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Is it ok to ask for a reduction in tour cost?

hi there, appreciate any advice here. I am planning to engage a local tour guide for a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano. The tour guide has provided a quotation - Is it ok to ask for a reduction? Or will the person be offended if i enquire on the possibility for a discount? Thank you.

Posted by
23728 posts

If you think that they are asking for more money than their skills and experience are worth, perhaps you would be better off either paying more for somebody else with more skills, or perhaps paying the amount you want to pay for the skill level and knowledge that you are willing to pay for.

Or do you just haggle in your normal life and wonder if you can haggle to save money?

In any event I would be surprised if their prices are very soft. Do you have a large group?

Posted by
19 posts

It is only a party of three - my wife, daughter and I. I am not familiar with what a normal price would be for a day trip, hence my asking for advice.

Posted by
664 posts

I have a couple of friends who are European tour guides (although none guide tourists in Italy) - so I asked them this question on your behalf. One said in reply...."I am not a flea market - my price is my price - and it is what was stated."
By the way - even though they are my "friends", when I engage them as my guide - I pay them their going rate.

Posted by
15586 posts

What all is included in the tour? Are they picking you up in a car at your hotel and taking you to Siena and San Gimignano? Ok, tell us the price and we'll opine whether it is reasonable or not.

Posted by
5845 posts

We have never bartered for a lower fee from a licensed guide, can’t imagine doing that.. In the scheme of things, you are spending a lot of money on the trip and this is a small component of it.
Rent a car and DIY as it is so easy. There is no need for a guide for rural Tuscany.

Posted by
7735 posts

If the only reason is because you don't want to pay the full rate, then no. If there is something different about your situation that might justify a lower rate, then sure, but be sure to explain the reason. If there is no such reason and you ask anyway, prepare for the tour guide to be offended.

Posted by
11658 posts

I've never heard of asking a guide to discount their tour without a good reason. It really doesn't matter if there's only 3 of you: the hourly or total tour fee is what it is. In fact, larger groups almost always cost less per person because the fee can be spread amongst more individuals. So no, I wouldn't ask for a reduction and would think the guide would be offended if you did.

Posted by
20686 posts

I rarely bargain for "private services" since I do think that is an insult to the individual. You are telling him that he is not worth what he is asking. Either accept it or reject it. If he is consistently rejected then he might conclude that he is overpriced. It is not your job to tell him that especially since you have no bases for comparison other than just trying to be cheap. However, I do bargain for goods since I know there is a cost bases and a mark up.

Sometimes I will go the other direction and offer more. We are frequently off a cruise ship and hit by the taxi drivers and local tours guides offering tours. I will engage in a little discussion to test their English and if I like the personality, I will ask the price. If he says 50 euro and I might counter with, "Make it the best tour I have ever had and I will pay you 65 euro." We have received some really great tours over the years. Are they better than what we may have received for 50 euro? Don't know but I think their enthusiasm for the tour is increased.

My feeling is that if you come across as being cheap, you will get a cheap tour. Just -- personal opinion.

Posted by
245 posts

It is only a party of three - my wife, daughter and I. I am not familiar with what a normal price would be for a day trip, hence my asking for advice.

I think it would be insulting to ask for a discount, unless you have a specific reason that the guide had not been aware of when he/she made the quote, though I can't think of what that might be - certainly not simply that you think they're asking too much (you admit you have no idea) and not simply because it's more than you want to pay. Either you accept their price and hire them, or you don't -- if you try to bargain them down for less, they will just turn around and give you less service (if they don't cancel entirely).

If you really can't pay that much, ask them if they know of a less expensive way to tour the area - the guide may know of a tour group or less expensive guide, if that's what you want.

I don't think the size of your group - up to about 5 or 6 people - would matter much to the guide. How much is your tour, for how long?

Posted by
3286 posts

You don't say where your tour departs from and returns to or how long it is and what's included.

To help with comparisons, take a look at this all day tour, including the towns you want to visit and much more. You can see what's involved and what the cost is per person. Keep in mind that this is a larger bus tour, so prices per person may be cheaper: Walkabout Best of Tuscany. I mention this one because I've been on it with my husband, daughter and 5-year-old grand daughter.

You can also Google something like "private day tours tuscany" to find other resources and prices.

One more thing, do not assume that if you go private you will be driven right into Siena or San Gimignano. You will have to walk a considerable distance to what you want to see, up and down hill. There is an escalator from a parking area in Siena that goes quite a way, but not the whole way, up.

I've never negotiated prices with a private tour guide. I have arranged shorter and/or more customized tours which may or may not have been cheaper than what they normally did.

Posted by
3427 posts

Unless you know in advance that a key portion of the regular tour will be left out, then no. Either pay the asking price or find someone offering a tour more in line with what you want to pay.

Posted by
72 posts

I always ask, you never know they might have some suggestions, but then I do always tip.
by the way I almost always do get a discount

Posted by
238 posts

JMHO but I can't see haggling with a tour guide, especially if its for a private tour......

Posted by
7735 posts

If your concern is that you have no way of knowing whether they're charging too much, tell us what the tour includes and how much the guide is charging. But I can tell you this, if the consensus is that you're being scalped by someone who targets unsuspecting tourists, you won't want to negotiate the price down - you'll want to find a different guide.

Posted by
1666 posts

I'll respond based on my ~20 years as a full time professional photographer (I changed careers a while back).

I encourage you to ask for a reduction. That will help the tour guide identify what kind of customer you are.

The internet is a wonderful thing. We can do plenty of research. We can compare vendors offering similar services. We can read reviews to see if they offer quality and value. Then we can decide whether we think the rate they request is commensurate to the service they provide.

Once in a while I'd have a customer who wanted to negotiate price. I'd refer them to less expensive photographers and walk them to the door. It only took a customer or two to find out that the hagglers would also never be satisfied.

Posted by
20686 posts

....find out that the hagglers would also never be satisfied......

That is a very interesting conclusion BUT may have a lot of truth behind it. I have had some association with the construction trades. And thinking back there is some correlation to that statement.

Posted by
245 posts

....find out that the hagglers would also never be satisfied......
That is a very interesting conclusion BUT may have a lot of truth behind it. I have had some association with the construction trades. And thinking back there is some correlation to that statement.

I think there's a lot of truth there......I used to work freelance in a profession where I would cover for others while they were away. I would not haggle with a client, and if they wanted a lower price, I encouraged them to find someone more within their price range. If they didn't value what I could offer them, I knew then they wouldn't be satisfied with my work at any price.

I won't say I was offended by their attempts to get a discount, but I was annoyed that they didn't believe me when I told them my price and thought it was merely a suggestion or the opening play in some sort of game. I was also annoyed that they thought they were somehow special and so deserved a special price.

Posted by
7180 posts

You don’t have to haggle at all. Just reply that the price is more than you can spend. The guide may offer to take less or he may not. Either way the ball is in their court.

Posted by
69 posts

Well said Tim ! I think that is the perfect response !

Posted by
14003 posts

If you think it's too much money, get a quote from another guide or two. If you can't afford a private guide, or maybe just don't want to spend that much money, your options are finding a small group tour or going on your own, though without a car, it isn't feasible to visit those 2 towns on the same day. I do know that rates for private guides in Florence are steep, and more so when it includes a car.

One thing that may be possible and inoffensive is to indicate that you'd be open to another small party joining you if s/he gets such a request.

My experience with private guides is very limited because I'm usually a solo traveler. On the very few occasions when I've done it, I have not regretted the money. In Sevilla, my private guide and I hit it off so well in the morning that he spent the rest of the day with me (I popped for meals and drinks) and we have become friends, I spend a few hours with him every time I return to Sevilla.

Posted by
337 posts

Just a few thoughts you might consider.
Get a few other guides quotes and then gauge if indeed you guide is taking advantage.
Supply and demand are factor in any business.
Did you haggle on you airfare ?
Best of luck...

Posted by
1666 posts

I won't say I was offended by their attempts to get a discount, but I was annoyed that they didn't believe me when I told them my price and thought it was merely a suggestion or the opening play in some sort of game

This made me think of my garage sale strategy. I decide how much I want for an item, then double it. I then let the hagglers negotiate me down to half again as much as I wanted. They're happy, I'm happy.

I did have a woman who offered my 10% of what I was asking for an antique trunk. I told her the price was firm. She told me she'd be back at the end of the day and I'd be thankful for what she offered. I told her I'd burn it to the ground in the front yard before I'd sell it to her.

Posted by
245 posts

This made me think of my garage sale strategy.

But goods are very different than a person's hard work and professional services. Even while it may be acceptable to negotiate for goods (little to no personal investment from the seller), I think it's bad taste to negotiate for services (extreme personal involvement from the seller). That being said, I don't negotiate for goods either, because I just don't like playacting.

Posted by
4833 posts

I will preface in that I do not think I have ever arranged for a private tour guide, but, my general advice would be no, unless you are proposing a change to the normal service. For example, if the guide offers transportation from Florence, but you are in Siena, then maybe. If they include a Gourmet Lunch and you are proposing to bring a Picnic at your cost, then sure, or if they lay out an Itinerary and you cut items you have no interest in, then ask if that changes things. But basic "they quoted this, I want to counter"...then no. Now, you could play coy and say "Gee thanks, I never did this, sounds great, but I'm not sure/might be more than I thought to spend, etc.; and they counter, then no harm done. Had essentially the same thing happen at entries to sites... Person wanders up, shows credentials, want a tour? 100 euro... Me: no thanks...Them: OK how about 75?...50?

Posted by
8716 posts

I'd like to pipe in since I have worked in the industry

Almost all tour guides in Italy are professionally trained and licensed. If a licensed guide comes across one that isn't licensed, they will be reported and fined.

When you hire a guide you are first and foremost paying for his time and knowledge. If you hire them for the day, they have a price. Most guides in an area know each other and what the others charge. They are providing you with a professional service. Do you negotiate with other service personnel in Malaysia--plumbers, electricians, etc. Maybe you do because that is the custom there but it isn't in Italy. You might bargain at a market but not with someone providing a service.

A guide has their basic price for the time period you want either full day or half day. Everything else raises the price--how far does the guide have to travel to meet you, what extra arrangements have to be made, does he have to supply transportation. Once the guide knows what you want he will quote you a price.

If the price quoted is more than you wanted to spend tell him. Don't try to negotiate. Just say it is more than you wanted to spend or your budget will allow. If he's not very busy, he might find a way to lower the price. If not, he may suggest someone else.

But if he says the price is 100 euro and you say "I'll give you 75" he'll probably hang up on you. Unless he is desperate. And if he is desperate he's probably not very good.

Posted by
3826 posts

DougMac - that's a bit like my garage sale strategy - lol. I tend to add a few bucks to my price. I find about half the people will haggle. But your comment about the trunk made me laugh. I had a brand new, in box, locket necklace that I had $7 on. Some cheapskate offered me $2...I said I'd take either $4 or 5 for it. He kept trying to offer me $2. (He only wanted the chain). I didn't say to him, but thought in my head - I'll stomp that locket into the ground before I give it to you for $2.

Posted by
1666 posts

But goods are very different than a person's hard work and professional services

Chiara, refer to my post above the one you quoted. I appreciate the hard work it takes to be good at your job. That's why I offered no discounts for my services.

We've used Walks of Italy. They aren't cheap, but neither are they overpriced. Our guide Marco who showed us Florence has a Master's in history. We were impressed by his depth of knowledge and the passion he brought to his job. His expertise enriched our experience far beyond what could have been achieved reading a few paragraphs in a guide book.

Posted by
55 posts

People bargain for many reasons. I am a former taxi driver, whatever that has to do with it. I had more luggage than usual in Catania, and knew that I could take an ordinary city bus to the intercity bus station for about €1. I asked a taxi driver about how much he would charge me to take me to the bus station obviating an 800 m walk with luggage. The bargaining was fun. He quoted me €12 to the bus station, and, when I did not reply suitably promptly, he said €10. So, he started it. I knew an intercity bus ticket cost €5. He said he would take me to Taormina for €135, and I said the bus station was fine. He pulled out a laminated sheet his child could have made, and showed me the price. I then told him the distance in km, and again said the bus would be fine. He said I was a great guy, and he would give me great price, €100. I said he seemed like a great guy, and I would offer him €70. He said he couldn't do that, there were tolls, I said they aren’t that much. He said €90, I said €80. He thought for a long time, and then said could we compromise on €85, and I said yes. When we arrived, I found my destination to be highly inconvenient to the bus station, in terms of luggage and elevation. It was still a bit of a splurge, but it was a highly convenient one, at a time when I was feeling a bit under the weather.

Posted by
4479 posts

In business every price is negotiable to an extent - but that cuts both ways. If you have nothing to offer the tour guide in return for a lower price then why would they accept?

Posted by
2006 posts

We have used private guides over the years, but have never asked for a reduction. I do like Tim's advice up thread. We've had a private tour guide that worked out to our benefit. In Athens we were to be the only couple on the tour. It ended up the guide asked if another couple could join us. We said sure. He reduced the fee! Just recently we scheduled a small group tour in Amsterdam. It ended up we were the only couple for the tour that day. Hence, we had a "private tour" and it was superb!