Organize tour to Ireland?

Old Sep 17th, 2012, 04:12 PM
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Organize tour to Ireland?

My husband and I have traveled in Europe on our own several times, but now we are thinking of going to Ireland with a group of friends. Don't know how many people at this point, but the thought has crossed my mind that it might make sense to contract with a tour company- after all they do this all the time! Has anyone else ever gathered a group and worked with a tour company for a private tour? If so, how did you start, who did you work with, how many is the minimum number of people for whom this approach makes sense?
We are all active, in our early 60's but also may be including adult children in their 30's.

Any and all advice would be appreciated! Thanks very much in advance!
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 05:06 PM
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Huge job and hard to make everybody happy. My advice: Look at lots of itineraries and pick one or two other people to work with to design or choose your tour. Decide on the tour you want and price, depending on number of people. Using a good basic tour from a reputable company is probably best. Make sure tour has some free time in the cities with days for optional day trips, but have it pretty much set and let it be a take it or leave it choice, offered by the tour company. That way you won't be the one everybody is coming to and asking to go here or there and make all kinds of changes. Let them pay the tour company, so you don't have to worry about collecting for unpaid bills, or late bills.

You can't have a price based on twenty people and five back out, causing the price to go up for the rest.

If you are doing a truly private tour, have the tour company add in tips, etc., or some people will not pay in the end. Also, have the tour company add in 5%-10% in case of emergency changes that require extra costs - you never know what can happen. It can always be returned or an extra nice dinner be paid for in the end, if there is money left over.

The only experience I have had with this is people backing out at last minute and wanting all money back and people looking at the itinerary and wanting to make all kinds of changes. The funny thing is, one person for whom I did make changes, backed out in the end.

Good quality trip insurance (health and cancellation) should be required of all. You don't want something to happen and you have to take care of someone with no coverage.
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 06:50 PM
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This is a group that has been recommended on this forum several times.

http://www.rabbies.com/?gclid=CLC71f...FWcbQgode0jFLA

I have the site bookmarked, for my next trip in the spring time.
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 08:16 PM
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For Ireland, may I recommend CIE tours. I did a tour with them (that also included Scotland) a couple of years ago and they were great. The nice thing abvout them is there are no optional tours. Everything is included up front in the price of the tour.

They do a good job.
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Old Sep 18th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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We did a private tour with only 4 of us last year. We went through Tenon Tours and I was very impressed. They basically arranged all the hotels and provided a private driver for only the days that we needed. I told them the places we wanted to see and they took care of the rest. Having a private driver gave us alot of flexibility in that we could deviate each day and see things on the spur of the moment that weren't planned. The cost of a trip like this (8 nights, driver 4 days, breakfast daily, flight from USA, all transfers including Aran Island) was only $2100 per person. Of course we spent extra for meals and admissions. I think Tenon Tours can arrange for groups of any size.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 08:20 AM
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Take a look at http://www.connsireland.com/ for private touring. They offer tours for two to 20 plus. He's been "in the business" for many, many years and highly recommended. I have taken a tour with one of his companies years ago and was quite pleased with everything he did for the group. He takes the "worry" out of planning for large groups! That's for sure!
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 08:47 PM
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I just put a deposit down for a group of 7. It's a privately chauffered tour. So far, they have been great and have listened to every request. I went through Irish Tourism, which is a subgroup of CIE.
http://www.irishtourism.com/
The agent I've been working with is fast in responding via email and is very nice when talking on the phone.
That's all I can say for now, since we haven't gone on the trip yet. Can't wait!
Good luck!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 04:05 PM
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Thank you everyone for your information. I expect I will be posting again and asking more questions as I continue to explore options. I have to say - the Fodor's folks are THE BEST! Every time I've planned a trip I've gotten so much useful information on this site!
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Old Sep 29th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Hi - I JUST finished putting a group tour together for a group of 6-8 in Connemara. I am a photographer so the trip is focused around a photo workshop in Connemara in October - but I have to say we saved a ton of money by putting everything together ourselves. The cost per person all inclusive of meals in great restaurants and pubs, a private driver (that will go where ever we want) and mini bus and really nice accommodations worked out to just $1,600 per person not including airfare of course - for 5 nights/6 days. Having been to Ireland many times - and having family there helps - because I knew my way around - but it's not that hard.

How many are in your group? Based on size I could share with you some of the people we dealt with and have been REALLY happy with.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2012, 04:02 PM
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Thank you for all your advice! I will continue to research and will probably be back on again asking more questions!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2012, 04:06 PM
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travelingbadger- not sure how many yet - still trying to drum up interest - so not sure yet - could be 10-20. The more the merrier I think! Or does that create problems?
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Old Oct 6th, 2012, 05:04 AM
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Hi Kathy, what I found was that there are three private tour vehicle sizes: 6-7, 12-14 and then jumbo bus. The jumbo bus option for our group was too big. We wanted to be able to avoid things like a microphone being required for everyone to hear and we wanted the group to be able to all hear each other - so we opted for the mini bus that seats 10-12 super nicely and it can get in and out of places that the big buses can't maneuver as well. The other variable would be to be able to find some of the out of the way places to stay - like cool country houses, and often they have smaller number of rooms - like 5 for two people, so you get the whole house to yourself which is great! Instead of just rooms in a hotel or larger B&B. A group of 10-12 would be ideal for a lot of reasons. Our group is 11 including me.

Hope this helps!
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