Have you ever found yourself sitting at your laptop after three hours of extensive research? And you still have the same questions, such as “which tour in Cusco shall I book?” or “which one is the best travel agency in Peru that can help me plan for my upcoming holiday?” I know that feeling.
And I’m sure many of you, too. Just to realize that you still don’t have any clue about the difference of the first and last tour or travel agency you researched and tried to compare.
In many cases, the presented information seems to be the same. And not only that, the traveler satisfaction in Peru is decreasing with risks of having a less exciting experience in the land of the Incas. In 2017, the numbers shrank from 78% to 74% and there is no improvement in sight yet.
Thousands of travelers face the same challenge. How to find out which is the best travel agency in Peru? Which is the best tour in Cusco? And certainly, there are many more.
Travelers during our small group tour to the Palccoyo Rainbow Mountain
Especially when trying to compare different travel agencies in Peru. Due to missing information or too much similarity, travelers finally listen to their gut feeling hoping for the best. Or they choose an agency because the office staff smiled at them.
Let’s come to the point: How can you determine if the tour in Cusco will be the experience you’re looking for? Regardless of whether you’re up for mass tourism, semi private- or private tours.
Separating the good from the bad and determining what’s best for you, can be easier than you imagine.
Working in the Peruvian tourism industry for more than 3 years and being a passionate traveler myself, I learned what to look or ask for in case you can’t find the information you’re searching for.
How to find the right travel agency in Peru?
Here are some quick tips that will help you find the right travel agency in Peru:
1. Market experience:
How many years of experience does the Peruvian travel agency have? This might give you an impression on how much experience they have with travelers (although that doesn’t mean that they are always improving their services. Many of Peru’s tour agencies keep their quality of service the same over various years.)
Does the travel agency share all the information you need to know? Or is there information hidden or unclear, such as group size, food, restaurants visited, safety or transportation? Does the tour include all of the sites you want to see?
How much time do you have on the sites to be visited? Is your tour just rushing from one site to the next or is there enough time to enjoy the views and the stories of the guide?
Is the travel agency well rated on TripAdvisor and do they respond to their reviews? What about Google or on-site reviews?
Make sure you don’t fall for false good or bad reviews. Those will most likely only have short statements or no text at all and are written by profiles with few information about the user.
It’s always better to trust the reviews with explanations or pictures than the ones that only say that the tour was good or bad!
Review of a client on our TripAdvisor profile
How is the website built and designed? Does the structure, design and process help to answer your questions quickly?
Is the information easy to find? Can you choose different languages? Is the value proposition communicated clearly?
5. How is your initial contact handled?
Do they respond quickly, directly and friendly in case you need to contact them? Is there a bot that helps you navigating through the web or answering questions the “do-it-yourself style”?
Do they care about you and your time instead of just sending copy paste itineraries or payment processes.
6. Terms & Cancellation policies:
Have a look at the Terms & Conditions and at the cancellation policies, so you don’t end up with a bad surprise in case you cannot join a tour.
Some travel agencies have strict policies where you won’t get a refund in case you change or cancel your travel plans 4 weeks before the tour starts.
This doesn’t mean that the travel agency is bad, but just make sure that you know their policies so that you are prepared. Concerning this, it’s important to mention that if you want to do a Machu Picchu Tour you won’t get a refund if the tickets are bought already. This is due to the fact that they are not transferable to another person.
7. Fitness level:
Does the travel agency present information about the difficulty of certain treks or about who is able to join them (kids, older people etc.)? It’s very important to know about the symptoms of the altitude sickness and how to avoid it.
A steep hike up on the way to the Humantay Lake
8. Social Projects/ Sustainability:
Is the travel agency involved in a social project? Do they focus on sustainability? They might charge you a little bit more, but if it’s for a good purpose then it’s definitely worth it.
Our travelers dressing up in the local communities´ traditional clothes.
9. Team Introduction:
Do you get to know their team on the website? It’s always good to have a clue “who” is behind the company instead of just having an About Us talking about “what” they stand for.
How can you pay? Are safe payment options via deposit, PayPal or credit card offered?
With this information you can separate a good from a bad travel agency in Peru. But what about tours in Cusco?
How to find the best tour in Cusco?
In the following, we will share some tips on what characteristics to look for on the travel agency’s website or in their office in order to find the best tour in Cusco.
1. Clear information:
Can you easily find all the necessary information about the tour in Cusco (itinerary, price, group sizes, what’s included and what isn’t, terms and conditions etc.) on the webpage?
Does the tour cover all of the places you want to see? What about the itinerary
2. Group size:
How big is the group of this tour? Is it too big so you don’t get any personalized attention from the guide?
Will the car be crowded and therefore uncomfortable because of too many travelers?
Will you have the chance to ask questions and be in the “first row” when the guide explains something? The maximum amount of people in the first row is 8. With more than 8 people, there will be a “second row” and you might have difficulties to understand what your guide says, potentially missing information.
Are the guides professionals and speak proper English? Are they passionate about what they do?
Our guide Darwin having a break with our travelers in the Red Valley
It’s not about clearly presented information as mentioned in point 1, but whether you’ll have to organize things that aren’t included in the tour and that might cost you additional money or time while in Cusco, such as bringing hiking sticks.
Is food, water or snacks offered during the tour? If yes, are vegetarian or vegan options offered and how flexible are they with allergies? Is the restaurant clean?
What is the restaurant like where you enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Delicious lunch buffet in Urubamba during our Sacred Valley tour
Is there anything that differentiates this tour from the “standard” tours that you find?
7. Pick up – Drop off:
Where is pick up/ drop off point? Does the agency tend to pick up their travelers on time?
Is airport pickup/ drop-off included? How long does the pickup take? It’s always good to ask because sometimes it can take up to 1 hour or longer, also depending on the group size.
In case the tour in Cusco includes an overnight stay, is it clearly mentioned in which hotel you will stay?
Is the car clean, comfortable and does it offer enough leg space? Does the travel agency offer a safe car and an experienced driver? Is heating, air conditioner, or wifi available?
Is the schedule made in a way to avoid the crowds or is it just the standard itinerary that everyone uses?
Is enough time planned in for visiting the sites or will you rush from one spot to the next one?
11. Satisfaction Guarantee:
What happens in case you’re disappointed? Will you get your money back?
Happy travelers drinking Chicha with our Guide Carlos.
Enjoy your time in Peru
As you can see, there are quite some characteristics you should have a look at when checking for travel agencies in Peru or tours in Cusco, online as well as in the destination itself.
These golden rules make sure that you can separate the good from the bad. When you check for all of this, you know what you can expect from the agency or the tour. No matter if you are planning on doing a 1-day tour, a tour for several days in Cusco or a tour in the Peruvian jungle, the rules are always the same.
In case there’s another point you’d consider as important, I’m happy to read about this in the comments.