How to find a good tour company.

Booking a tour can be a great way to travel, they do all the planning and book the accommodation and transport, etc and you have a guide. A good tour can make a holiday truly memorable but a bad tour can change things completely and a good guide makes all the difference. I realized this after doing 2 different tours which included Paris. After the first tour, I absolutely hated Paris and never wanted to return but I had a 4-night tour booked to go for Christmas. Our guide was wonderful and I fell in love with Paris and all it had to offer and would definitely return. Hope you find these tips helpful

  • Look at reviews etc about the companies reputation and what their customers say. Make sure you read all the reviews though as even the best company can get the odd bad review, (in fact some people do it to try to get compensation to believe it or not) check for what the majority says.
  • Is it a large corporation or a small local tour company? Smaller local companies tend to know the area better and the money goes back into the community and local tourism rather than overseas.
  • Are they are a fully bonded company? - this means the money you pay is held in trust until paid to the appropriate companies ie guides, accommodation, transportation, etc.
  • Look at the cost - shop around and compare. Is it expensive because if it's a 4 or 5-star tour with 4 or 5-star accommodation and activities that’s understandable or is it budget accommodation and transport with a hiked-up price? Is the tour experience worth the money you are paying? Look in the “what’s included section” and again the reviews.
  • Look at how your money is spent - what's included and what you still have to pay for on top of your tour price. Are the entries fees to be paid at sights, what meals are included are the guides and bus drivers tips included, is any entertainment included? A lot of tours add these to the itinerary but in the fine print, it tells you the cost.
  • Check it’s not an online marketing company that bumps up the price to cover their fee. I’ve been caught on a tour that was double the price because it was advertised through one of these online marketing companies. If you see a tour you like, check who the tour provider is and go to their site.  It will often be cheaper and you will be dealing directly with the tour company.
  • Look at the guides they use - are they local? Do they have a background in tourism, history, local culture, or are they just fly by nights looking to make a bit of extra cash. On something like a 2-hour ghost tour that's fine, a lot of drama students sign up as guides and they bring something to the tour with their acting and drama but if you are on a long tour around a country, you want someone guiding you that has the experience and has local knowledge.
  • What companies does the Agent use? Are they using local businesses for transport, accommodation, and guides?
  • Check the accommodation, does the itinerary give you a list of the hotels? If so check them out and make sure they fit the price of the tour you are paying for.
  • Not all itineraries have every detail, some operators like to keep some things a surprise. I  know our tours do but the majority of details should be supplied. I got caught on a tour that didn't supply the itinerary until just before the start date and then I discovered the transport that was supplied throughout the entire tour was public transport and that you got to each destination on your own. The tour description said transport included. It was but I wrongly assumed that meant they were providing it physically as well as financially especially because it was a very expensive tour. Price does not always equal quality.
  • Check the average age of the tour you book with - a younger tour group i.e. like Contiki tours often means they may be partying all night and sleeping all day on the bus. (it happens believe me).
  • Check the tour company has included a description about the level of difficulty so the tour you choose is within your abilities. Is there a lot of walking, stairs, etc?
  • Does the company help with other requirements like booking flights, airport transportation, extra accommodation, travel Insurance. Are they there to answer any questions or queries you have. I have found a lot of companies are no help at all once you have paid your non-refundable deposit.
  • Look at what cities the tours run from and end in as they are often different and your return flights need to be factored in.
  • Are there options for add-on pre or post-tours?

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