This question deals with two issues. The first deals with the general nature of my fee and the second deals with why I charge for the passenger (an often asked question).
SOME GENERAL COMMENTS ABOUT MY FEE
On my tours you pay your own expenses in order to save you money. This also lets you know exactly what the trip costs. The same goes for my fee. I want you to know what I’m making. There are no side deals with the hotels or motorcycle rental shops to give me a commission, no volume discounts for me to pocket or anything like that. If I do get a price break I pass that along to the tour participants.
As I’ve said elsewhere in this website the main purpose of my fee is to cover my expenses. It cost me the same for my motorcycle, hotels and food as it does you. Add airfare, a little advertising and the website hosting and my break even is not far below the 7 member limit per tour at the current MC fee rates.
I would like to say that there was a scientific method to how I calculated the actual fee amounts. Perhaps a return on investment calculation for the nearly $150,000 I’ve spent on Euro travel since 1973. Or a complicated regression formula tied to fluctuations in the European exchange rate and the USA consumer price index. Instead, it’s easier to think of it as $110 a day for the motorcycle rider. While I am at your service 24 hrs a day during the tour we really spend about 10 hours a day together related to touring (not counting breakfast and dinner times), during which I actively share my knowledge and experience. This equates to $11.00 per hour (approx. what my neighbor made per hour working part-time for Wal-Mart during XMAS season). For a passenger the same rational yields $9.00 per hour.
It would be more profitable for me to charge an all-inclusive price. If I did that and brought 20-40 people to the same hotel every trip or the same motorcycle shop, or ran all my trips for 5 or 7 days out of the same touring center hotel I could get substantial price concessions from the hotels and motorcycle shops which would accrue to me in the all-inclusive price. At that rate it would be a lucrative business instead of a passionate business.
However, I like variety and I like small personable groups. So do my tour guests. With some of my tour member coming back for their second and third tour I want to make sure they have a unique experience each time.
WHY I CHARGE FOR THE PASSENGER
I get asked this question frequently. Everyone understands why the rider pays but not always the passenger fee. There are two reasons for the passenger fee:
The first is that my knowledge is my service. Showing you the roads, the sites, the hotels and providing relevant information about all those things is the main reason you chose to go with me on a “guided” tour. The passenger benefits from all that experience in the same way the pilot does. Booking the bike is no big deal in terms of time. Making the hotel reservation for two, rather than one, is no big deal. The bulk of my time and effort is spent on showing you the beauty and splendor of the Alps and Alpine motorcycling.
The second reason, which is much less a factor, is that I limit my tours to 7 motorcycles or 14 people. If those 14 were made up of 7 couples and I only charged for the pilot I’d lose money on every tour. I don’t want a big group so the 5 – 14 people who come on every tour, and who partake in my knowledge of the local area, pay some fee amount in order for the business side of Moto-Charlie to work.