Frequently Asked Questions
General Company Questions
Q: Can you white-label your services and documents for my brand?
A: Absolutely. Because we work with the travel trade, we are very accustomed to white labeling our services for our partners. If requested, proposals, signage, and customer communications can all be exclusively branded with your company’s information and logo. Please note that you can export PDFs of our sample itineraries and experience menus from our website and– as long as you have a logo uploaded– the resulting files will always be white-labeled.
Q: Are you part of any consortia?
A: Yes. We are proud to be an approved on-site/destination partner/DMC for Virtuoso, Signature, Travel Leaders, American Express Crafted Journeys, Traveller Made and Ensemble.
Q: How do I sign up for an account on your website? What about your mailing list?
A: We recommend that travel professionals sign up for an agent account on our website, which provides access to our online inquiry form and extensive training materials. We recommend each individual advisor sign up for their own account and add their logo when they sign up, so that you can send clients white-labeled sample itineraries with your name/email address listed. Typically, you will be approved for your account within 24 business hours and will receive an email indicating your account has been approved. If you require urgent approval please call us during business hours to expedite the approval process.
Q: Can I book your tours or hotels online?
A: Unfortunately, you cannot book any services online, because all our programs are individually customized by our travel designers. Please submit your request using our online inquiry form or alternatively, email us at [email protected]
Q: I would like to promote or market your itineraries and products to my clients. Can you help with high resolution pictures or sample itineraries?
A: Absolutely. Please email [email protected] and a member of our marketing team will be in touch.
Q: Where do you work? In what areas are you the strongest?
A: Excursionist operates throughout the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. You can see a full list of the destinations where we work on our website. Because we support a diverse array of domestic and international clients whose trips combine several destinations, we are very strong in both urban and outdoor destinations and have local experts on the ground everywhere we work. In terms of volume, our top destinations have traditionally been California, Hawaii, Alaska, America’s National Parks, The Canadian Rockies, British Columbia, New England, Eastern Canada and the South, but we have been operating in 200+ destinations for over 10 years.
Q: What destinations or types of products do you not sell?
A: Excursionist only operates in destinations where we have expertise on the ground and have inspected and vetted the products we sell. There are still some destinations in North America and the Caribbean that we do not yet sell, but please let us know if you are seeing demand and we can explore adding them to our product offerings. Excursionist also does not operate set departure groups, where clients who do not know each other travel together. We also do not offer hunting trips or visits to large marine mammal eco parks.
Q: If there is a specific experience that is not on your website, can you book it for me?
A: Our product team is able to source and customize special request experiences that do not appear on our website for your clients. Please do allow for extra time to ensure we can develop and customize this experience. Please submit your request using our online inquiry firm or alternatively, email us at [email protected]
Q: Do you book group tours or transport where the client is sharing with strangers?
A: Currently, due to COVID-19 concerns, Excursionist is only offering private touring and transportation, where the guests do not share a tour, excursion or transport with any strangers. From time to time, a service may only be possible with a small group and Excursionist will specify the group size and safety measures in place and ensure that the guests are made aware of these circumstances early on in the booking process.
Q: Do you offer any set departures?
A: Unfortunately, we do not. Excursionist does not operate any set departures where clients buy-in to a group of strangers traveling on a set date. All of our programs are individually designed and customized for a client traveling in their own group, whether a couple, family, or corporate group.
Q: Can you book the touring if I book the accommodations myself?
A: Unfortunately, in most cases, we require that all accommodations are booked through Excursionist and we do not typically offer ground services without accompanying accommodations. This is to ensure a seamless travel experience for the client. Excursionist has excellent rates with our preferred hotel partners and we will always disclose the advisor source of the booking to the hotel.
Q: Can you just book a hotel for my client without other services?
A: Of course! While Excursionist provides the most value when booking full programs with touring and multiple components/services, we are able to just book one or more of our partner hotels for your clients and can often extend excellent rates to you.
Q: Will you book hotels that are not partners of yours and/or not on your website?
A: Yes, we can book non-partner hotels and hotels that are not featured on our website. If we have not inspected the property or have concerns about the quality or service, we will be upfront with you that we cannot guarantee the guest experience. In many cases, we will still be able to provide excellent rates. However, we will be absolutely transparent in instances where we cannot offer competitive rates due to the accommodation in question not working with any travel industry partners.
Q: Do you only support five-star hotels and luxury trips?
A: While we are flexible with budgets, please keep in mind that Excursionist is a luxury travel company and that most of our hotel partners are five-star luxury properties. We only offer privately guided tours, and work only with the highest quality expert guides and vendors, focusing on expertise, service and most of all, client safety. We are certainly not the least expensive option. That said, Excursionist does work with a number of boutique, high-quality four-star properties. We have also developed more affordable, high-quality touring options for premium clientele. In some key destinations, such as the national parks, where luxury hotels are not available, we can and do book more standard hotels for our clients.
Q: Can you book motorhomes and RVs?
A: Excursionist can book many types of transportation, including luxury motorhomes and luxury rental cars, as part of a full program. Excursionist does not book motorhomes or other transportation without additional services.
Q: Can you book rental homes and villas?
A: Excursionist has a limited portfolio of villas and estate properties that we have inspected and stand behind. Our collection of villas and estates can be viewed on our website. We can provide excellent rates to you for these properties and they can be booked on their own, without additional services. If you or your client are looking for a property in a destination where we operate but do not currently have villas listed on our website, we may be able to source a villa or estate, provided that the guests are looking for a full program with additional included services such as touring, chefs, concierge support and more. We do not book villas or estates in destinations where we do not operate other services.
Q: Do you book air?
A: We do not book commercial air and rely on clients or their travel agents to manage their airfare. We are able to book charter aircraft like private jets, helicopters, and smaller planes and can offer very competitive rates on such services.
Q: Do you support corporate groups?
A: Yes! Excursionist has a separate groups department and has successfully operated hundreds of private groups ranging from 10 to 750 guests. We specialize in small private family groups, corporate incentive programs, and corporate board retreats and meetings that involve leisure activities. You can learn more about our groups programs here.
Q: Can you help me create a sell-in group or set departure for a trip I am marketing?
A: Excursionist only books custom groups where there is one client paying for the group and signing a group contract. We do not typically support sell-in groups, where a potential trip is being marketed to individuals to book a spot. In some cases, we are able to make a case-by-case exception to this policy, but in such cases, we do require a substantial non-refundable planning fee upfront.
Q: Do you have sample itineraries that I can send to my client?
A: Yes. We have created an extensive portfolio of sample itineraries that you can download as a PDF with your logo and send directly to clients. These are meant to just be samples and can be customized to your needs, dates, and budget.
Q: You have “Signature Tours” on your website. What does this indicate?
A: Signature Tours are our most popular tours and experiences for which have standardized pricing and general availability. We are typically able to include these tours in a proposal and provide pricing for the program within 48 business hours of your initial request.
Q: Do you quote NET or commissionable? How much is your standard commission?
A: We are able to quote either NET or commissionable rates, based on your preference. With NET quotes, you can mark up the rates that we provide you and obtain payment from your client before paying Excursionist. With commissionable quotes, we typically quote a gross package price and take payment from the client directly, then pay you a commission after the trip has traveled. Our commission rate varies depending on the destination and complexity of the trip. Our standard commission rate is 10% on the full package including taxes and fees, which often represents a much higher figure than if you were to book through the same vendors directly.
Q: If I am part of a consortia, will my consortia amenities be honored?
A: Typically, we can typically include most amenities, but not all of them. With our consortia partners, we generally include breakfast in every quote as well are able to obtain upgrades and early/late check-ins based upon availability.
Q: How much do your programs cost? Do you have a general price per person or per day for your programs?
A: The per person price varies greatly depending on the destination, season and hotel choice, but generally our programs range from $750 to $2,000 per person per day (based on double occupancy) including accommodations, tours and transportation. Of course in some cases, the amounts can be higher or slightly lower.
Q: Do you have a minimum spend? Do you charge a planning fee?
A: Excursionist does not typically require a minimum spend for a program, as long as the request includes at least two nights of accommodations with one of our partner hotels. We very rarely charge a planning fee– only in cases where we are developing a complex proposal that requires an extraordinary amount of product research during the planning process. This planning fee is typically non-refundable but is applied to the cost of the program if it successfully books. Excursionist does charge a travel services fee on all booked programs– ranging from $250 to $1,000 per trip– based on the complexity of the trip, group size, length of trip and level of requested client communication. The services included in this fee are as follows:Pre-Departure Services
- Pre-Departure Call: Under 7 days out the lead traveler will be provided a phone consultation with their Travel Coordinator to discuss trip expectations and review their itinerary.
- Quality Assurance: Excursionist Travel Coordinator will provide at least 2 quality assurance calls pre-departure with all hotels and vendors to review arrival times, client preferences (level of difficulty, weather considerations) and request upgrades and early check-ins when available.
- Dining Assistance: Provide customized dining recommendations and COVID-related updates on changes to hotel/restaurant policies. This includes booking restaurants, nightlife and entertainment prior to departure.
- 24/7 Emergency Support: All communication will be handled via text, WhatsApp or phone calls (client preference). This is to provide support on questions and concerns including on weather, driving directions, items to bring, etc.
- Last Minute Services: Booking last-minute services such as dining, entertainment and additional experiences and activities as well as last-minute changes to activity timings and arrivals.
- Daily communication (based on client preference): Daily texts or calls for reminders of activity times, weather reminders, etc.
- Quality Control: Coordination with all guides, drivers and other service providers to ensure a seamless experience.
Safety, Security and Financial Stability Questions
Q: How do you vet your suppliers, guides and hotel partners?
A: Excursionist’s product team travels throughout North America to find new partners and review existing partners in order to ensure quality. Our team usually stays at our preferred hotel partners to ensure that quality, service, health and safety standards are being met. Additionally, we attempt to inspect all of the tours, excursions, transportation providers and experiences that we offer to check for quality, safety and service. Our product team utilizes an extensive checklist to review each vendor and only adds vendors who conform to our strict guidelines. Vendors are then re-checked every 1-2 years. Excursionist continually collects and monitors feedback from traveling clients; vendors that receive negative feedback are thoroughly investigated.
Q: What are you doing to keep guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: The health, safety and security of our clients has always been our first priority. Excursionist follows the World Tourism and Trade Council's (WTTC) COVID-19 guidelines and our full COVID policy can be viewed here.
Q: Do you have financial security during these uncertain times? What about liability insurance?
A: Excursionist is a privately held company and is financially stable and healthy. We have the best, low-risk rating possible for a travel company with Dunn & Bradstreet. We are a licensed seller of travel in Florida and carry a surety bond, as well as a $5 million umbrella liability policy. We hold letters of credit with suppliers to guarantee payments and are regularly stress tested by our consortia partners, banking and merchant credit institutions.
Questions about Submitting an Inquiry
Q: What is the best way to submit an inquiry to you?
A: The most effective way to submit an inquiry is through our website inquiry form located here. This method guarantees the quickest response and ensures that your information is properly logged into our system. You can also email us at [email protected] to submit an inquiry. We typically reply within 4 business hours to acknowledge we have received your inquiry and to ask any additional questions so we can assign it to the proper travel designer on our team.
Q: What information do you require in the initial inquiry?
A: The more information you can provide in your initial inquiry, the faster we are able to respond and put together a customized program for your client. The key pieces of information that we require are located on our website inquiry form. We always require the client name, dates of departure, and a clear budget; we cannot begin a proposal without this information.
Q: What if I would prefer to speak to someone on the phone rather than submit an email or web request?
A: No problem. Please email us at [email protected] or call us during business hours at +1-646-429-0899 and someone from our team will assist you in scheduling some time to speak with either our senior travel manager or vice president of operations. Someone might not be available to speak with you right away so we ask that you are patient with us in scheduling the call to ensure you have the expert on our team to properly discuss your request.
Q: How long should I expect before someone replies to my inquiry?
A: Typically, if you have submitted your request during normal business hours, (Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm, eastern time) you will receive an email on the same day from one of our travel designers acknowledging your request and requesting any other information we may need to continue with a quote. Once we have all the information we need, we begin to develop a quote. Usually we provide an outline and high-level budget to be sure we are quoting the most appropriate program.
Q: Can you have a call with my client?
A: Absolutely, we can certainly schedule a call to have one of our experts speak with you and your client at the same time. We typically do not schedules calls with clients without their travel advisor present, as we prefer for you stay involved throughout all stages of the booking process.
The Proposal Process Questions
Q: How long will it take for you to get me a proposal?
A: For standard programs based on our sample itineraries or those that include only signature tours, we can provide you with a detailed written proposal including touring descriptions and a price quote within 48 business hours of receiving all of the information that we require upfront. Sometimes with unique customized experiences, we must await confirmation of availability from one of our expert guides and a proposal may accordingly take longer to put together. With hotels and touring vendors being understaffed recently, response times have become lengthier.
Q: Will you break down or itemize rates?
A: We prefer to work in a package price in order to provide you with the highest commission, but if requested upfront, we are happy to provide a detailed breakdown of costs. In some limited circumstances that depend on the destination, complexity of services or nature of the trip (i.e. special event), we may not be able to provide a full itemization, but will let you know up front. We do always include a travel services fee and will detail it when we provide an itemized break-down.
Q: What does the proposal look like? Do you work with Axus?
A: Our proposals are developed in our proprietary system with images and tour descriptions and can be sent in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF formats, depending on your preference. We typically can include both the Excursionist logo and your logo, or alternatively completely white label the proposal with your logo. Initial proposals will not be possible in AXUS, but we are working to integrate final documents with AXUS by the end of 2020.
Q: Will you hold rooms and tours automatically?
A: Unfortunately, due to the policies of most of our hotel and touring partners in North America and the Caribbean, we are unable to automatically hold rooms when we send you a proposal. If there is extremely limited availability, we will inform you to ensure that your client can make a timely decision. If you feel your clients are close to making a final decision and providing payment, we can request our partner hotels and tours to hold availability for a limited time, typically 24 hours.
Q: How long are your rates valid?
A: All cost proposals are only valid at the time of quote, and subject to change based on the dynamic pricing of our vendors. Many hotels now only offer dynamic pricing, which changes daily. If your clients are serious about proceeding with a program, please let us know so we can let our vendors know and lock-in a rate for 24-48 hours.
Booking Process and Payment Questions
Q: Do you require a deposit?
A: Yes. We typically require a deposit of 20% of the total program price, paid at the time of booking. This is because our agreements with our vendors requires that we pay them a deposit to confirm and book availability. Sometimes, our vendor payment terms require a larger deposit amount and this will be specified when we send the cost proposal and detailed in our invoice.
Q: How do you take payment?
A: Excursionist can take payment from your client and pay you a commission OR take a NET payment from your company and you take payment from your client and mark-up the services. We are able to take payment via American Express, Mastercard, Visa, wire transfer or check. Additional processing charges may be included depending on the payment type and your consortium affiliation.
Q: What is your cancellation policy?
A: Our standard cancellation policies as well as our terms and conditions can be found here. Currently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also instituted amended cancellation policies and terms, which can be accessed here. We will always include our terms and conditions and cancellation policies when sending a proposal and also include a link to them in our invoice. Your clients are also required to sign our Terms and Conditions and Waiver policies prior to travel via an online form.
Q: When do you pay commissions?
A: If you are not working with us on a NET arrangement, we always process commissions within 5 business days of the trip completion date. This allows us to have time to process any additional commissions due you for trip add-ons and also deal with any potential discrepancies or issues.
Q: What information will you need from your guests prior to travel?
A: We require all guests to submit an online Traveler Information and Waiver Form prior to travel. This form collects key information on each traveler including contact information, dietary requirements and weights, etc. The form also includes our standard waiver which protects Excursionist and its travel agency partners in terms of traveler liability. Each individual traveler must complete and submit their own form and a separate form must be completed by a parent or guardian for any travelers under 18 years old. All information is submitted securely through the Smartwaiver platform and never shared with any third parties.
Q: We would like to book restaurant reservations, tee-times, and/or entertainment prior to departure. Can you assist with this?
A: Absolutely. We are able to assist with all aspects of the trip as part of our travel services fee. These can be booked prior to departure, or we can assist in real-time during travel.
Q: When will my client get their documentation? Do you do paper documents?
A: After final payment has been collected, typically 30 days prior to departure, we will provide a final itinerary which includes tour times and all details needed for the trip. This document is typically a PDF or Word document and provided digitally. In urgent cases, we are able to arrange for a paper copy of the itinerary to be presented to the clients upon arrival at their first hotel.
Q: Will you provide me all the guide and tour contact numbers and confirmation numbers?
A: Typically, we do include hotel confirmation numbers and key addresses in final itineraries but do not include guide and transport numbers. One of our Travel Coordinators is always on hand as the single point of contact for all of the client's questions. They will connect the client to their guides vendors during the trip to ensure the smoothest experience.
Q: Is there a time we can go over the final itinerary with the client before travel?
A: When your clients receive their final itinerary documents, a Travel Coordinator will be assigned to the clients and will be their 24/7 virtual concierge during their trip. We always invite clients to join an introductory phone call with their assigned Travel Coordinator to review the itinerary and resolve any questions or concerns prior to departure. This ensures the most seamless travel experience.
Questions During Travel
Q: If a guest has a question about a service while they are traveling, who should they contact?
A: All Excursionist client will be provided with their Travel Coordinator’s phone number and WhatsApp in their final itinerary documents. They may feel free to contact their coordinator at any time during their trip with any questions or concerns.
Q: Do you have an emergency line?
A: Yes. If for any reason they cannot reach their coordinator, our 24/7 emergency line is always monitored and can be reached at +1 646-992-6990.
Q: I want to book additional services during a trip, can you help? Can you include a commission on these services?
A: Yes. Your travel coordinator can assist in booking additional services during the trip. Unless you instruct us otherwise, we will quote you a price at that time and collect payment via a secure credit card link. We will include your agreed-upon commission and pay it with all commissions due after travel.