All you need to know before booking a tour
Today we will tell you all you need to know before booking a tour. There are as much variety of day trips, tour, experiences, tourist activities… as companies which provide them. Each company make a combination of elements to offer it to the traveller who can choose the best way to know a place or to do an activity.
What to consider before booking a tour or tourist activities?
Many times we try to investigate all the options we have in a destination, so when we are going to hire the service some details escape us, or we do not give the importance they deserve or even the information is not very clear for us.
Therefore, in this guide we explain everything you need to consider and know before hiring a service.
Which is the difference between tour, trip, guided tour and experience?
There are a lot of differences between these services, but somebody uses certain words without corresponding them to the service, so it is always important to read all the details of the activity.
In general, we talk about tours when the activity involves going on a tour in the same place we are or at most outskirts of the city. The best example is the Free Walking Tour. They are usually on foot and guided, but of course, there are exceptions, another example is the Tour El Palo and Pedregalejo: It is a tour with minibus and a guide but without leaving the city.
Excursion or Day Trips
When we hire a trip we understand that there are tours but out of the place of origin, so the place we are going to visit requires a transfer. Normally is in another city, but it could be also a natural park, a monument, some attraction outside of the city…
Not all tours and trips have a guide, that is only when it is indicated, in this case there will be a professional guide. Usually the guided tours are important tourist attractions where you can learn about history and culture. A professional guide is essential for explaining a monument or museum but there are also specialized guides inside of some monuments or museums. For example, Sagrada Familia Guided Tour.
To live an experience is actually a trend in tourism. However it is not always a term well used, experiences encourage the travellers to “participate” in the activity.With this participation the experience is more sensory and generate emotions, which are clung to the memories, being enriching and brings us closer culturally.
They can be more or less participatory experiences, from a ride in a hot-air balloon to flamenco lessons with live music.
Many times they use experiences to refer to the opportunity to experience an action or visit. For example, Hot-air Baloon Ride or Scuba Diving Lessons because when we are on holidays or traveling we are more receptives to new ideas.
Some of our excursions, guided tours, and outstanding experiences in Malaga:
Hire a private or public service
A private service will be the one where you choose who to share with: couple, children, family, group of friends… There will be not another person from outside of your group. This allows the guide to have more approach, personalization, a more specific service, imagine being able to ask the guide all the questions you have and not have a historical explanation just a conversation about what interests you most.
Even depending on the activity, we can adjust the service to the clients’ likes, offering them different options at the moment.
Public services are the ones that are sold ticket to ticket so we will share the service with other people. It can be more enriching because we meet people from many places in the world and share an activity with them.
Obviously, the price will not be as high as private service, or also you can look for small group options if you are looking for a half-way point.
Do it yourself… what does it mean?
These types of services are a little bit strange. We believe that they are for people who have travelled a lot, they can with a map and a few instructions make their own itinerary and know a destination.
They are comfortable doing it by themself!! Maybe following a guide and a marked itinerary overwhelms them. Pay attention if you do not know the service, may seem to be only transportation service.
For our services, the duration is usually from the meeting with the guide to the end of the tour. The duration of the service depends of transportation time. The services of 8hrs have included the time of transfer to the place, then the visit is less than 8 hours.
You should be at the meeting point 15min before, usually, it is well specified on the conditions.
Like everything in tourism, the factors that influence the price are exclusivity and customization. When hiring an excursion they will influence the price, if there are included transportation, guide, tickets, food and drink… The more services they provide, the more the price will rise. Therefore, be careful and read carefully those services where the price is well below the average of similar excursions, maybe it is a free service and not what you were looking for.
Restrictions on passengers
There are usually special restrictions about the services (for example, if they are adapted to people with reduced mobility). More and more companies are providing this service, but if it is not clear, it is always better to check it directly to the company.
Another restriction can be for children, for example, in Caminito del Rey is not allowed the entry to children under 8 years.
There may be other conditions such as Babies should be sitting on an adult’s lap, the Baby carriage cannot be taken, services not recommended for pregnant women, etc.
Are included food and beverage?
It is usually very clear in the offer when the food/beverage is included and when it is not. In this section, we usually find information about food and beverage. Also, many companies when you are going to hire the service they give you the option to choose with or without lunch.
We do not recommend that option because we prefer at this point, if you go your own way, to give you free time for choosing the place, what you want to eat, and also to make the most of the time to continue walking or taking pictures, shopping, even visiting a monument or museum that was not included in the tour. So if you do not have a specific menu in a restaurant you have freedom during the free time in the lunch to decide what do you want to do. For other people, it is better if they have the included menu because it is a resolved issue.
Photo report, HD Video, photos, and other services
Beyond the specific photo reports tours, it is increasingly common for this service to be included in tourist services, we do not know who was the first to have the idea, but it sure started with sports and outdoor activities. Today it is already used as a service in any activity and it is really interesting because the photos are taken by a professional and they can be an excellent souvenir.
It is our responsibility to read carefully the terms and conditions of the services we hire because when you hire the service they are understood as accepted. In them the cancellation policy is described. It can vary between weeks in advance or 24 hours. It is very rare to find a service that can be cancelled free of charge with less than 24 hours at departure time.
Like in hotels, special attention if we are hiring a non-refundable rate. Due to whatever the reason or date of cancellation, the money will not be refunded and the date can not be changed.
Cancellation of services by the company
Also, it is important to read these types of conditions, especially if the activity can be affected by meteorology. For example, Boat Tour: Subject to favourable weather conditions.
There are also services that do not offer guaranteed departure, that is, it is subject to complete a capacity or minimum of participant: In this experience, there must be a minimum number of travelers. If the service is cancelled because this minimum is not reached, you could choose another date or experience or a full refund of the amount paid.
If we have hired a service with these characteristics we must pay attention to the phone or emails to verify that it has not been cancelled, also in this notification, we will find the meeting point.
It is one of the basic elements in the creation of the tourist service and it determines the price and the type of customization of the service.
Tip of transportation: Bus, minibus, on foot…
The buses have capacities between 55 to 33 passengers, if it is less than that is considered minibus and the group will be reduced between 26 and 4 passengers. There are private excursions by car and then those services that usually tour in the city such as Segway, bicycle, and many others.
Many times, transport wins attraction.
Pay attention to the transport. If the excursion begins when you get on the bus or have more than one collection point. This means that much of the “service” time is picking up other customers from hotel to hotel so the time of the service is reduced.
Pick up and drop off to the hotel
It is also a piece of information that is usually specified in the hiring, there are two options: we must approach the meeting point or they pick up us in our accommodation or closer point.
Usually, public services start at a meeting point and private services have pick-up and drop-off at the hotel or indicated point.
People in charge during the service
The driver is the one who will be in charge of driving the transport, but the important thing we want to indicate at this point is that many excursions the driver and the guide … are the same person but it is only allowed when the group is less than 8 passengers.
Professional guide or expert
In addition to studies or experience in tourism, guides to be professionals must legally have the accreditation granted by an official body. In Malaga, for example, these credentials are granted by the Tourism Registry of the Junta de Andalucía.
This accredits them exclusively to teach the Monuments and Museums of the Historical and Cultural Heritage.
TWe also find active tourism, guides, who receive specialized training on it and they are also official guides. Certain activities can only be guided by a guide specialized on it.
Because it is important and usually confusing if we read in the chosen activity “Multilingual” guide than means he/she speaks our language so we can communicate with him/her. But during the service, what it really means is that you may have to listen to the guide with your information several times in several languages. Although it is only allowed to do a tour in 2 languages, it is better to know it before we have too much information and we are overwhelmed.
Other examples: Please note that this is a bilingual tour that takes place simultaneously in English and Spanish // Guide in Spanish and other languages.
Monuments and attractions
Most of the tours and excursions are about visiting a monument or tourist attraction. Read carefully what they tell us about the attraction.
You should clearly find that the service includes the ticket for the places we will visit, for example, Malaga by minibus 2 tickets included. I do not think I am the only one to hire an excursion to several monuments and castles and then when we arrived I had to buy the ticket at the entrance. So, that does not take us by surprise, maybe it appears in the title of the excursion but it does not always mean that the ticket is included in the price.
We believe that this is where the confusion is made when they indicate “Visit the Cathedral”, it can mean that they go to the place, but each traveller must buy their pass. What is not a problem, it is only better to know before starting the departure to be able to check the ticket prices.
To pay special attention: when the visit is to an attraction that has no other option around, for example, a castle on a mountain. If we choose not to enter, there will be nothing else to do so we will need to wait for others to finish their visit. Then, we recommend looking carefully at the prices of the tickets to the attractions that we will visit and if there is another option if we do not want to enter.
Many times it becomes clear, and it would be good if it always likes this. When they tell us many monuments, attractions, museums, etc. In the information of a tour, surely not all those tickets are included. Then it clarifies external visits so that there is no doubt that the tour does not include the entrance to museums and monuments.
Skip the line
From the latest in service activities, this means that you will arrive with your group at the place and you will not have to queue to buy the ticket or wait. Tickets are usually bought beforehand by the company or the attraction has a special service for groups that speeds up the entrance. Beware of those massive attractions … because you may not have to queue to buy the ticket, but to enter.
Respect and pay attention to the timetable of the activity
In a tourist activity, there are several moments that the group is separate for eating, free time, shopping, etc. It is important that we pay close attention to the meeting schedule and place indicated by the guide. First, for respect to the other passengers, no one likes wasting time on the service we have paid to wait for a distracted person. But also because most of the companies, which have experienced this, do not wait for passengers who do not show up. Of course, after the reality, the guide usually apologizes to the rest of the passengers and waits 10 minutes if the group allows it for those who are late, but it is a courtesy of the guide.
Of course, if you do not show up at the agreed time and place you must return on your own. Pay attention to the bus to leave us !! It is not always easy to return on our own.
Friends with this complete guide of what to consider when hiring an excursion, you are ready for your next departure !!