Lifelong friendships are formed on our tours
I met Juanita on our first Spirit of Outlander Tour in 2017 and we have been friends ever since.
What to look for in a good tour company.
- 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 believe it or not) check for what the majority say.
- 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 its 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 – whats 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 on 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 which 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.
- 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 thats 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 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 maybe 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 you non refundable deposit.
- Look at what cities the tours run from and ends 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?