Frequently Asked Questions for Your Japan Tour

Planning a Japan tour? Esprit Travel & Tours frequently receives requests from individuals and organizations that would like to arrange a private group Japan tour for a group of their friends, co-workers, clients, customers, students or some other group. As a small company we only offer a few group tour slots per season so that each tour can receive the special attention that it requires. We have prepared these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help you to understand the process of creating and sponsoring a private, escorted tour to Japan.

Does Esprit have a minimum group size?

Esprit does not have a minimum group size for a private Japan tour, however, the number of group members on a trip will significantly impact the price per person for the tour. We do have a maximum of 16 for our single leader groups, as we find that is the best number for the types of small, private inns that we use, the types of transportation and to allow each person the optimal experience. A larger group can be accommodated but would require additional tour leaders to accompany the group.

What will be the cost of our trip?

Private group trips to Japan with Esprit can vary widely in price. We suggest, when determining if you would like to arrange a Japan tour, that you plan on using about $500-$550 per night as a starting point for cost. For high end or small groups (Deluxe hotels, etc.), anticipate a cost more in the $800 and up per night range for a trip of 10-12 days. Any number of variables will have an impact on the final price.

What are some of the variables that affect the final price of a tour?

Variables that affect the final tour price break down into two categories – tour elements (what is included on each tour) and pricing variables (those things that increase or reduce the price of each element per person).

What are some examples of Japan Tour Elements?

The primary components of a tour include the Tour Leader, hotels, in-country transportation in Japan, special events, meals, admissions and performances, lectures and demonstrations.

What are some examples of pricing variables?

Pricing variables include the yen rate, the number of passengers, number of tour nights, quality of hotels, in country transportation options (e.g. public vs. private), number of tour leaders, number of free-of-charge (FOC) participants.

How does Esprit handle the yen rate when pricing a Japan tour?

The yen rate can fluctuate, oftentimes dramatically. The final price of a trip is estimated during negotiations (based on the current yen rate and projections for the timeframe of the trip) and finalized at the time of invoicing (approximately 60 days prior to departure). As a result, you must be aware that there can be a difference in the final price that can run as high as a 15-20% over the initial estimate if the dollar is particularly weak. There are ways to lock in a favorable yen rate which our tour planners can discuss with you.

How does the number of passengers affect the tour price?

Basically, the fewer the number of paying people on the trip, the more each person will have to pay to cover the fixed cost items on the trip (things such as the tour leader, bus rental, room rental, etc.). Esprit will work with the Tour Sponsor to determine the minimum number of people for the tour. All trips MUST have an established minimum.

What happens if I don’t know how many people to expect? How do you set a price?

When we first start working with you, we determine how many people you can realistically enroll in the tour. With that in mind, we have found an effective way to address the challenges of small group pricing is to “tier” the price of the trip, so that if the group gets larger the price for everyone goes down. This addresses concerns about materialization (how many people actually sign up), but does complicate the marketing of a tour. We work with you to determine if this is an option you wish to use.

Is there an average tour length?

Our tours average 11 or 12 nights. A shorter or longer trip might move your trip closer to your optimal price point. Because of the time to travel to Japan and the resulting jetlag, we do not recommend very short stays of fewer than 6 days.

How do you determine where to go in Japan?

The choice of destinations within Japan is determined in consultation with you and based on information you give us about your group, your trip’s objective and, if appropriate, a theme. We are familiar with a wide range of options within Japan, covering all the islands and a wide range of traditional and contemporary arts. We work with you to structure the ideal itinerary based not just on interests, but also on what will work logistically, time of year, special events and offerings and the best sequence.

What types of enrichment visits do you include in your tours?

Our visits to artists, artisans and special people (holders of the traditions of Japan) are an integral part of our tours. We work with you to determine the most appropriate visits, often incorporating contacts you may already have. Visits to artists and artisans provide a unique insight into the depth of the Japanese culture and we feel they are critical to the success of a trip. Visits could include things like an introduction to tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arranging), gardening experts, and so forth.

How do you choose which hotels to recommend?

We work with a wide range of hotels (western style) and ryokans (Japanese style inns) in Japan and select and recommend those hotels which we think will be in the groups price range while still providing the experience of Japan that the sponsor is looking for.

Is air from the US included?

Esprit no longer includes air in their tour bookings.

How do I find participants for my trip?

It is the responsibility of the sponsor to do all marketing and selling of the spaces on the trip. Esprit establishes a contract with the sponsor that lays out their responsibilities, obligations and timelines in order to produce the tour.

How far in advance does Esprit schedule a privately sponsored tour?

We like to be able to reserve hotels a year out as that is when they become available. As a result, we prefer to schedule private trips about 12 to 18 months in advance, to be sure that we can get all of the accommodations, guides, etc. that the tour sponsor is requesting. However, if space is available on our schedule and we can arrange all tour elements, we can schedule a private tour at any time.

Does Esprit have a contract that I must sign?

Yes, Esprit has a standard contract that we use for individually sponsored tours that specify the details of the tour after they have been worked out, as well as the obligations of both Esprit and the sponsor regarding tour arrangements, marketing, payment, paperwork, tour pricing, etc.

Now that I am familiar with this information, what is my next step in planning a tour?

The next step is to contact our office (1-800-377-7481) and arrange a telephone interview with one of our tour planners. They will discuss with you many of the details involved in planning a trip. They are also able to give you an idea of the best time of year, possible available dates in Esprit’s schedule, interesting destinations, sights and attractions to include and much more.

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