5 Steps to Finding Your Perfect Bus Tour

Planning a trip can be exhausting. You finally decided to take a bus tour, which include the transportation, hotels, a well-planned itinerary, plus a travel expert who have the insider scoop and will guide you through the journey.

Nice, isn’t it? You get on the bus, put down your luggage, kick back, and someone will take care of the rest. However, before getting on the bus, there is some homework for you to do. We have designed a five-step guide for you to easily find your perfect bus tour.

1. Going through a Travel Agency.

This is a world of collaboration. Instead of hitting tens and hundreds of different tour operators, a smart way will be going through a travel agency where you can compare all the tour itineraries, schedules and prices all in one stop. Online travel agencies have gone a long way to make it easy for travelers to search their trips efficiently by key words, times and locations. A lot of times travel agencies also offer additional discounts and promotional vacation packages for those who travel on a tight budget.

2. Knowing your Limits.

Before planning for a trip, ask yourself some questions: Where does the trip start? For how many days? Where are the places you want to visit? And how much do you plan to spend without breaking your bank? Most of the online travel sites allow travelers to search for trips by using the 3 Ds: Departure, Destination, and Duration.

Another question that is commonly neglected by travelers is “How intense the bus tour you want it to be?” Do you want to visit lots of places in a weekend getaway, or you want to take it slow by staying in one place? With an escorted tour, visiting a lot of attractions in a short amount of time maybe perfect for those who want to get the most out of their journey; however, not so much for those who prefer to relax and take their time. If you’re not sure about the intensity of the tour, pick up your phone and call the agency to talk to a real person.

3. What is Included?

As the travel industry gets fiercely competitive, travel agencies are tightening their margins to attract more customers. It is not uncommon for travelers to find too-good-to-be-true travel deals with a little extra time and effort researching online. However, what you see is not always what you get. For a bus tour, transportation and accommodation are almost always included. Other factors you might want to take into account include: Does the tour provide airport/hotel pick-up? Which attractions are paid for and which ones are optional (admission fees not included)? Is the travel insurance included? What hotels are you staying in?

4. What Language Do You Speak?

This one seems obvious but is neglected very often. Most of travel agencies in the U.S. require tour guides who speak English. However, there are many tours out there that are guided by people who speak multiple languages. It is not uncommon to find someone who is trilingual and can guide a tour in fluent English, Spanish, and Chinese. For those who speak English as a second language, it could be nice to find a tour that is guided in your mother tongue. On the other hand, if you prefer the tour guide to speak one language instead of switching among five other languages, you might want to avoid multiple language tours.

5. Rules, Rules, Rules

Is there a refund policy? What is the cancellation policy? Do they take credit card or check? Visit the website and understand the legal aspect of the agency will not only protect you for your rights, but also give you some ideas of when and how you want to book a tour.

Afterall, knowing what to expect and plan ahead is always the safest way to enjoy your trip!

For more information about escorted bus tours and great travel deals, visit GotoBus.com, a leading online travel agency offers bus tours and vacation packages throughout more than 200 operators in the U.S. and Canada.

As Featured On Ezine Articles

Customer Feedback: New York to Washington D.C. 2 Day Tour

This is an email from one of our customers who took the NYC to DC two day tour.

“Hello, I would like to thank you very much for the tour to Washington DC last weekend. It was really great. Everything was organized very well. The tour guide (Steve) gave us a lot of interesting information, the pace and the timing were perfect. Thanks once more.”

Please find more information about our NYC to Washington D.C. 2 Day Tour, $85, at: http://www.gotobus.com/cs/c128/newyorktowashingtondc2_daytour.html

Again, thanks Steve and all our terrific tour guides who take pride in their work and try their best to give our customers a lifelong experience. 🙂

Customer Feedback: NYC-Niagara Falls-Washington D.C. 3 Day Tour

I will start posting some feedback from our customers and so you can get some insider scoop of our tours! 😀

“Dear Sir/Madam:
I must comment on the most enjoyable trip with your company on 23rd to 25th of April to Washington and Niagra Falls with yor company. Could you pass on our thanks to Jason the courier and the driver, they both did a tremendous job. The hotels were exellent, we couldn`t have asked for better. There was only one fault and that was with the bus, there were a couple of windows that were misted over due to the seals being broken and this did effect the views from the bus when travelling. Apart from this the tour was previously stated extremely good and value for money.”

The tour is a three-day tour from NYC to Niagara Falls and Washington D.C., $155. It is one of our most popular tours. For more information, please see the URL: http://www.gotobus.com/cs/c693/nyctoniagarafalls_dc3_daytour.html

And Jason, you are the star.

GotoBus Named Best of the Web in Washington Post

CAMBRIDGE, MA, February 28, 2007. On February 4, Sunday Edition, The Washington Post featured GotoBus.com, along with Hotels.com, Kayak.com, Mapquest.com and TripAdvisor.com, as the best travel websites.

In particular, GotoBus.com was named the best website in the “Motorcoaches” category, topping grayline.com, greyhound.com and trailways.com. The Washington Post indicates that online travel bookings hit $85 billion last year and this year are expected to account for more than half of all U.S. travel bookings.

GotoBus.com was officially launched at the end of January 2006, replacing IvyMedia.com, to better reflect the core business of the company: selling bus tickets and bus tours online. IvyMedia.com started to sell bus tickets and bus tours since 2002.

Jimmy Chen, President of IvyMedia Corporation/GotoBus.com, is pleased with the recognition from the major US news organization: “Despite of a glitch discovered by The Washington Post, they rank GotoBus.com as the best website in the ‘Motorcoaches’ category. As we are encouraged by this recognition, we will continue to improve our services to provide better value to our customers and travel suppliers.” GotoBus.com is the leading online ticketing company for bus-related travel.

To find out more information about the top travel websites in various categories, please visit: Original Washington Post Article or Re-post by Delaware Online.

About GotoBus

GotoBus is the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours. The GotoBus online booking system is similar to those used by major airlines, and makes it easy for travelers to quickly compare schedules, prices, and pickup/drop-off locations for over 100 bus companies throughout the United States and Canada. GotoBus.com is the fastest growing gateway for bus travel on the Internet today.

For more information contact: marketing at gotobus dot com or 1-617-354-2101.

Gambling (and Shopping) Getaways!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Don’t have a car? Try a single-day bus package that provides round-trip transportation: great for a care-free day of casino fun or outlet mall deals.

In the Boston area, the perfect opportunities are a casino package to Mohegan Sun or a shopping trip to Wrentham Village Premium Outlets.

For the shoppers and bargain hunters, if you’re tired of the same old shopping scene with the same stores carrying the same merchandise (and prices) in the immediate Boston area, take a trip to Wrentham’s outlet mall. You will “find savings of 25% to 65% every day” from 170 brand names all in one place, and the “New England style village” provides a pet-friendly outdoor breath of air between stores. Lockers as well as stroller rentals are available. You’ll be able to spend a full day here, too, because the food court, Friendly’s, Ruby Tuesday, and The Village Café are all right on the premises. Other restaurants such as Cracker Barrel and Uno are just down street.

Requiring a 45 minute drive from Boston, Wrentham’s outlet mall is the closest to Boston of its type. The mall is well worth the drive for many shoppers and deal-seekers. Why not take the round-trip bus ride for a comfortable, care-free trip and avoid the hassle of traffic and parking.

To see trip details, or to just book it, Click Here!

If you want to gamble, or if you’re just looking for a place to hang out, find a little entertainment, and have some great food, a casino bus package may be the thing for you. Purchasing the Mohegan Sun casino travel package provides you round-trip transportation, “a bonus of $20 towards bets, and a $15 dining certificate towards Mohegan Sun’s vast choice of fine restaurants.” So even if you don’t have the income to gamble, you can still have a little fun with that $20 bonus. But if you’re just not the gambling type, Mohegan Sun has many other distractions, such as great eating (Johnny Rockets, Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Todd English’s Tuscany), great shopping (Coach, Swarovski, Yankee Candle), and some world-class performances (Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, Justin Timberlake).

Have a young child? Children cannot gamble at Mohegan Sun, but there is childcare in the form of Kids Quest / Cyber Quest. But if you don’t want to pay for that, you could visit the spa. In fact, there’s so much to do, you might want to stay an extra day or two. And at such a low price, what’s the harm in buying an extra ticket?

To see schedules and departure details, or to book this trip, Click Here!

Both single-day bus trips can be found on GotoBus.com.

GotoBus.com Adds Line Run Bus Service Between New York and State College, PA

New bus line offers true alternative to Greyhound bus service.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, October 26, 2006— Beginning October 25th GotoBus.com will offer direct bus service between downtown Manhattan and State College – home of the Penn State University. Through its partnership with the bus line All State Bus, GotoBus will add 6 daily scheduled departures on this popular route. The non-stopped bus service will have pickup and drop off locations on 156 E Broadway and 153 Lafayette St in downtown Manhattan (Chinatown) and on 1631 N Atherton St in State College.

All State Bus is the first operator to run low cost bus service between State College and New York City. It provides an important connection to New York City for resident of w wide area of the County as well as the college students at Penn State University. Pricing between State College and New York is $30 one way and $60 roundtrip. At $16-28 less than Greyhound’s standard fare, the new service offers a true budget alternative to Greyhound and Amtrak.

Tickets for the New York to State College bus service can be purchased online at: http://www.gotobus.com/allstatebus/

Chinatown Bus Lines–the Answer to Cheap Transportation

A Guide to the Chinatown Bus

The word is out—the cheapest way to get from one major U.S. city to another is on the “Chinatown bus”. In recent years this has become transportation option of choice for budget travelers in New York, Washington DC, and Boston, and more recently on the West Coast. Students, backpackers, and an array of other savvy travelers have long loved the rock bottom prices that these bus companies offer. Despite the popularity of these bus lines it can still be difficult to find information on Chinatown bus service.
What exactly is a “Chinatown Bus”? Read on and you will have the inside track on this great budget travel option.

Chinatown Bus history

The Chinatown bus phenomenon began in the late 1990s when an entrepreneur in New York’s Chinatown started running daily bus service from Chinatown in New York to Chinatown in Boston. The service was aimed at Asian immigrants who wanted to shop or visit relatives in either city and needed cheap and convenient transportation. The service was bare bones—no advertising, customer service, or bus stations. Customers simply went to the bus stop, waited for the bus (or van), and paid the driver upon boarding. For those willing to do without frills, they offered virtually the same service as traditional bus companies at a substantially lower price. Before long, the word spread and all kinds of people started using the service. It became especially popular with students, budget travelers, or people for whom the service was simply more convenient.

Soon more bus companies duplicated this model and started offering service in other cities. Now you can find this type of bus service in Philadelphia, Virginia, Baltimore Washington DC, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco. At this point the term “Chinatown bus” is used more loosely to describe this sort of low-cost/low-frills service. Many, if not most, of the companies do not have Chinatown as their main location and may not cater to the immigrant population at all. These operators are also sometimes referred to as “curbside” operators.

How can tickets be so cheap?

$15 between New York to Boston? $25 from Las Vegas to Los Angeles? It seems hard to fathom. Chinatown bus companies are able to keep prices low because they operate in a fundamentally different way from traditional carriers. Foremost, the service is very basic. There is little in the way of customer service or amenities. Most of these operators do not have formal stations, picking up passengers at bus stops instead. They eschew traditional advertising in favor of word of mouth. Further, many of the operators play a very hands-on role in the operation—you will not see idle executives at a small independent bus company. Finally, these operators make sure they fill their buses. That is why Chinatown bus operators usually only operate on heavily trafficked routes. Indeed some companies only run buses at peak times.

Are they safe?

When these companies first started operating, concerns were raised about safety standards. There is still controversy within the bus industry about whether these newcomers are complying with the same regulations as the traditional companies. However, a task force set up by the Federal government to look at safety issues found that Chinatown bus companies did not perform better or worse than other types of bus companies (ie. charter, tour buses). All bus companies operating in the U.S. must undergo the same inspection standards and must comply with the same rules. Realistically there is probably a range of quality among Chinatown bus carriers. Some are fly-by-night operators trying to make a fast buck, while others are legitimate entrepreneurs who plan to grow and operate a long term business.

What you should expect

  • No frills service—the driver may be the ticket collector; there will not be a lot of customer service.
  • Comfortable buses. Despite the low fares buses are usually quite nice. Most buses are comparable to Greyhound and many are actually more deluxe.
  • Communication challenges. Drivers are legally required to speak enough English to help passengers in the case of emergency. In reality this is often adhered to rather loosely. At the very least, expect your driver to have an accent.
  • Possible delays. Many of these bus routes are on highly congested roads. When the roads are busy, expect delays.
  • Rest stops. Buses will have a lavatory on board but there is usually a 10 or 15 minute bathroom break on trips over 4 hours. Don’t be late returning to the bus, the driver will not count heads before leaving at the appointed time.
  • Full buses. Buses definitely sell out at peak times (weekends and evenings). Book ahead or get there early if you want secure a seat.
  • Plastic Bags. An odd little quirk on Chinatown buses is that every aisle seat usually has a plastic grocery bag tied to the arm. I guess they find this is the best way to keep the buses clean.

How do I find the Chinatown Bus?

Again, “Chinatown bus” is a term used to describe a type of operator and not an individual bus company. Many unrelated bus companies fall into this category. Since most Chinatown buses do not spend money on advertising it can be difficult to find out details about schedules and bus stop locations. Many of the carriers are becoming savvier about the Internet and quite a few have websites with information. Usually an Internet search will yield links to bus service to your destination. There are also several directories, such as www.chinatown-bus.orgthat include links for most Chinatown bus companies. Also, www.gotobus.comis a centralized booking site that has schedules and sells tickets online for most Chinatown bus companies.

The Chinatown bus is not for everyone. If you want an orderly system with American style customer service, you should probably stick to traditional carriers. However, if you know what to expect and come prepared with a sense of adventure and humor, you should enjoy the trip just fine. You will also enjoy the money you save!

Violet Sorenson works for GotoBus.com, the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours in the USA. You can find out more information about the company at: http://www.gotobus.com/. The author can be reached at marketing at gotobus.com.

Are Chinatown Bus Companies Being Unfairly Targeted?

Letter to the Editor published in the Washington Post

A Better Way to Regulate Buses
Wednesday, March 22, 2006; Page A20

Regarding Bill Brubaker’s March 2 Business story “Bus Lines Cited in Federal Probe; 11 Firms Accused of Violating ADA”:

I attended the March 2 House subcommittee hearing on regulation of “curbside” (read: Chinatown) bus operators. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) representative testifying at the hearing, the bus carriers in question are registered with the necessary federal and state authorities and are beholden to the same regulatory processes as other carriers. The article quoted the FMCSA’s enforcement and compliance director as saying the curbside carriers performed “no worse or better” than other bus companies in recent inspections.

Yet a special task force has stepped up inspections of the curbside operators since 2004. During that time these carriers have had only three accidents, none fatal. On the other hand, last year two charter bus companies had fatal accidents in Louisiana and Texas, and a Greyhound bus also had a fatal crash. If a congressional hearing was necessary, why is it not directed toward the bus operators that have had fatal accidents?

The Northeast corridor is one of the busiest in the transportation industry. Consumers benefit greatly from competition on these routes. On routes where curbside carriers offer service, traditional carriers offer lower fares.

I am not suggesting that the industry does not need regulation or that buses shouldn’t be accessible to the disabled. However, if the concern is with bus safety, regulations should be applied fairly to all bus carriers — traditional, charter, tour and “curbside.” Otherwise, I must ask if this call to action stems from a true concern for safety or is a result of lobbying by powerful companies.

LILA KAHN

Jamaica Plain, Mass.

The writer is a marketing manager for GotoBus.com, an online bus ticketing company.

GotoBus Launches Affiliate Program

GotoBus.com offers first affiliate program for bus travel on the Internet

CAMBRIDGE, MA, February 14, 2006—Gotobus.com, the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours, announced the formal launch of its affiliate program. The program will allow affiliate partners to earn commission on a pay-per-sale basis. Affiliates can either choose to promote GotoBus as a booking partner by linking to the site. Or, the GotoBus booking system can be embedded into the partner website to allow direct booking of bus tickets and tours. Either way the affiliate earns money on every sale from a referring website.

http://www.gotobus.com/affiliate/.

Jimmy Chen, GotoBus.com President, says the service will be the only one of its kind, “The advent of our affiliate program is really the first time website owners will be able to earn money by selling bus travel from their website. We see it as a great compliment to the other travel products that are currently available online from travel related websites.”

The program was developed to in response numerous requests from travel related websites that wanted to offer their customers online booking for bus tickets. The launch of the affiliate program is the latest effort by IvyMedia Corp to expand its online bus ticketing business. In January of this year the company announced that it was formally changing its domain name to GotoBus.com to better serve its customers.

Benefits of the GotoBus affiliate program include:

  • Easily modifiable look and feel—booking system can be fully integrated into partners’ website.
  • Customizable booking window—partners can choose the travel products they sell (coming soon).
  • Straightforward commission structure
  • Easily accessible account information
  • Easy online registration

GOTOBUS.COM BECOMES THE OFFICIAL DOMAIN NAME FOR IVYMEDIA BUS TICKETING AND TRAVEL RELATED PRODUCTS

IvyMedia Corp formally announces that it will use the domain name GotoBus.com for sales of all travel related products.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 31, 2006—IvyMedia Corporation, the leading online purveyor of bus tickets and tours, announced that it will transfer all of its travel related business from the domain IvyMedia.com to GotoBus.com. The new name will better reflect the core business of the company: selling bus tickets and bus tours online.

“The name change is a natural progression of the evolution of our company. We are currently the leader in online bus ticketing and we think the new domain name will more accurately convey that to our customers,” says Jimmy Chen, IvyMedia President.

IvyMedia.com began as an online shopping mall in 1999, but quickly found its niche as a marketplace for bus tickets, tours, and vacation packages. The company began the transition to the new domain by adding the GotoBus.com site in the spring of 2005.

Going forward, customers who type www.ivymedia.com into their browser will be automatically redirected to www.gotobus.com. The new website will sell only bus tickets and bus tours. Customers wishing to purchase other products, such as concert tickets and international flower delivery, will still be able to do so from the IvyMedia website.

Coming Soon

GotoBus.com is greatly expanding its tour selection for the 2006 season. The company has added tours and attractions originating in Maine, Niagara Falls, Florida, Vancouver and Chicago. It will soon add several more destinations in the Midwestern US and Canada. In addition, the company has added new tour partners specializing in multi-day tours. This has allowed GotoBus to expand the range of service categories, trip durations and itineraries offered to its customers.

Also new for 2006 is the GotoBus.com affiliate program. This much anticipated program will allow affiliate partners to earn commission on every GotoBus sale originating from their website. The program will launch in early February 2006: http://www.gotobus.com/affiliate/

About GotoBus
GotoBus is the leading online marketplace for bus tickets and tours. The GotoBus online booking system is similar to those used by major airlines, and makes it easy for travelers to quickly compare schedules, prices, and pickup/drop-off locations for over 100 bus companies throughout the United States and Canada. GotoBus.com is the fastest growing gateway for bus travel on the Internet today.
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For more information contact: marketing at gotobus.com or 1-617-354-2101 x.1103