On the surface, it seems that there really is only one comparison to be made – Price. Passports consistently publishes more expensive trips than EF, and because of price, EF is the only choice. Price might be the hardest hurdle to jump past, but there are other issues that also come into play such as quality, support, limiting liability, reliability, and follow through.
I began planning for my first International Student Trip in 2005 with Passports. As the Group Organizer, I was scared to death that something might go wrong, or I might forget to add something to the itinerary, or that the food would be lousy, or that the hotels would be out by the airport somewhere, or that the couriers/guides might too inexperienced, or that the coaches might break down, or that a student might get lost. With so many different feelings of doom and dread, I felt like giving up. But Passports literally said, "Let us take care of all this for you." When they asked, “so where do you want to go,” I just replied, "Italy." Honestly, I didn't know what we needed to see, or in which order we needed to travel. Passports just reassured me, “that's okay, we'll put it together for you.” So I made a few special requests:
When I finally received the itinerary, I was dumbfounded, both on the amount of things to see and do, but also on the price. It was quite a bit more than I thought possible; approximately $300 per day, compared to EF's quote of about $200 per day. But after being reassured by Passports that I would be getting everything that I had asked for, I felt comfortable allowing them to be our first school trip. Leading up to our departure, I began to realize that EF did not make their itinerary ALL INCLUSIVE for the items listed on it, but rather just labeled them as "optional." So I figured that, "well, I had better get what I've paid for." and Passports came through with the perfect trip! For all our trips with Passports (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016) this is what we received for that extra $100 per day:
Obviously, I am a huge fan of the way Passports takes care of business. They have the best customer service of any Student Travel Company; when you call their number, you get a real person, not an extension and voice recording. When any of my students or I have a problem, we need an answer now, not when the specialist can get around to it.
After three very successful trips in 2007, 2009, and 2011, I was asked by a parent if the higher price that Passports charges was justifiable. I simply replied, "I am not sure. We have only traveled with Passports, but have been very satisfied with the results." At that point I decided that our group MUST travel with EF Tours so that we could honestly compare apples to apples. In 2012, EF prepared a custom itinerary for me titled, Roman Britain, in which the group would tour all the Roman sites found on the isle of Britannia. I informed EF that I had been traveling with Passports, and that if they wanted me to travel with them, I needed to have the same amenities (trip dates, flight choice, upgraded meals, central hotels, experienced guides, and all inclusive prices). Initially, EF made a great attempt to win over my business by offering an 8 day trip for a locked in price just under $2,000 per participant, but from that point on, everything quickly unraveled. Here's what EF provided:
There were a total of 36 students and 6 chaperones on the 2012 EF trip. Of that number, 18 students and all 6 chaperones had previously traveled on the 2011 Passports trip. When we returned, I held a debrief meeting to discuss the differences between the two trips, but more notably, between the two companies. All of these participants stated that they would NEVER travel with EF again, not even with a free chaperone spot. The group summed it up rather simply, You get what you pay for! And for the extra $100 per day, it really is worth every penny.
Remembering as a group leader, you are only as successful as your last trip. I was able to secure large groups and booked travel every two years because the participants from my last trip were the first to sign up for the next trip. But, one bad trip, even though it may not be any one person’s fault, can diminish the demand for the next trip. This can have a devastating impact on the next year’s learning curriculum, if you are a teacher as well. Passports really delivers, each and every time, because every trip, every group leader, every participant counts! Bottom line, you really do get what you pay for, and for me as the group leader, that is the peace of mind of planning the best trip that any of my students could ever imagine, and I get to take all the credit!
passports Educational Group Travel partners with teachers across the United States to provide high-quality educational travel experiences to their students. Educational tours visit destinations around the world - primarily France, Italy, England, Spain and Costa Rica - at low, guaranteed prices.
7 Midstate Drive Suite 102
Auburn, MA 01501