There’s a gazillion tour companies now floating through the world wide web. Most travelers want the lowest price possible to escape and go straight to “cheaperosity.com” before they even narrow down their dreamy bucket list destination! This can lead to disaster or in the least, a waste of time and money on a place that will underwhelm you. Let’s say a friend encourages you to visit Nepal. You’re clueless, but you Google local tour operators. Over 1200 show up. You pick “Yak on a Budget Travel”, ‘cuz they are dirt cheap and you send them a deposit by PayPal. Five months later, no one greets you at the airport upon arrival. Outside, Kathmandu assaults your senses, but you manage to hail a taxi to your 2-star hotel bordering on a youth hostel. No breakfast, bad bed. Your guides are subpar with thick accents. You get half-day tours daily instead of full days as promised in vans with no AC. At each famous site, the guide says, “Need money now for entrance fees.” And the story goes on and on for 8 long days of disappointment as you watch other tour groups gleefully exiting deluxe motor coaches and heading to the front of the lines for the best vantage points.
A gentle reminder dear travel lover – Do your research on tour operators credentials first! Choose one with a proven track record of reliability. How? Carefully read their company profile. Is the company Owner-run or is it presented through a travel agent who doesn’t want the expense nor responsibility of being the Principal? Is it a cheesy website with template blocks to cut and paste in your contact details, looking like something designed by a teenager? Be extra cautious if stock photos are inserted instead of real people who actually traveled with this company.
Ask how long the tour operator has been in business. A year or less, I’d run. Are they fully licensed and bonded? Do they have IATA license and other credentials? Any reports to the Better Business Bureau is a huge red flag. Find reviews on Google. If an emergency happens, does the company have insurance to protect you? Understand that countless tour operators go out of business each year. What protection do you have if you paid for a trip in full and they close shop a week before you depart?
Consider companies that have successfully sent groups around the world for a long time. Look for repeat travelers. Check out their website to feel the passion and integrity that comes from their information. See that they use Non-Stock Photos showing real people on their trips. Glance over hundreds of happy testimonials, each honest and trustworthy. Invest the time in researching who you’ll book with. Find a company that will deliver what they promised. After all, it is your investment in a thrilling adventure to provide you forever memories.