It’s hard to avoid seeing this everywhere nowadays. VALUE is the new buzzword. As economic realities impact our priorities and aspirations, people are looking everywhere for value, especially in the products and services they purchase.
We don’t believe value is the same as low price. Quality is a large part of value. Think about the last time you bought a cheap tool or other consumer product which quickly failed, probably before you completed the task for which you purchased it. Low price? Sure. Value? None, unless you enjoy frustration.
Value has been part of our philosophy since CycleItalia’s inception in 1998. Our first website’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page listed then, as it does now, this question and answer at the top of the page —
Q: There are a lot of our tour companies out there, what makes you different?
A: Two things: Passion and VALUE.
Our clients have overwhelmingly and consistently, throughout our more than fourteen year history, rated us 4 or 5 out of a possible 5 in our post-tour evaluation surveys in the combined price/quality/value category.
What makes a CycleItalia vacation such a consistently excellent value?
Major airport pickup/dropoff. We (or our hotel shuttle) will pick you up at either Rome’s or Milan’s airport both at the start and end of your vacation. You won’t spend time, money and energy trying to find the starting point of your tour in some tiny Italian village, often dragging a bike box and your luggage onto a train or bus to get there. Any extra luggage you might need before or after your time with us can be safely stored at our HQ hotel until you need it.
All lodging is included. This sounds obvious, but check the day-by-day itineraries of our competitors carefully as some will end your tour at 6 pm on the tour’s final day. It’s very difficult to arrange an afternoon flight home so you’ll likely need an extra night’s lodging — at your expense, along with dinner and perhaps a taxi ride to the airport the next morning.
Most dinners are included. Almost every biketour operation takes care of your daily breakfast and nowadays most are substantial offerings. Lunches are most often left up to individual preference and budget. A major difference is the quality and quantity of the group dinner offerings. At CycleItalia, we offer a full-course (appetizer, first and second plates, plus side dish and dessert) meal on our first evening at each new hotel, leaving you the second evening to decide on your own style (and expense) of meal. Perhaps on that second night you just want a pizza, salad and a beer? No problem, though in some areas where the sole dining option is our hotel, we happily include another sumptuous dinner of the regional specialties. Both a welcome and farewell dinner are included on every guided tour, often with a sparkling wine toast to start the festivities.
Wine is included. This is another subject that should be obvious, especially when the tour company promotional materials feature photos of smiling clients toasting with a local vino. Many tour operations do NOT provide any alcoholic beverages at any time. Some will have a “wine kitty” and ask you to contribute to the cost of wine with dinner, while others will add the price of your bottle to your hotel “extras” bill. We pride ourselves in offering local wine selections specifically chosen to match the regional specialties we enjoy, some of them may be wines too rare to be exported!
Your choice of bicycles. Bring yours, or rent one of ours; either way we make it easy. Major airport access makes it easy to bring your own bike. We’ll help you assemble and fine-tune it upon arrival. Or rent one of our Torelli bikes, often for less than airlines will charge to fly yours over as part of your checked luggage. Operations that include the use of a bike in their tour price often have no provisions for storing or transporting your bike case if you bring your own bike, and may not be able to offer any assistance with assembly and fine-tuning.
A seat in the van for everyone. This is another feature that would seem obvious but many of our competitors support a tour of 15-30 cyclists with just one or two vehicles. Once YOU have found their HQ in some tiny Italian village, your tour starts there with everyone on their bikes right away. Perhaps one van takes the luggage directly to the next hotel while the other acts as a “SAG Wagon”. This is fine– until it starts raining or more cyclists than they have seats decide they’ve had enough riding for the day. CycleItalia provides a seat in a support vehicle for every client and a maximum group size of just 10 so you at most any time can decide you’ve had enough cycling fun for the day and hop in the van.
Ample cycling opportunities. 100 kilometers (60 miles) on average is standard for each day with CycleItalia, making sure even the fittest and fastest cyclists get satisfied while the rest of us have many options, including shorter loops on the days we return to the same hotel. Distances on first and last days which require van transfers may be shorter, but they’ll be challenging enough not to leave you wanting more.
No tipping! Many of our competitors rely on the American model when it comes to their staff, meaning they pay a low, subsistence wage and let them rely on tips from the clients for their real compensation. Some of them include this policy in their fine print and state you’ll be asked to “tip” the staff 5-10% of your tour price in cash at vacation’s end. CycleItalia follows the European model, where everyone we deal with receives fair compensation for their services and no tips are necessary – or accepted.