DepositPhotos Tour Guide or Tour Operator?

Whether you need a tour guide or tour operator to some extent depends on where you are going. If you are headed someplace in Europe, the Caribbean, or the U.S. – places where there is a highly developed tourism industry – then it may be easy to do your research, check online, go to TripAdvisor, and all those kinds of places, look at reviews and then design or plan out your entire trip itinerary.

Those countries may have great train systems and maps that you can easily navigate, accurate timetables for trains, buses, and reliable local transportation systems, including ferries in some places. It is especially important that the road infrastructure is good and well-maintained.

But if you are going somewhere, such as many countries in Africa, it may not be that easy to move around the country, especially outside the larger tourist centers and cities. The infrastructure may not be what you are accustomed to. Sometimes the roads are not. Buses and other forms of public transportation vehicles are often not linked to the tourism sector.

In this case, it becomes quite challenging to plan out everything on your own. It is especially difficult to do so if you are embarking on multi-city, multi-day trips because now you have to get from one place to another, from one city to another city, town or village. You will have to arrange all of that on your own. It is not as straightforward as in countries that have a more developed tourism sector.

You’ll also have to arrange accommodation, many of which are not even listed on booking websites.

A tour guide is the person who shows you around the country once you arrive. A guide can also make some arrangements for you, usually limited to a certain region or a particular subject or activity.

A tour operator, on the other hand, handles all aspects of your visit, prior to arrival and during your visit. The operator provides the services you you want and usually covers more areas of the country. You can tell the operator what you would like to do once in the country and many will custom design trip experiences and itineraries for you in the country. The operator also offers various tour packages throughout the year.

Here’s an article that will give you a little more information about how tour guides and tour operators are similar, yet different, Tour Guide or Tour Operator, What’s The Difference?

How do you know whether you need a tour guide or a tour operator?

Consider using a tour guide if:

  • You will be staying primarily in one city or town during your visit
  • You are knowledgeable about the destination
  • You are an experienced traveler
  • You like researching and planning
  • You are familiar with booking your own accommodation, transportation, guides, and activities
  • Your are adventurous
  • Your are independent and flexible
  • You want to book activities on an as-needed basis
  • You like spontaneity
  • You have a limited budget

Consider using a tour operator if:

  • You are new to international travel
  • You are unfamiliar with the destination
  • You will be visiting multiple cities and towns over several days and staying in different hotels
  • You are traveling with young children
  • You prefer not to do all the all the research and planning
  • You don’t have the time or inclination to coordinate everything yourself
  • You are a woman over 50 and traveling solo
  • You or someone you are traveling with had special needs or physical challenges to be accommodated for
  • You want to experience custom tailored cultural activities
  • You are able and willing to spend more money to reduce the stress of coordinating everything yourself
  • You prefer the structure and companionship of traveling with a group

So, as you have read, there are several factors to take into consideration when deciding whether to work with a tour guide or a tour operator. I hope this article has been helpful.