Local Tour Private Guides vs Tour Operators

Don’t let your tour pass by like a blur

Whether visiting Taiwan or Tahiti for the first time, making the most of your trip often involves tour guide services in some shape or form. But in the past, big brand tour operators had a bit of a monopoly in the arena, just like taxi companies firmly grasped the non-transit public transportation market until ride-hailing services (Uber, Lyft) came to the rescue. Or how hotels and resorts dictated your vacation schedule and budget before home-stay alternatives (Airbnb, VRBO) came out of the woodwork. Thankfully, the final piece of the puzzle has fallen into place for travelers, as mobile app technology has managed to connect independent local experts to visitors, providing for a more engaging experience.

However, some people are still on the fence about using a private tour guide over the common operators who reach out from pamphlet decorated kiosks that line the pathways of resort communities. Today, we’re going to provide some insight into why the former makes more sense for the globetrotters of our great world.

5 Reasons Why an Independent Local Tour Guide is Better Than a Traditional Tour Company

1. You Get to Experience What’s Important to You

Major operators typically offer pre-ordained tours, which can be great for the all-inclusive types who prefer to sit on a bus and be shown what others think will be of interest to them. That’s not most people, yourself included.

Instead, you want to see what’s most relevant to your interests. For some, it’s historical landmarks and culturally significant attractions. For others, it’s wildlife and eco-destinations that only Mother Nature can claim sole responsibility for. And for some, it may be night markets, boutique shopping and the never-ending wave of unique urban experiences. Or, perhaps it’s an eclectic collection of all of the above. Only with a private tour guide will you get to choose your own adventure.

And what if you’re completely unfamiliar with a given destination? No problem. All you need to do is let a private guide know what you’re passionate about and they can devise an itinerary for you, thanks to their unmatched knowledge of their own homeland.

2. The Only Way to Discover Hidden Gems

Tour companies are not in the business of ushering travelers to hidden gems in their region. Instead, they shuttle groups to well-known attractions with commission structures more often than not leading the way. A private guide however, will take your preferences (as per item #1) into careful consideration, and will enthusiastically whisk you towards secret beaches, off-the-beaten-path trails, under-the-radar cafes, and off-the-grid markets (etc.) that only those “in the know” know about. Pretty soon you’ll become a bit of an expert in the destination yourself. Who knows, you may end up becoming a guide yourself one day because of it!

3. You Set Your Pace

Typical tours have strict predefined itineraries that dictate how long you will stop (if at all) at a given attraction. 1-hour here, 30-minutes there, 15-minutes for snacks, 5-minutes for bathrooms breaks, and so forth. Because of this you get nothing more than CliffNotes versions of sights, monuments, and landmarks. Now for some stops, this may be fine for you, but for others that offer something you may be deeply interested in the ticking clock can have you ripped away from an engaging downright spiritual experience. With a private tour guide, you can dictate how long you want to stay and explore a given sight as long as it fits within your general pre-booked schedule.

Remember, with a private tour guide you get to call the shots throughout the time slot, if you so desire.

4. A Bigger Bang for Your Buck

Will you save money by going with a local tour private guide over a bigger brand tour operator? Maybe, maybe not. However, you will most certainly get a bigger bang for your yuán (New Taiwan dollar). In fact, for a major tour company to take you to as many destinations for the stop-by-stop durations that you prefer (as addressed in items #1-4) they would have to book numerous parties (all agreeing to the same itinerary) to make it financially viable. 9.9 times out of 10 this simply won’t happen. Also, when you compare the cost of using a local independent guide that doesn’t have the overhead of a tour company you won’t find a more cost-efficient means of accomplishing your adventurous goals.

5. You’ll Probably Make a Friend

This happens all almost all of the time – travelers become friends with their guide, and typically keep in touch weeks, months, and even years after they’ve spend some quality time together. Throughout the few hours with your local guide you (and your party) will not only get to know their homeland, but them as well, and this is really what connecting to a given destination is really all about. After all, you cannot truly know a land without getting to know its people. Of course, the level of conversation is completely up to you, but if the seed is planted a friendship can absolutely grow through the duration of the tour. This beautiful opportunity for engagement simply doesn’t happen when your guide sits in the front of a shuttle van or bus while belting out scripted anecdotes over a muffled microphone.


It must be noted that all of the above can only be realized when choosing a local tour guide that has been carefully vetted. When you’re a member of Loci Amica, you will enjoy the benefits of your own private guide, secured through a trusted online resource. Learn more about how it works here.

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