Web are considering Odysseys versus Tauck for a tour to China. I know Tauck is very good. Has anyone experienced Odysseys to China and has thoughts. It seems more reasonable in price.
I do not have any experience with them but I did go to China on a trip with a group called Intertrips. It was like the timeshare of tours but it was $600 each!
Interested in your comment about "timeshare of tours". I take it yours was like mine in that a bunch of the stops were for shopping in large display places obviously designed for tour groups. It's a tradeoff - they expect to make up for the nice price by selling lots of stuff, but I did not really feel unduly pressured to buy and the items can be interesting to look at. At one point, my guide said something along the lines of, "I'm required to go inside with you, but I can sign a register that we visited and we can go right back out."
We had 4 tour guides total. 2 were great and did not pressure us much, two were awful and seemed to be actively kind of punishing people who did not want to shop (like not letting a sick person get off the tour and take a taxi to the hotel, telling local boat shops not to give us tours because we didn't want to go on the boat he was on because he was making really offensive jokes, etc.) The first half of the trip was fine and a predictable mix of free time, activities and shopping excursions, the last half of the trip was ONLY shopping excursions and we left the tour for the most part.
Most likely your guides were getting a base fee for bringing tourists into the store, and then a commission on whatever you bought. If doing a tour in China again (it really wasn't a "tour" but a series of pre-arranged private local guides arranged by a travel agency) , I would definitely need the information upfront about the ratio of sightseeing to shopping time. I know some people do truly want to spend a lot of their time shopping, and these shopping stops can be a convenience for them, but I don't.
We actually had an amazing lady (who dressed all in gold) who offered the tour guide a $100 bill to NOT go to the tea factory, and they wouldn't do it;)
But yes. I don't really like foreced organized shopping but there were certainly people who spent some serious money doing it!