7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour!


7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour! — Comparing Tours

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour — These are a few questions to consider when choosing a vacation tour no matter the destination. With more and more travelers being faced with limited vacation time, many want to be as active on vacation as at home, some want to be very active or more active on vacation than in their daily lives, and some simply want to shuttle from place to place and enjoy the experience without having to invest a lot of physical effort.

There is no wrong or right tour. In today’s world, there are tours of all sorts designed to meet interests of virtually every traveler from the vacation walker or biker, dedicated wine taster, culturally passionate, and cruise lover.

France Off The Beaten Path Tour Company

1. What Type of Tour? Decide — Which type of tour are you looking for? What experience meets your vacation travel interests – active, bus, walking, big or small group, budget or luxury?

Ask yourself…

  • Are you active in your daily life, and prefer a tour that offers an equally active vacation experience?
  • Are you in search of a tour that includes authentic cultural experiences combined with walking, plus offers daily options or choices?
  • Are you interested in a multi-cultural tour but without the “active” portion – meaning shuttling around all day long by bus with minimal walking?
  • Are you in search of a tour that offers specialized touring, such as a wine focused tour or biking?

Once you’ve decided on the type of tour you’d like, and have made a short list of tour companies offering the type of tour you’d like, check the fine print – the Inclusions – What does the price include?

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour

2. Compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges — 

Even if 3 different tour companies run similar looking tours that seem to include the same sights or similar activities but differ in price, it doesn’t mean the most expensive choice is the best. There will be differences reflected in the price.

Factors that greatly influence tour prices include…

  • Do the guides live locally or is the tour company flying tour guides into foreign destinations from their home country to service their tours?
  • What kind of hotel is included in the tour price?
  • What kind of activities, visits, and experiences are included in the tour price?
  • On walking tours, are the scheduled walks guided or are you merely given a local map and set on your way after a post-breakfast briefing each day?
  • For cultural tours, are the tours privately guided by the tour company’s locally employed guides or do they only provide entry fees or do they leave you completely to your own devices?
  • For artisan encounters (wine, cooking, painting, tastings, etc…) with local destination professionals, does the company know the professionals on a personal level, is there an established long term friendship or family link, or is the tour company sending their clients to visit the local tourist hot spot, yet labeling it as a personalized, local experience?
  • What is the group size? Is the tour marketed as a small group tour, but come to find out, the company categorizes a small group as 24, 36 or even 40 people per tour?

Below we investigate these points in greater detail…

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour

3. Cost – With some tour companies, it’s not always true that you get what you pay for.

Tour companies that are NOT based in the “destination country” where they operate tours have to calculate additional costs beyond the actual activities, food, guide service fees, transportation, and lodging costs of their clients into their tour prices. They also have to calculate the international airfare, lodging, and food costs of the tour guides they’re flying to the “destination country” into the tour price that you, the consumer, pay.

Tour companies based locally in the “destination country” and whose guides live and work locally naturally offer better value for your money, because none of these costs need to be factored into their tour prices.

It’s also important to consider what activity fees, entry fees, and services, as well as type of hotel, are included in the tour price.

  • Are beverages, cocktails, and wine included at meals or are they an extra you pay at every meal?
  • How many, if any hotel changes during the tour?
  • What are the quality of the meals included in the tour price?
  • Are entry fees for activities and visits described in the itinerary included or extra?
  • What category hotel are you getting for the tour price?

Obviously you would expect the more expensive the tour, then the better the hotel, the meals, and more things included in the price, right? Not necessarily. Some tour companies advertise a tour price of $4,000 per person and higher while lodging their clients in 2-star hotels or bed and breakfast establishments, requiring their clients to change hotels every couple of days, offering meals at low cost restaurants, and excluding drinks at meals; making them an extra cost for travelers.

Here again, tour companies based locally in the “destination country” naturally offer better value for your money thanks to local relationships.

  • Tour companies based in the “destination country” are able to secure higher quality lodging at better prices thanks to established, local relationships, and they pass on these savings to travelers through better value tour prices.
  • They also use their local geographical knowledge to effectively choose 1 charming boutique hotel to serve as base camp for the entirety of the tour.
  • Less time spent on transfers to/from a new hotel every day or 2 means travelers only unpack once during the tour, reducing fatigue typically experienced from packing, re-packing and moving hotel to hotel during a tour!
  • And, they do the same for their restaurant selections, tour companies based in the “destination country” expose travelers to more authentic and better quality gourmet dining experiences, thanks to their established relationships with local chefs, some of France’s highest rated culinary professionals.

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour —

4. Guides – Does the company employ knowledgeable, local guides who live and work locally in the “destination country”? 

A tour guide should be a local or a long-term resident of the “destination country”, know the local language and culture, have travel experience, and understand the Anglophone customer service expectation, and how to balance it with the local cultural traditions to ensure guests an excellent tour experience.

  • Are the the guides involved in their local community, holding a tourism position whether elected or appointed by a local city, town, village council or cultural ministry?
  • Are the guides authors or traveler bloggers in the “destination country” or hold an award for their local cultural achievements in the “destination country”?

Guides make or break your trip, and each of these qualities adds to the value and ultimate satisfaction of your tour experience. Tour guides are going to explain everything to you, keep a running commentary or discussion going about interesting local anecdotes, history, and events, and manage the flow of the tour.

7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour —

5. Schedule – You’re paying for the tour company to fill your day…

…and to fill it with fun experiences and activities unique to the local culture of the “destination country”.  Are they doing that and how do they do that?

  • Does the tour company not only have a lot of activities organized, but are they also engaging and interesting activities?
  • Are the activities and excursions unique and personalized?
  • Are they something exceptional or are they run of the mill typical tourist hot spot type activities?
  • Do the included actvities offer personalized experiences with local personalities and professionals or are you left to your own devices?
  • Do the tour organizer and their guides personally know the professionals with whom you’ll interact during the tour or are they also visitors to the area?

Tour companies based in the “destination country” whose tour guides live and work locally offer unparalleled and inherent perks to travelers thanks to their established, personal relationships, friendships, and even family connections with the local professionals that you’ll engage with and meet during your tour. And this makes your tour a much more personalized, unique and positively memorable experience.

Provence France Walking Tour Photos— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour —

6. Group Size – Larger Group vs. Small Group…

Larger groups tend to be less personal, less engaging due to nature of larger number of travelers, and have limited access to better restaurants, visits, and authentic local activities and cultural experiences. Tour companies that have smaller groups tend to be much more enjoyable for travelers; guests can easily get to know one another, and mingle at meals and during activities and excursions. Smaller groups offer more personalized and unique hands-on or interactive experiences that you naturally remember with fond memories, and are likely to talk about long after your return home. Smaller groups are also more mindful of the environment. Plus, it’s a lot easier to meet people in a group of 10-16 than it is in a group of 20-40.

— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour —

7. Book direct or use a Travel Agent?  

Most tour operators offer better value prices and more flexibility when booking direct. There is no right or wrong choice here. Some travelers feel more comfortable booking through a Travel Agent, and others prefer to organize and book their vacation directly with the tour company. If electing to use a travel agent to book your tour, ensure your agent contacts the tour company to get answers to all of your questions or contact the tour company directly with your questions and provide them your Travel Agent’s contact information to complete the follow up on your behalf.

— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour —

7 Guidelines To Choosing A TourIf following all 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour, and well defining your interests, you’ll be well equipped to pick the best trip for you!

The whole point of joining a tour is so you can leave responsibility for organizing the day-to-day details to the tour company whose specialty is your chosen “destination country” while you enjoy the unique and personalized experiences and activities included in your chosen tour.   Take time to work out which tour offers you the best value, and you will have not only an enjoyable vacation, but also a positively memorable life-time trip experience — And, you will also make new friends both locally in the “destination country” and in your tour group!

— 7 Guidelines To Choosing A Tour!

EMAIL US at franceotbp@gmail.com or  CALL 1.717.683.2827 with your tour questions and to inquire about space availability for one of our tours to Provence, Loire Valley, or Bordeaux, France!

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