Having a Good Tour Guide is Really Important!
Israel tour guides have a bit of a bad reputation, reflected in this clip from the Simpsons.
When you are picking a tour guide, whether you are finding them directly or being referred through an agency, you need to make sure they are a good fit. The guide is the most important factor in making your trip awesome. No matter how great your plan is, how interesting the sites, how inspiring the vistas, a terrible guide can ruin it. A great guide, however, can make an enjoyable experience out of almost any situation.
Try Before you Buy!
Before committing to a guide, insist on at least a phone call with them of about 10-20 minutes. A video call through Skype, Google+ or any other service will help you to get an even better feel for the person. Don’t let an agency assign you a random guide without talking to them!
A lack of online reviews is not necessarily a bad sign. In fact many of the most experienced and beloved guides are not web-savvy. But if you can find reviews online these can definitely help you make an informed decision. TripAdvisor.com is an excellent, searchable resource where you know the reviews are genuine. Also, many guides have their own websites and usually include customer reviews so try googling your guide’s name (after asking them how to spell it!). Our guides pages also includes reviews.
- Good English: A guide with sub-par English may feel exotic at first but will quickly become frustrating when you can’t understand much of what he’s saying. The level of vocabulary isn’t so important, but make sure you can understand him.
- Polite: Because Israelis have a bad reputation on this count many tourists excuse rude behavior from their guide as being ‘Israeli.’ You don’t have to settle for this. You should insist that your guide speak to you appropriately.
- Good Service: Is your guide the type that will just shlep along or will he take responsibility to make your tour great? Will he make excuses or find solutions? Don’t settle for someone who’s just showing up for a day at the office.
- Chemistry: You are going to be with this person for much of your trip, so even if they meet all the above criteria, make sure you like them. You don’t want to go on vacation with someone that rubs you the wrong way!
Most agencies see guides as interchangeable and will give the client whoever is available. At InSite Israel we place a special emphasis on our relationships with guides, so the best guides love to work with us. We also make sure to pair our customers with just the right guide for them. So a quick shortcut to finding a good guide is to hire us to do your tour. But in any case, follow the guidelines above and you’ll find a great guide who’s a perfect fit.
Take a look at our guides page for some of the best in the business!