There are plenty of great tour operators that can help you have fantastic experiences. Whether you book your travel through an agency or direct with he operator there are some things you should know about what makes a great tour operator.
1. All professional tour operators will have appropriate licenses and insurance. Be wary of those that do not have appropriate cover. Good operators will be happy to provide you with the following:
• Details of what they are licenced for and by whom – certificates should be available
• The insurance they have and what it covers, and how much. It should cover Public Liability and Professional Indemnity. If they have employees in Australia, they should also have WorkCover.
• Details as to whether the company or any office bearer has ever been subject to any legal or claim action.
2. Experience counts. You want to be in the best hands possible so the level of experience and attention to training are important. Some points to consider:
• How long has the company been operating?
• How will they communicate with you and are there any restrictions? Can you talk to your trek leader at any stage prior to the trip?
• What is their history of emergency situations during treks and how they have been managed?
• Leaders – Average age, diversity of gender and backgrounds, experience in leading treks.
• Company support – systems, communications, operating manuals
• Education – First Aid training, ongoing professional and personal development
3. Deposit Guarantees. Great operators will provide deposit guarantees, especially in the current COVID environment? Some questions to ask:
• Are your deposits refundable and if so, in what circumstances?
• If I can’t travel and the reason isn’t covered by my insurance, what are my options?
• If minimum numbers aren’t achieved and my departure is cancelled, what are my options?
4. Personal service and attention. The level of service and personal attention you will receive depends to a large degree on the numbers and price you pay. You can get an idea by asking how many treks a year a company runs and to what destinations?
• Numerous treks & destinations means you will have a greater choice, but may be more likely to be treated as a number
• Few treks & destinations means you are likely to get good personal service but may not have the full back up, diversity of choice and experience of leaders, and capacity to deal with exceptional circumstances.
5. Good tour operators invest in your preparation. Preparation by way of information and support is an important part of your experience. Poorly prepared clients enjoy the trip less and can make treks difficult for the operator. Operators who invest in your preparation and hence in the rest of your groups preparation will always give a better experience.
• Ask if they offer a training program and if so, in what format
• Ask if they have regular and free supported training walks
• Ask if you can meet any of their staff to train with
6. Good operators give back to the communities. Know how your tour operator gives back to the communities in need, especially in those areas in which you trek. It is a great feeling to know that when you trek you are also helping those people to help themselves.
• Find out what sort of support is provided for staff and partner organisations
• What charitable ventures does your tour operator participate in?
7. Satisfaction Guarantee. Those tour operators that have all of the above attributes and can answer your questions will also have the systems in place to give you a great experience. They will back this with guarantees.
1. Ask what happens if you do everything asked of you – fitness training, right equipment, great preparation, and it just wasn’t what you were led to believe
2. Ask what they will do if things go wrong and they’re not fixed or addressed?
3. Ask what form of satisfaction guarantee they will provide.