TRAVELERS NOT TOURISTS
Almost every organized tour there is a shepherd (tour leader) and a bunch of sheep (customers). As the trip progresses, the sheep become ever more passive and ever more dependent on their shepherd. While we may travel as a group between cities and check into hotels together, you will be treated like a shepherd. We will provide you all the key key info each day and you will be responsible for executing.
For example, we might meet at a challenge destination at 900a. So, you decide what time you want to get up, if/when you want to eat breakfast, how to get to the challenge site, how close to the start time do you want to cut it. This scenario avoids the dreaded ‘laggard syndrome’ where one team is perennially late, holding up and aggravating the others in the group. Rather, we empower each team to decide what style of planning they are comfortable with.
Just remember that being early or on time will ensure that you dont miss the start of a challenge which could cost you points.
Same goes for transport, we typically meet at the airport gate or train station platform, so you can decide when/how to arrive. Some teams end up making arrangements together, other teams like to wildcat. But, no one will feel like they are on a cradle to grave supervision.
In 8 years, we had one team miss a train, but it was somewhere where there was another train 1 hr later. So, its not our intent to be unconcerned, we just dont want to babysit you and hopefully you don’t want to be babysat. I’m a Mastermind/Evil Genius, not a caregiver!!
Breakfasts are all included at each hotel. We encourage teams to eat a hearty breakfast because most days will be chock full of activity and the energy will come in handy
Most lunches will be during or between challenges, so there will be a modest time constraint so lunches tend to be short and close by affairs. Typically casual and reasonably priced meals with a few choices of where to eat. Because we dont want to minded your culinary, budget and ambience preferences, we simply punt and have you make your own informed decision where/what to eat…..you know, because you are a traveller, not a tourist.
Dinners tend to be more relaxed with far more time and restaurant options. Again, we do not arrange group meals because no one should have to compromise their preferences. That said, as the trip progresses, teams have been known to pair of with other teams and sometimes one team will throw out their dining suggestion….and all other 9 teams will organically and spontaneously showed up. So, it was a meal with the group, not a group meal!!
We want the trip to be a blast not a blur, but we also have a lot of ground to cover in relatively short period of time. So, think of our trip as like the travel version of grazing or appetizers or tapas. You’ll get a delicious taste, and if you love it, you come back on another trip for the slower, more thorough entree or buffet version!
Because free time will really be a relatively scarce commodity, we want to ensure you take best advantage. So, we will give you enough notice about our next destination so you can do some preemptive research about restaurants, shopping, activities, sightseeing, etc.
Between cities, we will typically travel by train, as the central train stations are well, central and the trains are fast. Train stations provide the local flavor and energy of a city.
Occasionally, a plane trip will be necessary to hopscotch us time efficiently to a different and unexpected region….keeps the mystery and surprise aspect intact.
Within cities, you will typically make your own transport choices to arrive a given locale by a given time. Occasionally, where time/ease of logistics factors in, we will provide a private bus for the group.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
Obviously, there is a cash prize up for grabs, $6000 to be split amongst top 3 teams. We have calibrated that figure to be high enough to create some friendly rivalry but low enough to discourage any win at all costs mentalities. We have a terrific track record of team bonding (not with every other team, but with enough teams) whereby the shared experiences and twists and curveballs generate friendships that trump the going for the gold focus.
That said, it is a competition and there will be judging and scoring. Where appropriate, the judging will be done by the local challenge staff. And sometimes the teams might be scoring each other in a ‘peoples choice’ session. Other times, teams will upload challenge videos to be analyzed by our judges in the States, some of whom are previous team participants. Almost all of the challenge criteria are subjective, so things like speed or physical prowess will rarely be a factor.
There will always be spontaneous mini-challenges that we might (actually, we will) spring upon you when you least expect it.
In general, over 90% of all the teams will be in contention until the last day, so frontrunners cant get cocky and backbenchers always have a chance to redeem themselves.
Standings will be updated roughly daily.
This is your vacation, we want you to have fun. We also don’t want to hauled into court or have terrible reviews going viral. Our challenges are meant to push you out of your comfort zone, but we are not looking to scare you or humiliate you or put you in danger. That said, you might FEEL like those above mentioned things are happening, but we did not structure the challenges to elicit those responses. So, we won’t force anyone to do any challenge they feel uncomfortable with, and we ill have fair point pro rate scenario to account for such a situation. But, our past experience has been that any team/teammate that has opted out of a given challenge ends up with serious ‘opt-out’ remorse as sometimes its the seemingly most inaccessible challenges that bring the teams closer together. Rest assured, every challenge chosen has been rigorously vetted by my teenage daughter and her risk averse friend (and parents!). Every team will have their moments to shine and moments to crash and burn…embrace the possibilities.
OWNER/OPERATOR MISSION STATEMENT
The reality is that I would much rather be a participant than an organizer, but I haven’t found anyone to replace me yet! The most satisfying team feedback that I hear year after year is basically- you have ruined traveling for us, because we (or any other company) will never be able to replicate this trip (routing, destinations, challenges, cool fellow teams, the thrill of the unknown, etc). So, since I will be accompanying you every step of the way and cant hide from you, my accountability for your trip will be on full display. I cant blame anything on a faceless committee or a board or a partner. So, to minimize any risk of awkward moments with dissatisfied customers, I have absolutely put my bet foot forward and hoping you will concur.