Friday, January 29, 2016

Biggs-Reichmann Galapagos Cruise

CORRECTION: the article below stated that Mike and Andy were selling their enhanced package at $3360 over rack rate. In fact the correct number is $4350. Management apologises for this error and we have corrected the text.

This post on LuLa is flirting with being outright scandalous and offensive.

I have previously reported that this is, essentially, a package that the principals have purchased for $72,450. They do seem to have added a few things, and Michael clarifies a few points. "Drinks," let us stipulate, includes alcoholic drinks, which the base package does not. They're covering a $100 park fee, and adding on a night of hotel accommodation. Michael makes it clear that there are 10 spots for paying victims, not 12. Still, if they fill it they're laying out $7245 a head, plus drinks, one night in a hotel, $100 park fee, and probably a few miscellaneous things here and there. They are in turn collecting $9995.00 for this. My guess is that they can cover the extras and have a few beans left over on the $2750/head margins here.

Note that the $9995 rate applies whether you're taking pictures or not, so it's not like this is even a clear "$2750 tuition fee on top of our cost", or, really, a "$4350 over rack rate tuition fee." Note the rack rates, substantially under $9995, here. Andy and Michael's cruise will have a few fewer heads on board, to be fair, although I dare say even crammed to the gills with 16 people the boat's pretty tolerable.

Assuming that they're not making up the "oh, we have some cancellations just now" story, they've already collected money from the 4 cancelled heads, and are hoping to resell the spots at full list. We're in the 50% refund (if we can resell your spot) zone, so they're looking at a nice little $20,000 pop here, if they can resell the thing. (Assuming I am reading Andy's remarks on cancellation right which I have to admit are pretty unclear.)

Ok, so all's fair in love, war, and business.

I will now quote a few choice lines from Michael's piece flogging the four suddenly available spots:

Andy is a close friend, and last summer we decided to do a small private Galapagos trip for ourselves in the Spring of 2016. It would include a few friends and a small number of enthusiastic photographers.

Please note as well that this voyage is not a photography workshop per-se.

This means that we will be there 24/7 during the trip to work closely with you on your photography if that’s what you desire. Everything from one-on-one instruction and advice, to portfolio reviews and image processing instructions and suggestions. Or, just kick back and do your own thing.

I dunno about you but this feels downright disingenuous to me. Andy's page insists, interestingly, that it is a workshop, but is similarly chummy, and similarly silent on the subject of what the rack rates for this cruise are, what tuition fees are and are not, and so on.

Let us, generously, assume that they're telling the truth about the 4 spots becoming available about now, and that they extras they're rolling in cost $1000 a head, and that they are able to resell the spots as quickly as they expect. That is, let us assume they are being open and forthright in what they are saying, and let us be generous about the cost of the extras.

Total receipts: $99,9950 (attendees) + $19,990 (cancellees) = $119,940
Total costs: $72,450 (charter) + $10,000 (extras) = $82,450
For which leaves $18,745 each for Andy and Michael to cover their expenses and buy a few cans of soup, maybe a couple potatos.

Nice work if you can get it!


  1. Or you could spend $3000 just to be in the presence of Ming Thein for 6 days, you don't get a room, you don't get meals but---well come to think of it, the LuLa cruise looks like a screaming deal in comparison...

    In all seriousness, I don't think the LuLa cruise is a screaming deal, nor do I think it is a screaming ripoff (like the MT scam). I believe a fair amount of time is spent organizing such a trip and while maybe not a full blown workshop, the organizers are not simply free to be left alone to enjoy themselves.

    A better question would be if you were the organizer and babysitter/workshop leader what do you think would be a fair compensation to you for the pre-trip organizing, capital outlay and the almost 2 weeks of your time?

  2. I don't think they spent much time at all organizing this trip, to be honest. It's an almost completely off-the-rack tour. Everything they go on about in their glowing descriptions is provided as part of the standard package from the charter company, with the exceptions of: hotel stay AFTER the trip, alcoholic drinks, and a $100 park fee.

    There's some sort work to simple purchase a $72,000 charter, of course, but it's really just a few phone calls and moving some money around.

    My guess is that the added on hotel stay was done by simply requesting it. "Can you guys arrange a second night at the hotel as well? Ok, thanks!" and the $100 park fee cannot be hard to arrange. Bring $1200 cash along with you and call it done?

    Not sure about the alcoholic beverages, if indeed those are included.

    Ming's latest actually seems to include him doing some booking of various piecemeal things.. Hotels in various places, and a rental vehicle.

    They entire business is a bit like sausage making, though. Kind of ugly when you open the wrong doors and take a look.

  3. Falsehoods, factual errors and innuendo.

    If you'd like to come over and post this on LuLa I'll be pleased to reply with the facts of the matter.

    I've been told not to bother posting here as it seems that any reasoned replies are quickly deleted.

    1. Well that last bit is simply untrue, Michael. I get quite a bit of controversy in comments. In fact if you'd like to publish a rebuttal here, I'd be happy to give you a guest post. No edits except formatting and, if you like, typos. A second set of eyes for those can be helpful, but that would be yours to choose.

      I see no reason to post this on LuLa, it's your house, as you have pointed out to me several times, and I do try not to poop on the carpet when I'm visiting.

      But I see why you'rr so mad about me smacking your idiot friends Andrew and Jeff around, now!

    2. michael has indicated that he is no longer interested in writing a rebuttal, and I have told him in turn to fuck off, for reasons only peripherally related.

      I suspect that puts this to bed, but the guest post option is still open to him, on the same terms. No edits, except (at his request) typos.

    3. I'm really disappointed Micheal won't be providing his side. I'm always curious to see how two people see an issue.

      Although claiming "falsehoods and factual errors" isn't simply seeing an issue differently and should be easily backed up with little effort, if in fact this is the case.

      Frankly, showing up and decrying someone as a liar but then demurring when asked to backup that claim just comes across as weak.

      People have to make money. The cruise doesn't seem like a scam, it's just a value added thing. Lots of cruises change nothing but add some famous people and charge for the opportunity to mingle with your clique of choice. Nothing wrong with that. It's up to you decide if it's worth it.

      But screaming liar and then running away isn't something I can get behind.

      Long time reader, first time commenter.

    4. The pricing seems high to me, but you're perfectly correct to suggest (I think) that one price isn't necessarily more fair or correct than another. If it's worth a million dollars to you to hang about with Dave the Electrician or Michael the Photographer, well, that's your lookout.

      My complaint is really about the vagueness of the pricing. The cruise company has two web sites, one with prices and one without. Guess which one Michael and Andy link to? Michael and Andy seem (to my eye, others may well see it differently) to be presenting this as just some friends new and old going out together, and you're invited! They don't tell you how much you're paying to cruise, and hire much to hang out.

      The feel of it is off, to me. But ultimately, I'm just sharing some web links and some arithmetic. My commentary can and probably should be ignored.

      While it is my blog and I'm going to express my views, it is never my intention to tell anyone reading here what to think.