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Has anyone used "toursbylocals.com"?

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My wife & I will be stopping in Alexanderia for 2 nights on a cruise. We want to go to Cairo for 1 night.

Any ideas? We saw "toursbylocals.com" on the net, but are concerned about it.

Larry & Carole

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    Hello Larry and Carole,

    I do some writing for the company you're asking about. Obviously I can't give you an impartial traveler review, but I'm here to assure you we are a legitimate travel business, headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. I'd suggest calling our Vancouver office (1-866-844-6783) and speaking to Paul or David if you are looking for more information about the company and/or specific guide recommendations. One of our most popular and busiest guides actually works out of Cairo; she charges very reasonable rates for private tours and may be just the person you're looking for.

    I hope you have an excellent trip!
    Sara

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    Got some ads online for this private tours booking company,good marketing with some positive reviews by themselves.Some of my friends thought it was a worldwide travel service but unfortunately it's not.They just charged 20% commission on each tour which makes the tour prices are so high and our guide told us he didn't even get paid that much.

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    Yes, I'm looking for a tour for this upcoming weekend in Istanbul. Doing this for a living here in Cairo, I like to experiment with other companies when I travel to learn what I'm doing well and what I can do better. I looked at ToursbyLocals there, but they are pretty expensive and I think I rejected them up front because they weren't very accommodating to doing what I wanted to do instead of just doing what they wanted me to do. :(
    I am sure they are legit though if they offer what you want.

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    chuckling away here CC :-)

    too funny Toursbylocals answering someone about opinions on toursbylocals is a new one on me :-))

    And a busy guide?? really! :-) I thought all guides were struggling with the drops in tourism numbers, she must be really popular! lol.

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    I´d like to comment my experience as a guide for Tours by Locals. I´ve done 15 tours with them in about a year, more or less. They let you publish your tours on the region you cover and set your prices, in a very independent way. TBL receives a 20% of the cost of your tour and customers choose their desired guide paying directly to TBL, once the tour is successfully completed you get your 80% through a secure paying system. Guides are not necessarily professional, not necessarily licensed and not necessarily experienced, although they do ask for some infos to back your capacities as a guide.

    Everything worked fine until the day I had to cancel a tour. Following their policy, I told them about one month in advance that I could not cover the tour on the fixed date (cruise arriving at Bilbao port terminal that day and leaving next) as I had a business trip on that same day. TBL said “no problem, can you please find another guide for that same day?”. It took me some time, as it was a busy date and everyone I knew was fully booked for that date. I finally got in touch with an incoming agency who contacted a licensed guide (a lady) and she got in touch with TBL to do the tour. They negotiated (I ignore the terms) and reached an agreement. It was then (a couple of days in advance) that customer was informed of the change. Tour was done, I asked this girl how it went and she said that customer was happy on the tour and she was congratulated. I received nothing from any side, as it´s normal.

    Some days later, I get a communication from TBL. Customer has complained about the tour and demands some kind of compensation. TBL immediately offers a 50% discount, and contacts me to cover for this amount. I just don´t give credit . They say that customer expected an Audi A6, a better knowledge of the area (San Sebastián) by the guide and some other very minor details. I then write an email to TBL informing them that I cannot take any responsibility for a guide I´ve proposed as a special favor to them, that it´s them who have to decide if the alternative guide is suitable or not and that customer had to be informed previously by TBL that there were changes in car, person and capacities (all my reviews were 5 over 5). And I call them coward for taking the easy way and making the weaker part in the story to pay for something he´s not responsible for. They had to check on proposed guides, that is not my job as we are just locals that offer guided tours based on an experience and a knowledge of the area, but we act independently and have no contract with TBL.

    To make a long story short: I get a call from TBL Canada (at 1130pm) complaining about my attitude (I was really mad at them, after all my help and support with issues with other guides and a very good experience with all my tours) and calling them cowards. He says that a trip is no excuse for cancelling a trip (?¿) and that I´m responsible for any consequences of my cancelling (?¿). They say they can give me another chance (“ownership wants you fired but we can find a solution with this if you cooperate”) if I pay. I decide to resign on that moment…and then the person calling asks me if I´m going to give next booked tour (what a nerve!!). When I say no, he gets mad and says I´m not a professional…I tell him I´ve resigned and I hung up.

    Are they a reliable company? Probably, but it seems they don´t care much about their guides and it´s money, money, money what they´re after. I´m doing much better know, to be honest, and glad to work in a more independent way. But surely there are lots of people with good experiences with them and happy with their way of doing things. This is just my experience.

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    mikelg - WOW! Thanks for the story. I would have had higher hopes for a company out of Vancouver Canada, but they don't sound like the kind of company any responsible person would want to deal with...as a guide or as a customer.
    If the people calling you from the home office were doing this to cover their ass and this is NOT the company policy, I'd say management has some work to do to fix this problem. If it is company policy then that is BS, IF in fact you did advise them you would be unavailable for the tour within the guidelines of your contract with them (as you say "a month"). :/

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    Tours by Locals is very expensive. They do not do anything except of listing guides anyone can find online. To the price of the actual tours they add a little over 20%. They have a ridiculous way of abbreviating the last name of the guides while their first name shows.

    Being listed with TBL is no guarantee for quality. I doubt real good tour guides would use this channel for getting bookings while they previously advertised online - where TBL found them.

    Most guides seem beginners or unlicensed and TBL makes them look legit.

    TBL has an army of Internet watchdogs and usually any comment "against" them is immediately replied with all kinds of explanations as to how great their business is, etc.

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    I've read the comments above and they all seem pretty one-sided. I am a professional tour guide (in fact I own the second largest tour company in my area) of over 10 years and I am licensed with all the licenses I can think of. I also list some of my tours on Tours by Locals. I probably wouldn't even bother writing here but most of the statements are simply opinions with zero substance and simply not true. Here's my take.

    On being expensive:

    Actually they are not expensive at all. They just list the final cost of the tour/not gimmicking sticker prices to show from until later in the booking process. When you go to Viator (for instance) tours are listed cost per person (based on a number of pax) - so when you want to book for 3 people you end up paying 600 eur/the first page said from 74 eur!!! Tours by Locals doesn't do that.

    Also the tours that are sold are usually customized and private. I challenge you to find a cheaper place where you can customize everything about your touring experience by communicating directly to the guide. Should that be for the same price of a cattle-bus tour? In fact I personally price on TBL at a nice discount over my regular prices. (for instance instead of pricing a private car per hour as it is the normal practice I price it as a one-time add-on which delivers instant savings of 50% for that component of the tour price.

    On tour guides:

    Tour guiding business has transformed in the last few years. There is a growing market for local experiences tailored to customer needs and narrated/organized by locals. I believe it is a powerful and very interesting niche which gives a special experience for a good price.

    Some people here mentioned that some guides are not "Licensed". There are only a few places in the world left where licensing is obligatory (China, North Korea) - from a legal point of view licensing is not important anymore. Licensing is also not necessarily a guarantee for quality or a great experience.

    I've started hiring "star people" tour guides (I have 18 of them in my company) - knowledgeable, interesting, young and people with interesting backgrounds and hobbies, scholars, people with art history, musical studies degrees. Years ago everyone had to be licensed but as a licensed tour guide of over 10 years I can tell you some of my non-licensed guides are 100 times more fun than me. They can provide their unique take on things in a way I can't.

    I love the concept of experience it with locals. That is the future and I am giving Tours by Locals a 5 star rating for trying it and actually doing a great job connecting customers with local talents.

    On the 20%:

    The markup is an industry standard. It is moneys paid by providers to booking companies. I see nothing out of the ordinary. WE pay 20% to Viator, Expedia, Amex, Carlson Wagonlit - all of them.

    On customer service and dealing with difficult customers:

    Tours by Locals have a very customer-friendly policy actually. In fact sometimes I think it favors customers' complaints by assuming they were right instead of the tour guide. I may not favor it but it is clearly stated in their Code of Doing Business. By signing-up as a tour guide you know that quite well. If you are professional and communicate clearly what will be delivered (in writing) I have not experienced any problems so far and I book 15+ tours a month with them alone.

    In fact I cannot know for sure that my work with them will always be without hiccups. Stuff happens as with any business.

    On mikelg story:

    Your story is very interesting as I've never experienced such demands since I see no grounds for them. Did you receive payment for the tour? Since you arranged the substitute did you pay them or Tours by Locals paid them without your intermediary?

    On Sean56 comments:

    The statement that they are "expensive" is subjective and simply not true. What are you basing your statement on? And I can assure you that many guides you cannot find elsewhere as you claim. You can't find me "personally" for instance and I am one of the best in my area. I only list there. In other places I list under my company name.

    Final words:

    Tours by Locals represent less that 5% of my turnover but I have great respect for their model and that is why I participate. I find it that they are doing a great job. There will always be cases where disappointing tours occur. Most of the times due to reasons Tours by Locals simply has no way of controlling. I get complaints and cancellations, refund requests ... it is part of life and business.

    If you have a "concern" call them and state your expectations clearly. I am sure that you will get what you request and more.

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    Fwalks:

    thanks for the input. Tours by Locals is known for a very strong presence on the Internet on all possible forums as the one here and voices itself through pen names. Anyone willing to spend an hour on the Internet will find responses signed either by TBL direclty or by "happy guides/happy customers" defending the policies of this company and trying to limit the efects of any possible complaints.

    We got a similar case here.

    Fwalks: your story does not convince anyone. The truth is TBL is just an idea by a couple of guys who have found names of tour guides on the Internet, not somewhere else. TBL has no control in foreign countries.

    20% premium is a lot, excuse me, but your comparison to Amex and Expedia makes no sense. 20% is still a lot regardless of who is the re-seller.

    You, personally, are from TBL. You keeping going ahead with this idea about local guides. Where would they be from if not locals? When you say tour with a local, what is the actual alternative? Tour with an alien? It is like saying we use radial tyres on our cars.

    In reality, all the tour guides listed by TBL, in all countries, can be found online, by searching, the exact same way they were found by TBL.

    It is just a matter of perception from the side of the traveler, many think they hire a guide of TBL, in fact they are not. Same tour guide can be hired online for 20% less.

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    On mikelg story:

    Your story is very interesting as I've never experienced such demands since I see no grounds for them. Did you receive payment for the tour? Since you arranged the substitute did you pay them or Tours by Locals paid them without your intermediary?

    fwalks, no, i did not get paid at all. They paid the substitute without me doing nothing but finding another guide. But they had the nerve to demand money from me. The only one that did not get a cent in the whole story. That´s why I believe they are not to be trusted (if you´re a guide, of course). Much happier now, working on my own company and with reliable, honest people I´m happy to pay a commission when necessary.

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