TUCoPS :: Scams :: leading.txt

"Leading the Way to Free Travel"

                      Leading the Way to Free Travel
               "Have coffee in Dublin at 11 and walk in Stephen's
          Green and you'll be in heaven." 
               You've replayed the words of that old song over
          and over in your head for years.  In fact, all your
          life, you've dreamt of seeing the Emerald Isle, of
          spending long evenings in Irish pubs, sipping Guinness
          and engaging in lively conversation. 
               The only thing that has kept you from making your
          dreams come true is money.  After all the monthly bills
          are paid, you never seem to have enough left over to
          afford a trip to Dublin. 
               But money need no longer be an obstacle.  You can
          arrange to see Ireland free -- maybe even make a bit of
          money in the bargain. 
               Cruise lines, airlines, tour companies, and hotels
          ou free of charge -- even put
          cash in your pocket to boot -- if you promise to bring
          them a certain amount of business in return. 
               You don't have to be an experienced tour leader. 
          You don't need any experience as a salesman.  The only
          job requirements are enthusiasm and a desire to see the
               The possibilities are endless.  You could lead a
          tour of Ireland's green, green countryside and ancient
          ruins.  You could lead an art tour of northern Italy. 
          A garden tour of Britain.  A river cruise in New
          Guinea.  An archeological expedition to Easter Island. 
          A family train tour of France.  A hiking trip in the
          Alps.  A castles and wine cruise of Germany.  A tour of
          rural Japan, visiting teahouses and farmhouses.  A
          cycling adventure in Scotland.  A luxury yacht charter
          in the Greek Isles. 

er of the tour, you travel for
          Making a business of biking
               Peter Costello did it.  He had been working
          restoring antique furniture in Baltimore, Maryland.  It
          was a steady living, but what Peter really enjoyed was
          riding his bicycle and traveling.  If only someone
          would pay me to ride my bike and travel around the
          world, he thought.  Because he could find no one
          willing to do so, he decided to arrange it for himself.
               After a vacation to Scotland, his future was
          determined.  He would lead bicycle tours through the
          green and rolling Scottish hills. 
               Peter asked a former executive of a bicycle
          touring company in Vermont to act as consultant. 
          Scotland was the perfect place to begin the business,
          not only because Peter (whose family was from Scotland)

but also because the market was wide
          open.  In fact, no one else in the business was
          offering bicycle tours in Scotland. 
               Peter knew bicycling, and he knew Scotland.  But
          he didn't know anything about starting a business or
          leading a tour.  As Peter explains, "I took a crash
          course in Business 101." 
               "The touring is the easy part," he says.  "All of
          my tours begin and end in Edinburgh.  We take off down
          the road, supported by a van, exploring beautiful
          countryside.  We travel about 40 miles a day, and then
          spend the nights in comfortable, homey bed and
          breakfasts.  That's easy.  "The hard part is the
               Peter handles all of the marketing himself from an
          office in Baltimore.  He advertises in major bicycling
          publications and tries to generate business through
          travel agents. 

has been quite successful.  His amateur
          operation, Peter Costello Ltd., P.O. Box 23490,
          Baltimore, MD 21203; (410) 685-6918) has grown into a
          full-fledged business.  He employs two other tour
          leaders and leads 17 tours a year.  Peter attributes
          his success to two things: first, he was able to find a
          niche in the market; and second, he keeps his tours
          competitively priced.
          Keeping it low key
               Peter's tour operation has grown into a big
          business.  He is making enough money to support himself
          and two employees.  To get to this point, Peter has
          devoted himself completely to the company.  It has
          become his livelihood and his favorite pastime. 
               But it doesn't have to be that way.  You can
          travel for free as a tour leader -- and still maintain
          your regular job and home life.  It doesn't
   of time or energy to arrange one tour a year, for
               But it still works in much the same way.  As Peter
          explained, the most difficult part is the advertising
          and marketing.  How do you convince four or five other
          people to pay you to act as their tour guide? We'll
          tell you, step by step.
          How it works
               The first step is to decide where you want to go. 
          This should be the easiest task of all.  After all,
          this is the reason for arranging the tour in the first
          place -- to allow you to live out your life's dream of
          seeing another part of the world. 
               Once you know where you want to go, do extensive
          research on the area.  Call the tourist board and the
          embassy for that country and request all the brochures
          and literature they have available on hotels,
sportation, sightseeing,
          and local customs.  
               Spend a day or two at the library, poring over
          travel guides and reference books.  The best general
          reference guides available include Fielding's, Fodor's,
          and Frommer's (which include the Dollarwise series on
          budget travel).  Also read Lonely Planet's guides and
          the series known as Let's Go.  If your library doesn't
          stock these books, you can order them (as well as a
          catalog of worldwide travel guidebooks) from Forsyth
          Travel Library, 9154 W. 57th St., P.O. Box 2975,
          Shawnee Mission, KS 66201, or the Traveler's Bookstore,
          22 W. 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.
               Also study local maps.  Remember, everyone you
          bring with you will look to you for guidance. 
               Once you've become familiar with your destination,
          pick something unique about it and plan your tour

at theme.  It is easier to sell a tour of the
          stately homes of Britain's aristocracy than it is to
          sell a tour of Britain, period.  Look for a niche in
          the market, something that no one else is doing (or
          doing well). 
               Next, plan your itinerary.  Choose the hotels
          where you would like to stay, and then contact them to
          explain what you want to do.  Ask for special group
          rates and request that you stay free as the tour
               Do the same with the airline you wish to fly. 
          Find out what restrictions are attached to the cheapest
          tickets available.  Usually you have to purchase
          special fare tickets a certain number of days in
          advance.  Other restrictions involve the length of your
          stay and the days of departure and return.  Make sure
          you know about all of this up front.  And again,
          request that y
            Plan some sightseeing and evening entertainment,
          but keep some time open.  Your group will want time to
               Make all of the plans -- but don't make any
          reservations.  At least, not yet.  Wait until you've
          gathered your group together and agreed on a departure
               Next, set a price.  This will be the first
          question you are asked when you approach someone about
          joining you on your grand adventure.  Figure in all of
          your costs (airfare, hotels, ground transportation,
          sightseeing, taxes, departure fees, and any meals that
          you plan to include in the package).  Take this total
          and mark it up as much as you think the market will
          bear.  The lower your costs, the greater your profits. 
          You want to make at least enough to cover all of your
          expenses, including the entire cost of your trip.  Any
 you make beyond that is an added bonus.
          Finding the people
               This brings us to the most difficult part of the
          project: finding the tour participants. 
               The easiest way to do this is to tell everyone you
          know -- everyone you work with, everyone you run into
          at the supermarket, everyone you meet on the subway,
          everyone you play bridge with on Thursday nights --
          that you are planning to lead a seven-day, all-
          inclusive tour of Germany's Bavarian castles (for
          example).  Tantalize them with tales of Mad King
          Ludwig, who built the country's most beautiful castle,
          Neuschwanstein, the turreted, white creation that Walt
          Disney used as a model for Disneyland.  Tell them about
          Linderhof Castle, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where
          the mad king had the dining room built directly above
          the kitche
ed a dining table that
          could be lowered into the kitchen, set by the cooks,
          and then lifted back up to the dining room.  Thus, King
          Ludwig could be waited on at dinner without ever having
          to be bothered by the servants. 
               Once you've got them interested, remind them that
          group travel is always cheaper than going it alone;
          they'll save several hundred dollars at least.  Remind
          them also that group travel is much more hassle-free
          than independent travel.  Tell them that you'll arrange
          everything.  You'll make all the reservations.  You'll
          check on all the train schedules.  You'll offer
          suggestions for good restaurants.  All they have to do
          is enjoy the experience. 
               The other way to find tour participants is to
          advertise for them in travel magazines and newsletters. 
          It doesn't cost much to place a small cl
        Publications to try include:  International Travel
          News, 2120 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818; Transitions
          Abroad, Box 344, Amherst, MA 01004; Travel and Leisure,
          American Express Publishing, 1120 Avenue of the
          Americas, New York, NY 10036; Travel-Holiday, Travel
          Publications Inc., 28 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10010;
          Conde Nast Traveler, Conde Nast Publications, 350
          Madison Ave., New York, NY 10017; National Geographic
          Traveler, National Geographic Society, 17th and M
          streets N.W., Washington, DC 20036; the International
          Herald Tribune, Box 309, 63 Long Acre, London WC2E 9JH,
          England; or the Travel Section of The New York Times,
          229 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036.  You can also
          place ads in your local newspapers.  Make the ad
          simple.  Tell where you're going, when you plan to
          depart, how long you'll be staying, what
     includes, how much it costs, and how to contact you for
          more information. 
               Another easy way to advertise is to put up notes
          on bulletin boards at community centers, colleges, and
          libraries in your area.  Include the same information
          you used in your classified ads.  This may be just as
          effective, and it will cost you nothing. 
               Once responses begin coming in, create a log of
          everyone who has expressed an interest (either as the
          result of an ad or the result of a chance conversation
          at a bus stop).  Contact each person by phone or by
          mail and make a record of the correspondence.  If you
          don't hear back within a couple of weeks, send another
          letter or make another telephone call. 
               When someone does make a reservation, ask him if
          he can suggest anyone else who might be interested. 
          You'll find tha
referrals will be your
          best source of new clients.
          Booking the trip
               Once you have your group together and you have
          determined an itinerary and a departure date, the next
          step is making the reservations.  You can do this in
          two ways: on your own or with the help of a travel
               If you go it alone, all of the profit is yours. 
          If the tour costs you $2,000 per person and you charge
          $3,000 per person, you'll make $1,000 off each tour
          participant.  If you have five people traveling with
          you, that's $5,000.  Assume that you're able to arrange
          for your airfare and accommodations free of charge (as
          the tour leader), and you're way ahead.  You'll spend
          several hundred dollars at your destination on your
          personal expenses; the rest of the $5,000 will be clear
          profit.  Plus,
etting the trip free. 
          Not a bad deal at all. 
               The disadvantage to all of this is that you alone
          are responsible for everything.  If you don't know what
          you're doing -- if you've never dealt with airlines and
          hotel managers and bus drivers and taxi cab drivers and
          translators before -- you might be in for a rude
          awakening.  Your dream trip overseas might turn into
          one huge headache.  It is possible to go it alone.  But
          it may not be practical. 
               So consider affiliating yourself with a travel
          agency.  True, the agency will take its cut of the
          profits -- but in exchange, it will share with you its
          wealth of experience.  It will tell you whether it's
          better to land in Beijing, tour China, and exit through
          Hong Kong or to land in Hong Kong, visit China, and
          return to Hong Kong for the flight home.  It can te
 which Rhine River cruises are a delight and which
          are taking water.  It can help you choose hotels.  It
          can tell you about special health requirements at your
          destination.  It can offer tips on the climate and how
          to dress.  It can tell you whether it's better to take
          a bus at your destination or to hail a taxi. 
               When looking for a travel agency to deal with,
          your first question should be, "What commission do you
          pay to outside agents?" (That is what you will be
          considered.) If the agency won't pay you a commission
          (and a sizeable commission at that) for the business
          you bring in, find another agency. 
               The second most important question involves free
          tickets.  Who gets them?  You or the agency?  Travel
          agents receive free airline tickets and vouchers for
          free hotel stays all the time in exchange for the

ness they bring the airlines and the
          hotels.  But make sure that these tickets are also
          available to outside agents. 
               Ask about other outside agents working for the
          agency.  How many of these agents organize tours?  What
          kinds of tours do they organize? 
               And inquire about support for outside agents. 
          Will you be given a manual?  Reservation forms? 
          Guidebooks?  Will the agency maintain records for you? 
               And shop around.  Don't settle for less than you
          think you should be getting.  If you don't come out of
          the deal with at least a free trip, something's not
          Book with a tour company -- another alternative
               If you're intimidated at the thought of making all
          the arrangements on your own, but you don't like the
          idea of having to share your profits with a travel

e a third alternative.  Decide on the
          tour you want to lead, and then book it through a tour
          company that offers free trips to individuals who
          reserve a certain number of spaces on their package
               Globus-Gateway, 95-25 Queens Blvd., Rego Park, NY
          11374, for example, offers a free trip for anyone who
          books 16 people on any of its tours to Europe and one-
          half off a trip for anyone who books eight people on a
          trip to Europe. 
               Saga Holidays, 120 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02166,
          offers one free trip for 20 bookings.  Destinations
          include Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and South
               Travel Plans International, P.O. Box 3875, Oak
          Brook, IL 60521, offers one free trip for 20 bookings
          on a safari to Africa. 
               Toucan Adventure Tours, 1142 Manhattan Ave., CP
          #416, Manha
66, offers one free trip
          for 12 bookings on a tour to Mexico. 
               Newmans Tours, Suite 305, 10351 Santa Monica
          Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025, offers discounted trips
          for 10 bookings on trips to New Zealand. 
               The following companies also give complimentary
          trips to anyone who signs on five or six other people
          to travel with them: 
               * Ambassadors World, 5601 Roanne Way, Suite 314,
          P.O. Box 9751, Greensboro, NC 27429 
               * Bryan World Tours, P.O. Box 4156, Topeka, KS
               * Friendship Tours Inc., P.O. Box 2526, Shawnee
          Mission, KS 66201 
               * Travel Careers and Tours, P.O. Box 91102,
          International Airport, Los Angeles, CA 90009 
               In addition, almost all major cruise lines offer
          free tickets to anyone who can sign on 15 paying
               Most major tour
e world will
          offer terms very similar to these.  Unlike the American
          companies, most are unwilling to publicly advertise
          their terms.  They want to meet you or discuss the
          situation first, but the net result will invariably be
          along the lines discussed here.  These are practically
          world-wide industry standard compensation rates, and
          not usually negotiable.
          Trip tips
               You and five strangers are sitting in the airport
          lounge.  They answered your ads in travel magazines,
          and now they are counting on you to take them on a
          memorable tour of the castles of Bavaria.  How can you
          make sure that all the tour participants feel like
          they're getting their money's worth -- and still have a
          good time yourself? 
               Well, you will have to work a bit.  After all,
          these people have paid you
are a few
          tips to make sure all goes smoothly. 
               1. Take charge.  The old saying that too many
          cooks spoil the soup applies here.  As the leader, you
          should make all the arrangements and all the
          decisions -- within limits, of course.  Ask for input
          from the group, but don't waste time debating every
               2. Be flexible.  Itineraries are made to be
          broken.  Don't be more concerned about following your
          original schedule than you are about enjoying the trip. 
          Take advantage of opportunities as they present
               3. Make sure that no one feels left out or
          overlooked.  Ask if everyone is comfortable in his
          room.  If his luggage arrived safely.  If there is
          anything special he would like to do or see.  Don't
          ever let anyone eat alone during an unscheduled meal
          (unless he pre
               4. Make time for yourself.  Promise your group
          your undivided attention from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., for
          example, but make everyone know that he's on his own
          after that (except for one planned night out).
          For more information
               For more on traveling as a tour leader, read
          Travel for Fun and Profit by Larry King, available from
          Dreams Unlimited Inc., P.O. Box 20667, Seattle,
          Washington 98102; (206)322-4304.  The cost is $12.95.
          Leading a tour with a twist
               We've a unique suggestion for anyone who loves
          boating, loves to travel, and is ready for a change in
          lifestyle.  It requires a little more commitment and
          investment than organizing a single tour a year, but
          the payoff is potentially much greater as well.  If you
          follow up on our idea, you could
          living -- and spend your days floating down the
          riverways of Burgundy, France. 
               The idea is to lead guided tours of the French
          countryside -- in your own passenger barge.  As we
          mentioned already, this is not something to be
          undertaken lightly.  And it is not something to be
          undertaken by a total novice.  You should have a bit of
          experience in the boating industry. 
               But don't let these words of caution discourage
          you.  This could be the opportunity of a lifetime, a
          chance to live out your dreams. 
               Dennis Sherman did it.  He had been crewing on
          boats, primarily as cook, for years.  Mainly interested
          in barging, his knowledge of the industry served him
          well when it came time to take the plunge and purchase
          his own passenger barge. 
               "The barging industry is small and close- knit,"

.  "If you want to get into it, your best
          source of information, especially about boats for sale,
          is word-of-mouth." 
               Dennis' first piece of advice is that you
          shouldn't try to buy a working barge and convert it
          into a pleasure craft.  Too timely and costly, he says. 
          Neither should you try to build a barge from scratch --
          that is, not unless you have nearly unlimited capital
          to invest. 
               The remaining option is to purchase a barge
          already operating as a pleasure craft.  Without
          contacts in the industry, it's paramount to begin by
          contacting a barge agent.  Dennis recommends Joe
          Parfaitt, Chantier du Nivernais, 89000 Mailly-La-
          Ville, France; tel. (33-86) 40-44-77.  Parfaitt has his
          own shipyard.  In addition to barge sales, he handles
          conversions    When you've found a boat you're
xt step is arranging the
          purchase.  Find an independent lawyer who is
          experienced with Americans doing business overseas. 
          Dennis consulted Catherine Kessedjian, 27 rue des
          Plantes, 75014 Paris, France; tel. (33-1) 45-40-86-27. 
          Experienced with handling the details of setting up a
          corporation in France, according to Dennis, dealing
          with Catherine "is like one-stop shopping," because she
          is capable in all areas. 
               Dennis set up a French corporation to handle the
          barge operation and an American company to handle the
          marketing.  This enabled him, with the barge operating
          under a French corporation, to arrange financing in
               Dennis chose France as his location, because
          that's where the barge that he wanted to buy was
          operating.  But there are other reasons to choose
          France.  The country is
act new small
          business, and therefore, any new venture in France is
          eligible for tax-free status for the first three years
          and considerable tax breaks the next two years.
          The capital investment
               How much does a venture such as this cost?  Dennis
          estimates $250,000, including purchase of the barge,
          any improvements, first-year operating expenses, and
          professional fees.  True, that's hardly free.  But
          think of the return.  And after the initial investment
          is made, if your barge company is successful, you'll
          not only be able to travel the French countryside for
          free for the rest of your life, but you'll also have a
          comfortable annual income.  And the equity in the
               Dennis' barge, called the Papillon, travels the
          Burgundy region of France.  Spring and early summer, it
          cruises in
 June, the barge moves to
          the tree-lined waters of the Burgundy Canal; in late
          summer, it cruises the River Seine and the Canal du
          Centre, through the heart of the vineyards of Santenay;
          in the fall, the barge heads back to the Nivernais.  It
          makes one-week cruises for a 33-week season.

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