What to Ask in Choosing a Tour Company
In an industry where there's no such thing as 'try before you buy', it can be difficult to
know where to start in finding a tour company that will deliver the experience you
want and make the most of your hard-earned vacation dollar. Here are some key
questions to ask in helping you make your decision.
1. How long has the tour company been in business? Tourism can be a mercurial
business, subject to the whims of economic downturn,
pandemic scares, and, seemingly, the price of milk. Choose a company with a history
you can trust-one that has shown the ability to ride the wave of global circumstance.
Tour companies with longevity also have a deep knowledge well to draw from, have
negotiating clout with their providers, and have had the experience to fine-tune their
systems and deliver their product efficiently.
2. Where are the tour company and its guides based? There's nothing like an
adventure travel company that thinks globally, but is based locally in the country you
are going to visit. By using a company based locally, with local guides, you're more
likely to tap into a provider that has its finger on the pulse of what's new and
interesting and that actively engages with the culture. Having a worldwide presence,
as well, with staff or agents based in your home country, helps ensure that the
company is aware of your customer
interpretation for the inevitable cultural nuances that arise.
3. What is the maximum tour size? Tour size impacts your ability to engage
authentically in the culture of the country in which you're travelling. While people's
travel preferences vary, in the adventure travel arena small group tours are ideal for
those who like the sense of freedom, adventure and discretion that independent
populated countries like New Zealand, tour accommodation in some of the best
locations is only available to small groups of twelve or less, leaving larger groups to
choose itineraries based on logistics rather than optimum experience.
4. Does the tour company run its own tours or subcontract to someone else?
Unbeknownst to many, it is not uncommon for tour companies to outsource the
running of their trips to subcontractors. A great deal of
in charge of your experience. We've all played the whispers game and know it doesn't
take long before the original message gets well lost in translation. Choose a company
that is in control of administering your trip from start to finish.
5. What support systems are in place? From confirmation of your deposit to packing
lists to the guide's medical and driver training, find out what systems the company has
in place to ensure smooth handling of your tour. Make sure you have a direct contact
person at the tour company who knows your trip and your needs.
6. What is the company culture? This can be a hard thing to define, but what makes a
tour company great are sometimes those undefinables-the things that infuse a trip with
fun and a feeling of group identity. One of the best ways to get a sense of company
culture is to ask for references of those who have been on tour. Web-based
but it is wise to also seek advice first hand to ascertain whether the person offering
opinions has similar priorities to your own.
7. How does the company stack up against others in the value-for-money stakes?
Here, the key word is value. Don't choose a tour company based on the
quality of the experience on offer. How much 'fun factor' is built into the cost of the
trip-which advertised activities are included in the price and which are actually
optional add-ons? What is the quality of the tour accommodation? You may prefer to
put your money into a
, or you may only want a clean, comfortable place
to lay your head in between adventures. What meals are included and how are they
delivered-a la carte? Set menu? Cardboard box? When comparing companies, choose
based on what's most important to you and on the potential take-home value of the
experience. In the end, the cost of a life-enriching, quality travel experience is
. Formed in 1994, Black Sheep touring offers
tours to New Zealand that offer a unique blend of luxury, adventure, cultural
understanding, and interaction with our environment.
With one of the lowest guest-to-guide ratios in the industry, the Black Sheep travel
experience is very rich and personalised. A travel group size of 12 or less allows us
unparalleled flexibility and the ability to offer each and every one of our guests