Private trips can be scheduled to operate on any of our regular routes (or on a route you create), subject to availability: ours, and those of the hotels and trains. If you have already decided that you are going to set one up, jump directly to the “How To...” section, below.
If you are just considering the concept, read on!
Trips can be organized and / or operated for any number of people, but the per-person price of the trip (especially for escorted trips) will decrease with the total number of participants.
If your group is small, and you would like to share set-up and organization costs with others, consider a “Guest-Initiated” trip: a departure of one of our regular trips scheduled to fit your travel schedule, but open to other riders.
A general idea of pricing:
- A trip of 10 riders or more, following one of our regular routes, and with no special requirements other than date of operation and the private nature of the trip, will cost the regular published price for that trip.
- Trips operated for fewer than 10 travellers will generally cost more per person, this additional cost to be negotiated in function of the number of participants.
“Self-guided” trips have lower fixed costs, and can economically operate with fewer participants.
- Commercial discounts (student, educator, etc.) apply if the group has 12 or more riders.
- A modest “group” discount may be available if the group has 12 or more travellers, operates on the same days of the week as the scheduled departures on that route, and if no extraordinary arrangements (the hiring of new personnel, or the purchase of new or non-standard bikes, for example) are necessary to operate it.
The “group” discount is not cumulable with other commercial discounts, but each individual rider will receive whichever discount is more advantageous.
- Single travelers must be prepared to pay the appropriate private single supplement, unless they can arrange to share rooms with other members of the group.
Itinerary deviations (or the creation of a new itinerary) are possible for Charter Trips.
This facility can be used to make longer or shorter stops in some towns, to truncate routes, to change the level of lodging and / or meals, or simply to schedule the trip on other days of the week than those on which it usually operates. Route research charges will be factored into the cost of the trip. Their amount will depend on what you require of us. In general, charter trips are more economical the more closely they follow our regular routes.
Interested? When you are ready to move forward in the creation of your trip, here is...
How to Set Up a Charter Trip
There are three necessary steps.
- Tell Us What You are Thinking
- Obtain a Detailed Trip Proposition
- Sign Up for the Trip
Step 1. Tell Us What You are Thinking
A quick e.mail will suffice for this.
“10 - 15 of us; somewhere in the south of France; some time in June, or maybe early July; mostly confirmed riders, but a couple of novices, and one ‘training partner,’ who wants to follow the trip, but not on a bike.” [The “training” in this context refers to the eponymous vehicle, and not to any sort of athletic preparation.]
If appropriate, you could add something like:
“Your ‘Gorges of the Cévennes’ route looks appealing, but we are worried about the hills.”
We reply with our availability, and with any suggestions.
An example of our reply at that stage might be:
“We could do this in our regular conditions (routes, prices) at any time except for the week of June 23rd, where we are already fully booked. We suggest the Dordogne or Provence routes rather than the Cévennes, since public transit is absent in the Cévennes, and both the ‘training partner’ and the novice riders (who might want to shorten a given day) could suffer from this.
If you really like the looks of the Cévennes, we could offer van support, but it would add about 150€ / person to the trip cost. Or, we could reroute the trip on the two hardest days, such that the hills would not be as much of a factor. This would cost about 600€ for the creation of the two new routes, to be shared amongst the participants, using whatever formula you see fit.”
We might add a couple of questions or comments to further help you make your selection.
If you like what we tell you, and can get your group to agree on a first choice, then your next step is to ...
Step 2. Obtain a Detailed Trip Proposition
Four things are necessary from you to do so:
- The name and contact information of a designated “Ring Master,” someone mandated by the group to communicate the group’s needs to us, and to whom we can address any questions about those needs.
Ideally, this person should be authorized to make at least minor decisions on behalf of the group. Each, individual member of the group is our guest and client, and is welcome to communicate with us directly, at any time, and on any topic. But the “Ring Master” should be copied on correspondence of a non-personal nature between us, such that one person in the group has an overview of what is going on as the trip advances.
Some groups will choose to “pay” the Ring Master with some sort of discount on his or her trip. On your instruction, we can price the trip accordingly. For instance, for 1,000€ trip staged for a group of 10 people, we could add 55€ to the trip cost of each “normal” participant, and offer the “Ring Master” a 50% discount.
- The minimum number of participants that you would like to set in order for the trip to operate.
Since trip price varies with the number of participants, this number may have an influence on the price that you quote to the members of your group.
Example: you are hoping for 15 riders. We have quoted a price of 1,500€ per person for a minimum of 12 riders, or 1,650€ for a trip of 8 - 11. In this example, you could choose to set the minimum number of riders required to run the trip at either 8, or at 12.
• If you chose 8, you would tell prospective participants, “the price is 1,650€, but if at least 12 of us go, we each get 150€ back.”
• If you choose 12, you would say instead, “the price is 1,500€, but we need 12 people, otherwise the trip does not go.”
A rule of thumb: at least 30% of the people who are “absolutely sure” they are going will drop out when it comes to actually making a trip deposit. Nothing focuses people on their offspring’s soccer tournament like pulling out a credit card!
- The date for which you would like to schedule the trip.
- A 550 € / $650 US / $850 C deposit (if paid by credit card, 550€). This deposit is for the group, not per-person, and it is deductable from the final cost of the trip.
To avoid putting one person’s funds on the line, it may be wise to set a per-person deposit, of (say) 80€, or your currency’s equivalent (so long as the total comes to at least the total required for the group). There is no better way to gauge serious interest than to ask people to contribute, even modestly, to the creation of the itinerary! Indeed, it is wise to set the amount of the individual deposit such that the total needed is reached even if one or two people unexpectedly drop out.
These individual deposits can either be collected by the designated Ring Master, and forwarded to us, or sent to us directly. Any amount collected over the required total deposit will be returned to the Ring Master in the event of the non-operation of the trip, to distribute as s/he sees fit.
This deposit is fully refundable if we cannot operate the trip as you specify it (for instance, we are full on your dates, or cannot get hotel space on your route).
It is thus wise to make your specification as precise as possible, including the trip’s price, and exactly what you expect that price to include. The deposit is not refundable if we are able to operate the trip as you describe it to us, but you change your mind, and choose not to accept our offer.
We now return a Detailed Trip Proposition (or your deposit, if we cannot make one). This includes...
- ...confirmation of the trip’s availability on your requested date, which we will simultaneously reserve for you.
- A 30-day option for you to confirm the trip (reduced to 15 days if the scheduled departure is within 120 days).
- A price guarantee valid for this period (after which the price will be subject to currency fluctuation).
- A route description with projected night stops.
- A title for the trip, necessary for sign-up. Feel free to give us your suggestion :-)
It generally takes us about 3 days to do this.
If the proposition pleases you, your next step is to...
Stage 3. Sign Up For the Trip
Once we have returned our Detailed Trip Proposition, the “Founding Members” of your group have 30 days to sign up (reduced to 15 days if the scheduled departure is within 120 days), using our usual trip application. As soon as the requisite minimum number of participants (set by you) is attained, the trip is definitively scheduled, and the trip’s operation is confirmed to all those who have subscribed.
If, at the end of this 30 (or 15) day period, the trip has not attained the minimum number of participants, all individual trip deposits (but not the “group” deposit made as part of stage 2) are refunded in full. Or (at our discretion) the trip is confirmed and operated for the number of people who have joined, at the agreed price, without any additional cost to the participants.
Cancellation Conditions for Charter Trips
Our usual conditions for signing up and canceling apply, with the following modifications:
- The Stage 3 individual trip deposit required to schedule the trip shall be whichever is less of our Standard Trip Deposit, or half of the quoted trip cost.
- Trip deposits made by “Founding Members,” whether our standard trip deposit, or an amount half of the total trip cost, are nonrefundable (except through one of our Cancellation Waivers, or as provided in “Conditional Refund of Deposits,” below). Under some circumstances, however, it may be transferred to another party (see “Transferring Deposits,” below).
- Cancellation Waivers, if desired, must be subscribed simultaneously with trip application. The terms of the waivers are the same as for regularly-scheduled trips, except that the rider’s share of the Stage 2 “Group Deposit” is deducted from any refund due.
- Transferring Deposits. Should a rider sign up, and then need to cancel, all but an administrative charge (corresponding to the charge normally assessed when participation in one of our regularly-scheduled trips is canceled 8 or more weeks in advance) may be transferred to any other person of his or her choosing travelling on the same trip, by simple written instruction. Transferred payments can only serve as a payment for a newly-registering traveller. They cannot be transferred to someone already registered for the trip, nor to someone who has been previously registered, and cancelled.
- Conditional Refund of Individual Trip Deposits. Should the number of actual participants on the trip be at least two more than the minimum number required to obtain the lowest quoted price, a partial refund of the Stage 3 Individual Trip Deposit may be available to riders obligated to cancel their participation. The amount of the refund will be that which would apply to a rider on our regularly scheduled trips, less the rider’s share of the Stage 2 “Group Deposit.” See here for the conditions that apply to our regularly-scheduled trips. Any refunds are made only after the trip has operated. Their amount is based on the date of the cancellation.
And that is it! Your trip is under way. You will receive our standard confirming information, information on reaching and leaving your trip, an account statement reflecting your payments... all the things we send to riders on our regularly-scheduled trips. Bon voyage!