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The MiniGroup Plan

Contents

 

You have already read about our “normal” tours. However,  from time to time we're getting approached about trips for smaller groups. Seven persons perhaps. Or eight. Two families teaming up, for example. Some friends who've always wanted to travel together. Small church groups. Whoever.

For those folks we have done some fresh research into travel opportunities. And have come up with the MiniGroup Plan.

 

The basic idea

We get a 9-seater minivan, put one of our "usual" guides on it to drive - you fill the remaining 8 seats. And off you go…

Easy! But let's look at the details:

 
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The vehicle

We use e.g. Mercedes Minivan "Sprinter" with 9 seats including driver, i.e. there can be a maximum of 8 passengers. This vehicle has an extended length so there's plenty of storage room for one big suitcase per person plus hand luggage plus even the shopping that no doubt will accumulate.

We rent this vehicle from a specialized company who pride themselves in their new and well-maintained vans.

Tour Transport Van

One nice point about the van in comparison to a "big" bus: the van goes faster. About 30% faster, to be exact. Another nice point is that it's very maneuverable: no bridges too low, no weight limits holding us back, parking in normal parking spots. Let's just move…

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Driver and guide

You've guessed right - it's the same person! So while Guido  may have taken you - and 39 others - around German Christmas Markets in December, he's ready to become your private chauffeur-guide in May.

All our guides have had driving licenses for donkey's years, and are extremely familiar with the traffic situation in Germany and bordering countries. In addition they have all passed an extensive medical test pertaining to driving a vehicle with passengers.Gummibear Sweets

However, some things will be slightly different. For example, while traveling your driver-guide will not come around to offer you gummi bears. The gummi bears will come. But not your guide  - for obvious reasons. Also, while driving your guide will perhaps avoid lengthy explanations. Instead there will be a daily "breakfast briefing" when your guide will introduce you to the next 12 hours that lie ahead while you enjoy your Brötchen.

At times, our own tapes will be used to introduce you to a city or area as you approach it. Nevertheless a PA system will be there. And if there's really something important to talk about we'll just pull into the nearest rest stop, sit on a park bench together and talk with you about it.


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Route

In principle, there are no limitations. The minibus can take you anywhere within the European Union and Switzerland. However, as is the case with "big" tours, the route needs to be carefully planned, accommodation secured and research into special events made. And as this will probably be the trip of your lifetime, it deserves ample planning time. Start talking to us 8 to 12 months ahead of time as no doubt a lot of details will have to be worked out

 
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Hotels

When we started to talk to our “usual” hotels about these much smaller MiniGroups, they understood immediately and offered us the same group rates that we get for our big groups. This makes the plan really viable. In addition to that, and with the tremendous flexibility that such a small vehicle offers, we will at times also shop a round in the vicinity

German family hotel

of the respective place - and find a small charming place.One of those  tens of thousands of places in Europe - very cute, very cozy, very original - that we would have loved to use for a "big group" but never could - simply because they just didn't have enough beds.

 

So... expect to find yourself in one of those - feather beds and all…

Hotel room

At any rate you will receive detailed information on the places we suggest, a long time ahead. Either in the form of brochures, or of their web site addresses. 

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Treats and handouts

There will be the usual handouts like a tour booklet, maps, brochures etc. And the usual goodies for you to try. In fact you’ll luck out in this respect as most  of the “famous boxes” contain by far more than 8 pieces…
 

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Included admission fees

We thought about this long and hard. And decided it would be best not to include admission fees at all. Our reasoning is this: with a group size like 8 or 9 no group discounts can be obtained anyway (but OAP/senior citizen’s  discounts may still apply, by the way.) Therefore the main reason to include admission fees in a tour package is no longer there. Instead we’ll provide a list of sights with their respective admission fees; we’ll take you there; the rest is up to you. For why should you go into Neuschwanstein Castle once again if you’ve already seen it twice before. Or why would we take you by cable car up a mountain peak if it rains – something we have to do once it has been included in the price. So such a system gives the flexibility to almost decide on the spot whether or not to go and visit a scheduled place, e.g. depending on local conditions, or where to go instead. All with the understanding that there is an agreed list of suggested places, and there is no deviation from this unless everybody is happy with it.

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Included dinners

While no dinner discounts can be obtained for such a small group in restaurants, when we use the Gasthaus type of place (which as a rule has a restaurant attached to it) we can still obtain very favorable demi-pension deals that include a proper evening meal.

For the nights where no dinner is included your driver-guide will make plenty of suggestions. He/she will also be happy to  come along with you and help bridge the language gap. This system gives the great opportunity to adapt the dinner schedule to individual tastes and appetites.

Typical hotel dining room

What we’re very excited about is the fact that with such an open dinner plan  we can take you to places we would normally not even consider for „big groups“: budget hole-in-the-walls like Turkish Döner Kebabs; a crazy Italian pizzeria in Munich where everybody throws the paper place mats on the floor after usage; or a tiny „Ma ‚n‘ Pa“ restaurant where Ma just happens to make the best Sauerbraten within a hundred miles radius…

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The package price

This was the biggest surprise we had: budgeting a trip as described above, and based on 8 passengers, we arrived at a package price per person that came very close to the price based on 35 (!) passengers for a comparable „big“ tour. We couldn’t believe it at first.

Let’s give you an example: a tour based on 35 passengers with 10 overnights covering the Rhine, Heidelberg, the Black Forest, Lucerne, Liechtenstein, Innsbruck/Austria and Bavaria with excursions to Munich, Salzburg and Rothenburg, inclusive of admissions and seven scheduled dinners, will cost in the vicinity of 130 EURO per person and overnight.

The same tour, based on the MiniGroup Plan, sells for these prices:

With 8 passengers: 134 EURO per person and overnight With 7 passengers: 146 EURO per person and overnight With 6 passengers: 163 EURO per person and overnight With 5 passengers: 185 EURO per person and overnight

So you see that the price per person on an 8-person MiniGroup is only insignificantly more expensive than that of a “large” group with 35 passengers. What’s the secret?

Well, as you can see the MiniGroup price is very sensitive to numbers of passengers. While it is very reasonable with 8 or perhaps 7 passengers, it then starts to skyrocket quickly. Of course it helps to exclude admission fees and maybe some dinners. So does the fact that there are no freebies to be covered. A small vehicle is of course infinitely cheaper than a big bus. Expenses for a separate driver are saved completely. And last but not least, we brought our own margin dramatically down, too. For we’d rather have you over here in small numbers than dreaming big dreams about big groups – while you’re staying at home.

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In conclusion

Compared to a "big" tour, the MiniGroup concept is much more flexible, and more things can be done that would normally not be possible with a large group. Many ideas come to mind: Kegeln - the German way of bowling; picnics; cultural events like concerts etc. ... and much more, even considering private visits in people's homes. However, persons on such a trip will be close together, and probably become much closer during the trip still. So it would be a good idea if travelers knew one another beforehand and were sure (as sure as one can be about these things) they will be able to get along well.

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