February 12, 2011
Booking your trip – Choose the right tour operator
Choosing the right tour operator is a critical first step in your journey to the Himalaya. You need to find a Himalayan specialist, with strong local knowledge, excellent contacts and a good track record. Here are the top ten questions you should be asking:
1. Do you specialise in this destination? Specialists have more local knowledge and are therefore better placed to uncover the hidden gems.
2. What is included in the price of the trip and what additional expenses should I expect? You should receive transparent and clear costs for the holiday. It is also better to pay everything upfront so there are no surprises. Which meals are included? If it’s just a bed and breakfast program, how much spending money would I need to cover meals?
3. Are you an ethical operator? What is your commitment to responsible tourism or ecotourism? Ethics is clearly a personal matter, but we would always advise travelling with a tour operator that has policies on responsible travel, the environment, and who support projects/charities in the target destination.
4. What training do the guides undergo? First aid, English, experience in the job, how long working with your company?
5. What is your cancellation and refund policy? It is very important to carefully read and understand this policy before you put any money down. Ask the tour operator what will happen if the trip is cancelled. Will you receive a full refund?
6. Do you protect my money? Should be bonded with an association like ATOL, ABTA, TTA etc.
7. Do you provide the experience I want, or do you sell package trips? Bespoke trips are always better than package holidays.
7. What are your safety procedures? The operator should be able to clearly explain their procedures.
8. What do your customers say about your service? Always seek customer feedback.
9. Is the information you provide accurate? Double check any information online, like place names. Accuracy will reflect the competency of the company.
10. What will be the group sizes on the trip? If I book with you will I be joining 40 other people in a large group or can I travel by myself or in smaller teams?
Look forward to Pt. III of our Beginners’ Guide, which will go online in two weeks!