How We Stack Up- A Few Thoughts On The Competition
Posted by Andy Steves in on October 20, 2011.
Since beginning my internship with WSA, many people have asked me “what makes us better?” By researching the competition and exploring numerous other tour options, I think I have a unique perspective on why WSA is truly the best option.
My first experience with an “organized” city tour was two summer’s ago in Athens, Greece. I was staying at a hostel and my friends and I decided to sign up for the free tour offered of the ruins and famous sights beautiful Athens had to offer. We started out in the morning with a small group and our tour guide… who was from Russia. I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t a local but figured he’d probably been highly trained and had lived in Athens for years. Guess again! It turned out that he only came in the summer to lead tours and was “already sick of his job and Athens.” He refused to go into any of the sights with us (he’d “already seen them way too many times”) and barely helped us translate our broken Greek as we stood in long lines to buy tickets at each new place. Then we got lost! As we wandered around aimlessly for SEVEN HOURS I listened to our tour guide complain about how dirty and boring Athens was, how he hated his job and despised “American tourists” like us. Overall it was a horrible first experience of Greece and cast a dark cloud over the rest of our time in the city.
Obviously this was an unusual experience and many free tours offered by hostels are great, but why take the risk when you are in an amazing European city for the very first time?!
In the past few months I have overheard several friends talking about their experiences with other tour companies in a pretty negative light. One friend was looking into going to Portugal for the weekend and told me the company seemed “solely based on getting drunk” and included little more than free drinks with their tours. I don’t know about you, but I DEFINITELY don’t want to go to an amazing new place, pay good money for a tour, and then barely remember my experience the next day as I try to explore with a horrible hangover! Booze cruises can be great, and WSA tours give you plenty of time and advice to find the best bars at night, but alcohol is not something we offer as a “filler” for more important costs- such as site/ museum entrance, bike tours, delicious local food, expert, local tour guides, etc.
I recently booked my plane ticket to Paris for New Years (!) and my travel buddy asked me if I wanted to do a “Paris New Year” tour with her through another tour company. I told her I would check it out and I was SHOCKED by how little the competition offered for a MUCH larger price tag than WSA!
WSA TOUR FEATURES
For 250 Euros
• Skip-the-line entrances in to both the Louvre Museum & Eiffel Tower
• Walking tour of Notre Dame and the Latin Quarter
• Nighttime river cruise on the Seine through the heart of the city
• Tour of Montmartre, Moulin Rouge & Sacre Cour
• Evening bike tour of Paris
• Entrance into the Deportation Memorial
• 3 nights Paris' best hostel
• All breakfasts and half your lunches and dinners
• Local, passionate tour guides trained by Andy Steves
COMPETITION’S TOUR FEATURES
(Starting at) 399 Euros
• Night lights tour of Paris
• 3 nights’ multi-share hotel accommodation
• Seine River Cruise
• Return coach travel to/from London including ferry crossings
• breakfasts, 2 dinners
• European trained trip leader and driver
Let’s break this down a bit:
This competition company group size is “average 35 people.” WSA promises a small, intimate group every time and I don’t know about you, but I’d WAY rather travel in in a small group and get to know every one on the tour than have a large, loud group drawing attention.
I'm sure of a lot of the extra money this other tour offers is due to the hotel vs. hostel accommodations. I personally love the young, fun vibe that hostels offer and I would pick that any day! Also, why spend extra on a hotel when the whole point of being there is to be out of your room exploring all the city has to offer?!
WSA Paris tour is chock full of amazing sites, must-see museums, boat/ bike/ walking tours of the best parts of the city... And our guide is a local expert who absolutely loves Paris! Trust me from personal experience, the tour guide can make or break your trip, so why take a risk? This competition Paris tour doesn't go to a single museum or famous landmark and it even skips over the Eiffel Tower!
It’s nice and all that this competition tour offers transportation to and from Paris- but what if you aren’t leaving from London? WSA participants are coming from all over Europe (that’s why we’re such a cool, diverse mix!) so why limit travel from London only? Plus, it is often cheaper (and you have way more flexibility with time) to book your own tickets through cheap airlines like Ryanair!
This competition company’s tour “starts at 399 euros” but can extra charges for the things you really want to do, and that just creates money-wasting traps. With WSA you get what you see, no tricks or hidden costs so you can travel knowing you’re truly getting your money’s worth!
I hope this has answered some of your questions about “what makes us better” and I can’t wait to see you on a WSA tour soon!
I was very nervous signing up to go to Budapest with WSA because I was going solo, but it was the best weekend of my semester!!! Everyone in the group was super friendly and inclusive, we all had a great time together. WSA does an amazing job of keeping everything organized and we always...Allison Johnson, University of Maryland ~ DIS Copenhagen, Spring 2016
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