%.

We do state in our booking conditions that “prices. . . from January 2008 may be subject to change. Tour prices may alter up or down by a maximum of 10%. . . . in the unlikely event that the tour price increases above 10% customers may cancel with full refund of monies.”

As the price increase for Ms. Strassner was over 10%, she did have the option to cancel her holiday with us. However, Ms. Strassner chose to accept the price increase and travel.

There is some confusion regarding the costs charged to us by our local agent. While our local agent did not increase their service charge, the cost of other provisions (such as accommodation, transport, etc.) all increased. These increases were a factor in the overall price increases.

We would like to highlight that those customers who booked in the UK and were paying in UK sterling were subject to a £200 price increase per person. This amounts to around a US$400 price increase for our UK customers (which is less than the US$750 increase for Ms. Strassner). We had to increase the price for those customers paying in US dollars to take into account the worsening exchange rate.

A quick search on shows that US$5,000 bought £2,720 in mid-July 2006 (when our 2007 tours were costed). In mid-July 2007 (when our 2008 tours were costed), US$5,000 would buy only £2,461. This is a decrease of £259, or around 10%!

Ms. Strassner is incorrect when she states that no one else paid the increased tour price. All customers on this trip paid the increased amount, although, as we state above, this increase was greater for those customers paying in US dollars.

We are truly sorry that Ms. Strassner experienced such a high cost increase. It is always our aim to keep price increases as low as possible.

We regret that the size of Ms. Strassner’s group was larger than usual. There was a system error, which meant that two customers appeared to be booked on a different (later) departure date. These two customers unexpectedly arrived on Ms. Strassner’s tour and we made arrangements to accommodate them.

We do state in our brochure that that the group size for this trip is approximately 14 to 22, however we appreciate that Ms. Strassner is unhappy with the size of the group and we apologize for any disappointment caused.

SEAN HUGHES, Customer Relations Manager, Explore Worldwide, Ltd., Nelson House, 55 Victoria Rd., Farnborough, GU14 7PA, U.K.

. . . at the time Merna Strassner confirmed her trip in July 2007 nine months prior to travel commencing, we advised her that the dates and price of her tour were subject to change with the release of the new 2008-2009 Explore brochure in the fall of 2007.

This was also stated in the 2007-2008 Explore brochure. . . and stated in the Explore booking conditions which Merna agreed to at time of booking. . . .

We appreciate that the tour price increase communicated in October 2007 (six months prior to travel commencing) was significant, but unfortunately when booking a tour many months in advance, before new season pricing is published, it’s not possible to finalize costs until publication of the new season pricing, which can make budgeting difficult when booking this many months in advance. . . .

CHRISTINE SUPAWIT, Customer Relations, Adventure Center, 1311 63rd St., Ste. 200, Emeryville, CA 94608